Saturday, July 25, 2009

a day dedicated to movies

every month or so, i stay in all day and watch movies. the sources are netflix and my DVR and each film is unrelated to the other. its a day i can relax. my wife is at work and i can go through an entire day without speaking. in short, its one of my favorite ways to spend a weekend. i even manage to work in some exercise when i head to my home gym and bike for 90 minutes and do 30 minutes on my rowing machine; two exercises that are perfectly conducive to dense foreign films. im going to live blog these days that are so sacred to me.

i was considering adding this to my animationcentric post from yesterday but since it was a piece of movie day, ill open with it. anyway, this is a release from the fabled studio ghibli; internationally known as the company that releases films by hiyao miyazaki, considered by many to the greatest director of animated films of all time. this isnt miyazaki but isao takahata, the other jewel in studio ghibli's crown. he made grave of the fireflies, maybe the most depressing movie ive ever seen. my neighbors wasnt depressing at all, but a unique pastiche of skits about a middle class japanese family. if everyone's family is crazy, then this is the normal familial experience. it is equal parts humourous and sweet and decidedly human. not takahata's best but an amusing watch nontheless

this is sort of related to yamadas. it is a part documentary/part surrealist drama on guy maddin's childhood and memory reflection on winnipeg, manitoba the city of his youth. starring ann savage (from the legendary film noir detour) as his mother, its a wierd and entrancing trip around what many people thinkto be a boring canadian city. yeah, winnipeg probably still is boring but with maddin's camera, it looks fascinating. maddin has perfectly made a profoundly unique style over his last 8 or so films. it is usually B&W with choppy fade ins and vague and mysterious title cards. the style is not dissimilar from abstract expressionism but also has a vague noirish feel to it. this is a fascinating and intelligent watch, much like maddin's other work (brand upon the brain, cowards bend the knee, saddest music in the world).

this is sort of related to my winnipeg is a wierd kind of way. ann sheridan, the star of winnipeg was the star of detour directed by edgar ulman, who directed this film! woo! this wasnt as good as detour or my winnipeg. i thought this was on's 250 essential noir films. it wasnt. this is a dull melodrama redeemed only for the puncturing gaze of hedy lemarr. NEXT.

note: this has nothing to do with the last 3 movies i watched thematically, stylistically, or actor wise

i have seen this a couple times before and i like to give it a watch every time it pops up on sundance or TCM. its not my favorite film from jean pierre melville, but its a great one nontheless. this is a french noir from the 50s and one of the first films to transition from noir to new wave. melville walked this line on the cutting edge of film. he films were dated in some ways in that they transported the audience to a paris of the 40s with gangsters in cool hats. what made his films cutting edge but the style and the early techniques of the new wave. bonus: isabelle corey is in this movie who is one of the most beautiful french actresses ever to grace the screen.

this is a recent effort from the prolific french filmmaker claude chabrol. he started in 1959 and has 77 IMDB credits to his name. among them are some bonafide classics (le ceremonie, les cousins, this man must die, the butcher) but most of them are boring pretentious french films and this one falls squarely in the latter category. i didnt really watch it for chabrol though. i watched it for the otherworldly beauty of ludivine sagnier. sorry isabelle corey, but ludivine is THE MOST beautiful woman ever to grace the french (or maybe the world's) cinema. it wasnt terrible and had some good bits of drama but overall, a meh effort.

now this is type of boring prententious foreign film i can really sink my artsy teeth into. bela tarr, the director of this film usually films in B&W, uses long takes involving slow tracking shots across barren landscapes. his masterpiece is satan's tango, a seriously depressing 5 hour experiment though his wreckmeister harmonies is also pretty damn good. damnation isnt my "favorite" film of his ive seen but its pretty good. there are some great tracking inside dance halls which tends to be a reoccuring theme in his films. after watching this 2 hour loosely plotted film with oh so many tracking shots of rainy muddy landscapes, i can only help but feel that hungary is not a place i would want to visit anytime soon. EDIT: the prefab people is really an underrated bela tarr masterpiece.

i literally cried at the end of the movie from laughing. i havent cried from laughter in a really long time. this was a seriously funny movie. it is way over the top gay (duh) and a bit offensive but isnt that why we love it? of course. the more offensive the better though it wasnt as bad as borat (i know. sad). there are some cringe moments but again, borat had more. i didnt think id enjoy this movie as much i did. i also never thought id see a male urethra open up and sing. sometimes, we surprise ourselves. it was a good night.


i went from talking about hungarian art cinema to open male urethras singing in about 4 sentences. for those of you who are still reading, recognize my random genius!!

::back to blog::

im running out of steam here. its been a long day and i wrote a lot of words not many of which make sense. maybe i shouldnt use this format anymore. maybe i shouldnt blog EVERY movie i see or attempt to write intelligent things (or even things) for EVERY movie. after all, i occasionally have nothing to this one. this movie is famed director luchino visconti's last film. it was alright...which is pretty much how i feel about most of his movies. i only really loved death in venice and found of his other works pretty boring. at least his films are nice to look at. alright, thats it. no more blogginess