Movie Diary 6/19/2019

Annabelle Comes Home (Gary Dauberman, 2019). Yestanother installment of the Conjuring universe that plays fair by old-fashioned haunted-house rules. First-time director Dauberman is not without a fair amount of visual savvy. (full review 6/27)

Jules and Jim (Francois Truffaut, 1962). One of the movie that turned the light switch on for me. Truffaut may have wondered aloud whether cinema or life was the more important, but he serves up equal portions in abundance here.

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Movie Diary 6/17/2019

Peter Ibbetson (Henry Hathaway, 1935). A strange film, very self-consciously poetic and romantic, with Gary Cooper and Ann Harding as childhood neighbors who meet, passionately, later in life. Charles Lang executes the gorgeous photography.

Experiment Perilous (Jacques Tourneur, 1944). Tourneur’s skills make one want to give this the benefit of the doubt, but it is an extremely bizarre enterprise. Stolid George Brent meets a giddy old bat (Olive Blakeney) on a train in 1903, which leads (except it doesn’t, actually) him to knowing her brother (creeped-up Paul Lukas) and his younger wife (Hedy Lamarr, as though concussed). Vaguely gothic doings happen, with much connective tissue seemingly missing. Pretty thoroughly baffling throughout.

Movie Diary 6/16/2019

On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1954). It plays very much of its time, and in fact it must have been something to see in ’54. The drama is never less than high, and Kazan’s moves are shrewd and calculated – not a put-down, just a description. Brando comes up with a series of piercing moments, a kind of desperation that fits his character.

A Report on the Party and Guests (Jan Nemec, 1966). From the Czech New Wave, an ultra-weird allegory about a group of folks in the countryside who are confronted by authoritarian figures – or at least a group of people bossing them around. How easily compliant the guests are, how eager to obey. The film has one of the most annoying creatures (I mean this as a compliment) in all of cinema in form of the smug, childish tormentor played by Jan Klusák, generally a composer. Also, has anybody connected this movie with the “folk horror” craze? Because it fits in pretty well.

Late International Dead (This Week’s Movies)

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Bill Murray, Chloe Sevigny, Adam Driver: The Dead Don’t Die (Focus Features)

Links to my reviews published this week in the Herald, and etc.

The Dead Don’t Die. “Jarmusch, on a roll lately with Only Lovers Left Alive and Paterson, is on something like a vacation here, gathering his favorite actors and flipping the bird in the direction of modern society. Despite the bitter aftertaste, the film makes for strangely good company.”

Men in Black: International. “The movie stays low-key in a way that’s both agreeable and underwhelming.”

Late Night. “This movie’s sincere do-gooder attitude takes the edge off its better jokes.”

And a Seasoned Ticket post for Scarecrow Video’s blog, on Olivier Assayas’s new film, Non-Fiction. Read hereabouts.

Movie Diary 6/12/2019

Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954). Dude sits in his apartment all day, desperately hoping something will happen, even if it’s something bad. Then it happens.

Toy Story 4 (Josh Cooley, 2019). Very hard for Pixar to go wrong with this series, even if the previous installment seemed like the right way to wrap everything up. There is, no kidding, something strange and haunting about Woody’s journey here, and the addition of Forky is a kind of amazing leap. (full review 6/20)

Movie Diary 6/11/2019

Men in Black: International (F. Gary Gray, 2019). Basically a bargain installment of the franchise, told with snappy humor and the breezy rapport between Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth. Not sure “modest” is the best approach for this kind of material, though. It will play well streaming. I’m not being perverse when I say that Emma Thompson is sharper here in a few minutes than she is in Late Night. (full review 6/14)

Daisies (Vera Chytilová, 1966). This zany project of the Czech New Wave gives away its game with the newsreel war footage spliced into the opening credits – there’s anger in its antics. Very 1966, very Eastern European, very liberating in its own way. The game of flooding the image with color tinting is suitable for the Sixties, but it also goes back to the silent era, and the kind of comedy-anarchy on display here.

Movie Diary 6/10/2019

The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Joe Talbot, 2019). To say this film is an unusual little number is underplaying it considerably. A strange, lyrical, loopy dream. More movies should try this, whatever the hell it is. (full review 6/20)

I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians (Radu Jude, 2018). From the director of Aferim!, a very different film: all about what happens when a director-provocateur stages a live performance piece about past Romanian atrocities to an audience that doesn’t really want to hear about it. A talky-in-the-best-sense movie, the film loves the process of debate, especially in the extended conversations between the ambitious director and her jaded, witty superior.

Rebel Without a Cause (Nicholas Ray, 1955). Dean really does have some great piercing moments, and the widescreen compositions are like an airplane taking flight. Seen again after many years, the surprising thing is how swiftly the film goes along, all full of teen energy and hot color.