Movie Diary 9/29/2009

A Portrait of Diego Rivera: The Revolutionary Gaze (Gabriel Figueroa Flores, 2007). Intriguing documentary built around the discovery of 40 minutes of color footage of Rivera shot in 1949, lensed by the mighty Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa and the great still photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo. Figueroa’s son is the director of this film, which provides background on the principals and fixes them in a movement in Mexican art. The rich color images of the hefty Rivera doodling in his sketchpad are droll, and suggestively integrated into the overall pattern of the documentary.

Miracle in a Box (John Korty, 2009). Hour-long documentary by the Oscar-winning Korty (also a veteran of the TV-movie era), all about a Berkeley piano-restoration shop and the loving work they do on one particular Steinway grand. There’s something about watching experts doing close work on an object they revere that makes for an unbeatable movie subject, and this film literally “opens up” the piano in a way that will likely be new to most of us. Well, to me, for sure.

Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (Sam Peckinpah, 1973). Watched the 2005 DVD cut of this classic, which (although it’s been a while since I saw the restored 1980s version) makes some extremely curious decisions about things to trim – and in some cases, things to add (including the lyrics in the “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” scene). Picture and sound are improved, but I’m missing too many savory moments to be able to approve. Prepping for a lecture on revisionist Westerns.

Black Dynamite (Scott Sanders, 2009). Winner of the top audience award at the Seattle International Film Festival earlier this year. Oh, SIFF audience, you are a caution. (full review 10/?)

The Invention of Lying (Ricky Gervais & Matthew Robinson, 2009). Gervais as the only mendacious man in a society that doesn’t know how to lie; a set-up that leads to the invention of religion. A funny idea and a sneaky one, with one Moses-like sequence sure to become a classic. (full review 10/2)