Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My moviegoing: 2004

Bernard "Neil Young" Shakey's Greendale (2003)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ken Russell R.I.P.

Ken Russell has died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 84, which is the most un-Ken Russell thing he ever did. I wasn't always an admirer of Russell's, and sometimes even hated his films when I wasn't in the mood to be pummeled by excess. However, in the last few years I've slowly come to appreciate and even enjoy his work, particularly The Lair of the White Worm. The Austin Film Society recently screened Tommy as part of a Russell/Greenaway/Jarman baroque Brits series, and I appreciate him even more after seeing it on the big screen. He seemed like a man who almost always did exactly what he wanted to do, and that kind of selfishness is a virtue in this undignified, totalitarian, idiot world where your every move is controlled by some kind of teacher, boss, friend, parent, fear, jealousy, cowardice, degree, lack of degree, pundit, automobile, phone, ill-fitting pair of trousers, rain, lack of rain, money, lack of money, computer, or robotic overlord I like to call Stu.

(from the top)
Women in Love (1969)
Tommy (1975)
Altered States (1980)
The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

American movies, 1970-1979

Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter (1978)
Though this movie seems politically confused, a tangled and tortured mess of right-wing and left-wing sentiments smothering each other, it's a major formal achievement and one of the best assemblages of great American actors before they calcified into legends (Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep), drifted into obscurity (John Savage, Rutanya Alda, George Dzundza), or died (John Cazale).

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My moviegoing: 2004

Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers (2003)
A few years ago, I promised a series of posts about terrible movies by great directors, but life got in the way, and I forgot to follow up the first installment (Gus Van Sant's Finding Forrester) with any others. If my promises hadn't been empty, Bertolucci's The Dreamers would have made the cut. Bertolucci, the man behind Before the Revolution, The Conformist, Last Tango in Paris, Luna, Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man, and The Last Emperor, among others, also made this lazy, stupid film that never finds one authentic moment. Among its many sins, it's also boring, a shocking fault in a film full of movie references and copious nudity. I may come back to this idea of writing about great directors' worst moments (Robert Zemeckis' Forrest Gump was another planned post in this abandoned series), but I probably won't. I tend to admire my favorite artists' failures and misfires as much as their best work, with a few exceptions like the above, so it would be hard to come up with new material. I really do hate Finding Forrester, The Dreamers, and Forrest Gump, while finding some value in almost every other film by those guys, though.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

American movies, 1970-1979

John Carpenter's Halloween (1978)
Look at how gorgeously framed these shots are. Why do so many movies look like desaturated puke now?

Monday, November 07, 2011

My moviegoing: 2004

Roberto Rossellini's Stromboli (1950)
Austin Film Society's Italian Cinema 1948-1970 series

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

American movies, 1970-1979

Hal Ashby's Coming Home (1978)
The weakest of Hal Ashby's string of good 1970s films, Coming Home is too often overwrought and preachy, but it always looks great and Ashby finds a handful of odd places for his offbeat personal style to stamp itself.

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