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Erosu purasu gyakusatsu

If you liked "Lost in Translation" ...
No, I'm just kidding. But you will be reminded of "Blow-Up" -- as well as his Zabriskie Point" (and "The Baader Meinhof Complex," and other recent films -- "Après Mai," for example). People living differently, finding new ways to shoot each other, and cutting up the footage.

But the thing with "free love" is somebody can break up, get dumped, every day.

(I'd also recommend Iaon Couliano's "Eros and Magic in the Renaissance," 1984.)

Out 1, noli me tangere

Fun! An expression of style.
Provided you know what you're in for, a lot of "bleed in" for the practice of theatre will occur to you. Given that America is protected by two oceans and only got punched in the nose in 9/11, we can't imagine how much May of '68 changed the whole country. However, this film -- and Olivier Assayas's "Something in the Air" -- could help. Kudos!


"Even at my lowest moments, I still felt the words bubbling up within me ... "
Funnily enough, I saw this movie when I got around to (re-)reading "Dishwater Pete's" book -- my (re-read) of "Temp Slave!" is also sitting there over on the chair. (Someone was considerate enough to put it in one of the "free boxes" here in Portland -- but since I'm an inconsiderate jerk who doesn't like to share, ha ha, I'm going to throw it away, now that I'm done with it!)

Like a Wim Wenders -- or Bela Tarr -- movie, the characters aren't just spitting lines out, they're willing to look to see how others might react to what they say, and how they behave. This is a saving grace in a movie, if you want to *luxuriate* in it, and have it linger in the mind later -- all the while checking out little things that may correspond with/enlarge upon your *own* life experience. I've read "Ham on Rye," and I liked it a *lot* -- I came to it late in life, having been put off by such charlatans-and-poseurs as Denis Johnson, whom I find merely imitative and off-putting, in how he's going through the "macho" art-moves. Here, you may be put in mind of David Lynch (specifically, "Wild at Heart" -- and the soundtrack), and music of Nick Cave, etc. -- not everyone has *these* motives, because not everyone wants to *live the life*.

If you feel you want to, and you'd want the embers warmed from coals, this movie'll help! It's a good time, and has got a lot of *class*.


Even *despite* itself!

Star Trek

Exceptionally good!
You can tell J.J. Abrams brought a lot of his "Star Wars" knowledge to bear -- even the end bears a similarity to the "awards ceremony" that closes "A New Hope," and the Bespin-city vertiginousness is certainly present.

I was certainly surprised at how masterfully this movie movies along, and at what an adept clip. So much time was spent in conceiving it!

I thought much of "Rogue One," and Adam Driver's conflicted character in the last -- and, I guess, penultimate -- "Star Wars" trilogy.

This has all the lyricism of a Jim Jarmusch film, like, say, "The Limits of Control."

And yet, overall, J.G. Ballard didn't like the original "Star Wars," and Samuel R. Delany didn't like "2001." Can't we all just get along? "A New Hope," indeed!

Week End

The best Godard film ever!
"He had the right of way, and now he's dead! He was young, rich, handsome!" "You wretched little wench!"


"You can't just take off like that! Like Marx says, we're all brothers!"

This movie is *too funny*! (However, like some of the jokes in "Pagan Kennedy's Living" ("Therapy Zombies Walk the Earth ... " and "Men Who Don't Put Out"), you'd need to be familiar with the dialogues to be able to *get* them.)

Too bad! Try to keep up.

"The horror of the bourgeoisie, can only be overwhelmed by more horror!" And how! #party


That's an awfully convincing performance!
Wow! It must have been CGI or Tom Savini-like, or both. Or neither.

I'm *sure* they can find the actresses again!

(Why did they -- or maybe I should use a Pynchonian "They," from "Gravity's Rainbow" -- send Kevin Gage through prison? He *had* a medical marijuana license (for California) and, it said on the Wikipedia page, there was an *unprecedented* third hearing to appeal it, but the link was broken. Why broken? Why process the poor guy, like he was a shirt at the cleaners -- just because he'd been married to Kelly Preston, was in "Heat," etc., and was semi-visible, and woudn't mind (once he was *broken in*) being a party to something that's make him *cry* (see Internet source) ... )

Well! What a wacky movie.

Two couples saw it, at the Clinton St. theater, went I went to see "The Calamari Wrestler." This, after a full page ad in "The Portland Mercury," and a nonsensical review by someone from Reed (they're all from Reed -- once they go, they never leave!). Why all the effort? Sounds gross. The couples seemed desponded, like they'd need counseling. Plan of attack? Ruin the liberals? Make them give up. Huh.

I've seen "Last House on the Left" (actually, I haven't ... ), and I've seen "Irreversible," too (actually -- I *have*!). Why see *this* one?



We Own the Night

This is one of the greatest movies ever made!
They're Russians; What do they care about this country? They might as well be on vacation. This movie does everything "The Deer Hunter" tried to do, but failed (which is why Tom DiCillo wrote "The deer will be present for a Q&A after the screening ... " when they kept screening it at the NYU campus). The subject matter's so unnerving it's hard to keep watching, but it's a movie, so it just keeps happening. You won't forget it! It haunts the mind. And the soundtrack/sound effects are out of this world; more like from Maya Deren-and-other experimental films, conveying emotional states where you can't *believe* what's happening is happening. Don't overlook this movie; it's not just an underrated gem, like "Uncut Gems" or "Brooklyn's Finest," it's a masterpiece and a standards-setter of recent years, on a par with "Sorry to Bother You," "Donnie Darko," and "Mulholland Drive," in that it changes *how* people can put things across and put things *in* movies! Plus, it's got *stars*! Like that's the whole point. Plus the director's seen his '70s films -- it seems like it's *in the line* of Lumet, Coppola, etc., and even, God help us, Friedkin. He makes dross into gold into this terrifying experience -- more unnerving than a "cop film" has any right to be (*certainly* any since David Fincher's "Seven" -- who had the ability, or even the *inclination*, to do so?). Don't mention Michael Bay to people with good sense. Ditto the "somewhat unenthusiastic Halloween party" that Marvel's turning out to be. See this movie, recommend it to others -- you won't regret it!

The Stanford Prison Experiment

Things go downhill, fast. "Don't tell me how power can corrupt a person!" as Trent Reznor says in a song on "Year Zero." "You haven't had enough to know what it's like!" The cast starts out looking like runoff from "Dazed and Confused" -- partly because that film *defined* that era, gave us cues and signifiers to look for and mark that maligned decade.

"Cool Hand Luke" and John Wayne come up, because they're know them and they're familiar to everybody. The half-funny ironic comments come up, too -- it's remarkable how the acting is coordinated to convey youth, that these guys are just *kids*, and any responses are still the best they can come up with, not necessarily lacking in wit but bemoaning a lack of worldview and life experience and a full spectrum of response.

(What makes the film watchable is that it's *lyrical* -- the use of music, and framing and cues guide us along so the experiment is bearable. Somehow, though, we've forgotten that modern cinema can produce standards as high as "Winter's Bone" and "Take Shelter" pretty off-handedly. Hence, we're supposed to put up with Seth Rogen.)

One can't help but feel, like with "Gravity's Rainbow," there was something in the air about experiments/Pavlovians/a need to see if stimulus-response would just explain everything ... but of course, all you get is a bunch of indulgences. Everybody's had it worse than someone else -- so, what's *your* problem? It would take another generation and the end of the Cold War for sympathy to get drudged up and register for growing child-people all over America -- let alone *privileged* children. After all, these kids go to Stanford!

Gas Food Lodging

One of the best movies of the '90s!
As much a punk movie as "Repo Man" or "Slacker," this movie features people living better with moderate means than anything out of "Pagan Kennedy's Living." Music by J Mascis, witty repartee, it's a wonder more people didn't turn out in droves. (If folks'd my age caught this -- with both "Heathers" *and* "Pump Up the Volume" -- the '90s'd turned out different! As it is, we're catching up.) Much better than "Seinfeld." Or "South Park." Who are we kidding? The characters are etched in your mind forever after this one. Allison Anders really scored a homer, and I think her career would have been different if more people had shown up and hailed this one to begin with. As it is, it's not too late. A worthy follow-up to "Paris, Texas," etc., and other purveyors of what Paddy Chayevsky once called an attempt to perpetuate "dignity in our culture." I really love this movie!

Werckmeister harmóniák

One of the greatest movies ever made!
All it wants to do is unspool so it makes an impression on you. If you have room inside yourself to make room for it with all the roiling sub-impressions you make while you watch it, it'll stay with you for life.

This is *very mature* viewing.

Der amerikanische Freund

A stylish thriller!
Admittedly, part of the point is the luxuriousness of invoking old films, sixties counterculture that's not like the Bob Dylan-songs you've heard over and over again but invokes rarer ones and the feel of cafés and libertines, etc. -- which is why Dennis Hopper is in it.

If you know what you're in for, you can settle in and enjoy the ride -- and the shots, and the city -- scene by scene, but otherwise, you're almost going to guarantee yourself frustration, because you're not settling in for the sumptuousness and mise en scène.

A great look at the whimsy of criminals Wim Wenders will display to greater (and more sustained) effect in his 5-hr. "Until the End of the World" -- even here, there's a sense of class and an absence of pettiness that's worth the trip. Plus Nicholas Ray and Sam Fuller! Of course.


An experience to remember, three years in the making!
What's useful about Eastern Europe is what they have and don't have in terms of what we have *here*. They have bars and houses and barns and concerns -- but there are so many day-to-day concerns *absent*, you may be in the position of having a mind-fresher, once you can adjust to it.

You also may be put in the mind of certain indie-rock bands, specifically those coming out of Chicago -- Gastr Del Sol, say, or Tortoise's "Millions Now Living Will Never Die," or the "Hey Drag City" comp. The same way listening to those music artists for years can prime you, strangely but not badly, to being receptive to the "Czech New Wave" festival in your own town -- catching something of the way Eastern Europeaners film train stations in the *snow*, for example, that appears to be an intrinsic grasp of space specific to locale.

You may think of Jim Jarmusch and Aki Kaurismäki, here, but you also may think of 1st take movies ("Stranger Than Paradise" was one-take only -- it seems likely, here!), and of how you can shoot a lot with B&W (it's cheaper!).

In other words, Bela Tarr uses a lot of time and space to evolve around the characters; these aren't "long takes," they are *inhabitations*, and a lot of your unwanted past might fall off if you sit through it.

(I'd recommend "Andrei Rublev" as a good warm-up watch, particularly if you've never seen it before. A wonder to behold!)

No Country for Old Men

You can't not know this about this movie:

  • the Tommy Lee Jones-steering of the young, up-and-coming sheriff -- not wanting to hurt his feelings, or break his confidence -- is one of the funniest parts of the movie
  • the "No Country for Civilians" feel of the movie
  • the way the Coens *like* all the other people they've sketched out and cast in the movie ("In Texas, you're on your own ... ") which -- not unlike in sketch comedy -- the whole piece benefits by giving everybody a good line



Dick Cheney says, "You're back to being servants!"
Vietnam was the public saying, "We're not servants, we're not chattel, you can't just send us to die for you!" Everything implicit in Kennedy and John Kerry going to Officer's School and coming out lieutenants to buying your way out of the Civil War had been implicit for generations. (It's that line in "Gravity's Rainbow," too: "Officers. (Expletive deleted) officer mentality. You do all the work, and they come to take all the credit ... ")

Simple solution is work them until they drop, and send them in again. Not got enough man-(and woman-)power for your plans? Re-up them, without asking them, or letting them see it coming, or telling the general public.

Until Kimberly Peirce, alum of my Alma Mater (I always heard that about Lauren Berlant, actually -- people really liked her!), makes a film that -- as she told us here in Portland when she came by for a screening -- "tested better in all 5 (age) categories than any film ever had."

It's distributed by MTV films. It's got Joseph Gordon Levitt in it.

So why did no-one show up?

Who knows, but it's surreal what you're watching, at times: White and black America coming together when they're on the road with their families in the same motel comparing notes about how to escape our government.

Geez, Louise!

What a story.

And a peculiar one.

Shichinin no samurai

Everyone should see this movie!
Coming around to this picture at 48 (there's a lot of catching up to do; I still having seen "Serpico!"), I was impressed with how long ago this was made (1954) and with what care and attention to detail. Like so many masters, Kurosawa registers as one you have to feel slavish about and if you haven't seen enough of them in a barrage to almost become a filmmaker yourself, chances are there's plenty of this classic kicking around to catch up with if you've got plenty of time on your hands (as we find ourself these days!). Compelling, with both a gritty and epic feel as well as a grasp of class details of everyday life in this far-away time, this movie is wiling to follow every digression as though it was equally important -- as any military tactician can tell you, the key to success in everything from walking the perimeter to not forgetting intangibles and being willing to harbor any potential outcome as a possibilities. Frankly, this movie is as good for the kids as for the adults, because they're learning a lot of crap these days, and this picture puts you in a place where a lot of human life spills over -- including those in the film who do or don't value it, and what that means. View it with the "Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" picture, one I liked but not quite as much, because, hey, you've got 6 hours to sit around, right? "And he goes as if for a mushroom hunt ... " Classic! Great times for people who can handle long attention spans, and don't fall asleep at "Raiders of the Lost Ark" or cry about their college choice like there's anything they can do about it or it's anybody else's fault ... Eureka! :)


It's not a bad movie ...
... it's just got a surfeit of good. When I saw "Deep Red" recently, I really liked it, so I wondered why "Suspiria" hadn't made such an impression on me. Re-seeing again recently, I realized it was almost like a cake with too much frosting that hadn't been pared away so you had room to involve yourself: yeah, there's great this-that-and-the-other, but one finds oneself drifting off, inwardly, waiting for the next scene to take place, unmoored for a bit since you're denied the option of getting involved (or *room*, to rather!). None of this is to say the movie is trite, formulaic, full of the usual things, and not with the breathtaking visuals and the payoff of a close study of HItchcock (even in terms of how a person *falls* ... ). I guess it's just a luxury problem, really: Not a movie that dulls your intelligence but over-taxes it, the question I suppose of a filmmaker earlier on in their career whose a little predisposed to be fond of their own effects and abilities. I didn't dislike this movie at all, don't get me wrong, but I don't find myself vouching for it personally or having much affection for it. Like I said earlier, I liked "Deep Red" better. If ever there's been a case of "If you liked this, you might like this ... " Cheers! :)

Bis ans Ende der Welt

Everyone should see this (5-hr. version)!
This film is truly terrific -- it takes you there for a while, and stays there. The whimsy it deploys while being realistic and up to speed on technological developments is rare and worth its weight in gold. The soundtrack is the best of the era (followed by the one for "Singles," which is an unfortunate cart-before-the-horse mess, and the one for "Pump Up the Volume," which is a terrific picture no-one takes seriously because of its title!), and you get to linger with it -- honest to gosh, if there's one-or-two omissions from people considered "alternative" or off-the-beaten-path and aboveboard and known to many who *aren't* included, it's hard to think of who there) -- making the spellbinding a "sort of shooting-off-into-the-horizon" of narrative after narratives given these too are, after all, narrative artists and storytellers themselves! A sweeping panoply of human potentialities! And (mostly) you can show it to the kids. A great sense of adventure! Kudos, and you'll feel better afterwards. I promise it!


It may seem weird to compare this film to works as disparate as "All These Sleepless Nights," Adam Gnade's "Caveworld," and "Donnie Darko," but the overriding theme of youth activity percolates and saves the day -- makes it more than just a usual horror movie, but also a horror movie that has more bite. Apart from a bit in the opening segment that is a bit unpleasant, it's remarkable how much of this has to do with male/female comeuppance and the reversal of relations -- often humorously so, if you're around to get the joke! Further, it seems to solve that problem confronting both mumblecore and recent horror by having them around for 20 min. so you can just know them off -- you can cram an awful lot of detail and observation in there (witness the "Spider" character in the woods sequence -- how many of us have known someone like him, and how often is he to show up in most feature films?), without milling about and losing people's patience, or suffering the irony of not wanting to see them go when they have to do (i.e., such errors as in David Gordon Green's recent "Halloween" remake: when the little black kid swears, everyone in the audience laughs, because it's cute, but he's about to be knocked off, like a lot of other characters in the movie, so why develop sympathy for him?). Sophie Takal, as always, is a cute nice presence, and you see the sort of things Gen X'ers would put in their zines, no less than the filmmakers of "The Blair Witch Project" incorporated into their movie, too (no less than the '70s guy, Hooper, included in "Jaws," which is reflective of the times -- aren't we supposed to put plenty of things in our movies that are for our own pleasure?) -- the joy of going out on the road and checking out simple, corny things for yourself, like postcards and vacation spots. I think it's selling this movie short to say it's "pretty good for an anthology" or even "really good for anthology!" -- there's a lot going on here, simply because the filmmakers took the time and energy to pack it in (and, yes, some of it reminds me of the reminiscing the characters in Richard Fariña's "Been Down So Long, It Looks Like Up to Me" do -- every generation thinks it's the first to scamper around!). View it for this reason, even as a second time, and it holds up remarkably well. Kudos!

Der Baader Meinhof Komplex

This movie is amazing!
It exists at a constant adrenaline high. Now all of a sudden you know why Thomas Pynchon wrote "Inherent Vice!"


A work of art!
For those of us who've loved Austin since "Slacker," here's a way to look back at its history: With all the emphasis on Bolexes and other timely recording devices, you may think of Negativland or early Mystery Science Theater, if you're of a certain generational bent. Still, being this far up the tracks means we can parse the event without it being some artsy elliptical narrative: The use of animation gives us *more* access to what was going on in people's minds -- more often the reeling in the face of the fact that it was *actually happening* -- than less. A compassion expanded, but perhaps lamentably only for those who aren't constrained by their political dispositions. Guns don't kill people, people do; but guns aren't sponges, and incline people to use them. "Everything looks like a nail with a hammer in your hand ... " See this movie! You'll be glad you did. (And it's not even that *long!* A lot of care and work and music went into it. You can tell!)


A masterpiece that will change your life!
If ever there was a reason to "binge watch," this is it. You notice how much treacley and usual dramatic frames we put up with by how much they are *absent* in this film (series) -- there isn't a hint of "have to lean that way so the audience will get it" in the whole set of 'em, up to the last one, which is the most light-hearted. Viewing it from this far up the tracks, you can see how poorly people had to live, even when they were making the best of it, and how much Kieslowski and collaborator Piesiewicz did to consciously prioritize children, familial longing, choices that have no easy (or precedented) out. You're surprised at how moved you are, and how much you find out that you couldn't have guessed, and how much it's a question of pacing you might not be used to in this hectic day-to-day life. Worth adjusting to! A really good movie, and appropriate for adolescents -- it'll sear itself into their brains, and you can rest assured that they'll at least have *some* ballast that isn't South Park, or Seinfeld: forgiveness zones for more peanut butter.

Rogue One

An incredibly-accomplished film!
The droid who can't keep things to himself is one of the funniest characters in cinema in the last 20 years. The shot of the kid, crying and helpless, while bullet-lazers sear all around you will sear itself into your memory for good. The scene at the end where Darth Vader doesn't seem much concerned about getting down to business is truly terrifying. The line the guy says about how "we've all been spies, assassins, saboteurs, all doing things we'd rather forget for the good of the cause ... " explains his rather curious action at the beginning of the movie. The scientists all lines up on the bridge look like *scientists*--like Wernher Von Braun or U.S. scientists here, caught up in "Operation Paperclip" and other shenanigans, having to do with War and where the Work Went for Scientists to Do. This is an incredibly wise film! Really! And this is what CGI is *for*.


Completely implausible, from the first frame to the last!
Have you ever fired a gun empty? And then, kept firing? Then you'll like this movie! It'll remind you of the good ol' days.

The Meaning of Life

"Forgive us, O Lord, for our pathetic toadying ... "
This is probably the most *disappointing* movie ever made. It's never been quite so clear they get to script, cast, direct, etc. the whole shebang -- with a whole lotta 'R'-rated stuff piled on, just because. You'll be bored and waiting for the scene to be over once it starts -- this is true of the opening segment, and there's not much better to come (save the line above, which blink-and-you've-missed-it, and I've ruined). John Cleese as the sex instructor has some improbable and hilarious moments, but really, when the whole deal is made by people who are more intellectual and philosophical than the general public -- British or not -- when you're running on empty (or more likely, *fumes*) what you get is a whole lotta of oddly-feeling-like-lectures skits, whether they're danced or sung or not. Face it: You'll watch all these people, done up like it's a Busby-Berkeley-or-whoever it is parody, and you won't feel much about it but "okaaaay ... " Charity's a lot to ask when it's the whole deal. Do I have to say "When you were hopeless and poor, well I just liked you more?" Well then there, I've said it! Only for die-hards and prognosticators of decline. I still like the lads, but ... really! "Holy Grail" is more raucous and anarchic, and all that for being PG, you know?

American Graffiti

Where it all came from!
The constant music only helps capture that moment in adolescence -- that desire to stay up all night, to experience the interstitial changes between day and the nighttime mood, to linger beyond the closing of the door. Like John Waters's "Hairspray" and countless others, you feel a pre-Beatles/pre-John F. Kennedy assassination amount of hopefulness abounding. The good mood and the wit don't let up. You'll like this movie, even if you weren't there. Even if your own parents made you feel like a parasite just for being born. That "country of rock 'n' roll," as Thomas Pynchon says, and suddenly, it makes a lot more sense. A *lot* more sense! Let's stay up all night! Let's stay up all night. And play are Tuscadero records. So there. It comes full circle. Peace!

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