List List Bang Bang

July 1, 2012

2012 (April to June) Screening Log

Filed under: 2012,Screening Log — misterjiggy @ 3:01 pm

 June 2012

Last Updated June  31, 2012

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  • The Debt (2010 – John Madden) mixed(+) (cable)
  • What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (1966 – Woody Allen, Senkichi Taniguchi) mixed (DVD)
  • The Organizer (1963 – Mario Monicelli) pro(+) (Blu-ray)
  • Man in the Saddle (1951 – Andre De Toth) mixed(+) (on-line)
  • Last Summer (1969 – Frank Perry) mixed(+) (cable)
  • The Human Condition III: A Soldier’s Prayer (1961 – Masaki Kobayashi) pro(+) (DVD)
  • Prometheus (2012 – Ridley Scott) pro (Theater)
  • The Thirteen Assassins (1963 – Eiichi Kudo) pro(-) (DVD)
  • The Circle (1925 – Frank Borzage) pro (cable)
  • The End of Summer (1961 – Yasujiro Ozu) pro (DVD)
  • A Raisin in the Sun (1961 – Daniel Petrie) pro(-) (DVD)
  • I Never Sang for My Father (1970 – Gilbert Cates) pro(-) (cable)
  • And the Pursuit of Happiness (1986 – Louis Malle) pro (cable)
  • Cold Turkey (1971 – Norman Lear) pro(-) (cable)
  • Moonrise Kingdom (2012 – Wes Anderson) PRO(-) (Theater)
  • Trial (1955 – Mark Robson) pro(-) (cable)
  • Dive Bomber (1941 – Michael Curtiz) mixed (cable)
  • The Secret Partner (1961 – Basil Dearden) pro(-) (on-line)
  • Keyhole (2011 – Guy Maddin) mixed (DVD)
  • The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961 – Val Guest) pro(-) (DVD)
  • Summer and Smoke (1961 – Peter Glenville) mixed(-) (on-line)
  • Hi, Mom! (1970 – Brian De Palma) mixed(+) (DVD)
  • Tobacco Road (1941 – John Ford) mixed (cable)

Novelist Erksine Caldwell must be some sort of auteurism antidote for me.  I count John Ford and Anthony Mann amongst my all time favorite directors but can’t find much affection for their adaptations of best selling Caldwell novels – Ford with Tobacco Road (though by way of a stage version) and Mann with God’s Little Acre; and it’s not like I have a hillbilly allergy having general fondness for the likes of Baby Doll, The Southerner and comedies like Li’l Abner, Murder, He Says, and The Egg and I (which launched Ma and Pa Kettle on the movie watching world).  At least Ford’s Will Rogers rural southern set comedies of the 30s had a sense of ease; Caldwell’s Georgian universe is wild, loud, generally obnoxious and occasionally grotesque.  Incessant horn honking and the hyper comedic antics of Marjorie Rambeau as Sister Bessie, Ford regular Ward Bond as turnip loving Lov Bensey and, particularly, William Tracy as Dude can be extremely grating. Still, Ford imbues the look of the film with his usual magic touch, with some shots that would be equally at home in The Grapes of Wrath, Young Mr. Lincoln or How Green Was My Valley (also from 1941 and also lensed by Arthur C. Miller). Like much in Ford, and also to the film’s credit, there is an effective and affectionate use of music (bringing to mind the Sons of the Pioneers in Rio Grande or the sentimental spirituals in The Sun Shines Bright) with Ford hymn fave Shall We Gather at the River in heavy rotation.  Although the occasional tender and quiet moment, typically between the very good Charley Grapewin as Jeeter Lester and Elizabeth Patterson as Jeeter’s wife, offers a welcome reprieve from the clamor and hysteria.  Future Laura duo Gene Tierney (here caked in dirt) and Dana Andrews (as one of the few characters that has seen a bath) have supporting roles.

  • Apache Drums (1951 – Hugo Fregonese) pro(+) (on-line)
  • Seven Chances (1925 – Buster Keaton) pro (Blu-Ray)
  • Saddle Tramp (1950 – Hugo Fregonese) pro (on-line)
  • Project Nim (2011 – James Marsh) pro (cable)
  • The Naked Edge (1961 – Michael Anderson) con (on-line)
  • Battle Royale (2000 – Kinji Fukasaku) pro(-) (Blu-ray)
  • Taste of Fear (1961 – Seth Holt) pro (on-line)
  • Too Late Blues (1961 – John Cassavetes) mixed(+) (DVD)
  • Silver City (1951 – Byron Haskin) mixed (DVD)
  • Four Nights of a Dreamer (1971 – Robert Bresson) pro (DVD-R)
  • Trooper Hook (1957 – Charles Marquis Warren) mixed (cable)
  • Vanishing Point (1971 – Richard C. Sarafian) pro(-) (Blu-Ray)


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May 2012

Last Updated May 31, 2012

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  • The Woman in Red (1935 – Robert Florey) mixed(-) (cable)
  • Savage Messiah (1972 – Ken Russell) pro(-) (DVD-R)
  • The Dictator (2012 – Larry Charles) mixed (Theater)
  • Basic Training (1971 – Frederick Wiseman) pro (DVD)
  • Command Decision (1948 – Sam Wood) mixed(+) (cable)
  • THX 1138 (1971 – George Lucas) pro (DVD)
  • The Devils (1971 – Ken Russell) mixed(+) (DVD-R)
  • A Safe Place (1971 – Henry Jaglom) con(+) (Blu-ray)

In music a grace note is a small additional note or embellishment of short duration before the sounding of the relatively longer-lasting note.  A grace note acts as ornamentation and can be considered harmonically and melodically subservient.  When discussing films reviewers and critics often use the term grace note to describe those small, often lyrical sometimes mysterious, moments that enhance a scene, a theme or a character.  Grace notes can be minor but important flashes of suggestion and impression that serve the greater emotional core of the story.  They can be mere cuts to a character’s gesture or expression or a simple insert of a shot of the wind through the trees.  For me, it’s where the mood and spirit of a film meet the content, and as a result the meaning or impact is deepened.  Henry Jaglom’s fractured, subjective, generally non-narrative film A Safe Place comes off like an attempt to make a film entirely out of grace notes.  Yet, without any central narrative core there’s nothing to enhance, nothing to be subservient to.  The film is full of interesting, sometimes striking, images and use of music, scenes are repeated or altered for effect, the logic, if there is any, is akin to dream logic.  One saving grace is that the film stars the always enchanting Tuesday Weld, an actress that can turn even the most bizarre or muddled improvisational moment into something of interest.  Utimately the film overall is mixed bag that is compelling for a while but becomes increasingly tedious as it moves along.  Jack Nicholson (coming off his equally flawed directorial debut Drive, He Said) has a small part as Weld’s ex, but his appearance later in the film does little to invigorate matters.  Orson Welles also appears as a magician of sorts (and possible figment of the Weld character’s imagination), levitating a silver orb that anticipates the orgasmatron from Sleeper.  It’s amazing that this rather experimental film produced by BBS had a major studio (Columbia) release; but those were different times, times when you could get MGM to release the likes of Zabriskie Point with it apocalyptic desert orgy or Alex in Wonderland with its reenactment of the My Lai massacre by way of Sunset Boulevard to the strains of Hooray for Hollywood.

  • Absence of Malice (1981 – Sydney Pollack) mixed(+) (cable)
  • Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011 – Brad Bird) mixed (DVD)
  • Bleak Moments (1971 – Mike Leigh) pro(-) (DVD)

Watching Mike Leigh’s spare, drab, low key and low budgeted directorial debut Bleak Moments so soon after witnessing the feverish big budgeted garish excesses of Ken Russell’s The Music Lovers, reinforced to me that there are many methods of stylization in film, and style need not solely be the product of a film’s editing and look it is often a simple matter of tone and performance.  While Russell’s visually stunning and narratively dubious Tchiakovsky biopic eschews any sense of reality, I found Leigh’s brooding downbeat kitchen sink drama(/comedy?) to be almost equally detached from a sense of real life.  While the quotidian routines of the various characters living lives of quiet (mumbling?) desperation would certainly suggest a type of ordinariness, if not, reality, the actor’s performances are so odd that they seem downright otherworldly.  An otherworldliness that is not the byproduct of a typically theatrical acting style (the film is based on a Leigh play).  The excessively awkward and socially inept characters wear their repression on their sleeves, like it results from some sort of pandemic disease.  Despite the film’s rather deliberate pace, the frustration and general discomfort the viewer feels watching the various misfits attempt to navigate through seemingly typical social situations is strangely fascinating.  Anne Raitt as the main character, an unmarried office worker that cares for her mentally challenged adult sister (Sarah Stephenson), is first rate, subtlely suggesting an inner passion and, with each half smile, a strong sense of humor.  While Russell’s film is chock full of grandiose set pieces, Bleak Moments has some set pieces of its own – particularly an unforgettable date from hell sequence involving a near empty Chinese restaurant followed by tea and sherry fueled aborted foreplay.  It’s a whole new kind of tension.

  • Miss Bala (2011 – Gerardo Naranjo) pro(-) (DVD)
  • The Music Lovers (1970 – Ken Russell) pro(-) (DVD-R)
  • Murphy’s War (1971 – Peter Yates) pro (DVD)
  • Fata Morgana (1971 – Werner Herzog) pro(-) (DVD)
  • Thirst for Love (1967 – Koreyoshi Kurahara) pro (DVD)
  • Lili Marleen (1981 – Rainer Werner Fassbinder) pro(-) (On-line)
  • The Avengers (2012 – Joss Whedon) mixed(+) (Theater – 2D)
  • Southern Comfort (1981 – Walter Hill) pro (On-line)
  • School for Scoundrels (1960 – Robert Hamer) pro(-) (On-line)
  • A Report on the Party and the Guests (1966 – Jan Nemec) pro(-) (DVD)
  • Merrily We Go to Hell (1932 – Dorothy Arzner) mixed (DVD)
  • The Strange Woman (1946 – Edgar G. Ulmer) pro(-) (On-line)

 

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April 2012

Last Updated May 1, 2012

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  • Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World (2005 – Albert Brooks) con (DVD)
  • A Better Life (2011 – Chris Weitz) mixed (cable)
  • Conversation Piece (1974 – Luchino Visconti) pro(-) (Blu-ray)
  • The Purple Plain (1954 – Robert Parrish) pro (on-line)
  • Blanche Fury (1948 – Marc Allegret) pro(-) (on-line)
  • Madame Bovary (1991 – Claude Chabrol) mixed(+) (DVD)
  • Miss Oyu (1951 – Kenji Mizoguchi) mixed(+) (on-line)
  • Defending Your Life (1991 – Albert Brooks) mixed(+) (DVD)
  • Warrior (2011 – Gavin O’Connor) mixed (cable)
  • A Dangerous Method (2011 – David Cronenberg) mixed (Blu-Ray)
  • The Outfit (1973 – John Flynn) mixed (DVD-R)
  • Good Times, Wonderful Times (1966 – Lionel Rogosin) mixed (DVD)
  • The Lovers on the Bridge (1991 – Leos Carax) pro(+) (DVD)
  • Senna (2010 – Asif Kapadia) pro (DVD)
  • On the Bowery (1957 – Lionel Rogosin) pro(+) (DVD)
  • Lightning Strikes Twice (1951 – King Vidor) mixed(+) (DVD-R)
  • A Separation (2011 – Asghar Farhadi) PRO (Theater)
  • I Don’t Kiss (1991 – Andre Techine) mixed(+) (DVD)
  • The Heartbreak Kid (1972 – Elaine May) pro(+) (on-line)
  • Amantes (1991 – Vincent Aranda) pro (DVD)
  • Alfredo, Alfredo (1972 – Pietro Germi) mixed(+) (DVD)

When Dustin Hoffman’s Benjamin Braddock manages to liberate Elaine Robinson from the dreaded bonds of holy matrimony in Mike Nichols’ The Graduate the film ends on a rather singular ambiguous note, the future of the couple is decidedly uncertain.  Somewhat similarly Nichols old comedy partner Elaine May ends her take on Neil Simon’s The Heartbreak Kid with a curious ambiguity; though, in that case, within the context of a completed marriage ceremony.  There’s no such ambiguity in Germi’s Dustin Hoffman starring anti-marriage pro-divorce Italo sex farce Alfredo, Alfredo.  While not quite the failure the film’s generally negative reputation suggests, Alfredo, Alfredo does pale against Germi’s earlier like minded satiric black comedies Divorce – Italian Style and Seduced and Abandoned.  The comedy here is far broader, the characters are less fully formed and the call for social change (reform of Italy’s divorce laws) is far more heavy handed.  Here Germi regular Stefania Sandrelli plays the wife from hell not as a frigid shrew; but as an obsessed, irrational, insatiable type, a far different type of wife than Jeannie Berlin’s sun burned egg salad smeared tone deaf newlywed from The Heartbreak Kid.  Sex is not so much liberating to Hoffman’s nebbish Alfredo, but a prison.  In European made, set or inspired films of the period, it is only sex outside of the marriage that invigorates.  In 1972 movie terms, think of Jack Lemmon’s tightly wound character in Avanti confronting the idea of a mistress in the shadow of his father’s death, Louise Lasser’s character’s need for public love making to obtain satisfaction in the Italian film inspired segment of Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, the attempt at a form of spouse blessed infidelity in Sautet’s Cesar and Rosalie, and the protagonist’s self defeating infidelity in spirit in Rohmer’s Love in the Afternoon. At least Hoffman’s Alfredo has the good sense to engage with a modern progressive woman as a mistress (Carla Gravina), far different than Charles Grodin impulsively throwing Jeannie Berlin over for Cybill Shepherd’s shiksa goddess in a manner that differs little from Billy Pilgrim’s retrograde fantasies (?) of living out his days with the buxom Montana Wildhack on the planet Tralfamadore (Slaughterhouse Five, also from 1972).  I saw the English dubbed version of Alfredo, Alfredo, and given how much voice over narration comes from Hoffman’s character, it’s a passable (occasionally preferable) way to experience the film. It’s not Hoffman’s first stab at Italian cinema – in 1968 in his first post The Graduate release he starred in Giorgio Gentili’s flop Un dollaro per 7 vigliacchi (aka Madigan’s Millions), which I’ve managed to avoid.

  • Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (2012 – Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda) mixed(-) (Theater)
  • High Wall (1947 – Curtis Bernhardt) pro (DVD-R)

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