Paul Schrader, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, 1985

29 May 2013 / 1 note

16 Apr 2012 / 0 notes

Ryan Fleck, Half Nelson (2006)

Lena Dunham, every hazy post-grad girl’s #1 influence, says that it’s important to “Watch films and TV shows you love again and again to learn about storytelling” (*SOURCE = Teen Vogue, whatwhattt). I’m so glad that this successful filmmaker has validated the way I spend roughly 99% of my time in this well-respected publication. Film Quarterly it’s not, but she is speaking to an age group that needs to hear this and KEEP ON doing it. As I was re-watching Half Nelson with my sister this week, I realized why I had coerced her into seeing what Netflix would likely call a “Dark Urban Drama Featuring Improbable Friendships and Crack Cocaine” instead an episode of LA Ink (which, now that I think of it, could perhaps fall under the same headline).

This movie continues to surprise and captivate me with every viewing — I lose myself because I become so invested in these characters. This is accomplished not only by the incredible performances by Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps, but by a clear narrative intention on the part of the director Ryan Fleck. 

In an opening scene, Daniel Dunne (Gosling) is sitting in front of a chalkboard on which the question “What is History?” is written. He tries to explain to his middle school students that history is, in effect, opposing forces coming together to cause change: left and right, big and little, you and I. The idea of opposites is key when it comes to montage,  but here it takes on an even greater sense as two seemingly different people come together to give meaning to the other. While some transitions between scenes can seem discordant or as if they’ve been cut too soon, these moments of juxtoposition succeed in bridging the gaps between two ideas, places, and, as the case is here, a teacher and a student. You and I. 

27 Mar 2012 / 1 note

Yorgos Lanthimos, Kynodontas (Dogtooth), (2009)

In Dogtooth, the Greek film awarded the “Prix Un Certain Regard" at Cannes in 2010, the characters move about like dolls, their actions limited to stiff, indifferent motions carried out each day. Confined to their home and backyard, three children without names grow up playing games, eating meals together, filming family videos and then watching them for entertainment, reciting the words that they’ve said aloud. It’s a kind of paradise, a world without telephones, school, other people. But this huis clos devolves when the outside world breaks in, in the form of sex, zombies and Sylvester Stallone. 

The Headless Sisters 

Almost every scene features a shot that leaves the heads out of the frame. Something’s missing. 

Today’s activity: fun with anesthesia.

Mary Tsoni as younger daughter, Aggeliki Papoulia as older daughter, above

Christos Passalis as son, above, bravely executing the cat-beast in their yard. 

 A rare display of hysteria 

Older daughter is exposed to contraband Bruce Lee videos. 

Which she quotes at all the right moments. 

Vocabulary lessons from their parents. When the son asks, “What’s a zombie?” his mother replies, “A zombie is a small yellow flower.” Perhaps he should have looked in the mirror. 

Family videos, a reinforcement of just how happy they are. The replacement of these home movies with Rocky and Flashdance is the first time “others” are brought into the house. 

Happy Anniversary, mother and father. And now for a little dance (the best scene in the film —> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLOy4_tzXHY). 

27 Mar 2012 / 0 notes

Michael Haneke, La Pianiste (The Piano Teacher) (2002)

Isabelle’s spoiled me for anyone else. 

Isabelle Huppert, above 

La Pianiste is hard to shake. It tells a story we’ve heard before: loneliness, repression, fantasy and its counterpart, le quotidien. But here there’s no relief, whether it’s in the form of a resolution and happy ending for Erika, a stifled piano teacher played by Isabelle Huppert, or even in the form of sleep, which she spends in a twin bed pushed next to her mother’s, their relationship proving to be closer and more complicated than those of most married couples. 

Huppert and Annie Giradot, above

Huppert’s portrait of desperation is tragically convincing; we’re let into her private life which allows us to see through her stoic exterior, her only defense. 

Benoît Magimel

Perhaps the only escape offered Erika is Walter, a comparatively naïve student whom Erika begins to teach. Benoît is another new favorite of mine. 

You might say that music is her one companion, but it proves to only be something to devote her time and talent to lest she explode. Her real passion lies elsewhere. 

Love is in the air?

Shades of desperation. 

.

Alone, exiting the concert hall. 

27 Mar 2012 / 0 notes

James Bridges, The Paper Chase (1973)

THE PRESSURE…IS…KILLING THEM!

Hart, played by Timothy Bottoms the gingham button-up, is perhaps the most lovable protagonist you’ve ever met. In The Paper Chase, every Harvard Law student goes by his (and even her, if you’re one of the few girls shown on screen) last name, among teachers, friends, significant others…and it feels so right. 

This movie is why the 70s was film’s BEST DECADE. 

Timothy Bottoms & Lindsay Wagner

REBELLIOUS LAW STUDENTS! Sneaking in to the library at night. 

Not dope fiends hatching a terrorist plot. Just studying for finals in a hotel room. 

27 Mar 2012 / 0 notes

Face/Off, John Woo (1997) 

5 Feb 2012 / 0 notes

Cat People, Jacques Tourneur (1942)

Simone Simon

1 Feb 2012 / 0 notes

Todd Browning, Freaks (1932)

"One of us, one of us! Gooble gobble, gooble, gobble. We accept her, we accept her!"

27 Jan 2012 / 0 notes

"You should be squatting on a mushroom, right next to the DOG-FACED BOY." 

"You should be squatting on a mushroom, right next to the DOG-FACED BOY." 

12 Dec 2011 / Reblogged from gettinhighinthemorning with 88 notes