Posted by: ckckred | July 2, 2017

June 2017 Round-Up

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Another month, another round-up.  This June I had seen more contemporary films than I had done so in the last several months (though “contemporary” really accounts for movies that have debuted within the last several decades), as well as some more revival screenings (for Love JonesRashomon, and Paint It Black).

The Usual Suspects (Singer, 1995)

eXistenZ (Cronenberg, 1999)

I, Daniel Blake (Loach, 2017)

Fist Fight (Keen, 2017)

Love Jones (Witcher, 1997)

Wonder Woman (Jenkins, 2017)

The 400 Blows (Truffuat, 1958)

Children of the Corn (Borchers, 2009)^

Rashomon (Kurosawa, 1950)*

Paint It Black (Tamblyn, 2016)

Baby Driver (Wright, 2017)

I caught last year’s Pal d’Or winner I, Daniel Blake, and while I thought Dave Johns’ performance as the eponymous character captivating, the excessive melodrama and sentimentality at the end felt overbearing. I also finally watched The 400 Blows, perhaps the most notable feature of the French New Wave that I hadn’t seen, and while I found its child protagonist to be a relatable figure, the ending left me feeling a bit cold (though I did really enjoy the movie overall and thought its depiction of lost adolescence holds up today; a second viewing is perhaps in order).

Last week, I was fortunate enough to watch Rashomon in a newly restored 35mm print. Akira Kurosawa’s breakout feature is undoubtedly one of the most important films of the 20th century, largely for introducing the concept of the unreliable narrator to mainstream cinema, and it’s still one of the auteur’s finest work. I too enjoyed David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ, which updates Videodrome to address the hypnotic allure and mystique of video games and virtual reality, and Paint It Black, where director Amber Tamblyn, her father and actor Russ (of Twin Peaks and West Side Story fame), Alfred Molina, and cinematographer Brian Rigney Hubbard were in attendance.

^Viewed about 3/4s of the movie on an airplane ride

*Denotes a rewatch

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Responses

  1. Was it your first time seeing The Usual Suspects? If so, what were your thoughts? I am still to see I, Daniel Blake. I’ve heard tons of good things about it.

    • It was. I enjoyed The Usual Suspects, though I had the ending spoiled to me years ago (fortunately it did not ruin the experience).

      I was mixed on I, Daniel Blake. I found the performances to be solid, yet by the second half the picture morphs into a full-on political sermon. And even though I share Loach’s concerns on the need for public welfare, it was just so overly preachy.

      • They always say how The Usual Suspects’ ending is like at least half of the film’s enjoyment, but this is not really so. It is a really good film all the way. Even knowing the ending, I then re-watched this film so many times.
        Yeah, I will still see I Daniel Blake, but I agree with you – I generally do not like films which are going out of their skin to prove their point – I think that is why there is such a “genre” as documentaries there 🙂

  2. Ahh yes. The 400 Blows. One of my favorite films of all-time. I adore it not just as a great French New Wave picture but as an enthralling work of cinema. So good.

    • I do want to see it again. I learned about the ending’s ambiguity years ago, but it did leave me a bit cold (though that’s very much the point). It is a dark and very realistic portrayal of adolescence, and Léaud’s performance is quite something (I’ve enjoyed his collaborations with Godard as well).

  3. eXistenZ is a special film. Cronenberg was ahead of his time with that one and Videodrome imo. Most people get too focused on the body horror aspects.

    Sadly I have not yet seen Rashomon. Shame on me. But your reason for why it is so important makes it now an immediate must watch – apparently in the book I’m writing I’m serving as an ‘unreliable narrator’. I didn’t even know it was a thing until I was told about it! So now I must see this, thanks for pointing out that lil tidbit

    • No one does body horror like Cronenberg. Both eXistenZ and Videodrome are great movies and astute analysis at television’s and video games’ power to absorb and encircle viewers.

      And you gotta see Rashomon, it definitely introduced the concept of an unreliable narrator to mainstream cinema.

      • That is true, he was the king – it is interesting to see where his twisted visions have gone post-2000. Perhaps that’s why these two films are a bit under-appreciated thematically – cos the effects used looked damn cool and unsettling!! Videodrome in particular was a big step up I think, I love Scanners but there are some big flaws in that one! 😉 Whereas the entire last act of Videodrome is just unforgettable – he really knew how to use effects that time is kind to. Sure, it looks old hat, but still damned awesome as well!!

      • I once had to study Videodrome for a class I took (we examined the movie’s thesis about the media’s manipulation and subversion of the conscious mind) and I was the only person who loved the movie. I really like Scanners too but Videodrome really is a big step up; nobody can do body horror like Cronenberg.

      • Foooor sure. That is awesome that you got to write a thesis on a movie. I hate my city man, if I could I’d be studying film, or cinematography, or something. Anything but acting!!

        But there is just fuck all down here, you literally need to get a bunch of mates who have never acted and shoot the thing on the cheeeeeap. Unless you know someone of course *COUGH Nicholas Cage

        ahem.

        I actually have a screenplay that’d be ideal for my situation cos it only needs one max two characters and could be filmed in my shed with some good background stuff added in. It is about a shut-in who…. is rather disturbed. You seen Rolf de Heer’s Bad Boy Bubby? Well yeah, its a shitload darker than that >;D

        I just need one person to play that main role, the rest is logistics and me not being a lazy arse!

      • That sounds pretty cool. I’ve been trying to get a short film up and running for a while as well, and purposefully wrote only two characters to make it easier. Unfortunately I’ve had difficulty finding the time to produce it.

      • Yeah time is a factor me, as is finding someone who is freaking reliable. Coming up is the Adelaide Film Festival, which is always doooope, so I’m gonna do my best to try and get my foot in the door, meet someone who can steer me in the right direction. I just need ONE decent actor who is prepared to carry a short by himself. The way I plan to shoot it, his face (from the front) ain’t gonna be in it much anyways.

      • I’ve worked with a couple of local actors I’ve liked in the past but haven’t stayed in touch with them. It’s hard finding someone right for the role I’m writing, since I’m planning on doing a 1-act film.

      • How does that make it different? Obviously I have no clue, mine could be 1 or 2, depending if I can get other people to do minor roles. But its hard not knowing anyone, in a city and country that does not give two shits about film

      • For my film, essentially one character will be doing 95% of the lines, so my film rests upon finding the proper actor.

      • Same here, if I go one way it will be around that mark as well. If I can get a few friends to do small parts it’ll be two acts and a lot different. But both are ready, there isn’t a ton of dialogue. But like I said I don’t need anyone amazing, just reliable damnit. No one respects film in this city. It disgusts me. The few who have expressed interest really liked the concept but that is probably where I am falling down. The story is really fucked up and I seem to be attracting fucked up people who aren’t reliable, ha

      • That sucks. I’m pretty lucky in that I’ve spent most of my life living in big cities with great access to film, but there should be way more people who respect the medium.

      • yeah, most of my mates quite literally see going to the cinema as being ‘trapped’. I’ve heard those words more than once. It… puzzles me greatly.

        BTW I am posting some of my music on my page over the next few days – would really value your input and criticisms. The next two coming though are more doom/noise improv stuff, kinda like Boris but half the time just making as much pure noise as possible. I just posted a vocal-less demo of what we have whipped up this year – i need to get onto the lyrics so we can add vocals, get some better takes and print the fucker

      • I’d be happy to check out your stuff. Tell me when it’s up.

      • I just put up my more… normal stuff up. Its got no vocals but you kinda get the idea – its a mash up of a lot of late 80’s stuff. Last track is a shameless homage to Discharge hehe

        Will post the two drone/noise recordings over the next coupla days. Its… noisy. haha.

      • Cool, will listen to it soon.

      • cheers dude, keen to hear some feedback. And let ‘er rip ey, its the only way I/we can get better


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