RSS feed for Jake
  • Female Trouble 1974

    ★★★★★ Watched 16 Jul, 2014 1

    The prevailing image I have of John Waters' filmography is smeared lipstick, a nod to his characters' simultaneous acquiescence to standards of beauty and their inability (usually willful) to meet them. It looks childish, like a kid who broke into mommy's makeup to carry out a rudimentary imitation, but also defiant, a deliberate smudge on the "proper" image that does as much to suggest a parallel dimension as the puke-pastel and polyester aesthetic that makes his films look like German…

  • The Fly 1986

    ★★★★★ Watched 19 Jul, 2014

    David Cronenberg is not a minimalist—I think any claim to that term evaporates right around the moment a man turns into an undulating mass of tumors in real time—but his economic formalism, I think, displays the same strengths as the best in that field. That is to say, he has an incredible knack of specifically guiding and manipulating the viewer to certain topics but giving enough leeway to invite all manner of interpretations. Released into the context of the exploding…

  • Pickpocket 1959

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 15 Jul, 2014

    A film of uncommon depth made possible by its austerity. At once leaves everything open to you the viewer and clearly shows a guiding hand working to make what seems so minimal and unadorned purely focused on getting an intended response. The tragic prequel to L'ARGENT's horror.

  • Waking Life 2001

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 10 Jul, 2014

    Socrates said "The unexamined life is not worth living," but WAKING LIFE suggests that it is impossible to live without self-examination, that dreams are a way to take a break from consciousness to ruminate on it. I saw WAKING LIFE when I was 18 or 19, freshly into film and suffering from an acute case of being a college freshman. I called it pretentious, pointless, self-absorbed, and all the other adjectives young people use without a hint of self-awareness when…

  • Under the Skin 2013

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 08 Jul, 2014

    The Kubrick allusions are understandable (BIRTH was, wrongly, seen as Kubrick moving forward in a new vessel), and the beginning of UTS seems to reference 2001—a round cyber eye, light peeling over a motorcycle helmet in a makeshift Stargate sequence. But this is very much Glazer's film, abstract where Kubrick is largely upfront about his themes, and more mournful than the black comic streak that runs under the other director's work. Besides, for all the gorgeous framing and beautifully unguarded…

  • Gone to Earth 1950

    ★★★★★ Watched 01 Jul, 2014

    Oh, what I wouldn't give for a restoration of this like the ones that other Archers films have received for Criterion. From that opening shot of a tree(?) gnarled to resemble a giant wolf encasing the white outline of a human being, GONE TO EARTH establishes itself as melodramatic fairy tale, one bound by a romance not dissimilar from the one in THE RED SHOES but filtered through a superstitious, earthen lens that gives the film a shockingly pagan bent.…

  • L'âge d'or 1930

    ★★★★★ Watched 28 Jun, 2014

    Overpoweringly erotic, with eroticism as blatant protest against Catholic dogma's dominance over the cultures that practice the religion and sometimes self-immolating for its repressed passions. People like to joke that critics are prudes when it comes to lewd content, always proclaiming how explicit nudity isn't sexy when they see it in art films. But honestly, nudity and sex in "art" nowadays seems so wrapped up in guilt and miserablism that it's hard to get off when you feel bad for…

  • Muriel, or The Time of Return 1963

    ★★★★★ Watched 27 Jun, 2014

    Resnais' early '60s trilogy concludes with maybe its strongest work on selective memory and its porous relation w/ other memories and objective reality. That opening jumble of editing seems, in a single minute, to set the pace for Nic Roeg's entire career, and the insolubility of past regrets, be they political or romantic, makes the present unbearable. It's a damnably heady film, yet like so much of Resnais' best work, it is felt as much as it challenges.

  • A Hard Day's Night 1964

    ★★★★★ Watched 20 Jun, 2014

    Irrepressible joy undiluted by 50 years of having the Beatles' greatness almost undone by people insisting on it and 50 years of ripoffs of the film's proto-music video style. The self-satisfaction in Ringo's voice when someone asks him "What are you up to?" and he holds up a magazine and announces "Page five!" is worth the price of admission alone.

  • The More the Merrier 1943

    ★★★★★ Watched 22 Jun, 2014 1

    THE MORE THE MERRIER is post-screwball, verbally dextrous but measured, propelled by Coburn's laconic drawl that renders the manic plotting of screwball as more of a chessmaster's game. The blocking regularly stresses how carefully posed his house of cards is, though unlike earlier comedies, it's funny precisely because that house never topples.

    Stevens and Ted Tetzlaff shoot the apartment peering in through the windows capturing the division between characters and how they are slowly dissolved. It's also great when McCrea…

  • Boyhood 2014

    ★★★★★ Watched 19 Jun, 2014

    I admit I didn't care as much for BEFORE MIDNIGHT as most, not because it was a downer after its predecessors' uplifting romance but because it took vivacious, unorthodox characters and reduced them to staid middle-aged types: the housewife who gave up her career ambitions to raise kids while the husband is never home but acts like he contributes. It foregrounded realistic aspects of arguments (Celine bringing up having to clean Jesse's pee off of toilet rims; Jesse understandably pissed…

  • Opening Night 1977

    ★★★★★ Rewatched 14 Jun, 2014

    A perfect movie. I'm writing a full piece on it, and I almost don't want to. It's so rich and dense that trying to even provide light summary of what it accomplishes is so hard.