• In a Year with 13 Moons

    In a Year with 13 Moons

    IN A YEAR OF 13 MOONS. I hadn’t seen it in a long time - I’m in a better position to appreciate it now than in 1980, but I found it a bit hard to pull together. We’re told the protag got his sex change after a casual comment by Saitz, which sounds like mad love, even if we don’t see much of Elvira’s fervor sent in Saitz’s direction. (Elvira first is headlong in love with Christophe, and then concerns…

  • I Only Want You to Love Me

    I Only Want You to Love Me

    I Only Want You to Love Me. (Spoilers) The rare Fassbinder film in which the lead actors aren’t part of his stock company. But both are good, especially Zeplichal, whose nervous habit of giggling in the middle of lines of dialogue is reflexive/obtrusive in the way RWF likes, without exactly resembling the acting of RWF’s regulars. Unlike in the somewhat similarly plotted Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?, there are a few fast flash-forwards to the climactic crime. (Do the…

  • Lili Marleen

    Lili Marleen

    Lili Marleen. Atypically, Fassbinder plays with fast cuts (almost like old-time three-camera TV at times, with multiple returns to the same setup); ends many scenes in a jangling, premature way; hustles the story along. He steps away from the montage-driven rhythms of the larger social overview in favor of a more continuous and calmer mise-en-scène in the scenes that center on Schygulla’s private life, primarily her often-interrupted but never-extinguished love for her guy Giancarlo Giannini. Schygulla is quite good, indirect…

  • Martha

    Martha

    Martha. (Spoiler alert.) I had the hardest time with it this time around. The sadism of the story was channeled through a character (Bohm), and big disruptive actions are assimilated into normality without fuss. After a while, how far Bohm will go to dominate Carstensen becomes a form of comedy, with no apparent limitation on his initiative, as her resistance is partial and easily blocked. To give Carstensen any agency is to tilt toward drama; to give her none is…

  • The Passion of Berenice

    The Passion of Berenice

    The Passion According to Berenice. It’s focused on the mystery of the main character and on almost nothing else. In the beginning there are a few hints of her opacity, like the obscenity she draws on a bathroom stall door. Her demeanor, virginal with bursts of unexpected ribaldry, can’t easily be understood, seeming as it does to cross the lines of a societal virgin/whore dichotomy. Hermosillo’s style is more extreme than I remembered, with lots of long-take scenes, ending with…

  • Three Thousand Years of Longing

    Three Thousand Years of Longing

    Three Thousand Years of Longing. It was kind of light, knew it, played with it a bit - I didn’t mind that, at least when the characters were trading lines and somewhat present. Unfortunately, there was a lot of CGI, visual wonder, etc., and eventually the ratio of that stuff to people stuff ran unacceptably high. It's a “woman’s film” in the old sense of the phrase, with Swinton the identification figure and Elba a romantic fantasy that comes true.…

  • Close-Up

    Close-Up

    Close-Up. I liked it quite a bit this time: I was impressed by the introduction, with its odd distribution of time among the participants in the arrest; and by the rolling aerosol can that was kicked back into motion at the end of a scene. The investigation of the Sabzian character was somewhat less revelatory, but the film popped to life again when Kiarostami put a wire (defective, no less!) on the real Makhmalbaf as he takes charge. I like…

  • Je T'Aime, Je T'Aime

    Je T'Aime, Je T'Aime

    Je t'aime, je t'aime. Pretty much a perfect film. The story may be Sternberg or Resnais’ attempt to give Resnais a new excuse for fragmenting time: it tells a chronological tale in the present, and the personal story in the past is filled in a bit at a time by judicious use of the time-machine effect. Resnais here resorts to fairly natural sound with a lot of ambience, so that sound and image are generally a whole that is ripped…

  • Emily the Criminal

    Emily the Criminal

    Emily the Criminal. (Spoilers.) The film is fascinating, and really puts forward Aubrey Plaza as a great actor: there’s no distance at all between her existence and her characterization, and the film seems designed (it’s probably her project: she’s a producer, her husband a scriptwriter) to break with her deadpan comic persona and give her a fully dramatic role, which she nails without visible effort. The script is well-strategized, with its most distinctive moment the unexpectedly honest presentation of Theo…

  • How Green Was My Valley

    How Green Was My Valley

    How Green Was My Valley. I don’t enjoy it much anymore: it’s like a Disney film, all swirls of expressionism with very little grit or randomness. Ford’s tendency to caricature bad guys is at a peak, and there’s a lot of typage even among the others. Crisp is very effective, but there aren’t many moments I liked outright. (23 Feb 2008)

  • The Day After

    The Day After

    The Day After. Starts slow, with nighttime improvised scenes suggesting a narrative that would eventually be revealed as two narratives. For a while the film seemed to be flashing back and forth from the beginning to the end of a relationship - I need a second viewing to determine if this was in fact two separate relationships and actresses. In any case, the cause and effect we perceive between the suspicious wife and the budding Kwon-Kim relationship is incorrect, though…

  • Gunman's Walk

    Gunman's Walk

    Gunman’s Walk. Even better than I remembered, with a good Frank Nugent script, on theme but intelligent and well organized. Karlson cares a lot about acting, about line delivery: he keeps the darker emotions real enough that he can afford to introduce cross-currents (like Darren’s repeated lapses back into the happy younger brother role with Hunter, even after his unhappiness with his family was well established); he’s also able to give us gradings of Hunter’s sociopathy, showing his more socially…