Mineshaft Gap

It's a screening log, no more no less. Maybe I'll have something interesting to say one of these days...

Conservative America.

Cars (Lasseter, 2006)

Charming and sweet, if not quite the equal of other PIXAR films, Lasseter's peon to '50s and '60s America veers between gently charming and promoting a reductionary ideology about conservative America and the "fly over states". The message is light enough though not to interfere with enjoying this cute but slight children's film.

Manderlay (von Trier, 2005)

A sequel(of sorts) to von Trier's 2003 masterpiece Dogville, Manderlay is a vicious attack on the supposedly liberal face of America. Manderlay is a world of prolonged slavery, and von Trier says explicitly that white Americans still enslave people to this day. The different facets of Grace shown in this film almost make her a different character than Kidman's Grace, she has taken on the role of pseudo-liberal society that was Paul Bettany's Tom in Dogville. As with that film, Manderlay's Bowie-scored close is blistering.

More films.

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (Cassavetes, 1976)

Why is it that I have become so interested in films elliptically about artists? Pierrot le Fou and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie are both about their makers more than about any plot or genre. Cosmo Vitteli is John Cassavetes. He is the center of an eccentric family of performers, all working to express themselves and stay alive. The film has the same air of tragedy as Godard's: that of the lost artist. And yet, in the same way as Godard this film has hints of a simple misogyny. But it is undercut in the films by Godrd's love of Karina, even in his sadness, and by Mr. Sophistication, Cassavetes grotesque self portrait. He uses the genre's conventions towards a probing examination of art of self.

Dreamgirls (Condon, 2006)

Way too long, but with good songs and great performances by Murphy and Hudson. Condon has no personal style, which limits this from being anything special.

Flowers from Shanghai (Hou, 1998)

My first Hou Hsiao-Hsien. It took me a good 20 minutes to adjust to his style, because he is speaking in a language all his own. The film he makes here is ravishing and epically sad. Off putting at first, the series of fades give the film a sense of memory that never borders on nostalgia. Leung and the ensemble feel authentically of the period. This is an incredibly intriguing film which may be a masterpiece; only more Hou films will help me to know.

10 adjusting.

I just realized that Tristram Shandy is an '06 film. There for it is in the list. As always it will probably be February before I see all the films I need to to make this list. I have high hopes for Children of Men, Three Times, Pan's Labyrinth and Inland Empire.

Current 2006 Top Ten:
1. The Departed
2. Miami Vice
3. Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
4. The Queen
5. A Prairie Home Companion
6. United 93
7. Casino Royale
8. Inside Man
9. Dave Chapelle's Block Party
10. Borat


Celine and Julie Go Boating (Rivette, 1974)

What is this film? It is about stories and memory, and friendship. Is it too long? Yes, but I would not give up one of the digressions, from Celine and the suitor to Julie and the audition. This film is filled with such a joy about stories and telling them. It can be intoxicating to watch. It is in and of the cinema. It is a masterpiece.

Seed of Chucky (Mancini, 2004)

Funny and even a little brave, this is the way almost any horror comedy should be. Jennifer Tilly should be a star.

Movies of late.

In addition to starting to watch but failing to get through Pulse, the American remake, here's what I have seen of late.

Unaccompanied Minors (Feig, 2006)

Cute, and the Kids in the Hall guys were great.

Je Vous Salue, Marie (Godard, 1985)

More proof of the greatness of large images, watching this on my new bigger TV made all the difference from my first viewing a year ago. Godard's clarity of thought screams through in this film. He gets at the heart of the difficulties of faith. His eye lingers perhaps a little too long on young naked bodies, but the fervor of his ideas is breathtaking.

Petit Notes a propos du film Je Vous Salue, Marie (Godard, 1985)

Another of Godard's video preparations for a feature, this one ruminating on the nature of facial poses and the influence of music. A fantastic piece of video criticism.

The Dreamers (Bertolucci, 2003)

There is something so compelling about the lives of beautiful people on film. The politics are only given glossy treatment, but the films do feel truly loved and the performances are fantastic. Bernardo's own personal experience is what drives this film. His own worship of Godard, and coming of age during the Nouvelle Vague(he would have been a significant, but still minor 7-8 years older than his subjects here during May of '68). A film that can be loved for its cinephilia, despite it's shallowness or flaws.


Woyzeck (Herzog, 1979)

Woyzeck is perhaps the only of his collaborations with Herzog in which you pity Kinski. The classic character is such a beaten dog that you feel immensely sad for him, even in the heights of his madness by the end of the film.


The Exorcist (Friedkin, 1973)

Utterly disappointing to me.

The Crazies (Romero, 1973)

With each film I see from him, it is more and more clear that Romero is not just the greatest horror director of all time, but one of the greatest political filmmakers and just plain filmmakers we have ever had. This film bristles with relevance to this day, and transforms the disaster genre into one of its few expressions of art. Romero's films feel so personal, and are so clearly a voice calling out in the darkness that it saddens me to watch what the genre has become with the Saw franchise, amongst others. At least George A. is still around to remind us of what horror can be.

Badlands (Malick, 1973)

An utterly perfect existentialist film, Badlands inspired such a pure burst of cinephilia in me that it is like seeing the opening of a new path. Bittersweet it may be that in thirty years Malick has made only three other masterpieces, and like Welles his greatest film may have been his first, but that takes nothing away from Badlands or from the looks exchanged in that airplane between Kit and Holly.

Jean Luc and Werner.

Une Femme Est Une Femme (Godard, 1961)

The 52" widescreen TV I just bought is a godsend. It's not seeing movies in the cinema, but so much closer. That would probably be the best way to explain what happened to me during my second viewing of Une Femme est Une Femme. What had been fun, but like all Godard slightly boring, turned into a magical and wonderful experience. The image really is the thing, so now I must rewatch every major film I had only seen on my 19" TV.

Lessons of Darkness (Herzog, 1992)

Perhaps SciFi really is the best way to see our world. Herzog's beautiful yet sad symphony in fire began as science fiction before taking us into the brutality of human beings. The simple shot of mother and sun is as powerful as the godlike tilt downs from the skies. Fire has never looked so horrible and so haunting.