Lots of films that I haven’t written about. Some in this post I even loved, just haven’t had the time to dedicate to writing about them in-depth.
La Menace (Corneau, 1977).
I really wanted to like this film. Yves Montand in a thriller directed by Alain Corneau! But it’s so illogical and heavy-handed. Montand’s planning is unnecessarily complicated and kind of laughable when you think, well, if everyone had just said what they should’ve this all could’ve been avoided. Although I’m pretty sure that Montand’s character watches A Touch of Zen (or is that Dragon Inn) on the airplane, which is awesome.
Christine (Campos, 2016)
I loved Christine. Great Rebecca Hall performance – also from the supporting cast – and some superb, tight-space blocking. My favorite of Antonio Campos’ films thus far.
Little Sister (Clark, 2016)
A nice meditation on the end of the Bush era and the beginning of the Obama era; as this dysfunctional family goes, so go the off-screen politics. Some of the character “types” (and they’re just that) are a bit too cute for my tastes, but as middle-America metaphor I really like what’s going on here.
In Order of Disappearance (Moland, 2014)
Really fun Stellan Skarsgård revenge flick that takes advantage of a chilly setting, nicely timed dark comedy, and a nicely staged climax.
Jackie (Larrain, 2016)
Consider how much I like all of Pablo Larrain’s films I was really excited for Jackie…and I just didn’t love it. Portman’s performance is spot-on, but it feels hollow and sort of farcical. You get caught up in the interview moments, which are the best part of the film, but the flashback scenes add little insight beyond the (and I suppose this is the ultimate intention) clash/contradiction of public and private life we see.
Lucy (Besson, 2014)
Caught this one on a plane. It’s basically what you’d expect. Sort of ridiculous philosophizing combined with some good Luc Besson action sequences, and a plot that is short on much else besides the above.
99 Homes (Bahrani, 2014)
If you think Michael Shannon only plays weirdos watch this. He’s amazing. One of the huge strengths of this film is how much time and effort is given to show those evicted in the montages. Most films would just mail that in. But here there’s such diversity (ethnicity, language, age, gender, body types, etc) and such varied reactions. It’s more than one shot per person. The interactions can be heard, so it’s not just music-dominated. And the interactions feel real with body language and facial expressions. This is a really good script. Birdman won best original script in 2014. This is a better script.
Dragon Inn and A Touch of Zen (Hu, 1967 and 1971)
I was so excited to see a King Hu film referenced in La Menace because I just watched these last year. Great films! Such amazing choreography, fantastic composition, and sophisticated camerawork. No wonder the trailers compared him to John Ford. Things are just logical and work in these films, and they’re really, really fun.
Zero Focus (Nomura, 1961)
Not a lot of camera movement, but when it does move it’s meaningful the (dolly at the wedding, dolly back when Hisako accidentally poisons herself in the car). Is the Noto Cliff the same as in The Demon from 1978 (also directed by Nomura)? An oddly talky film: almost nothing is achieved visually aside from the photo she finds at the beginning and the poisoned whiskey.
Creative Control (Dickinson, 2015)
Gah, what a great concept…but I’m not always on-board for the execution. I think the hipster-ness is meant to be takedown, but when it’s omnipresent even for the characters who aren’t clearly being satirized then it becomes a crutch.
The Trap (Golubovic, 2007)
Really taught thriller that might feel cliche if not for the political (apolitical, perhaps) background. No more Serbian war, but there are still plenty of people struggling in its wake.
Wiener Dog (Solondz, 2016)
A great Solondz film that has his fingerprints all over it: cynical scenes, punctuated with some hope that is almost immediately extinguished. The Danny DeVito sequence is funny, and I wonder if Solondz lived through that film school experience. It feels like it.
Sworn Virgin (Bispuri, 2015)
A film that didn’t get to me right away, but has stuck with me. I really liked Sworn Virgin and need to watch it again. The introduction to the rituals on-screen (of “eternal virginity”) is really unsettling.