• Duckweed

    Duckweed

    ★★½

    My tenth Yang.

    Duckweed (or Floating Weeds, not to be confused with Ozu's two same-titled films) is a two-part television film—itself one part of a telefilm anthology series called "Eleven Women"—from Edward Yang, his first directorial effort. Hard to see Yang beyond the haze of what is a pretty soapy, generally uninvolving production that laxes fairly quickly (then recovers in the final moments), but the echoes of his auteurship rear occasionally, e.g. alienated adolescence, country life v. city life, the…

  • Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

    Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

    ★★★½

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Upon research, I would have rather wished Murnau and Mayer had went with Sudermann's (author of the short story "The Excursion to Tilsit" upon which the film is based) more somber ending as opposed to the CHC "happy ending" we're given here—would imagine then that my chief grievance with the film would have been solved had they done so... says the unavailing critic nearly a century after the film's initial release.

    The Man, as he is credited, is simply too…

  • White Noise

    White Noise

    ★★

    Like the violent, multi-vehicular catalyst of the Airborne Toxic Event, it's a turbulent collision of Buñuel (the off-kilter absurdism of The Phantom of Liberty) and Pynchon (the quirky, conspiratorial, epistemological, and academic metafiction reckoned by characters sparring with "the system" or themselves), with the chemical components of, oddly, Spielberg's War of the Worlds, the technoparanoia of Crichton, the playfulness of Godard, and the general, controversial weirdness of Ballard. Indeed, White Noise* is, in bits and pieces, all of these things—elements…

  • BARDO, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths

    BARDO, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths

    ★★

    A quick supplementation (and slight expansion) of what I cranked out on Twitter throughout my viewing this.

    My fourth Iñárritu.

    In brief, it would seem Iñárritu is doing Wild Strawberries + The Tree of Life + Fellini. But he's no Fellini, he's certainly no Bergman, and he's no Malick—at least, when Malick is at his best. Rather, he would seem closer to channeling Malick ca. Knight of Cups and Song to Song, in that he also is crafting a lush…

  • Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

    Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

    ★★★★★

    Some vague spoilers. Proceed with caution.

    My first Akerman*, after years and years of delay. You breathe in long enough the sweet scent of cinema and Chantal Akerman will soon enough show herself to you.

    "I could never make love with someone I wasn't deeply in love with."

    She still wears her wedding ring. She wears it while bathing, while kneading meatloaf, while doing the dishes. She even wears it while having sex with callers.

    Six years has she spent…

  • Blonde

    Blonde

    ★★

    Fiction via nonfiction, false idolatry disguised as reverence. A bizarre marriage of self-aggrandizing stylizations (i.e. von Trierisms; illogical color and aspect ratio changes, fetal telepathy, et al.) and the cruelty of men, thought to be their protectors, upon women, e.g. (but done much better in) Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me*. Under Dominik's repetitive command, it's like watching a woman being dragged for three hours through an abattoir, with a cattle gun to the skull awaiting her (and us, for…

  • Athena

    Athena

    ★★½

    A fire-blooded, high-speed locomotive filled with petrol and gunpowder set to explode. To an extent, it's impressive as a force of action filmmaking, but as much it wants to be a raging potboiler about a violent revolt following the murder of a French-Algerian teenager in a French banlieue, it also wants to be an opera—an enticing design in theory, but one that only succors contradictions between form and narrative. Those impressive long tracking shots (similar to those found in Nemes'…

  • Alphaville

    Alphaville

    ★★★½

    My seventh Godard.

    Excellent as a lesson in worldbuilding, operating within the same utopic/dystopic confines of works like Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness and Szathmári's Voyage to Kazohinia (and, dare I say, to ensnare some readers, a prolonged episode of Cowboy Bebop) wherein an unconversant envoy is dropped into an alien world and must learn to survive, circumvent, or understand its peculiar psychosocial mores and catechisms. A world in which computers are synthesizing their own bastardized (in)version of…

  • Weekend

    Weekend

    ★★½

    "What a rotten film. All we meet are crazy people."

    My third Godard. (RIP)

    It's Bonnie and Clyde in a world full of Bonnies and Clydes. They are all, each of them, caught in some eddy of surrealist violence, stacked upon each other in some bastardized likeness of the circles of hell itself.

    Enter France in the throes of cataclysm, the so-called l'Hexagone made the geopolitical epicenter of Godard's rambling philosophy, a stream-of-consciousness condemnation of not only France's sociopolitical atmosphere,…

  • Nomad

    Nomad

    ★★★½

    As with the thematic constants found in Taiwan New Cinema, this early article of the Hong Kong New Wave deals in the hybridization and dissension of disparate cultures (e.g. David Bowie posters lining walls, much like Elvis Presley records occupying the rooms of the characters in Edward Yang's A Brighter Summer Day, a remark on the Nanjing Massacre as racial tensions arise in a particular scene, etc.), the fast-approaching advent of modernity, and the upheaval of traditional social mores, all…

  • Retribution

    Retribution

    ★★★

    My tenth Kurosawa, twelfth overall.

    It comes on pretty quickly, the notion that this film, Cure (1997), and Pulse (2001) are a part of some unofficial trilogy. Retribution—the last of this proposed "trilogy," each released around the turnstile of the new millennium—effectively combines the two other films, taking the multiple-murder procedural of Cure and the ghostly dark fantasies of Pulse, while situating the action once again in the half-destroyed, perpetually overcast districts of Tokyo. Between the three, always does it…

  • Mad God

    Mad God

    ★★★

    A sort of grindhouse Dante's Inferno (minus the guiding Virgil) via the painterly hellscapes of Hieronymus Bosch, the macabre puppetry of the Quay brothers, and the gonzo irrationality of Shinya Tsukamoto. Quite similar to Oshii's Angel's Egg, e.g. a largely voiceless journey through some decaying world where beasts and freakish humanoids roam freely, and the natural laws are all but dashed. A bit tedious in certain stretches (with particular apologies to the mad-god Alex Cox "live-action" episodes), but always is…