Weekly movie round up
La nouvelle vague par elle-même
(Robert Valey, France 64) B
More of an interesting document now, as the most famous directors of the French New Wave - Godard, Truffaut, Rivette, Chabrol are a given; amongst others Varda, Rouch, Demy, Franju join in - say what they think on the brink of the Nouvelle Vague getting "uncommercial". It´s pretty much what you think they would, occasional interesting comments on their movies notwithstanding.
(Rakesh Mera, India 2001) B
Hindi megastar Amitabh Bachchan in an unlikely mixture of Face/Off, Fallen
and a few others. Starts off plain crazy, loses a bit of steam near the end, but never fails to baffle with extravagant imitations of the originals, slightly upgraded on cheesiness, color delirium and improbability. (Yeah, not easy.) Doesn´t amount to anything in the end, but is a fun ride. Downgraded a notch because half the musical numbers are plot-motivated, upgraded a notch because they take place in a strip club.
(Jacques Rivette, France 76) (grade withheld)
First entry (tho second part) of a series of four interlocking films that Rivette planned in 75, all set during the 40 days of the spring carnival (where mere mortals and gods can co-exist, if you ask why), each intended to be influenced by another genre. This one is heavily noir indebted, with quotes from Kiss Me Deadly, The Big Sleep, The Lady From Shanghai
etc. The plot only gradually emerges which makes this demanding viewing, even more so as everything seems to take place in a world behind glass, leaving the viewer in uncomfortable distance: Juliette Berto & Bulle Ogier play goddesses competing for a diamond that will allow them to stay in the human world; mostly staged as a series of carefully crafted nightly tableaus (very Feuilladish) with the actors inventing their movements to the soundtrack improvised in the back of the scene (by Jean Wiener & his band) with all the dances and conversations being duels on trust/mistrust and information/denial of information. In a way, the opposite of the predecessor, Celine & Julie
, this time withdrawing from the world: Not a film you really like during watching, rather exuding an ambivalent fascination. Somehow I find myself secretly looking forward to a second look already; utterly baffled I hereby quit the grading system which I don´t believe in anyway (except as a shorthand). In the meantime, the other finished film of the tetralogy (it flopped badly, so it was dispensed with after that), Noirot
, reportedly a delirious tale of pirate queens, is waiting.
Out of the Past
(Jacques Tourneur, USA 47)
My annual viewing on the big screen and a good point pro-rating system. What else to say than A+. (This time, I tried to figure out the three-level structure of Tourneur´s mise-en-scène, but I´m still wrestling.)
Nachts im Park
(Uwe Janson, Germany 2001)
Ultra-bad TV-film accidentally shot in scope. Ridiculous emulation of hip Tarantino gangsterism plus painful comic antics plus hypothetical love story. Not fully redeemed by occasional scoring in the "involuntarily funny" department.
(Fernando Trueba, Spain/France/Italy, 2000)
A tribute to Latin Jazz with Trueba rounding up his 12 favourites of the genre for intimate studio performances. Inbetween exposition kept to a minimum, with the music speaking for itself. Genre fans may ejaculate immediately, I thought it was a bit too slick for its own good (MTV cutting syndrome not entirely avoided, occasionally veering into artfiice) and the studio atmosphere feels a bit detached after some time. But when it takes off, like with Tito Puente´s (RIP) showman turn, all the complaints cease.
Men in Black 2
(Barry Sonnenfeld, USA 2002)
The full McDonalds Chicken Nuggets treatment: No taste, no pain. Expected the worst, so I was pleasantly surprised by its fast-moving, brainless mediocrity. Works best when it doesn´t emulate the first part (which, alas, isn´t very often), but Tommy Lee´s deadpan comedy as assured as ever. (Rip Torn being obviously great, anyway.) A time-waster at best, but a thankfully short one (its below-90-mins runtime should be made obligatory for summer blockbusters), with the deliberatly tacky F/X-work being the most inteesting character. Terribly short on ideas, but clever enough to give Peter Graves a funny Simpsons
-Spock-style-cameo. Unfortunately that´s the beginning and the high-point. Plot? C´mon, don´t be ridiculous.
"Talk to Her"
(Almodovar, Spain 2002)
Givent that I´ve never understood what the Almodovar hype is about, my lukewarm reception of his newest can be chalked down as enthusiasm: In the third act I actually felt some emotions, despite the title boldly, honestly announcing Almodovar´s unfortunate love for the pastiche. I´m still not sure whether it´s the effortless rapport with his two lead actors or some fine miniatures centering on bureaucratic procedures that feel astoundlingly real in the middle of all the kitsch´n´pathos, though that, to Almodovar´s credit, comes form the heart. Reportedly about a taboo (intercourse with comatose people), though I think Almodovar regards that with the same beatified alienation he presents it: as a nice faux silent, all metaphorical and stuff. (The hero´s miniature alter ego entering a Vaudeville vagina has a strange, loopy quality, not quite positioned morally.) Way too much serene music, pacing and heavyweight speculation to function as modern Sirk, ultimately, but not a bad time.
(Paul Verhoeven, USA 2000)
I still claim this is the first film about the Bush era. More important: it´s just as funny on repeat viewings.