Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

24 April 2018

The Death of Louis XIV

It is unquestionably inspired to have cast Jean-Pierre Léaud as Louis XIV for this movie, but the film itself is claustrophobic and even tedious. I know Serra is supposed to be a daring, challenging filmmaker, but La Mort de Louis XIV was definitely not for me.

23 April 2018

Mi Querida Señorita

Mi Querida Señorita is a really strange romantic comedy in which a 43-year-old señora finds out that she is actually a man. It's honestly and surprisingly really funny and charming. Its trans politics are (obviously) 45 years old, but I quite enjoyed this.

As far as I can tell, Mi Querida Señorita was never released in the U.S. It was released in Spain in 1972.

20 April 2018

The Nest

El Nido is a strange film. It moves along at an odd speed, occasionally fast-paced, and occasionally slow. This is typical for the films of Jaime de Armiñán; they can often jump many months without warning. Also typical is the slightly mocking gaze that the film always has turned to its characters. These are characters who are quirky and behave foolishly.

The film asks us also to be sentimental about their behaviors, to care for the characters. Armiñán places them in absurd circumstances, but these circumstances seem to be serving the filmmaker's mockery more than his affection. He certainly is affectionate toward his characters, it's just that the mockery so often seems to outweigh that affection.  

El Nido wasn't really for me. I wanted to identify with the main character, but it just didn't happen. Worse yet, I didn't laugh very much either.

18 April 2018


Thoroughbreds was disappointing. The whole thing felt like build-up, and then nothing ever happened. I know it was supposed to be a black comedy, but, to be honest, it just wasn't that funny.

17 April 2018


Nocturama stressed me out a lot. It's beautifully made, but I am not sure how I feel about it. I loved the characters; I loved Jeanne d'Arc; I loved the department store. But maybe I thought the whole thing was a little too smug for me. The end is really good, though.

Porgy and Bess (1959)

I had always been curious about this film and so I got myself a bootleg copy of this opera-turned-movie ...and now I know.  

Porgy and Bess had a beleaguered production process, and it switched directors right before shooting. It also had a cast that mostly didn't want to be involved, and actors who couldn't sing. Then Otto Preminger filmed the entire thing in a medium shot for reasons I cannot understand at all, but may be related to his relationship with Samuel Goldwyn. The result is distanced and strange. Fine for a stage production, maybe, but as a film it is cold and has too many gaps.

Is the film worth watching for Dorothy Dandridge, Sidney Poitier, Pearl Bailey, and Sammy Davis Jr.? I don't actually think it is. No one seems to want to be here, actually, except maybe Sammy Davis, Jr., who plays a version of Sporting Life that is strange and stilted.

I've used the word strange twice above, and I guess I just feel like this entire film is very odd, as though the director and the producer just didn't quite know what to do with the Gershwins' masterpiece.

03 April 2018

The Four Days of Naples

Le Quattro Giornate di Napoli is a pretty stellar tale of the Neapolitan civilian uprising at the end of WWII. Excellently filmed with lots of action and lots of heart. This is really superb.

Nine Lives

Nine Lives: the Story of Jan Balsruud is the most extraordinary, incredible true story. A Norwegian spy escapes from the Nazis over the mountains into Sweden. He is helped by a succession of extraordinary civilians working for the resistance. This was completely conventional, in many ways, but it was exciting and unbelievable.