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

26 April 2019

Climax (2019)

I fucking hated this.
It's so boring, and Gaspar Noé hates human beings.

Krakatoa: East of Java

This is a disaster film from 1969 - it predates Airport by a year. But... well I saw an edited version of the movie, and I think I'm ok with that. It just doesn't have very many interesting characters. The photography is super weird. And the dialogue is silly. The effects are very very cool, though, and Maximilian Schell is so hot. So there's that. Also, Krakatoa is west of Java. Why change the volcano's location? (Actually I know the answer to that. The title – and the film in general – is designed to appeal to orientalist fantasies, and so "east" in the title isn't so much about where the island is as about what the island symbolizes.)

24 April 2019

The Face of Another

The Face of Another (他人の顔) is an ok semi-horror film slash psychological thriller. The production design is the best thing about it. Mostly, though, Teshigahara's film is busy philosophizing about faces and masks, and it doesn't feel like it really gets anywhere, at least to me.

22 April 2019

The Important Man (1961)

This is a strange movie in many ways, perhaps mostly because Toshirō Mifune is playing the movie's protagonist. Animas Trujano is a Steinbeckian sort of tale, and it is, in many ways, indebted to Roberto Gavaldón's Macario, which came out the year before this film. Indeed, Mexican cinema, in the early '60s (at the end of the Época de Oro) was fascinating, and Animas Trujano, like Macario and Tlayucan, which would come out a year later, is about poverty and wealth, village honor, the meddling of the church, and a protagonist who can't quite get his shit together. Tlayucan is definitely the best of these three films, but Animas is worth a watch, for Mifune as well as for Columba Domínguez, who plays Animas's longsuffering wife Juana.

IMDB says that actor and director Narciso Busquets dubbed the voice of Toshirō Mifune. The syncing is really perfect. It is easy to forget that Mifune didn't speak Spanish and that he learned his lines phonetically.

20 April 2019

The Guilty

An excellently made melodrama. This is a one-sided phone-call drama – like Locke – with a great central performance and a tight script.

07 April 2019

Life and Nothing More (2018)

Wow. Life and Nothing More is a quiet, brilliant little film. It's a slice-of-life drama with a powerful emotional effect as we spend more and more time with the two main characters. It's about precarity in the Southern U.S. and it's also a very personal story about the relationship between a mother and her teenage son. I really, really liked this.

My old pal Hudson Meeks has a small role in the movie, which was a nice surprise. And I also managed to meet the director, Antonio Méndez Esparza, last Thursday on campus. He currently teaches at the film school here – which I didn't know before I saw the movie – and he's a lovely guy. We talked about Sorrentino and Malick and the fact that he didn't like Guardians of the Galaxy.