Monday, March 14, 2016

MUBI Capsules, Forecast

Starting a blog is a difficult task that demands the writer make up his own rhythm. I haven't found that yet, so I'm going to dole out some very very brief assessments of films I've seen recently. The great thing about Mubi is the completely unjustifiable character limit. The bad thing is that it results in some very disingenuous, clipped sentences (below, I write: "Good acting"). For that reason and many others,  I don't want to use this blog as a clipboard for my Mubi profile (I'm easy to find, guys!). Superego is rap rap rapping at the door, though, and demanding content. 

Also, in celebration of the re-release of Kelly Reichardt's River of Grass, I've re-watched all of her movies. Expect a long piece that tries to cover that ground. Slowly. Moving from right-to-left. 

Finally, I'm seducing my boyfriend through a casual Charlotte Rampling retrospective. It's working. Two posts below, you can find a longer-form take on 45 Years, which I think holds up against many of her best movies. Hell, it might even be her best. 

New Movies:

Hail, Caeser! (J. and E. Coen, 2016): In which the messianism of Hollywood is capable of relieving both the protestant work ethic and cultural marxism. More sound than fury, but committed to the incoherent perspective of the movie executive, which I never thought needed more treatment until now. Performances are all top notch, perhaps Swinton's character was very useless. This is a weird, rare treat wherein the "lite" Coens coincides with the heavy. B+

Something "Old"

Possession (Zulawski, 1981): No movie is deranged in quite the same way that Possession is deranged. Pulls out the rug from under you so many times, there's no pointing out a "key conflict." A dance with the more sinister powers of life. Wide-angled derangement, tugging at the corners of gazes, emotions, transference. There's a limit to this kind of hermetic horror, but goddamn this reaches it and flaunts. A-

Sweetgrass (Barbash and Taylor, 2009):  I'm the target demo for this. Humans become characters about 30-50 minutes into the movie - our introduction is concerned with the noble sheep, the noises they make. Then it turns toward an anthropology, and ethnography, concerning the symbiotic relation between sheep, dog, horse, and man. Then, a final rite, a brief justification for why we may record this, or record things at all. B

Casual Charlotte Rampling Retrospective:

Lemming (Moll, 2005): The first act is light on its feet enough, with Rampling just storming in an making the whole drama look like her plaything. But then it turns into a game of "What if David Lynch was boring?" We have better things to do than watch the white walls of bougie people receive timid stains. Even the class politics would be forgivable if this were in any way a coherent thriller. It assumes its stakes, never earns them. C

Under the Sand (Ozon, 2000): In which Rampling shows that she only needs 30% of her face visible in order to out-act the world. But let's be honest - this is mostly an acting experiment. I would have loved to see it as a one-woman show. We have one fabulously-played character venturing out into the world with diminishing returns. What it can't say about the psyche could fill, and does fill, much better trauma dramas. B

The Night Porter (Cavani, 1974) Ya'll need to stop pretending that Criterion only releases masterpieces. A form of critique, probably caused and certainly bolstered by the Frankfurt school and French psychoanalysis, erupted in this period of art cinema. So, you get these very interesting takes on WWII that may not explain much beyond the aesthetic pleasures of totalitarianism. Still, that's point to make? Or this is rotten to the core. Good acting. B/B+

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