Thursday, April 17, 2008

Well damn, it has been quite some time since I decided to post about film. It was a pretty active decision, as I considered it many times throughout the last 2/3 year or so. The problem is, after being bombarded with some really great films at the HFA, I didn't really see anything worthwhile for sometime. I kept wanting to do some bullshit "top 10 of 2007" list like all sorts of "real" critics do, but I didn't really see 10 worthy films last year. Sure, I thought it was funny that Killer of Sheep was mentioned in a handful of top 10 lists and all, but I felt like most, if not all, of the other 9 were heaps of shit. Actually, around midyear (when I started this blog) I ditched film and replaced it with photography. Somehow it was easier to get into for a while. But now I think I'm back.  (It's amazing what getting linked from a blog people actually read will do to one.)

Let's get back to that last post. I'd just seen Paprika with the Cinetrix and decided to hoof it around the boston metro area (do they even use that?) in order for me to see the sights, taste the tastes, and hear the sounds, etc. etc.  We had decided to take in an early evening screening of Aaron Katz's (fucking possesives) film Quiet City. oh so quietI had heard good things about his Dance Party, USA and wanted to see what all the hubbub was about.  Well, the film blew me away.  Seriously, if I had a top 10 list, it would make the cut.  Eight months is a long time, though, and I can't really review a film without having seen it at least in the previous week or so. However, the DVD was released a while back by soon-to-be-amazing Benten Films (rumored friends of the Cinetrix and also already labeled the Criterion Collection of independent film).  Perhaps I'll finally get around to picking it up and can shout a decent review.  For now, a secure spot in my "hot shit in '07" list will have to do.

I had to make the 15-hour drive home the next day and wanted to call it an early evening after spending the week getting sicker and drinking extravagant amounts of beer.  So we decided to call it a night.  Except Joe Swanberg's Hannah Takes the Stairs was up next.  Being a Bujalski fanboy, I forced myself to stick around.  It wasn't difficult to do.  After the brilliant Quiet City, Hannah was a letdown.  I'm not sure if I couldn't get used to Bujalski playing the "cool guy" or what, but the whole thing just seemed forced. Once again, 8 months passed, therefore I'm not going to review. A blurb will have to do. Even a bad one.

I did run into Mike Gibisser before the film and we sat together and hung out a bit. After the films, he, Katz, and a few other filmmakers dashed out into the merry eve with the previously mentioned Ray Carney in tow. Of course the Cinetrix and I tagged along to get a Q and A with a little truth serum involved. It seemed most shared my sentiments of Hannah Takes the Stairs.  I say most, because Carney spent much of the evening singing its praises.  I guess we didn't get it. Either way, it was a pleasant ending to an interesting week.  Well, the imbibing went on until 3AM.  So that was pleasant.  Nine AM and 1000 miles to go the next day wasn't.


My interest in film was piqued and peaked for a while, knowing I wouldn't be able to top that feeling anytime soon. Plus, Carney told me real digital filmmakers only shoot in 24p...

Friday, July 13, 2007


So after our exciting cinematic experience last Friday, the cinetrix and I tried to top it with multiple films Saturday. We started by heading across town to hastily duck into Paprika right as it was getting started. I was still pretty cashed out from the previous night so I couldn't really follow the film that well. Well, that and IT MADE NO FUCKING SENSE.

Actually, the basic story isn't that hard to follow, it's just one of those films where you're not really sure if what you're seeing is real or even supposed to be, and that's part of the draw. (I've never been huge into fantasy. I'm the guy who didn't like Pan's Labyrinth...)

I'm not normally one for anime anyway, but I have enjoyed some of Miyazaki, so I figured I'd give it a shot. The film was absolutely gorgeous and if I wasn't trying to avoid film theory like the plague right now, I'd go into the sequence wherein one character "rapes" the Paprika character by shoving his hand into her crotch (through clothes, of course, as well as flesh/body/being/psyche?) and then rips her outer being off. (Don't mean to be a spoiler, but it can be seen here.) It was a hugely sexualized film, but, for the most part, in the way older noir films generally are. I did enjoy the whole self-referential vibe Satoshi Kon was throwing our way. I still can't stress enough how gorgeous it was. Honestly, the music was so amazing and visuals so lush that I probably should've changed my shorts afterwards.

All in all, I'd like to revisit the film and just enjoy myself rather than wondering what the fuck is going on the entire time.

Plus, Atsuko is one two-dimensional chick I could get down with in the biblical sense, if you follow. Seriously, if cartoon babes looked like this when I was coming along (other than April O'Neil, of course), adolescence would've been a much different (possibly more awkard?) formative experience for me. I think she was intelligent also, or something...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

indie this, indie that

One would have to be of unsound mind to take a few days off work and make a 15-hour drive in one day just to see a film, right?

Of course. But I decided to do it anyway. I was already going to be in Vermont, so when I read that one of my heroes, Ray Carney, was curating Independents Week at the Harvard Film Archive , I realized I'd be remiss not to go and would hate myself for the rest of my life. Luckily, the Cinetrix was all about catching some flicks and knows Boston/Cambridge like the back of her hand.

So last Thursday we rolled into town to catch some wicked awesome films. But not until venturing into Whole Foods for some salad mix (not premixed, of course). And not just any Whole Foods. I recognized it as soon as I pulled into the parking lot as the Whole Foods used in Mike Gibisser's Finally, Lillian and Dan, which just happened to be screening Friday as part of Independents Week. I had received a screener of the film 3 months before and had just seen it the second time (and fallen in love with it) about 3 weeks ago. We were unsure whether or not we'd go since I had just viewed the film...again. I think the Cinetrix wanted to go, because she sneakily led me into the 1369 Coffee House in Inman Square, the interior of which I immediately recognized from the film as well. (While there I also got what was probably the best chocolate chip cookie and fresh squeezed lemonade I've ever had.) While waiting in line, we saw a poster for the film, and that clinched it. (I would later find out that Gibisser was in 1369 at the time and had seen us looking at the poster and got excited about the prospect of 2 more viewers.) I was excited to see the film on the big screen, and even more excited when my partner in crime enjoyed the film as well. But what blew my mind was walking through the doors of the theater and recognizing Ray Carney immediately. I nearly pissed my pants, as I've been reading his website almost daily to get me through the tedium that is a desk job.

But back to the film. Finally, Lillian and Dan is a brilliant meditation on (sorry, Film Snob) the awkward beginnings of a relationship between two lonely souls. The film is an exercise in minimalism, in terms of plot, dialogue, etc. Gibisser consciously avoids any sort of spoon-feeding viewers may be used to from traditional films and leaves plenty open to interpretation. Long periods of silence with Lillian and Dan seen speaking fill the gaps between the long periods of silence when they are not speaking. Dan is one of the most endearing characters ever on film and his counterpart Lillian has this amazingly expressive face. They say so much by not saying anything at all. Everything is in their movements and postures. Body language is key. And the dance sequences (yes, dance sequences) are quite beautiful without feeling forced. They fit into the natural flow of the film, and Gibisser's actual grandmother does an amazing job cutting a rug. I'm not really sure what else to say about the film other than see it if you possibly get the chance.

I was lucky enough to meet Mike Gibisser after the screening, and I have to say he's a stand-up guy. I approached him to tell him how much I had enjoyed the film. I felt bad for not having emailed him in the 3 months I'd had a copy of the screener...
We talked about films, both mine and his, for a few minutes and I stood by as his (many?) fans greeted him on the way out. Then Mr. Carney walked by. I couldn't resist the urge to tap him on the shoulder and introduce myself. He was on his way out but took the time to talk a few minutes about his Cassavetes on Cassavetes book that I had taken along with me to read during my trip. It was almost more excitement than I could handle in one night.

So we went back for seconds Saturday...

Monday, June 18, 2007

killer of sheep

Charles Burnett: Not a douche.
I was finally able to see Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep a little over a week ago, and it has taken me this long to really understand how I feel about it. I had to drive about 400 miles to see it, so the expectations were quite high. Thankfully, though, it affected me in such a way that I don't think I'll ever be the same.

The humanity with which he presents his subjects is what really got to me. From the children to the gangsters to Stan (the only character apparently deserving of a name), I felt like I was looking through a window into their actual lives.

But right now I'm starving and I really wanted to just get a feel for this blogger thing, so remember - good things come to those who wait.

Oh yeah, Charles Burnett happened to be there for a Q and A session after the film. I was in dork heaven for a little while. Apparently there's no A/C in dork heaven. However, Burnett is the real deal and is 100 times cooler than any highly regarded (overblown) black filmmaker out there. Yeah, I'm talking to you, Spike Lee. Seriously.