Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

In one issue of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, it’s revealed that there’s a library in the realm of The Dreaming that contains not just every book ever written, every film ever made, etc. but also every book, film, etc. ever conceived. You can just imagine that within that library exists the other 8 hours of Stroheim’s Greed and the lost hour of Welles’ The Magnificent Andersons. You can add David Lynch’s Twin Peaks to that collection, in which the third season and everything cut from the film remains locked away. It’s a tremendous shame too, as the show’s first season revolutionized American television, bringing an unheard of cinematic quality to the medium, as well as adding Lynch’s unique brand of surrealism, humor, and art-house tendencies. Read more of this post

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Black Swan

Before Black Swan was released, but when the hype machine was already in overdrive, I stated on one film message board: “Aronofsky has earned my willingness to see any film he makes. Even his failures are interesting.” Indeed, Aronofsky may be the most interesting young American director working today, if only because with every film he genuinely seems to be shooting for the moon in an age where most directors are much more modest in their ambitions. But he also makes the kinds of films that are as fraught with faults as they are strengths. In many respects, I’ll take interesting failures over uninteresting successes any day, because it’s often just a matter of time before those faults are transformed into strengths upon reconsideration. Read more of this post

Help Me, Eros

A lot of directors in a lot of filmmaking countries make movies about modern isolation and loneliness, but none are as adept at rendering that loneliness really through cinematic language like the Taiwanese masters. While Hou Hsiao-hsien’s early films were more autobiographical and even geographically biographical, by 1995 his Good Men, Good Women found him exploring the lack of purpose and direction pervasive amongst Taiwanese youths, a subject that would be even more strongly explored in Goodbye South, Goodbye. Tsai Ming-liang has forged his own idiosyncratic brand of postmodern, cinematic apathy—more formal, more ascetic, but also more wickedly funny. Of the 10 film Tsai has made between 1993 in 2009, actor Kang-sheng Lee has starred in all of them, so it’s only appropriate that his directorial debut would be so indebted to his directorial mentor. Read more of this post

Klute

 

For those who think noirs are difficult to define themselves, defining and classifying neo-noirs are even more difficult. For instance, one of the defining features of noirs was the pervasive use of high contrast cinematography and shadows, with plenty of night scenes, but this was never a given in neo-noirs as perhaps the most famous neo-noir of all in Chinatown was shot primarily in the daytime. It could be said that the neo-noirs’ connection with classic noirs was closer to their literary origins then their cinematic ones; namely, the potboilers that featured detectives, a femme fatale, and a mystery, along with a suspenseful atmosphere. The neo-noirs also brought with them a social conscience that the noir progenitors lacked; although both seem to arise out of periods of socio-cultural turmoil, only the neo-noirs tried to depict that turmoil. Pinpointing when neo-noir started is perhaps even more difficult, but they seemed to become most prominent in the 70s. Read more of this post

Love & Pop

1998; Japan; 110 minutes; Directed by Hideaki Anno; Produced by Toshimichi Otsuki; Dist. by Toei Company

Hideaki Anno used to have a really solid grasp of clear simple story-telling. Really, he did. Back when we was working with Hayao Myazaki and directing Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, Anno had a very charming, “Miyazaki-esque” style of story-telling that pulled in his audience and made them smile throughout the story while occasionally pulling at a few heart-strings. You’d never guess that by looking at his more popular work, Neon Genesis Evangelion, where Anno seems to channel a darker, more complicated side of his self and produces quite unnerving angles to an already dismal story premise.

Anno’s trend of complicated and unsettling visceral story-telling seems to be realized to its fullest with his first live-action, experimental film Love & Pop, a coming-of-age story about a young girl, named Hiromi Yoshii, who struggles as she watches all of her friends grow up into different people. Read more of this post

BBC Complete Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet

Watching this BBC production of Romeo & Juliet it finally clicked with me why this is considered one of Shakespeare’s masterpieces. Firstly, it has the most sensuous, ravishing language in the Bard’s entire canon. There’s a reason why it’s become synonymous with romance itself. The language literally dances off the tongue, into the air, and into the vivid realm of imagination when spoken by actors capable of delivering the lines. But if the romanticism gives the play its velvety texture, then it’s the cynicism that rips it to shreds. Shakespeare was just too much of a genius to indulge in adolescent romance without stepping back and commenting on it. If the vows that the two lovers weave are the finely woven fabric, then Mercutio’s wit is the massive shears that continually cuts through it. Read more of this post

Golgo 13: Queen Bee

In the commentary for Golgo 13: Queen Bee, director Osamu Dezaki and executive producer, Mataichirô Yamamoto, discuss why it took them 13 years to create a sequel to their first Golgo 13 film titled The Professional. I’m not entirely sure they ever really deliver a solid answer, even though both seem to love the character, the series, and desire to do more. Or maybe I just missed it because the two spend the majority of the runtime talking about sex. They talk about it culturally and philosophically and socially and fictionally, but mostly they talk about how they tried to use it to define their titular character whom, in the span of 55 minutes, gets at least four sex scenes. The pair mentions that they didn’t want to come across as just two dirty, middle-aged men, but I’m not sure they succeeded.

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