Sept 20 – Oct 31
I’ve stolen this idea from Film Comment. The only thing that’s different is that I’m not a known filmmaker giving you a list of the last ten movies I’ve seen.
Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindlewald – David Yates is the Terence Fisher of Potterville. And Potterville seems a universe built on closeted emotions and an unwillingness to name them. If only Jude Law as Dumbledore could name his lover in Johnny Depp’s Grindlewald, then maybe all this black magic wouldn’t have a place in this world. Is that what it is? Is evil just repression. I’m not quite sure the movie is asking that though. Maybe it will in the third one.
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch – This was very tiring. To be given the responsibility to make your own decisions in a movie is something I never thought I wanted. And I didn’t want it and don’t want it. Please give me the decisions you’ve made and just let me critique them. That’s all. Don’t make me do the work.
Ad Astra – “We’re all we have.” It’s something you learn by only going on a trip to Neptune. It’s a mesmerizing slide through our solar system. It starts off with an insane fall to earth and continues with with this almost sinister relentlessness for most of the movie. You always get this feeling with James Gray that he’s got something to prove. And he’s constantly proving it. Whatever it is. Whatever genre he’s chosen to make a movie in, he’s constantly proving his expert subversion of it. This film is set up as an adventure through space, albeit an ominous and serious one, but time is all relative in this story. The rigors of space travel aren’t that rigorous here. No one goes to sleep in this movie. The idea of cryogenic sleep is non-existent. Because the male ego has no time for sleep. It must act and build upon those acts until he has a tower of regret constructed in orbit off Neptune. There’s no time for self-reflection or putting a mirror to inner turmoil. You must do or do not.
Memories of Murder – People are forever falling down in this movie. Bong Ho has a strange and goofy sense of humor. Cops are falling down embankments at crime scenes at first. Then down stairs that lead into an interrogation room. It’s as if the only way forward is down with nervous bumbling. And stumbling and bumbling we go. Into futility and bureaucratic numbskullery. This movie has a lot in common with Zodiac. Not just the real-life ties but just the sheer ineptitude of fragile male egos. Who’s gonna get there first? None of us and a killer goes free.
Rosemary’s Baby – There’s a shot early on in an elevator looking over Farrow and Cassavete’s shoulders, Elisha Cook in the background but in focus. It doesn’t seem like much but it’s a humdinger to me. The elevator moves upward and you’re made very aware it’s just a set piece, yet it draws you in like some ancient and intimate theater piece. And there’s that elevator operator, a black man, smiling at all these white on their way up or down, you can’t tell which way they’re going really, but you know where.
El Camino – This was nothing like visiting the old folks home of Deadwood. It’s more like visiting a trauma victim. Someone you were cringing for and wishing for some other ending. An ending that brings some sort of contentment to all involved. Jesse Pinkman is a prisoner through all of this. Through the TV show and much of this movie. Prisoner of addiction, wrongheadedness and most of all Walter White and whatever his machinations wrought. And we finally get to see Jesse navigate it on his own and do it his way.
Third Murder – “These days victims think they can get away with anything.” Koreeda, instead of being interested in the mystery, seems to be more concerned with the realities we weave for ourselves that outsiders would call lies. Maybe there is no truth outside our own bubble.
Parasite – Here’s Bong Ho again with some deep sardonicism. Class warfare this time where the lower depths brim with creativity and ambition and the rich are trusting with despair. There’s levels within levels within levels here and Bong directs this with such visual poetry. He’s got all the right moves here . And there’s not a level here that you can play on and leave feeling good about oneself. Underneath all this “underneath” is a language most of us refused to learn early on and now we’re playing catch up and there’s no guarantee we’ll figure it out in the end.
In the Shadow of the Moon – I thought about two movies when watching this. Both 90’s movies. There’s the opening shot that reminds you of the Fight Club ending, and the totally bonkers, time-travel-thing-that-never-really-gets-hashed-out premise makes you think of 12 Monkeys. The idea of time as a circle, doesn’t click emotionally though, like it does in Monkeys. It’s got style and Bokeem Woodbine with a chew stick in his mouth(somebody’s a fan of the old Roots bassist. The movie is set in Philly)at some point but that’s all it is, style.
Suspiria – Rainy Berlin. I’ve never been. Only in Fassbender’s movies have I seen it. But this movie has the hindsight of past events. And it uses it to infuse a political landscape into this remake. Germany in Autumn. The guilt of the past is grotesque and blood soaked and what are we to do with it. Learn from it? Maybe the past is not a teacher. Maybe it’s ever-reaching and aware that it’s all anyone has. Terrible memories are only right now.