Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from March, 2013

Prisoners of Love

I meant to post this a month ago, on St. Valentine's Day to be exact, but I was held up with other things.It's effectively a list of my favourite "romantic" films, loosely assembled; just general comments on a handful of movies that centre on the emotion of love, in all of its various guises.As ever, the following notes aren't in any conceivable way 'reviews'; they're just observations on a theme, intended to give a very vague justification for the inclusion of a particular title and why I found it so compelling.No doubt the selection of each title and my own analysis of it says more about me as a viewer than it does about any of the films in question, but again, the list is not definitive; just a selection of films that came to mind when I first thought about the subject.Unfortunately, several key films are probably missing from this selection, but I may make an effort to write about them at a later date.
Also: I regret that I now post a lot of these …

Key Films #11

The Territory[Raúl Ruiz, 1981]:
I return to that unforgettable illustration; a map within a map, like a skull within a skull.Similar folds and echoes reoccur throughout as these characters try to navigate this terrain, this territory; hopelessly adrift in a subconscious expression of events, like a narrative within a narrative, or a dream within a dream. The 'territory' of the title is both the location of the forest, as a physical space, where these characters vacation in an effort to get away from the chaos of the modern world, as well as the psychological topography of the situation, as they inevitably - through isolation and the gradual erosion of their accepted roles and responsibilities - succumb to a kind of shared delusion, or psychosis. The allegorical journey as descent into madness motif is further obfuscated by the meta-deconstructions of the narrative.Like so many films by Ruiz, there is the disquieting implication that the gothic reverie that we've just been w…

Key Films #10

The Howling [Joe Dante, 1981]:
Functions, primarily, as a homage to werewolf movies.The use of on-screen quotations from The Wolf Man (1941) for instance not only provide narrative exposition but also establishes the world of the film as being self-aware and conscious of the depictions of 'lycanthropy' in popular culture.The iconography of the film is therefore coloured by these references, where allusions to the myths and legends propagated by Universal or the Hammer Films studio - as well as in-jokes and suggestions of certain scenes - create an ironic, almost satirical inflection, typical of Dante's post-Godard/pre-Tarantino approach to genre deconstruction. Although set predominantly in northern California, the encroaching mists and the eerie light of the forest seem to evoke the European setting of films like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), The Curse of the Werewolf (1960) and the Paul Naschy starring Mark of the Wolfman (1968).Likewise, the development of the …

Figures in a Frame

Thoughts on a film: Every Revolution is a Throw of the Dice (1977)
Nine bodies, dressed ordinarily enough in the unassuming fashions of the time, place this discussion of old words into a deliberately contemporary setting. These nine bodies of limbs, joints, hearts and minds are credited to Danièle Huillet, Marilù Parolini, Dominique Villain, Andrea Spingler, Helmut Färber, Michel Delahaye, Manfred Blank, Georges Goldfayn and Aksar Khaled, who are each posed, cross-legged in a semi-circle, in the gardens of Père Lachaise. The setting, as with the conflict between the image and text, suggests the very literal idea of bringing the dead back to life.
In this instance, it is the Dead of the Commune, 21st to the 28th of May, 1871, as noted in the film's opening subtitle. However, it's also an attempt to revive the dead forms of Stéphane Mallarmé's 1897 poem, A Throw of the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance (in French, Un coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hasard), which is spoken b…

I Confess...

In short: the 'Viewing Log' will henceforth be referred to as 'Key Films'
To quote the title of a Hitchcock classic: I confess!I'm struggling to maintain pace with this whole 'viewing log' idea.I watch too many films and often have nothing interesting to say about them.I step over the fallen few, casually enough, hoping that no one will ever notice, but ultimately I know, in my heart at least, that the failure to acknowledge these stray titles represents an incredible betrayal of intent.Initially, the idea was to offer a short commentary on everythingviewed, including television programmes, as a kind of personal record of the year, as it unfolds.Since I was unable to surmise my initial reaction to a January episode of American Horror Story: Asylum (the episode in question was Spilt Milk), I made the inevitable decision to focus solely on films.This was the first betrayal.
Next, there was the sequel to 30 Days of Night (2007), subtitled Dark Days (2010), which…

Viewing Log / 2013 / Week Nine

25/02/2013 - 03/03/2013

Meanwhile [Hal Hartley, 2011]: The title is an in-joke; a reference to one of those occasional on-screen punctuations that Hartley has used in prior films to link scenes, usually for comedic effect; think 'A MONTH MAYBE TWO MONTHS LATER' from The Unbelievable Truth (1988), for example.However, it seems particularly well-suited to this film and its central character; this man who moves purposely (though without purpose) from one scene to the next, from one appointment to another.As the film progresses, we learn that the man also lurches from job to job, woman to woman, trying to make things work.The irony being that his ability to fix inanimate objects, or to offer some kind of moral or philosophical guidance to the people encountered along the way, in no way correlates to his own ability to do well, or to make successful his own slow and seemingly uncomplicated progression through life.In this sense, the title alludes to both the transient nature of the …