Film Responses

Late Spring (1949)

I watched Late Spring for the first time last night (yeah, I know) and had a grand time spotting the details that echo throughout Denis’s film. Mostly, though, I was struck by just how strange a filmmaker Ozu really is, particularly in his cutting. It made me realize that I’m not so sure, exactly, what we mean when we call a film “Ozu-like.”

Sep 18, 2008
Category: Film, Film Responses

RR (2007)

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Railroad (with apologies to Wallace Stevens)

Sep 9, 2008
Category: Festivals, Film, Film Responses

Revanche and Delta

I’ve developed a lazy habit of saying that I don’t particularly care what a film is about; I care what it does formally. But, while well-directed and wonderfully performed, the standout feature of Gotz Spielmann’s Revanche is the story, which, particularly over the last 80 minutes, is perfectly constructed.

Sep 5, 2008
Category: Festivals, Film, Film Responses

The Unknown (1927)

Melodrama is a matter of narrative and performance style, of course, but, particularly in silent cinema, the core of melodrama is mise-en-scene.

Jul 24, 2008
Category: Festivals, Film, Film Responses

Los Muertos (2004)

What fascinates me about Los Muertos is that it explores the connection between form and content by taking all of the tropes of “transcendental cinema” and staining them, by narrative means, with dread and violence. It reminds me of Brian Eno’s answer (apocryphal, perhaps) when he was asked if he was the father of New Age music: “No, my music has evil in it.”

Jun 29, 2008
Category: Film, Film Responses

The Iron Horse (1924)

Along with simply being a tremendous pleasure to watch, The Iron Horse offers a fascinating peek into the evolution of the Hollywood film style. By 1924 — and with four dozen films under his belt — Ford already understood the mechanics of what would eventually be called standard continuity editing, and so, for me, the most interesting moments in the early films are when something breaks, as in the following sequence.

May 7, 2008
Category: Film, Film Responses

Platform (2000)

With so many directors now throwing in their cameras with the “single-shot scenes from a fixed position” school of filmmaking, there’s a growing problem for those of us who believe that a fundamental job of critics is to accurately describe what we see. Films built almost entirely from images that would have been described traditionally as “establishing shots” beg the question: How does one describe and evaluate this kind of montage (if that’s even the right word)?

Mar 25, 2008
Category: Film, Film Responses

Life on Earth (1999)

Dir. by Abderrahmane Sissako “There is an organic unity to village life, but it is both fragile and alienating. In this regard Sissako refuses to either promote some pure, untouched pre-modernity or to mourn for some lost social integration. Sissako’s encompasser always has to make room for those transnational nomads who can’t quite pass muster […]

Jan 26, 2008
Category: Film, Film Responses

There Will Be Blood (2007)

Like nearly everyone else, apparently, I was overwhelmed by the sheer force of will in Anderson’s filmmaking but am still unsure of what to make of it, exactly.

Jan 23, 2008
Category: Film, Film Responses

Casa de Lava (1994)

Pedro Costa’s second feature, Casa de Lava, opens with a barrage of arresting juxtapositions. The first few minutes pass in complete silence as we watch the simple white-on-black credits, followed by a montage of volcanoes.

Oct 24, 2007
Category: Film, Film Responses