Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Moment of Truth (1965, Francesco Rosi) and Last Holiday (1950, Henry Cass)

Shorter posts better than no posts?

I watched two films from the amazing Videotheque rental store in Pasadena, CA

The Moment of Truth (1965, Francesco Rosi) severely disappointed, was quite boring. It wasn't shocking when I watched the bonus interview and he said he shot without a script! 
This is a go-nowhere, predictable bullfighting movie with excellent bullfighting footage.
It may be unduly praised for breaking ground in the latter, documenting something important in detail
and capturing all the elements of it.

But... it doesn't document the emotions of bullfighting, or the philosophical questions it can engender,
which I think Budd Boetticher does much better in Bullfighter and the Lady (1951) and The Magnificent Matador (1955) with Anthony Quinn. I really would skip this and watch other Rosi like Hands Over the City (1963) and Salvatore Giuliano (1962), which are far more rewarding.

This was the second time I'd seen the lovely Alec Guinness film Last Holiday (1950), but I oscillated between like and dislike. First, delighted glee at how much fun it is, primarily with the main concept of how well he does once he no longer has anything to live for. Fascinating concept, but this time I noticed, despite his brilliant acting, ever engaging to watch, the script pops in a few contrivances and adds bits of business not that is not very well honed to a single main theme and muddies the sharpness of what could have been an intimate masterpiece. Some delightful character actor appearances, but I now swing back to my own British roots (born there) and join my British brethren at the time of release who found it a bit of a miss, as opposed to my original American reaction (I've lived here way longer!) which originally thought it was a masterful overlooked gem. Although this was a second viewing, so I think for theme and performance it is a compelling enough film to still warrant a hearty recommendation for a Saturday evening viewing.

Cheers, and I'll try to write more later!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Andy Warhol SLEEPover

Check out this exciting screening:

Watch Andy Warhol's Sleep, 5 hours!, nighttime screening, "bring pillows"!

Also, got a film? Screen it at Echo Park Film Center's "Open Screen" coming up Thursday Dec. 5.
Thursday, December 5 – OPEN SCREEN – 8 PM
Our cinematic free-for-all dares you to share your film with the feisty EPFC audience. Any genre! Any style! New, old, work-in-progress! First come, first screened; one film per filmmaker; 10-minute maximum. DVD, VHS, mini-DV, DV-CAM, Super 8, standard 8mm, 16mm.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Jean Rouch Films at UCLA Jan 25, 2013

This is a great and rare opportunity to see the highly-praised films of Jean Rouch. Finally Criterion is releasing his Chronicle of a Summer (1961), but before that, there was nary a single Jean Rouch film anyone could find on video. I first got all jazzed on him, without seeing anything, by reading the Cahiers du cinéma critics heaping praise on him in their '60s articles, available in translation from various sources. So far I only had one chance to see a film by him, which I think if memory serves was "Les Maîtres fous" ("The Mad Masters") at a rare screening in L.A. at Pacific Design Center. And it was great! It was a cultural anthropological documentary on the native rituals still being performed by a very isolated African tribe. Great stuff.

But now, the opportunity arises to see not one, not two, but a whole mess load of Jean Rouch films-- predominantly on film, for those who care--  and see if those Cahiers du cinéma boys were on to anything with this fellow. At the very least, you can go back in time and immerse yourself in the heady intellectualism of 1960s French cinema as it intermingled with new philosophical currents. Don't miss it! Criterion may be releasing one film by him, but I've been waiting at least 15 years since first reading about him to see anything other than that one short film, so let it be known, this is rare, rare, rare, cinephiles!

And okay, so maybe you don't know me from Adam, so I'll let Werner Herzog convince you (from the UCLA site):
"Les Maîtres Fous—The Mad Masters—one of the truly great films." - Werner Herzog
Here is all the info, thank you UCLA screening series for always being awesome!

I can't figure out how to quote a full Web page yet, so these are cut off, just click to read the full version.

PS - I am remiss in just noticing now that additional screenings are taking place at Redcat and L.A. Film Forum Even better!!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Alain Resnais interview

Great little interview with Alain Resnais!

I'm pretty sure this is taken from some Criterion bonus material.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Charles Dickens and Silent Cinema, Plus Ultra-Rare Works by Dziga Vertov

Here is a very cool intro to what was going on in the early days of silent cinema, especially for those who have become curious about the early days of movies after learning about Georges Méliès in Scorsese's Hugo.

In other news, UCLA is hosting a jaw-dropping showcase of ultra-rare films by the incomparable film experimenter Dziga Vertov. While best known for Man with a Movie Camera (1929), his other work is perhaps even more incredible, especially his Kino-Pravda newsreels, in which he displays an eye for composition and montage that is more modern and unique than even some of the most experimental filmmakers we have today.

Vertov screening info here.

If you were not aware, he was also a huge influence on Jean-Luc Godard, who formed "The Dziga Vertov Group" with Jean-Pierre Gorin in 1968, during his most political period of filmmaking.

The only negative about the show — and it is a huge one — is that unless you live there, the UCLA Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum is nigh impossible to get to. With some screenings brilliantly scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the height of Friday night rush hour, these great works may go unseen. If you live there, please take advantage of this treasure trove of the rarest work by one of the greatest Soviet montage artists of all time. For the rest of us, we just have to be in Westwood already earlier in the day, or else allow two hours if you live on the east side or Valley. Or petition the theater to adopt a more sensible 8:30 p.m. screening time; they would start to attract bigger crowds. All L.A. theaters should consider doing this, even the Egyptian, which should know very well the traffic and parking bottleneck it sits square in the middle of!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New Reviews

I started reviewing for this British Web site.
Check out my first three reviews here:

L’Enfance-nue is a deeply moving film with a compelling cast of amateur performers, confidently guided by Maurice Pialat. He achieves an understated portrayal of foster care life that has the deep ring of truth that only great art can achieve. Pialat has a lovingly humanist artistic vision, and this series of Masters of Cinema releases showcasing his work invites a well-deserved reconsideration of this great director. Keep your hankies on hand!

La Pointe Courte
A full three years before the French New Wave began, Agnès Varda directed this rarely-seen film on a shoestring budget, edited with the help of Alain Resnais, and now acknowledged as a key stylistic precursor to the New Wave. La Pointe Courte also features Philippe Noiret’s first significant appearance, essentially his debut, in the co-lead role.

Kuroneko is a well-made and exciting sample of the Japanese ghost fable genre – a cultural hallmark everyone should experience at least once. While it may not earn a place in the pantheon of the greatest Japanese films, if you’ve never experienced a film by Kaneto Shindo, you owe it to yourself to give a listen to yet another talented voice from the rich history of Japanese cinema.

Thursday, November 03, 2011