Sunday, July 15, 2012

Belated 1964 Response

Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you on your '64 list, Brandon. I love reading your 60s lists, but I find them a lot harder to respond to than your 30s ones. This is mostly because I've seen a lot of the 30s movies within the last year and either haven't seen a lot of the 60s movies at all or haven't seem them in ages. Anyway, I think your '64 list is great, and thankfully, I've seen a few of them.

I haven't seen THE NAKED KISS yet; however, TCM had a 100th birthday celebration of Sam Fuller this past friday, so I recorded TNK and SHOCK CORRIDOR. Looking forward to digging into both. The only two Fuller films I've seen are PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET and THE STEEL HELMET. I love them both, and I'm sure that love will extend over into these two 60s films. I'm not even sure what TNK is about, but I really like what you wrote about it.

I haven't seen SEVEN DAYS IN MAY either. But Rod Serling and John Frankenheimer does seem a good match, indeed. Will add to my already colossal personal watch list.

I have long considered BAND OF OUTSIDERS my favorite Godard film. I watched a lot of Godard in high school, but have really slowed down my watching production for him more recently–I think I've seen 2 new ones within the last 5 years. I got to re-watch a little of BAND OF OUTSIDERS when Chris had it on Netflix, and I'm glad to say it still held up for me. I have no idea if its still my favorite Godard (I would need to re-watch a whole bunch of them), but it's certainly one of his most entertaining and lovable films. I say that because it's very much grounded in his love for noir, musicals, and film in general. I think it's easy to appreciate Godard when he's being exuberant and playful with his artwork (LES CARABINIERS, A WOMAN IS A WOMAN) instead of morose and vindictive (CONTEMPT, WEEK END). BAND OF OUTSIDERS falls heavily in the former camp, while also containing a bit of that creeping darkness, as you mentioned Brandon. Still a very good film for me.

Need to see KISS ME, STUPID. Ditto for WOMAN IN THE DUNES.

All right, RED DESERT. Back to something I've seen. And recently, too. "I’m beginning to understand that to embrace the director is to embrace a painting and as such you have to appreciate the composition of colors, buildings, and people as well as the landscapes that engulf them." YES! Exactly. For me, Antonioni is almost exclusively a visual filmmaker. By that I mean, he is more interested in using images to convey real meaning instead of traditional modes of storytelling through dialogue and action. He basically exists as a pure director. He's not a dramatist, but a visual map-maker. His main purpose being how to tell or hint at everything non-verbal in the story through framing, blocking, and mise-en-scene. To me, he is a master at achieving this end. If reading the language of film interests you, then I think you will find a wealth of meaning in Antonioni's films, and RED DESERT in particular. The story of this film is told through images, and boy do they create a overwhelming sense of isolation, imprisonment, and somehow austere beauty. The colors are bold and gorgeous, but the framing cuts through this leaving everything at a cold distance. The film is a brilliant juxtaposition between both elements. And you're right to point out a potential for hope in the story, Brandon. I love the story sequence, as well. Even if there is an overwhelming sense of mental degradation and spatial suffocation, there is also a small sense of Guiliana finding agency and possibly direction. By the end, we at least hope, like the birds, that she has also learned to avoid the toxic smoke.

A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS is exactly as you describe it. A colorful and unbelievably stylish remake of YOJIMBO set in the old west. Do you think Leone, Eastwood, and Morricone had any idea how fucking cool this movie was when they made it? You watch it now and it is just the epitome of confident insouciance. I'm obviously a huge fan of all the Leone westerns. This film is the start of something truly incredible. I don't know what else to say other than I love it unconditionally.

I'm not entirely sure if if I've seen ST. MATTHEW before. I can't remember it either way, so I guess it doesn't matter. Need to watch it regardless.

What blows my mind about DR. STRANGELOVE is that it was originally supposed to be this very serious nuclear thriller, but Kubrick found the logic of the material to be so absurd that he had to turn it into a comedy. That, to me, says nearly everything about Kubrick's genius. He had the most incredible instincts for what worked and the remarkable innovation to see it get done. You are damn right; there's some terrific irony in the fact that the notoriously cold and over-analytical Kubrick could make the greatest black comedy in history, and one of the greatest comedies period. But in hindsight it really isn't all the surprising considering the man absolutely mastered every genre he worked in. He just put everything he had into each picture he made and surrounded himself with all the best talent to see that his vision both came to life and was expertly executed. I could rhapsodize about Kubrick all day. He's probably the greatest director who ever lived. I love DR. STRANGELOVE. And I love Peter Sellers. Special mention should be given to his brilliance in the film, as well.

When I resume getting dvds by mail from Netflix, SOY CUBA is going to the top my queue. I'm dying to see it because both you and Ed Gonzalez have it at the top of your lists. I'm sure it's astonishing. The only thing I really know about it is that it has these deliriously elaborate camera movements, and that Paul Thomas Anderson stole a shot from it for BOOGIE NIGHTS (following the girl into the pool). That's enough for me to be incredibly stoked to see it. I'm sure I'll join you in gushing about it soon.

Sorry I haven't seen more from this year or didn't have that much to say. Still, another great list that I can't find anything to disagree with. Looking forward to 1934!

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