• Thank You, Life

    Thank You, Life

    ★★★★★

    Always hoped there would be a masterpiece in Blier's grab bag of bad taste, narrative reshufflings and absurdity that turns from comic to tragic (and vice versa), and it looks like this here big budget 90s arthouse/pop oddity may be it. This will be a hard one to write about without spoilers, though admittedly if you want to watch a film in which lots of unexpected and unpredictable things happen, this is for you. Starts with a battered bride in…

  • Last Chants for a Slow Dance

    Last Chants for a Slow Dance

    Been intending to check out more Jost for a while as I rather liked his autobiographical essay film "Speaking Directly". A highly regarded and very much self-styled/opinionated "fierce American Independent", this is Jost's first narrative fiction film and I would guess it is an attempt to merge the post-underground styles of its era (think early James Benning or Bruce Baillie on heavy downers) with the more mainstream early 70s "bummer, dude" narrative style (a la "Five Easy Pieces"), also a…

  • Hinterland

    Hinterland

    The "fucked up families and you can't go back home" theme again. 1st feature written directed by and starrring this great French actor (imagine a more urbane, laid-back David Niven, basically the kind of guy the word "dapper" was invented for). I was drawn here because this was nearly a Claire Denis joint, but she ended up being unavailable so Norot directed it himself - with Agnes Godard on the camera. A piece of near-autobiography I guess. Norot plays the…

  • The Strangler

    The Strangler

    ★★★★½

    Can't get enough of these post-new wave French guys and sadly Vecchiali is one of the most obscure names involved - there is very little writing on him in English and not too many films around with subtitles. I've managed to see a few and they were all mighty good but all wildly different from each other. At the Top of the Stairs (1983) was an actorly excavation of wartime trauma based upon the director's own somewhat sordid family history…

  • Paradise: Faith

    Paradise: Faith

    Some messed-up shit here. Anna Maria is a disturbingly devout Catholic who, when not flaggelating herself in front of a crucifix to atone for the carnal sins of the world, travels door to door with a virgin mary statuette attempting to convert Austrian immigrants. Her routine is thrown into turmoil by the unexpected arrival of, firstly, an spoiled and angry cat, then by the reappearance of her estranged husband, a boozy and horny disabled Muslim. But what is the good…

  • Infinite Football

    Infinite Football

    Laurentiu Ginghina is a Romanian civil servant whose youthful sporting career was scuppered by two serious injuries, one on the football field and one at work. This surprisingly gripping documentary showcases his lifelong obsession to re-write the rules of football to make a safer, faster game with (theoretically) more "freedom" for the ball (to roughly summarise his concept, the players movements are more restricted and the field is octagonal and divided into four areas). However, as the practical flaws in…

  • Marseille

    Marseille

    ★★★★★

    A somewhat listless German amateur photographer named Sophie gets a temporary flat exchange in Marseille. She walks around the city taking the occasional photo. She borrows a car from a neighbouring mechanic. She meets him in a bar. Romance is in the air... So far, so typically indie/arthouse, a bit like one of those half-baked sub-Rohmer (but without Rohmer's caustic wit) things that plague the arthouse world. However, we notice a couple of things. Firstly, the photography and Schanelec's framing…

  • En fumée

    En fumée

    I now prove that, contrary to what you are all thinking, I am not head over heels in love with every French film ever. Even if there are lots of scenes in the streets of beautiful Pareeee. Even if theres a (surpirsingly understated) performance by Monseur Costes as a nazi bookseller. A few nods (mostly unexplored) to contemporary French politics aside, this is twee and featherweight stuff, and very smug and pleased with itself. The main character (played by the…

  • Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne

    Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne

    Second viewing, on the recently released blu ray which looks pretty lovely. Scripted by Jean Cocteau based upon a 1920s novel. The very idea of a Bresson/Cocteau collab is a pretty exciting thought in itself, though it is important to remember that 1945 is early days for both (in the cinema at least). Still, I love this one despite the fact that Bresson's "usual style" isn't fully established yet - there is even acting! But what acting! María Casares is…

  • DAU. Nora Mother

    DAU. Nora Mother

    Decided to watch me a segment of this bizarre and somewhat megalomaniac project (if you don't know, a large amount of people basically lived on the set for three years acting out sundry psychodramas. If you didn't guess, various ethical issues have arisen). As I watched this mostly for "research" rather than personal "enjoyment" or whathaveu, I picked the shortest episode released so far (89 mins). After just finished revisiting Jacques Rivette's wonderful "Out 1" and seeing how giving talented…

  • Deconstruction Sight

    Deconstruction Sight

    ★★★★★

    A perfect little 13 minute miniature which perfects the under-appreciated art of making something very big look very small. An enormous demolition site is filmed in grainy black and white using the simplest camera tricks imaginable (basically, camera speed adjustment) and played with wonderful monster movie music on the soundtrack. The effect is to make this "real" documentary footage look like either Metropolis out-takes or scenes from the corniest ever sub-Godzilla monster movie. Whereas cheapo B movies strive to make…

  • On Top of the Whale

    On Top of the Whale

    ★★★★★

    OK, we are in some sort of alternate reality where all of Europe has turned communist, though that doesn't seem to have changed much - there are "communist millionaires", hotels named after Malcolm X and the Philips corporation is now "Workers Phillips". An anthropologist, his wife and her androgynous daughter meet a rich man who claims to have the last two members of a Native American tribe living at his house. He inherited his house from his grandfather, who was…