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Eternity and a Day. Directed by Theo Angelopoulos, 1998. Watched May 15, 2012. 

ETERNITY AND A DAY reminded me greatly of Andrzej Zulawski’s 1989 MY NIGHTS ARE MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN YOUR DAYS and not because of Zulawski’s style of Hysterical Excess. It was the idea that two European directors have decided to tell stories about men who are reaching their end of days while still searching for an escape from forgetting or being forgot. Wandering in their own ways as men put out to pasture, Angelopoulos’ famous Greek writer heads towards the water’s edge and revisits a grand house on the shore; Zulawski’s computer programmer heads toward the beach and revisits a huge hotel full of fantasy. Returning to places that they know, both of these stories are about men going senile and in turn, completely mis-remembering their time spent with the women they love. 

In search of help along the way, Angelopoulos’ hero saves a small Albanian boy from certain slavery; Zulawski’s hero is given salvation from a dead dwarf doorman. They look to their younger (or smaller) selves — and not their women — to see them through the impending fog. The men are too young for death but as their cognizant existences wane they stand so able-bodied, so nimble. As a nod to memory — or the loss thereof — both directors bend the lines between fiction and reality as they ponder what it might be like to lose your mind while the body walks on. 

#13 selected by Kevin Lennox via Facebook. 

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1984. Directed by Michael Radford, 1984. Watched March 15, 2012. 

Appropriately watched on the Ides of March, this film adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 left me shivering with recognition. In a day and age 28 years past Orwell’s intended future, state legislatures are siding with business owners on their beliefs over the freedoms of their workers, and the inequality divide is evident in not only financial worlds but those of education, health and race. Yet, I digress. 

With another strange twist of fate within theme extensions in this Queue of 222, I referenced Big Brother in my last post about RED ROAD and, as if he heard me (because he’s always watching), he showed up as my next selection in all his pure cinematic glory. Talk about a textual use of screens (again). 1984’s entire theory runs on the idea that you are to be constantly informed by the powers that know more than you. Instead of using them to monitor the other, as in RED ROAD, Radford’s interpretation of Orwell’s omnipotent screens are used to monitor the self. John Hurt plays Winston who falls in love with Julia, played by Suzanna Hamilton, with beauty felling them both through their worst, personal nightmares. This cold, English film that Roger Deakins photographed in such muted, dirty brilliance feels like it was shot on the exact ruins of the London Blitz and the production quality was unknowingly advanced when Orwell’s widow demanded that there be no special effects used. A strong triple feature recommendation: METROPOLIS RESTORED, RED ROAD, and 1984 - in just such an order. 

#1 selected by Calibrated Earth on tumblr.

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RED ROAD. Directed by Andrea Arnold, 2006. Watched March 13, 2012. 

A solid combination of BLOW UP and REAR WINDOW, Andrea Arnold creates a quiet yet powerful film basked in the omnipresence of the Big Brother gaze. We follow Jackie, a CCTV watcher, who spends her days monitoring the many surveillance cameras hidden on the city streets of Glasgow. A patient protector of those around her, she becomes startled when she sees someone who shouldn’t be there and starts spending her nights patrolling the same streets for her own reasons. The way Robbie Ryan’s camera moves from surveillance to street level and back is seamless and Arnold’s meta-cinematic use of screens, a favorite tactic of mine when well done, morphs as Jackie slips deeper and deeper into these nervy neighborhoods. I shouldn’t say much more. Arnold takes on local geography in a way that makes you feel familiar with the area by the time the film is finished and I anticipate her next film having also enjoyed her treatment of East London in FISH TANK. 

#44 selected by @jarrodbull

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METROPOLIS RESTORED. Directed by Fritz Lang, 1927. Watched March 10-11, 2011. 

This almost 3 hour version of METROPOLIS had me rushing to the Film Preservation Foundation and I’m saying that having watched it on my iPad. Having screened only a butchered hour and half VHS version of this film in the past I have come to the understanding that I never saw the film at all. How could I have? It’s been restored! How gorgeous, how seminal this film truly is. What vision, what innovation, what leagues ahead of it all Fritz Lang, a German master, really was.

Set in 2026, the costumes and set design in METROPOLIS RESTORED walk a gentle line between Art Noveau and Art Deco, the structuralist cinematography rings like a Germanic bell in the night and the combination of iconic Pagan symbols with an early anti-Luddite message are high drama at its finest. Tensely set between the Workers’ City below and the Club of the Sons above, METROPOLIS is a proletariat film that champions the ideas that between the head and the hands must lie the heart and it was beauty that fell the beast. So enters Maria, surrounded by shoeless street urchins from the depths below, the woman who sets our leading man on fire. She pierces his heart with the mere utterance: “Look — these are your brothers.” And so he begins to see. 

#2 selected by Mari Vz via Facebook. 

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ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED. Directed by Marina Zenovich, 2008. Watched March 8, 2012. 

Oh, Roman. You did it and you admitted it. You served your “psychiatric evaluation” time and you were released early from Chino because you were not a threat to yourself or society. Every legal, psychological and social expert agreed that you deserved only probation. You flew off to Europe and got caught on camera next to a beautiful blond while having a stein of good German beer at Oktoberfest and that’s what did you in. The celluloid that made you famous in Hollywood was the same stuff that ended your American freedom. Oh, the irony. 

In direct opposition to yesterday’s documentary finesse of the talking head tactic, ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED had false starts towards great storytelling but for the most part teetered towards an E! True Hollywood Story. Perhaps it was the sordid sexual subject matter and the blow-by-blow retelling of a completely illegal court case, but the overriding analogy of court judge as movie director wasn’t given its fair treatment either. Oh, the waste. 

#113 selected by Kim Helm via Facebook.

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COLLAPSE. Directed by Chris Smith, 2009. Watched March 6, 2012. 

"There was a guy named von Clausewitz who said that ‘war is a continuation of politics by other means.’ Politics is a continuation of economics by other means." - Michael Ruppert. 

Michael Ruppert likes to smoke. A lot. Knowing what he knows and possibly fearing that others don’t want him talking about it (the CIA, the FBI) would make me smoke too. A lot. Using metaphors like dinosaurs and Darwinism, Ruppert tells you how much you don’t know about our reliance on oil, that funny fiat money you carry around in your wallet and how the government, well, all governments, are in on some pretty bad stuff.  

There are three very simple filmmaking tactics at work here in what is essentially a “talking head film,” a term which usually causes documentary filmmakers to lose sleep. Smith weaves into Ruppert’s film-long interview images of archival footage and two types of graphic supers; that’s it. This films stands as a testament to the idea of these visual tropes being impossible bedfellows with dynamite doc-making: you just need to have a kick ass subject who has an incredible understanding of how to make that information digestible. Watch it. If you saw it in 2009, watch it again. You’ll get turned on by terms like peak oil, fractional reserve banking and compound interest, oh la la! I’m frankly sad to report that a lot of what he said in 2009 still rings true. 

#172 selected by @winkingskunk

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DAYS OF BEING WILD. Directed by Wong Kar Wai, 1990. Watched March 5, 2012. 

Wong Kar Wai might have some major mommy issues and in no film by him are they better laid out than in DAYS OF BEING WILD. Set in 1960s Hong Kong, this steamy story of modern malaise follows Wong Kar Wai-favorite Leslie Cheung as he plays Yuddy, a handsome young womanizer who splits his predatory affections between two women who represent the typical mother/whore split. Spoiled with adoration and alcohol-infused advice from his once-prostitute mother, he eventually learns from her that he was adopted and runs to the Philippines to find peace. The film actually picks up pace here as Christopher Doyle’s camera goes wild until the journey ends, as they all do. Shot mostly on rainy nights, DAYS OF BEING WILD leaves you feeling the humidity of Southeast Asia, the cigarette smoke of the 60s, and the music of the mambo. The soundtrack is to die for. 

#76 selected by @christinapNYC

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THE WEEPING MEADOW. Directed by Theo Angelopoulos, 2004. Watched March 1-2, 2012. 

The camera in THE WEEPING MEADOW never stops moving. Always searching for a peaceful place, some dry ground, or a bit of artistic freedom, this almost 3 hour long Greek tragedy uses a group of musicians as an actual Greek chorus. Instead of pushing the exposition forward, this band of accordian, clarinet, and bouzouki players provides a dreamy escape from the harsh reality that was life before, during and after World War II. Like Brecht’s MOTHER COURAGE with its caravans and vagabonds, this film also focuses on a central female character - Eleni - who is drug through the terrors of war, starting with little and losing everything. Angelopoulos’ film offers an intense visual landscape shot mostly in epic wide shots to maintain what one can only imagine is a safe distance from the horrors of war. 

#20 selected by Lauren Wolkstein via Facebook. 

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TREELESS MOUNTAIN. Directed by So Yong Kim, 2008. Watched February 29, 2012. 

Shot in a style emphasizing close-ups that reminded me of John Cassavetes’ camera work in FACES, TREELESS MOUNTAIN is a much less frenetic film that follows the somber lot of two young Korean sisters who have been abandoned by their mother. Gorgeous, sweet girls both, their mother promises them that she’ll be back once they fill up their pink piggy bank with coins - and so go the daughters in their attempt to hurry their mother’s return. A subtle treatise on the responsibility of parenthood, TREELESS MOUNTAIN makes space for what is never said. 

#111 selected by @davediem

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THE FREEBIE. Directed by Katie Aselton, 2010. Watched February 25, 2012. 

First things first for THE FREEBIE: terrible title, terrible poster, terrible categorization. Netflix judged this book by its awful and misleading cover and claimed this to be a comedy. It’s not. It’s actually a good, little drama and I was pleasantly surprised by its honest, searching ways. Starring Katie Aselton and Dax Shepard as a happily married couple that have hit a sexual slump, THE FREEBIE tackles the idea that I’m sure most spouses have pondered: “What if we took a night off from our monogamous life?” I appreciate Aselton’s almost documentary style of direction and Benjamin Kasulke’s camera work makes Los Angeles look really lovely. 

Strangely, Joshua Leonard is one of the actors in THE FREEBIE and he was one of the directors of yesterday’s pick, BEAUTIFUL LOSERS. That’s some 222 voodoo. 

#35 selected by @dianaaram