Film diary – to end of Feb

My Way Home (Miklós Jancsó, 1965)  A young Hungarian at the tail end of WW2 muddles his way home, getting caught up with the disorganised Russian army along the way.  He is billeted with a young Russian officer tending a herd of cows, and become friends.  A lovely, touching film, beautiful camerawwork and a subtle distance from emotionally explosive situations.

The Round-Up (Miklós Jancsó, 1966) A group of outlaws/guerilla fighters are held in a prison in the middle of barren plains by soldiers, who want to weed out the most hardened fighters and members of a particular group.  This film looks beautiful and you can easily see why Jancso was influential to directors like Sergio Leone – stunning depth of field from extreme close-ups to lone figures on the horizon.  Shows the ridiculousness of petty power and how it can be used to oppress and humiliate.

London in the Raw (Norman Cohen, Arnold L. Miller, 1965)  Tagline: “The world’s greatest city laid bare. Thrill to its gay excitement, its bright lights, but be shocked by the sin in its shadows!”  Wonderful mondo film produced by Tony Tenser who never turned up his nose at a decent piece of exploitation.  The wonderful world of underground beat clubs, padded out with belly dancers, music hall acts and pursuit of beauty through gyms and hair implants, to name but a few sections.  Glorious fashions and haircuts a plenty… looking forward to having friends round to watch this with a bottle of wine or two!

Chelsea Bridge Boys (Peter Davis, Staffan Lamm, 1965) Great 30 min short documentary about a teenage biker gang who actually come across as very genuine, naive, gentle and likeable.

Prom Night (Nelson McCormic, 2008)  Nonsense remake – a slasher film with very little slashing – or, at least, very little of the tension and/or gore you might expect from such a film.  The best thing about it is a turn from Idris Elba (The Wire’s Stringer Bell) as a cop whose dialogue almost entirely consists of exposition (his sidekick cop will also be familiar to Wire fans).  ALMOST so bad it’s good… but not quite.

Intimate Lighting (Ivan Passer, 1965)  A lovely, gentle film about 2 friends from a smalltown, one has become a successful classical musician, returning home (with his hip beatnik girlfriend) to play in a classical concert, whilst his friend has remained as headteacher of the local music school, playing at funerals for extra money.  A wonderful, subtly amusing portrait of family life and friendship, contrasting the passing of time, aging and choices in life, and what really matters.  A favourite scene observes the 2 friends getting drunk and silly together, great stuff.

Daisies (Vera Chytilova, 1966)  Anarchic surrealist dada-esque “punk rock poem” following 2 young girls defying a decaying society and bourgeois culture by deciding to act spoilt, decadent and irreverent.  A play with film form as much as political ideology – lots of fun, nice frocks, psychedelic colours and images…

Howl (Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman, 2010)  More a visual representation and exploration of the poem rather than a narrative following the obscenity trial.  James Franco has Ginsberg down pat, reading the text in a beat bar, intercut with animated respresentations of sections of the poem and re-enacted interview segments of Ginsberg explaining his intentions and thought processes behind the work.  The trial is almost an aside, only touched upon superficially really – Jon Hamm has no great stretch here, pristine 60s suit, selling an idea to the judge – would be more interesting to see him in a more unexpected role.  Always marvellous to see Bob Balaban, who only seems to align himself with splendid things.  A very interesting collage piece but doesn’t really shed much new light on the subject matter.  (P.s. James Franco will still always be Daniel from Freaks and Geeks though – nice to see him turning out to be a genuinely good actor 🙂  )

Recent films … Feb 2011

Films I’ve watched over the last couple of weeks:

Faust (Jan Svankmajer, 1994) Czech puppet chaos based on Faust legend.  I preferred it on second viewing, enjoyable as a piece of  Svankmajer’s work – unsettling puppetry/animation that’s very grimy in tone.  It would have held my attention more had it been more succint, perhaps a long short rather than a feature.

Also watched a bunch of Svankmajer, Quay Brothers and Borowczyk shorts, too numerous to list.

Juno (Jason Reitman, 2007) Rewatch. US indie about pregnant teenager played by Ellen Page.  Written by my doppelganger Diablo Cody!  I actually enjoyed this less than the first time, came across on second viewing as hipster dialogue and style over substance.  Other films of a similar tone like Ghost World and American Splendor have more depth I think.

Tony Manero (Pablo Larrian, 2008) South American film about a man obsessed with John Travolta’s character in Saturday Fever – to the point where he’s in denial about any reality which gets in his way of acting out his fantasy of living the character, and turns him into a serial killer.  Unusual film, more of a character study of a seemingly cold, detatched man, clearly repressing a lot of anger and tension.  On paper, this should be mildly comic – his obsession with getting the white disco suit just right, bartering for glass bricks to make a ‘light up’ disco floor.  Ultimately he wants to keep his fantasy to himself perhaps – interesting and unsettling.

Breaking Bad – TV.  Watched the first 6 episodes of this and it’s bloody marvellous.  Moving, funny, upsetting – a chemistry teacher finds out he has terminal cancer, decides to start cooking crack cocaine.  Bryan Cranston gets an opportunity to shine as the excellent actor he is – (of course we already knew he was great from Malcolm in the Middle and a whole heap of film cameos).

Tout Va Bien (Godard, 1972) Film from the post-’68 politicised bit of Godard’s career.  Interesting and engaging ideas, experimental methods etc., but comes across a bit like middle-class apologist guilt, rather self-indulgent perhaps.  If you want to show ‘the people’ and the truth about ‘the workers’ etc. – why not go and make a documentary instead?

Part Time Work of a Domestic Slave (Alexander Kluge, 1973) Kluge’s radical cinema approach following a female abortionist who’s married with children to support, and becomes involved in union politics and more.  Similar Brechtian approach to the above.  Wasn’t sure if I liked this or not, but the more I think about it, the more it’s growing on me.  Less affected and more effective than Tout va Bien, I think. Looking forward to seeing this again tomorrow at work.

Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010) re-watch Enjoyable big budget psyche/chase romp through layers of dreams.  Not as good on TV as on the big screen!  Also nowhere near as complicated as people like to make out – it’s extremely simple to follow, made even clearer by the set design of each ‘layer’ of dream being distinct.  The anti-gravity bits still look fabulous, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy are still the best things about this film.  For what it’s worth, I think Nolan makes decent big-budget films that are certainly above average, but I don’t think he’s the genius people laud him as.

True Grit (Coen Bros. 2010)  Remake of the 1969 John Wayne film (which I am intending to watch in the next week or so) for the first time).  Well made as you’d expect from the Coens, but I do find these days that their films have somewhat of a big Hollywood glossy slickness to them detracting a bit from their earlier gritty and/or kookiness that used to define them and was waht I loved about their films (Blood Simple, Fargo, Raising Arizona, The Hudsucker Proxy…..  etc. etc.).  I enjoyed the film, but I didn’t get swept up too much or think it was good enough to be great. This same slickness plus decent performances from star turns will guarantee box office and worldwide approval no doubt, but for me, they’re missing the edge they used to flaunt more overtly.

Films pending:  Video Nasties documentary & more (thanks Martin!), Gainsbourg rewatch, mini Tati-fest, more Breaking Bad… and the rest of the DVD pile next to the TV!

Lizzie’s Birthday

Random to of conversation included (but not exclusively): Brecht, Godard and other 60s/70s cinema, magic – David Copperfield, Derren Brown, 60s garage music (surprise), dressmaking, nice beer & whisky, vintage board games and, of course, the phrase “my pussy paid for that” (see Jamie Thompson).

Greetings

Welcome to the new home of my Missy Tassles blog.  This is the new site of my cartoon diaries and other bits I see fit to update here – as my old 20six blog site seems to have died a death 😦

In addition to cartoon diaries (which I have admittedly been remiss of late to update), I will hopefully post photos and keep some kind of film watch diary here, mostly for my own benefit.  I am still figuring out how to format this site properly, so please bear with me!

I have, for now, uploaded some archive cartoon diary stuff and other bits and pieces including the mammoth cartoon Diary of a Pregnant Missy, along with a couple of other holiay diaries and other miscellania.  Check out the categories at the side to get at the appropriate posts and images.

That is all for now!

Broadstairs – Sep 2010