Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Funny Ha-Ha (Bujalski, 2005)

I arrived at the theater before Eric. As I saw him walking down the street, I noticed a man talking with him. It was none other than our old teacher, Mr. Novotny, who still seems to be suffering.

We wanted the best for this flick: a low-budget feature, shot on super 16, about mumbly 20somethings. If nothing else, to show us that the low-budget, shot on 16, mumbly 20something feature could indeed be successful.

Unfortunately, a movie needs characters, plot, and camerawork. This movie didn't have any of those things so we walked out.

(Note: this was my first walk-out since "Howard's End.")

Sunday, May 15, 2005

A Matter of Life and Death (Powell and Pressburger, 1946)

Have you ever worried that when you are on trial to enter Heaven's Gates, the prosecuting attorney may be a Revolutionary War hero? If so, this is the movie for you.

It's a masterpiece. Do whatever you can to find it.

I Know Where I'm Going! (Powell and Pressburger, 1945)

No one has an easy relationship with Michael Powell. People either really like him or are complete fanatics, and his non-acceptance into the international film pantheon (despite the best efforts of "Marty" Scorsese) has less to do with his unbelievable ability to entertain but rather that his excessively charming vision lacks the psycho-cynicism of so many "greater" directors.

He is a filmmaker of artifice--I am often reminded of Jacques Demy when I watch him--and watching a P&P movie is always the same for me: the first fifteen minutes are enraging. The acting is always speedy, the compositions artificial, the camera almost satanically smooth for the 1940s, but let the Powell vision wash over you, and it will be an experience: pure, ecstatic joy. His movies don't make you want to kill yourself: they make you want to go out and make your own movies.

This week I will be reporting on many more P&P movies, thanks to a wonderful retro at The Walter Reade Theater. Won't you join me, Larry Fouch, on my journey?