Friday, March 30, 2012

First Impressions

Recently I watched Buster Keaton in Free and Easy (1930), a film I'd never seen before, and which despite its conventionalisms and shaky early sound design (this doesn't strike me as one of the "inventive" 1928-1931 films), it's really quite lovely, and it's so unfortunate that Keaton's career fizzled soon after, as I think he transitions well to a voiced cinema.  Though we can see the ending come from miles away, it nevertheless remains heartbreaking.

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Though the Jackass films are puerile, they are more inventive, riskier, and more philosophically trenchant than most films that get nominated for big Oscars.  (That polemical thrust made, I wish someone would do a Durgnatian Mirror for England-style defense of the middlebrow Hollywood film.  That is, a middlebrow defense from a brilliant, freewheelin', nobrow critic.)

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Pietro Marcello's La Bocca del Lupo (2009) is the real deal - where some filmmakers, even very good ones, occasionally make "festival films" that appear a bit hermetic, a bit predigested, somewhat incapable of really ruffling any feathers, Marcello (like Pedro Costa) comes off to me as more a mere fellow traveler to that world.  (I mean this as a compliment.)  My feeling is that the world of his films bears a robust linkage to the world external to the theater, external to production companies.  And the use of Buxtehude is Tree of Life-level good.

8 comments:

Nathan said...

Agreed on Bocca del Lupo, which is staggering from the very first shot onwards. I wrote about it about a year ago, in February 2011. Along with Film Socialisme, it's one of the only European films to have truly, deeply impressed me in recent years (though there are many I need to revisit).

Zach Campbell said...

Hi Nathan - I think that your blog was one of the first places I read about this film, actually. It's superb, definitely cream-of-the-crop.

Jake said...

Zach, you may find nobrow fondness for Hollywood middlebrow with Red Letter Media, specifically the online series Half in the Bag: http://redlettermedia.com/half-in-the-bag/

They seem to at least treat middlebrow movies as objects worthy of lengthy discussion.

Zach Campbell said...

Thanks Jake - I'll check that series out.

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