Sunday, August 07, 2005

Filmic Round-Up

Only four this week - odd. Watched The Son twice, though - that makes a difference...

Elevator to the Gallows - *** - Jeanne Moreau wandering Paris at night looking for her lover - who's trapped in an elevator... They'd schemed to kill her husband - it worked like a charm - except he left something behind - and when he went back... everything went wrong. Sleek and tense and ironic, with its doubled pair of protagonists (2 kids steal his car and pretend to be the lover ad his wife) getting each other in trouble... And Moreau is just very cool, looking like Bridget Lin in Chungking Express (I don't know if the resemblance is intentional, but it could be.)

Broken Flowers - ***1/2 - Jim Jarmusch directs Bill Murray as an "aging don Juan" (named Don Johnston) who gets a letter from an anonymous old flame warning him that he has a son. His neighbor urges him to find the woman - so he sets off across the country looking for which of the 4 possible lovers sent the letter. Murray plays it in complete deadpan mode, but he makes everything, every twitch, every movement of the eye, every angle count. It's quiet and sad, but very well done...

The Son - **** - The Dardennes brothers have won 2 top prizes at Cannes in 6 years, for Rosetta and L'Enfant - they probably could have won for this as well. Tells the story of a carpentry instructor who takes on a new apprentice - who clearly causes him great stress. Slowly, we learn why... it is about revenge and forgiveness and transference, and probably most of all, about work as redemption, about practicing a trade as a religious act. It is also, in a strange way, a kind of musical - the sounds of carpentry, the band of hammers and whine of saws - the synchronized movement of people working, apart and together, becomes music, and becomes a dance. Certainly the camera dances with the actors - the star, Olivier Gourmet, describes the process as a kind of ballet, during an interview included on the DVD. It is a great film indeed.

East of Borneo - **1/2 - more bad films - but this is a different order of bad film. The source material for Joseph Cornell's surrealist found footage Rose Hobart - the original is no slouch on the weirdness front. Rose plays a woman looking for her husband in the wilds of Borneo - she finds him living with a decadent Prince far up in the jungles - melodrama rears its ugly head for a scene or two, the the crocodiles swarm and volcanos erupt.... Not quite as brilliant as Guy Maddin's review would lead you to believe, but a keeper anyway, with it's off synch editing, stock footage of beasts, bad acting, decadence, symbolism, and the like.

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