Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Capsule Review: Orson Welles' The Lady from Shanghai (1947)

The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
Directed by Orson Welles

Like much of Welles's work in Hollywood, this film noir was an ill-fated endeavor, taken from the director’s hands to be reedited and in some instances reshot against his will. Yet what survives is, miraculously, one of Welles’s most satisfying studio films, a work of playful genre escapades and stylistic effervescence. When an idealistic seaman (Welles) falls for a mysteries femme fatale (Rita Hayworth, Welles’s then-wife), he is forced to untangle a botched murder attempt involving not only the woman’s husband but also two lawyers and a private investigator. The carnivalesque plot grows more convoluted with each successive double cross, culminating in a thrilling sequence set inside an actual hall of mirrors, literalizing many of the narrative’s disorienting twists and once again proving Welles to be one of cinema’s consummate entertainers. (Opens Jan 31 at Film Forum) [The L]

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Blu-ray Review: Aki Kaurismäki's La vie de bohème (1992)

Befitting their respective milieu, the pair of films Aki Kaurismäki has thus far made in France have a distinctly Gallic sensibility. While both 1992's La vie de bohème and 2011's Le Havre retain the Finnish auteur's dark, deadpan dimension he's spent a career perfecting in both absurdist scenarios and defeatist critiques alike, these films—spiritual, if not literal, sequels anyway—carry with them a doggedly nationalistic French determinism which their characters likewise pursue in the face of the political and societal discord of the era (which is to say nothing of their deftly woven mixed-raced casts, uniquely utilized film stocks, and region-specific reference points). With 1989's Leningrad Cowboys Go America, Kaurismäki had demonstrated the ability to integrate his ironically aloof, serenely humanist demeanor into new landscapes, but beginning with La vie de bohème, he proved his talent at assimilating multiple foreign, not to mention filmic, tenets and texts into his own previously solidified methodology.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Yearbook (Film): 2013

• 2010 - 2019 •
201020112012 • 2013 • 2014 •
• 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 •

Bastards / Claire Denis
Before Midnight / Richard Linklater
Beyond the Hills / Cristian Mungiu
Drug War / Johnnie To
The Last Time I Saw Macao / João Pedro Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata
Leviathan / Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel
Like Someone in Love / Abbas Kiarostami
Night Across the Street / Raoúl Ruiz
Post Tenebras Lux / Carlos Reygadas
Spring Breakers / Harmony Korine
Student / Darezhan Omirbaev
A Touch of Sin / Jia Zhangke
The Wind Rises / Hayao Miyazaki
The Wolf of Wall Street / Martin Scorsese
You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet / Alain Resnais

Yearbook (Music): 2013

• 2010 - 2019 •
201020112012 • 2013 • 2014 •
• 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 •

Autre Ne Veut / Anxiety
Boards of Canada / Tomorrow’s Harvest
Burial / Rival Dealer EP
Deafheaven / Sunbather
Forest Swords / Engravings
Frog Eyes / Carey’s Cold Spring
Tim Hecker / Virgins
Jenny Hval / Innocence Is Kinky
The Knife / Shaking the Habitual
Majical Cloudz / Impersonator
My Bloody Valentine / m b v
Oneohtrix Point Never / R Plus Seven
Rhye / Woman
Torres / Torres
Waxahatchee / Cerulean Salt

DVD Review: Eclipse Series 40 - Late Ray [Criterion]

Reflecting his age and waning health, Satyajit Ray's final films successively scaled down the scope of his projects while ably maintaining the Bengali director's predominant thematic concerns and commitment to humanistic storytelling. From the beginning of his filmmaking career in 1955, one can identify Ray's primary preoccupation as the division between the interiority of domestic life and the expanse of the surrounding world. This contrast is of outmost consequence in work as otherwise diverse as Panther Panchali, The Music Room, and The Big City. Following a series of ambitious films including 1977's politically incisive The Chess Players and 1980's quasi-musical Kingdom of Diamonds, Ray suffered a heart attack during the making of 1984's The Home and the World, severely limiting his physical ability to work as a director. But while in the wake of these developments the breadth of his vision was reduced, his dedication to civilian struggle amid an increasingly compromised and uncaring cultural institution remained.