Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Monthly Round-up: September Viewing

I watched a total of 33 films in September. Quite effortlessly. I have found it tough to make it to the cinema with my recent workload. A lot of these I caught at the Sydney Underground Film Festival, and many others are home viewing. Blake Howard, Maria Lewis, Lisa Malouf and I participated in a panel discussion following a screening of Blue Jasmine at Dendy Newtown on September 12. We had so much fun talking about Woody Allen's career, and interacting with the audience. This was my second viewing of the film, and it held up just as well.

New-to-Me Films (In Order of Preference)

---------- Essential Viewing ----------

Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1967) - One of the greatest films ever made? Maybe. My film of the year so far. An incredible achievement. 

A Band Called Death (Mark Christopher Covino, Jeff Howlett, 2013)

Captain Phillips (Paul Greengrass, 2013) - A courageous, competent captain gamely stands up to desperate open-ocean raiders in Greengrass' astonishing thriller. I breathed many a 'sigh-of-relief', intimate hand-held have the terrifying occupation added realism. Both sides given equal attention. Hanks is incredible. Extremely intense.

Top of the Lake (Jane Campion, Gerard Lee, 2013) - Technically a six-part television mini-series but so riveting and cinematic that one could easily watch it all in a single sitting. The production is absolutely stunning, the ominously grim procedural full of twists, and Elizabeth Moss is terrific in the lead role. A shocking climax.

Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954) - A drifting guitarist with a past and a defiant female saloon keeper ally in Ray’s admirably small-scale, genre-bending Western. Odd theatricality, ripping dialogue, sumptuous colour, memorable performances, psycho-sexual tension and entrepreneurial jealousy. A weird one. The ending offers up a curveball - of which there are many throughout - which was a little bit of a let down, but overall a great film.

Heaven's Gate (Michael Cimino, 1980) - Lower class US citizens, dwarved by modernity and Cimino's camera against the sprawling land, oppose ruthless authority in this flawed but spectacular epic. Though the love triangle grew a little tedious, I am so glad I caught this on the big screen.

Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen, 2013) - TWICE

Mystery Road (Ivan Sen, 2013) - I liked Ivan Sen's tense, intriguing and stunningly composed Australian outback-set police procedural of admirable patience. Terrific cast.

What Maisie Knew - Sweet, innocent youngster sadly torn by divorce/custody battle becomes a catalyst for a new, promising future. Top acting by young Onata Aprile and, unexpectedly, Alexander Skarsgard. Devastatingly sad, with displays of abhorrent parenting, but seeing the relationships blossom was lovely.

Birth (Jonathan Glazer, 2004) - I really liked this. A strange film. Intriguing and creepy, deals with grief, obsession and reincarnation. Kidman terrific. Glazer a craftsman.

Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction (Sophie Huber, 2013)

--------- Essential Viewing ---------

Woody Allen: A Documentary (Robert B. Weide, 2012) - This entertaining and insightful documentary just zips along. At three hours that is a feat. Woody has had a fascinating career - especially that 1977-80 (ANNIE HALL-STARDUST MEMORIES) period.

The Dance of Reality (Alejandro Jodorowsky, 2013)

The Turning (Robert Connolly et al, 2013) - A collection of fascinatingly linked, yet individually powerful, emotive and visceral Australian stories. Great photography throughout. A few weak chapters, but standouts leave an impression. The big cast deliver. Acquifer, Small Mercies, Family, Reunion, Commision, Fog top.

Stranger by the Lake (Alain Guiraudie, 2013) - Atmospheric and languidly paced. At secluded lakeside cruise spot, the desire for sex, companionship is confronted by fear. Stunning photography and the final minutes are genuinely nail-biting. This tiny, private world - a place to free the body within the natural elements, and surrender to lust - is an admirable setting for this tense thriller.

Rush (Ron Howard, 2013)

Magic Magic (Sebastian Silva, 2013)

The Tenant (Roman Polanski, 1976) - Dark, eerie mystery from Polanski (the uncredited lead) deals with Parisian neighbour politics, conflicting identity and paranoia.

Unhung Hero (Brian Spitz, 2013)

Unlawful Killing (Keith Allen, 2011)

The Interval (Leonardo Di Costanzo, 2012) - Good looking little film makes use of cavernous, expansive location. Two entrapped youths bond over a shared uncertain future. Shot by the great Luca Bigazzi.

Mighty Aphrodite (Woody Allen, 1995) - A sports writer (Allen) befriends a scatterbrained prostitute (Sorvino). An odd but sweet story, some very funny lines.

The Worst Week of My Life (Alessandro Genovesi, 2012) - Full of the familiar awkward wedding prep/meet-the-parents disasters, but a pretty funny - if inconsistent - Italian hit comedy.

Runner Runner (Brad Furman, 2013) - Hotshot gambling affiliate lands dream job, gains swagger, but his boss is shady. Double crossing etc. Flashy but formulaic. Wanted to be cleverer than it was. Timberlake fine. Affleck phoned it in. Mackie over-the-top enjoyable.

The Final Member (Jonah Bekhor, Zach Math, 2012)

Adjust Your Tracking (Levi Peretic and Dan Kinem, 2012)

The Canyons (Paul Schrader, 2013)

Birdemic: Shock and Terror (James Nguyen, 2010)

Re-watches (In Order of Preference)

The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance, 2013)

Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine, 2013)

Stoker (Park Chan-Wook, 2013)

Mood Indigo (Michel Gondry, 2013) - NOTE: theatrical cut

Year to date: 318 Films

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for bringing Top of the Lake to my attention. Moss was remarkable. They really kept it going all the way til the end there.