Irrational Man (2015) (dir. Woody Allen) (96mins) (viewed 07/14/2015): Joaquin leads with his gut, Emma Stone the eyes. Parker Posey does her best from beneath what (seems?) a bad wig. Most Woody films post-Husbands and Wives have a sketchy feel (as in slight/superficial, not disreputable/shady—though, maybe the latter?) I’ve lost interest in reading the artist’s life into his work, and I’ve gotten used to (and am occasionally taken by) the Woody malaise. He’s his own man: Greatness eludes him, though rarely in the profound ways I get from e.g. F.F. Coppola. Preferred the Darius Khondji cinematography in Magic in the Moonlight; he works best in period. The same Ramsey Lewis Trio needle drop (which begins with the end of a round of applause) is reused throughout, so many scenes clap for themselves.
White People (2015) (dir. Jose Antonio Vargas) (40mins) (viewed 07/14/2015): Race gets MTV’d. Skin deep.
Horse Money (Cavalo Dinheiro) (2014) (dir. Pedro Costa) (103mins) (viewed 07/15/2015): When I was teaching earlier this year, I attempted to instill in my students a willingness, when it comes to art, to be lost. (Aside from a few open minds, that didn’t much help Rivette’s Duelle.) This takes a certain kind of ingrained temperament, one that’s very difficult to access when you’ve been taught rigid sense all your life. And the honest man admits that he struggles with this openness, too…indefinitely. I was completely lost during much of Horse Money and I didn’t much care for that feeling in the moment. But eventually I had a turn (one that I always long to experience), a moment of clarity that helped me tap into a very specific artist’s very specific vision. I can’t point to an exact instant of lucidity so much as describe a feeling—an ever-sharpening, if still amorphous accumulation akin to the Rorschach shadows that turn every frame of this dream of a movie nebulous. (Is the perpetual gloom encroaching on the characters’ space or inviting them to become one with the mystery?) I know my turn began around the time the Fontainhas slum residents called out for Ventura (the story’s Daedalus, wandering the labyrinth) and solidified after a door slammed with jump-scare vehemence. The climactic scene in the elevator between Ventura and a golem-esque soldier clinched it, much like the Giamatti-Pattinson face-off in Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis. It was then I knew I was witnessing greatness. Costa could have ended on Ventura’s emergence from the asylum and he’d have made a masterpiece. I appreciated that he gave us one last, layered image that I sense will haunt me to my deathbed.
Tut (2015) (dir. David Von Ancken) (270mins approx) (viewed 07/16/2015): Men Wearing Eyeliner: The Miniseries with Dame Ben Kingsley given a mascara-run for it by High Priest Alexander Siddig. I was on the set of this in Morocco last December. It looked like a set. That didn’t change.
The Look of Silence (2014) (dir. Joshua Oppenheimer) (103mins) (viewed 07/17/2015): Excellent, of course. The Indonesian moral vacuum viewed, this time, through the eyes of a minority class representative. Though as with The Act of Killing, I find I have little desire to revisit the movie, and wonder a) if that’s a failing and b) if it is a failing, is it the film’s/filmmaker’s, mine, or a bit of both? Maybe part of it is that Oppenheimer’s doc sensibilities, sharp as they are, don’t yet feel fully formed in the way of a Frederick Wiseman or a Heddy Honigmann, to name two nonfiction artists whose work resonates for me beyond the initial encounter. This could change with Oppenheimer depending on how his career pans out. Subject for further research.
Hannibal: Season 3, “Digestivo” (2015): (dir. Adam Kane) (44mins) (viewed 07/17/2015): So profoundly emotional. (Strange thing to say about an episode in which a pig births a stillborn human fetus?) The climactic scene between Will and Hannibal is the cuttingly realist resolution to this half-season’s muddy-psyche, bad breakup story. “I don’t have your appetite.” There’s an essay to be written—and I might pen it—about how Bryan Fuller has fully queered the Thomas Harris source material.
BoJack Horseman: Season 2 (2015) (cr. Raphael Bob-Waksberg) (300mins approx.) (viewed 07/17/2015): Love how this season is bookended with our anthropomorphized equine antihero jogging, in meager increments, up a hill. He makes infinitesimal progress, and runs in circles otherwise. The beauty of the animation and the rapid-fire pace in no way dilute the bitterness. I’m already on a rewatch.