Friday, January 15, 2016

A year in flickering lights

For no reason other than film nerdery, I decided to make a list last year of the films I watched (when I remembered... I know there are a bunch I forgot) more or less in the order I saw them. If you like this sort of nerdery, here is my 2015 in cinema...

A MOST WANTED MAN - Antón Corbjin
MOTHER - Bong Joon-Ho
HARDCORE - Paul Schrader
TAI CHI MASTER - Yuen Woo Ping
POLICE STORY 3 - Stanley Tong
BUDDHA COLLAPSED OUT OF SHAME - Hana Mahkmalbaf
13 ASSASSINS - Takashi Miike
35 SHOTS OF RUM – Claire Denis (rewatch)
NIGHTCRAWLER – Dan Gilroy (quit watching)
IN A BETTER WORLD - Susanne Bier (repeat watch)
WOMAN ON THE BEACH - Hong Sang Soo
BIRDMAN - Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu
MEMORIES OF MURDER - Bong Joon-Ho
THE LEGO MOVIE - Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
GONE GIRL - Ben Affleck
LA DOLCE VITA - Federico Fellini
RETURN OF THE JEDI - Richard Marquand (repeat watch)
TMNT - Michael Bay (quit watching)
REVANCHE - Gotz Spielman
WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY - Mel Stuart
DUMB AND DUMBER TO - Bobby and Peter Farrelly
CAFE LUMIERE - Hou Hsiao-Hsien (repeat watch)
THREE TIMES - Hou Hsiao-Hsien (repeat watch)
BONNIE AND CLYDE - Arthur Penn (repeat watch)
THE MULE – Tony Mahony &Angus Sampson
MAPS OF THE STARS - David Cronenberg
RETRATOS SALVAJES - Damián Szifron
IDA - Pawel Pawlikowski
NN - Héctor Gálvez
LEONERA - Pablo Trapero
WHIPLASH – Damian Chazelle
FORCE MAJEURE – Ruben Ostlund
ZERO DE CONDUITE – Jean Vigo
MAGNOLIA – Paul Thomas Anderson (repeat watch)
TAKEN 3 – Olivier Megaton
FOXCATCHER – Bennett Miller
THE IMITATION GAME – Morten Tyldum
HUNGER GAMES - MOCKINGJAY – Francis Lawrence
THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES – Mikkel Norgaard
THE GREAT BEAUTY – Paolo Sorrentino
2046 – Wong Kar Wai
IM A CYBORG AND THATS OK – Chan-Wook Park
KINK – James Franco
LA ESTRATEGIA DEL CARACOL – Sergio Cabrera
A MOST VIOLENT YEAR – JC Chandor
SCARFACE – Brian dePalma
MESRINE 1 & 2 – Jean Francois Richet
CITIZENFOUR – Laura Poitras
THE SECRET OF THE GRAIN - Abdellatif Kechiche
TODOS ESTAN MUERTOS – Beatriz Sanchis
LEVIATHAN - Andrey Zvyagintsev
THE LEGEND IS BORN: IP MAN – Herman Yau
TYSON – James Toback
SALT OF THE EARTH – Wim Wenders
TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM – Morgan Neville
DIOR AND I – Frederic Tcheng
SELMA – Ava DuVernay
IP MAN 2 – Wilson Yip
THE ASSASSIN - Hou Hsiao-Hsien
CEMETERY OF SPLENDOUR - Apichatpong Weerasethakul
EVERY SECRET THING – Amy Berg (quit watching)
12 OCLOCK BOYS - Lotfy Nathan
JURASSIC WORLD 3D – Colin Trevorrow
DJANGO UNCHAINED – Quentin Tarantino
NEBRASKA – Alexander Payne
GOODBYE SOUTH, GOODBYE – Hou Hsiao Hsien
DIRTY WARS – Rick Rowley
TABLOID – Errol Morris
OLDBOY – Chan-Wook Park (rewatch)
SALT OF THE EARTH – Wim Wenders (rewatch)
SEARCHING FOR SUGARMAN – Malik Bendjelloul (rewatch)
FOCUS – Glen Ficarra & John Requa
LA PRINCESA DE FRANCIA – Matias Piñeiro
LA ISLA MINIMA – Alberto Rodriguez
THE AVENGERS AGE OF ULTRON – Joss Whedon
THE GUNMAN – Pierre Morel
UNDEFEATED – Daniel Lindsay & TJ Martin
THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE – Ken Burns & Sarah Burns
THE INTERNSHIP – Shawn Levy
SE7EN – David Fincher (rewatch)
THE OTHER WOMAN – Nick Cassavetes
HOT PURSUIT – Anne Fletcher
SPARE PARTS – Sean McNamara
MAGIC MIKE XXL – Gregory Jacobs (quit watching)
PITCH PERFECT 2 – Elizabeth Banks
ENTOURAGE – Doug Ellin
SPY – Paul Feig
TRUE STORY – Rupert Goold
INSIDE OUT – Pete Doctor & Ronnie del Carmen
EX MACHINA – Alex Garland
WHILE WE'RE YOUNG – Noah Baumbach
THE ARTIST - Michel Hazanavicius
WE ARE YOUNG WE ARE STRONG – Burhan Qurbani
CARTEL LAND – Matthew Heinemann
STRAY DOGS – Tsai Ming Liang
EDEN LAKE – James Watkins
CASE 39 – Cristian Alvart
BOURNE IDENTITY – Doug Liman (rewatch)
BOURNE SUPREMACY – Paul Greengrass (rewatch)
BOURNE ULTIMATUM – Paul Greengrass (rewatch)
CALVARY – John Michael McDonagh (quit)
TRAINWRECK – Judd Apatow
ELECTION – Alexander Payne (rewatch)
ZODIAC – David Fincher
SILENCE OF THE LAMBS – Jonathon Demme
RED DRAGON – Brett Ratner
DOUBLE LIFE OF VERONIQUE - Krzysztof Kieslowski (rewatch)
MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART – Jia Zhangke
THE CHASER – Hong Jin Na
LOVE 3D – Gaspar Noe
IN THE SHADOW OF WOMEN – Philippe Garrel
THE CEMETERY OF SPLENDOUR - Apichatpong Weerasethakul (repeat watch)
MUSTANG - Deniz Gamze Ergüven
MARGARITA WITH A STRAW - Shonali Bose & Nilesh Maniyar
LAND AND SHADE - César Augusto Acevedo
THE PEARL BUTTON – Patricio Guzman
SICARIO – Denis Villeneuve
HORSE MONEY – Pedro Costa
COURT - Chaitanya Tamhane
MATEO – Maria Gamboa
FLAPPING IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE - Diep Hoang Nguyen
EXOTICA, EROTICA, ETC - Evangelia Kranioti *
INHERENT VICE – Paul Thomas Anderson
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB – Jean Marc Valleé
JAMÓN JAMÓN – Bigas Luna (rewatch)
REVANCHE – Gotz Spielman (rewatch)
THE PLEASURE OF BEING ROBBED – Joshua Safdie
HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT – Joshua & Bennie Safdie
GO GET SOME ROSEMARY - Joshua & Bennie Safdie
LENNY COOKE - Joshua & Bennie Safdie
TESIS – Alejandro Amenabar
KISS THE GIRLS - Gary Fleder (rewatch)
LA COLLECTIONEUSE – Eric Rohmer
SERPICO – Sidney Lumet
THE PERVERTS GUIDE TO IDEOLOGY – Sophie Fiennes
35 SHOTS OF RUM – Claire Denis (rewatch x 2)
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES – Rupert Wyatt
CHARLIE'S COUNTRY – Rolf de Heer
EL AÑO BISIESTO -  Michael Rowe (rewatch)
DOUBLE LIFE OF VERONIQUE - Krzysztof Kieslowski (rewatch x2)
THE SILENCE – Baran Bo Odar
STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON – F Gary Gray
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES – Matt Reeves
IT FOLLOWS – David Robert Mitchell
LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE – Abbas Kiarostami
THE MARTIAN – Ridley Scott
THE GIFT – Joel Edgerton
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY - THE GHOST DIMENSION – Gregory Plotkin

 *Best line from a movie this year is from this doco: "Sailors are like terrorists. They arrive in ports with a bomb called love and throw it. And do you know what happens? The bomb explodes when they go away and they never come back, destroying the hearts of all the girls in the neighborhood. How strange - To love somebody who pays you..."

Splashing in the Shallows

“For me, cinema is the ocean. It’s an infinite, endless form of human expression. The ocean of expression. And it’s enormous. After 120 years of making films, we’re still on the beach – we’re splashing in the shallows, and I believe we have a lot deeper to go. 
“I’m not a philosopher, I’m a filmmaker, but I think we have a long way to go before we fully understand the subconscious. The problem with film is that now people view it as an accurate representation of reality. I’m much less interested in reality in cinema than I am exploring the way we truly experience life, which is far away from reality. Reality is really just memories, little slices of sensation that we interpret as accurate versions of an event or moment in time. There’s a lot of things left to explore, and I’m just scratching the surface of the subconscious, of the spirit world. But unfortunately right now I think we’re going in the exact opposite direction. 
“The Revenant was a way for me to express an extreme human experience through what I call ‘pure cinema’. It was a huge exercise for me to work out how I could tell this story with as few words as possible, in a very emotional and sensory way. When you strip out dialogue you do so in order to understand your subject – to understand what he’s thinking and feeling and trying to do – and by doing that you’re left with the image, literally to moving images and sounds. You have to go deep to really get to what this guy is about. For me, it was an exercise in molecular storytelling.”

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fragility #1

image: Olivia Bee


"The foundations of our lives are far more fragile than we think. So we are severely shaken when life turns out to have a will of its own."
Susanne Bier talking about her sublime cinematic tragedies.



image: Kate Bellm

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Warmth #3

Some more of the images I've taken in the past year trying to navigate the world and locations of an unmade film... in this case, The Warmth, a feature about a young man from the Australian wheatbelt who becomes immersed in an unfamiliar world of sensation, desire and loss in the remote north of Colombia while trying to find traces of his missing sister. Following the slow paths of development, keeping the film alive becomes an art form in itself.

"a fever is a secret thing" - Don DeLillo






















Repetition

This song, over and over...

Order


Between Here and There - A Temple in Chiang Mai




Between Here and There - A Wall in Cartagena




Questions

Why bother talking about love?

Why bother talking about the possibilities of cinema? Or of the novel?

Why bother talking about the transcendent, transformative possibilities of desire?

Why bother taking photographs unless from a distance, or in reflections, or with obscured foregrounds that make it impossible for us to meet the eye of whatever is the object of stealth?

Why bother talking unless it is in circles, laying out trickery and riddles like crumbs?

Why bother with thought unless it is fragmentary rather than the consistent intensity of deep, meditative reflection?

Why not procrastinate when it is concentration that is needed?

Why bother with all of this? Why stare into the eyes of your loved ones when it's their naked body you want to adore? Why try talk of hearts and needs when it is laughter you're looking for?

Perhaps it has something to do with what Milan Kundera writes in 'Laughable Loves':
“Why in fact should one tell the truth? What obliges us to do it? And why do we consider telling the truth to be a virtue? Imagine that you meet a madman, who claims that he is a fish and that we are all fish. Are you going to argue with him? Are you going to undress in front of him and show him that you don't have fins? Are you going to say to his face what you think?...If you told him the whole truth and nothing but the truth, only what you thought, you would enter into a serious conversation with a madman and you yourself would become mad. And it is the same way with the world that surrounds us. If I obstinately told the truth to its face, it would mean that I was taking it seriously. And to take seriously something so unserious means to lose all one's own seriousness. I have to lie, if I don't want to take madmen seriously and become a madman myself.”
Or perhaps it has to do with what he wrote in 'The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
“It takes so little, so infinitely little, for a person to cross the border beyond which everything loses meaning: love, convictions, faith, history. Human life -- and herein lies its secret -- takes place in the immediate proximity of that border, even in direct contact with it; it is not miles away, but a fraction of an inch.”
Perhaps. Either way, why bother thinking about it when you only want to laugh in it's face.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Between Here and There - A Skyrise Hotel Somewhere


Between Here and There - Gridlock

We could wait here forever


this noise and heat... the murmuring of those two lovers, frustrated but still warm with tenderness. or the quiet grind of that young woman in front, stealing a moment to eat and think



the hum... the singing hum that courses overhead and across the wet, gleaming streets...




those gleaming, slackened faces glimpsed in passing, softer than Walker Evan's photos of the hard faces of transit subway passengers, harder than the faces of those engaged in the gentle exchanges taking place in the back of the closed cabs racing to dinner or home for the possibility of an embrace




the flash of light across their eyes reminding me of that beautiful face I'll never forget, flickering in the lights of a traffic tunnel cutting under a mountain too large to traverse 


let all those lights glow and gleam
let the traffic burn and hum
let all those strange bodies and lives pass us by and stay safe and find, when they arrive, some small, beautiful thing to make this seething mess feel like a journey with one single focus... you


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Between Here and There - Bordeaux Nights







 "Find people who think like you and stick with them. Make only music* you are passionate about. Work only with people you like and trust. Don't sign anything."
Steve Albini
(*or, just maybe, whatever else you've got your hands into, especially film)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Cartography

Three thoughts from my personal cartographer Roberto Bolaño​ to guide me through the wilderness.

One. 
“While we are looking for the antidote or the medicine to cure us, that is, the 'new', which can only be found by plunging deep into the Unknown, we have to go on exploring sex, books, and travel, although we know that they lead us to the abyss, which, as it happens, is the only place where the antidote can be found.” 
Two.
“Probably all of us, writers and readers alike, set out into exile, or at least into a certain kind of exile, when we leave childhood behind...The immigrant, the nomad, the traveler, the sleepwalker all exist, but not the exile, since every writer becomes an exile simply by venturing into literature, and every reader becomes an exile simply by opening a book.” 
Three.
“What a sad paradox, though Amalfitano. Now even bookish pharmacists are afraid to take on the great, imperfect, torrential works, books that blaze the path into the unknown. They choose the perfect exercises of the great masters. Or what amounts to the same thing: they want to watch the great masters spar, but they have no interest in real combat, when the great masters struggle against that something, that something that terrifies us all, that something that cows us and spurs us on, amid blood and mortal wounds and stench.” 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Warmth #2

A visual note from Costeño nights:



“Sometimes, when one is moving silently through such an utterly desolate landscape, an overwhelming hallucination can make one feel that oneself, as an individual human being, is slowly being unraveled. The surrounding space is so vast that it becomes increasingly difficult to keep a balanced grip on one's own being. The mind swells out to fill the entire landscape, becoming so diffuse in the process that one loses the ability to keep it fastened to the physical self. The sun would rise from the eastern horizon, and cut it's way across the empty sky, and sink below the western horizon. This was the only perceptible change in our surroundings. And in the movement of the sun, I felt something I hardly know how to name: some huge, cosmic love.”
Haruki Murakami

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Warmth #1

In the midst of researching a new film project for a script I wrote a few years back which has been sitting on hold while I've been lost in other things. We've been seeking financing for this project - The Warmth - for a while but as things have slowed down, I've decided to jump off to the location of the film, the northern coast of Colombia, to see if I can't speed things up again. So, here I am, trying to make the film for the first time in my mind. It's working. I like this film. I have no idea if it will be what I hope once it is remade for the seventieth time with a camera and crew and actors, but at the moment it's got everything I need in it.