Tag Archives: Diabolique

Links I Like: Nov 26, 2011

I have been severely lacking in time to get my link love posts finished (or read other blogs, to be honest…sorry guys!). Some of these have been sitting in a draft post for weeks now, but the posts are good enough (and not time sensitive) that I still want to draw attention to them for anyone who hasn’t happened to read them yet.

Lucking Out and Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark by The Self-Styled Siren

There have been a whole lot of posts about Pauline Kael lately, thanks to the recent publication of a new collection of her writings, a new biography of her by Brian Kellow, and a new memoir by James Wolcott that includes many memories of her. This one from the Self-Styled Siren is one of the best, discussing both Kellow’s and Wolcott’s accounts as well as her own uneasy relationship with Kael’s criticism. And that’s a theme among most of the posts, as it is in my own life. I first became aware of Kael as a young film buff, probably thirteen or so, from 5001 Nights at the Movies, a collection of her New Yorker capsule reviews. I didn’t like her at all, finding her dismissive of things I loved for what I thought were all the wrong reasons. I didn’t read anything else of hers for years, until I forced myself to read some of her long-form essays and found someone impassioned about film but incredibly idiosyncratic about it. I still find her difficult much of the time, but she can also be really insightful. The Siren gets at all this and much more. See also articles from Jim Emerson, Dennis Cozzalio, and Glenn Kenny.

It Ain’t the Meat (It’s the Motion): Thoughts
on movie technique and movie criticism
by Jim Emerson at scanners::blog

I almost included this essay among the Kael essays linked as “also sees” above, but it really deserves its own place. It starts off dealing with a bunch of quotes either from or about Kael regarding the question of technique and style – Kael resolutely refused to discuss technique on any technical level, arguing that the general public didn’t give a damn and privileging emotional impact over technique. Emerson distinguishes between “technical” and “technique”, showing how an understanding and explication of technique doesn’t necessarily have to be presented technically to readers, but also wrestling with the core of Kael’s populist stance.

Not Appearing in This Film: The Silent Movie Career of Carole Lombard – Sort Of by The Mythical Monkey

A fun piece submitted for a Carole Lombard blogathon in October (yeah, told you some of these were rather old), this one looks back on a part of Carole Lombard’s career that I frankly didn’t know existed. If you’d asked me, I would’ve said Lombard started in film in the early ’30s (I think 1932’s Supernatural is the earliest Lombard film I could name), but I would have been wrong. She actually started in film as early as 1921, when she was twelve. But she’s either invisible in most of these films, the films are lost, or they’re exceedingly lackluster. Still, the Mythical Monkey seeks out what he can, and brings forth a fascinating picture of a beautiful girl who never quite found her niche until screwball comedy came along with 1934’s Twentieth Century.

In Profile: The Life and Films of Bong Joon-ho by Jordan Winter at Anomalous Material

So far in my admittedly limited experience, Korean cinema is pretty fantastic (I think I’ve seen eleven or twelve Korean films and basically loved them all), and Bong Joon-ho is right at the center of it right now. He’s got the crowd-pleasing, genre-bending The Host, and the critical darling Memories of Murder, and a whole lot else. Jordan Winter runs through his whole filmography, finding patterns and connections among the films as well as charting a trajectory for his career, which I certainly hope is only beginning.

Pioneers of Animation: Winsor McKay by Brandie at True Classics

Winsor McCay is justly credited as one of the creators of animation, being one of the first cartoonists to move his drawings to the screen and figure out how to make them move – not only that, he was one of the first to give his animated creations personality and interaction. Brandie has written a great rundown of his career, both as cartoonist and animator (because the two were inextricably connected), and of his importance to early cinema and to animation as we know it today.

Sometimes, You Have to Come Back to The Tree of Life by Greg Ferrara at CinemaStyles

I loved The Tree of Life the minute I saw it, but not everyone did, and I respect that. Greg didn’t love it the first time he saw it, but he went back and watched it again, and this piece is a result of that second viewing. And it’s wonderful. Not only because he now agrees with my love of the film, but because it’s such a lovely piece about how to watch any film, how to let it get hold of you, and because it’s hard to admit complete changes of mind. It’s less of an “aha, got it” moment here, and more that the film just didn’t let him go, and his way of expressing that is perfect.

Sound and Vision: Charlie Chaplin and the Sound of Silence by Carly at the Kitty Packard Pictorial

Charlie Chaplin is well known for continuing to make silent films (well, two of them, at any rate) well into the sound era. But it’s maybe not quite as well known how important sound and music were to him, even in the silent era. He played and wrote music himself, and was one of the earliest people to provide theatres with fully-written score to be played alongside his silents. I knew he wrote scores for some of his films, but I had no idea how deep his appreciation and use of music went until reading this excellently researched and presented article.

Happy Birthday, Louise Brooks by The Mythical Monkey

I try not to include multiple articles from the same source, but this post has been so long in the making that people are oustripping my ability to do that without skipping over great posts. So I had to let a couple of people in here twice. I know virtually nothing about Louise Brooks other than that her hairstyle started a bob craze and that she was in two highly regarded G.W. Pabst films, Pandora’s Box and The Diary of a Lost Girl. Reading this article was a treat, but a sobering one, as Brooks’ life and career seemed constantly undermined by mismanagement and her own poor decisions, despite her obvious talent and appeal. By the end, I really wanted to order a do-over for her – and recommitted myself to seeing whatever films of hers I can find.

Diabolique by Chris at Silent Volume

Chris has been eschewing his usual silent cinema posting diet due to a Clouzot retrospective going on in Toronto, and all his reviews from that are worth reading, but I really liked this one because it both reminded me that I need to rewatch Diabolique and gave me a lot of things to think about that I hadn’t thought of before for when I do, especially in relation to its use of genre. Like, it’s usually billed as a thriller or sometimes a film noir, but I hadn’t really considered how close to horror territory it comes – I’m definitely going to look for way that it genre-bends next time I watch it.

The Great Citizen Kane Debate at True Classics

You can’t run around in film buff circles for five minutes before finding out that Citizen Kane is considered the finest film of all time by many, many people. You can’t run around in such circles for more than ten minutes before finding out that many other people think Citizen Kane is hopelessly overrated. The girls at True Classics take this debate to blogathon form, asking people to write pieces either for or against Kane as the greatest film of all time. I’ve seen the film five or six times and still don’t know which side I come down on, so I didn’t write anything for it, but the bloggers who did participate have some really good perspectives, definitely proving the debate is far from settled.

Czech New Wave series at Bonjour Tristesse

Bonjour Tristesse does a good many marathons to catch up on specific genres of film, and does a WAY better job than I do of actually following through on these marathons. Right now, the Czech New Wave is under scrutiny, at the rate of a few films per week. I’ve seen a few of these films myself, and it’s definitely a movement I like and want to see more of – I’m watching the progress here closely to help guide my own eventual viewing.

Godard Series: Pierrot le fou, etc. at Andy Buckle’s Film Emporium

Meanwhile, Andy Buckle has chosen Jean-Luc Godard, a filmmaker very close to my own heart, as his director of the month, and is going through at least all his major 1960s films. I’m not sure how far he intends to go, and really, there’s no reason I chose to link the Pierrot le fou review as opposed to any of the others, except that Pierrot le fou is one of my favorite Godard films and I think Andy wrote about it very well. Check his “Classic Throwback” category for more reviews – he’s going pretty much in chronological order.

Film on TV: 9-15 March

Okay, I can haz new computer now. It’s a shiny, pretty Macbook that anyone who happens to follow me on Twitter or FriendFeed has already heard WAY too much about. Suffice it to say that it is much more fun writing these on a computer than on an iPhone (finding the greater than/more than symbols for all the html tags got old REAL quick on the phone). Looked like it was gonna be slim pickings this week with TCM’s lineup, but IFC more than picked up the slack.

Monday, March 9th

8:35am – IFC – Diabolique
Henri-Georges Clouzot’s tense thriller about a man whose wife and lover decide to join forces to off him. But there’s another twist beyond that.
(repeats at 2:30pm)

8:00pm – IFC – Day Watch
The sequel to the moody apocalyptic sci-fi film Night Watch from a couple of years ago. Night Watch was far from perfect (way better in concept than in execution, which was quite muddled), but still interesting, and I’m curious to see if Day Watch improved on it. It’s eventually supposed to be a trilogy.
(repeats at 1:30am on the 10th)

12:00M – Sundance – The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
One of the forerunners of Romania’s ongoing New Wave, focused on a spare, minimalist style of realism – my beloved 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days belongs to this movement as well. Lazarescu is an indictment of the Romanian healthcare system, following a dying man as a parademic tries to get him into hospital after hospital over the course of a night.

Tuesday, March 10th

8:30am – IFC – Howl’s Moving Castle
(repeats at 2:05pm)

11:00am – TCM – Detour
If you wanna see some classic B-level film noir, look no further. This is one of the touchstones – you got low-budget, dim lighting, fatalistic anti-hero, femme fatale, the works.

2:45pm – Sundance – Avenue Montaigne
Sweet and unassuming ensemble film, set in Paris. That’s all it takes to hook me.
(repeats at 1:00pm on the 14th)

1:00am (11th) – TCM – The Bridge on the River Kwai

Wednesday, March 11th

10:00am – TCM – Love Me or Leave Me
Doris Day turns in her best performance ever as the abused girlfriend of gangster James Cagney.

Thursday, March 12th

8:00pm – IFC – The Player
Robert Altman. Tim Robbins as a hotshot Hollywood producer who may just get his comeuppance. Virtuosic opening tracking shot.
(repeats at 2:00am on the 13th)

10:15pm – IFC – The Royal Tenenbaums
(repeats at 4:25am on the 13th)

2:00am (13th) – TCM – The Third Man

Friday, March 13th

6:25am – IFC – Picnic at Hanging Rock
I have a love-hate relationship with director Peter Weir, and I’m never sure which side of the fence this film falls on. I don’t really understand it, but it’s stuck in my head for years. I think I’m assigning that to love.
(repeats at 11:40am and 4:55pm)

7:45am – TCM – Blackboard Jungle
One of the first teacher-in-an-inner-city-school films, with a very young Sidney Poitier as one of the unruly students.

9:10am – Sundance – Mutual Appreciation
I actually just watched this today. It’s part of the so-called Mumblecore movement, which is largely associated with a group of New York indie filmmakers including Andrew Bujalski (who directed Mutual Appreciation), Joe Swanberg, Mark and Jay Duplass, Mary and Ronald Bronstein, actress Greta Gerwig, etc. Mumblecore often comes under fire for being pointless and navel-gazing, and sure. It’s that. I’m not even sure I like Mumblecore-labeled films that much, but if you’re interested in seeing some real DIY filmmaking (not what passes for indie in the world of Little Miss Sunshine and Juno), check this one out. It has a bit more plot than some of the others, plus it stars Justin Rice, the lead singer/guitarist/songwriter for Bishop Allen, which is fun.
(repeats at 4:35pm)

2:45pm – TCM – To Sir, With Love
Another teacher film, but this time Sidney Poitier’s the teacher, and the school is in inner-city London.

8:00pm – TCM – Double Indemnity
It’s James M Cain night over at TCM tonight, and all three of these films (this one, Mildred Pierce, and The Postman Always Rings Twice are well worth watching, straddling the film noir-melodrama line perfectly.

10:00pm – TCM – Mildred Pierce

12:00M – TCM – The Postman Always Rings Twice

Saturday, March 14th

9:45am – IFC – Waking Life
It may be a while before you see another film like Richard Linklater’s rotoscoped Waking Life, which doubles as philosophic treatise. It’s one of the most interesting, innovative, and brilliant films of the 21st century.
(repeats at 2:35pm)

4:00pm – TCM – From Here to Eternity

Sunday, March 15th

8:00am – IFC – Cléo from 5 to 7
At the end of last year, I posted a list of the best films I had seen. Cléo from 5 to 7 was at the top of that list. It combines a New Wave sensibility with a female director’s eye, which turned out to be such a perfect combination for me that I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since, and I can’t wait to see it again. And again.

9:35am – IFC – Vagabond
Vagabond is by the same director as Cléo from 5 to 7, Agnès Varda. Haven’t seen it yet, but hope to this time around.
(repeats at 4:15pm)

8:00pm – IFC – Raging Bull

9:45pm – Sundance – A Woman Under the Influence
I still have this John Cassavetes film on my DVR from the last time it was on. I should rectify that at some point.
(repeats at 5:30pm on the 16th)

12:00M – TCM – Nosferatu
F.W. Murnau’s 1922 version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula still ends up being one of the best versions of the story. For a great double feature, watch this and then 2001’s Shadow of the Vampire, a fun little film that wonders if Nosferatu actor Max Shrenk actually WAS a vampire.

Film on TV (Nov 10 – 17)

Monday, 10 November

7:25pm EST / 6:25 CST – IFC – Clerks
Kevin Smith’s debut film is little more than a few convenience store clerks chatting, but its fresh feel fits right in with the mid-’90s indie scene. And the film introduces Smith stock characters Jay and Silent Bob, so there’s that.

Tuesday, 11 November

7:55am / 6:55am – IFC – Solaris (1972)
The original Andrei Tarkovsky version, not the George Clooney remake. I haven’t seen either, but I’ve heard really great things about the Tarkovsky, and it’s on my to-watch list.

12:15pm / 11:15am – AMC – The Bridge on the River Kwai
British military discipline in the form of commander Alec Guinness doesn’t mesh well with being in a WWII Japanese prison camp – or maybe it does, as Guinness puts his all into building the titular bridge for Japanese use, while American prisoner William Holden plots to blow it up. David Lean’s 1957 Best Picture winner doesn’t hold up for me as well as some of his other films, but it’s still got legs.

9:00pm / 8:00pm – TCM – This is the Army, Hollywood Canteen, Stage Door Canteen, and Thousands Cheer
None of these are good movies, let’s state that up front. But they’re a special genre of Hollywood war effort films featuring tons of cameos by famous stars, which makes them an interesting snapshot into the studio system of the time. This is the Army is based on an Irving Berlin Broadway revue, which donated virtually all of its box office returns to the war effort. Hollywood Canteen and Stage Door Canteen are named after famous USO locations in Hollywood and New York, respectively. Thousands Cheer is more story-oriented, but ends with a revue featuring numbers by Judy Garland, Virginia O’Brien, June Allyson, and others. The other one I would’ve put in this programme is Thank Your Lucky Stars, notable mostly because it makes Warner dramatic stars like Bette Davis and Ann Sheridan try to sing, which is just unavoidably amusing.

Wednesday, 12 November

10:00pm / 9:00pm – TCM – Strangers on a Train
Farley Granger meets Robert Walker on a train and jokes with him about exchanging murders – Granger’s unloved wife (who is in the way of Granger’s love for Ruth Roman) for Walker’s tyrannical father. Except Walker wasn’t joking. One of Hitchcock’s most intense films, with some of his most memorable shots and set-pieces (carousel, anyone?).

10:00pm / 9:00pm – Sundance – This is England
Shane Meadows’ film about a young boy in 1980s Britain becoming involved with skinheads got outstanding reviews from all quarters last year. I missed it in theatres, but definitely want to get a shot at it now.

1:30am / 12:30am (13th) – TCM – Blowup
In Michelangelo Antonioni’s first English-language film, a London photographer thinks he may have captured a murder on film, but he can’t be quite sure. What might have been a routine detective story becomes something else – a mystery without an answer. Related in a way to surveillance ethics stories like The Conversation, Antonioni brings his detached intellectualism to the film, making it quite unlike most anything else ever made.

Thursday, 13 November

9:45am / 8:45am – IFC – Amarcord
One of Federico Fellini’s four Best Foreign Film statuettes is for this film, and though I rail against many of Oscar’s choices when it comes to foreign films, Fellini deserved all of his. Amarcord is a slice-of-life film showcasing a small 1930s Italian village, with Fellini’s typically flair. [Playing again on the 14th at 5:50am EST]

11:00am / 10:00am – AMC – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Sergio Leone’s most definitive spaghetti western finishes off his “Man with No Name” trilogy starring Clint Eastwood. It’s not necessary to see the other two entries (A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More) first.

12:45pm / 11:45am – TCM – The Shop Around the Corner
The original version of You’ve Got Mail has James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan as feuding employees of a shop who are unknowingly exchanging romantic letters. Ernst Lubitsch directs, bringing his warm European wit to bear.

8:00pm / 7:00pm – AMC – Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Remember when Steven Spielberg liked aliens? Contrary to many opinions, I think, I prefer Close Encounters to E.T. Maybe it’s the fact that the aliens communicate with such a distinctive musical phrase. I don’t know.

Friday, 14 November

9:30am / 8:30am – AMC – Pillow Talk
More recent movies have tried to replicate Pillow Talk‘s combination of innocence and sex (notably the near-remake Down With Love), but I haven’t found any that manage with the aplomb of the original. Accept no imitators!

4:00pm / 3:00pm – TCM – Rear Window
My all-time favorite film. Hitchcock, Stewart, Kelly, voyeurism, fashion, murder, paranoia, sarcastic nurses, I can’t get enough. Ever.

3:45am / 2:45am (15th) – TCM – The Haunting (1963)
There’s The Haunting and then there’s The Haunting. And this is the good one, not the overblown 1999 remake. Robert Wise’s original is creepy, disturbing, and, like, good.

Saturday, 15 November

8:00pm / 7:00pm – TCM – Paths of Glory
In this early Stanley Kubrick film, soldier Kirk Douglas has to decide what to do when three of his men are charged with cowardice (a capitol offense) for refusing to obey orders to make a suicidal charge at the enemy. The film is not only an historical exploration of the shift from pre-WWI tactics to post-machine gun tactics, but also a pointed inquiry into military ethics.

8:00pm / 7:00pm – AMC – The Godfather
If AMC is still doing commercial breaks in their movies, don’t watch The Godfather now. But sometime. Somewhere. Even if it’s just to say you have, like it is for me. Someday I’m going to watch it and actually love it. [Playing again on the 17th at 7:00am and 4:00pm EST]

11:30pm / 10:30pm – TCM – Kiss Me Deadly
I actually didn’t love this well-respected hard-boiled noir film as much as I wanted to when I saw it last year, but I’m throwing it in here because it is reasonably solid, and one of those films you have to see to count yourself a competent film noir fan. If, you know, being a competent film noir fan is on your shortlist of things to do with your life. Which it is for me.

12:00am / 11:00pm – AMC – The Godfather Part II
See above re: The Godfather. Except one of my shames as a film buff is that I’ve never seen Part II. I sort of doubt I’m going to on AMC, though, just throwing out the possibility to you. I’m shooting for the new Coppola Restoration DVDs. [Playing again on the 17th at 11:30am and 8:00pm EST]

4:30am / 3:30am (17th) – AMC – The Usual Suspects
“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing people he didn’t exist.” And The Usual Suspects pulls a similar trick, placing it forever on the list of greatest twist films ever.

Sunday, 17 November

8:00am / 7:00am – IFC – The Seventh Seal
Ingmar Bergman dramatizes an actual chess game between a medieval knight (Bergman regular Max von Sydow) and Death. Heavy stuff, not that that’s unusual for Bergman.

9:45am / 8:45am – IFC – The Virgin Spring
One of Bergman’s I haven’t yet gotten around to seeing – maybe because the description “Swineherds seek shelter with the father of a girl they raped and killed” (from IFC’s site) sounds even more depressing than usual for Bergman? But I intend to see all of his eventually, so its time will come.

10:00pm / 9:00pm – Sundance – Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Every time I see this frenetic Guy Ritchie crime comedy, I like it a little more. A young man gets into a gambling debt that his casino-running father refuses to bail him out of, so he hatches a poorly-planned scheme to steal and sell some priceless antique shotguns. Add in some other hoods working on other crimes and a few hitmen running around, and pretty soon the whole thing spirals out of control. Add in cockney accents and you’ve got a zany good time that’s hard to beat.

2:00am / 1:00am (18th) – TCM – Diabolique
A man’s wife and his lover plot together to kill him, but get a surprise when he shows back up soon after. Ghost? Madness? Who can say? Taut thriller from Henri-Georges Clouzot.