random friday, 2004 edition: arcade fire, "rebellion (lies)"
the promise

what i watched last week

Repulsion (Roman Polanski, 1965). A reminder of how much I loved Roman Polanski’s movies in the early part of his career. Not all of them, but the best were very good indeed: Knife in the Water, Rosemary’s Baby, Macbeth, Chinatown, and Repulsion, which I hadn’t seen in decades. For a film with many surreal touches, Repulsion is almost matter-of-fact about the disintegration of Catherine Deneuve’s Carol. Sometimes we watch her, distanced, sometimes we see the world as she does, but the character is never really “explained.” It’s as if someone dropped “The Yellow Wallpaper” into an EC Comic. #360 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of all time.

How to Train Your Dragon (Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, 2010). Pretty animation, decent but unremarkable voice work, standard plot with good message, I guess … I had trouble staying awake. The only thing that really caught my eye was Toothless, the star dragon … he looked a lot like my favorite kitty, Starbuck (and Starbuck is missing a paw, too!).

Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1978). A remarkable film, probably more talked about than seen, even since it was re-released a few years ago. For me, it was also a film more easily admired than loved. It was made in roughly the same era as the Ramones’ first album, and cost about as much. Largely plotless, much of the time improvised, with actors who looked perfect for their parts but who also delivered their lines like amateurs … Killer of Sheep doesn’t exactly make a virtue of its cheapness, but neither does it shy away from it. There are scenes of great power, some with great humor, and the entire movie is suffused with a matter-of-face acceptance of the lives of the characters that doesn’t explain them, doesn’t present a solution to their lives … at times, it resembles a French existentialist novel from the 50s. #326 on the They Shoot Pictures list. 8/10.

Flores de otro mundo (Icíar Bollaín, 1999). Spanish film, previously unknown to me, that tells the stories of various women who come to a small town in central Spain, looking for partners for a variety of reasons. It doesn’t blow you away, but it’s not trying to. Writer/Director Icíar Bollaín is content to let the stories play out … they aren’t earth-shattering stories, but there seems to be a bit more room for optimism than existed in Killer of Sheep.