OTB#67: Vivre sa vie

Vivre sa vie. Jean-Luc Godard. 1962. ⚅

Godard movies of this era are such a delight to watch. He’s having so much fun, being all mischievous and stuff. Like filming the actors from behind for the first five minutes, and fading the music in and out at seemingly random. He’s so punk.

Every single scene has a new thing going, like the bar scene where he shifts the camera, seemingly at random, and thereby focusing our attention not at the people talking, but working behind the bar (cleaning cutlery and stuff).

There’s not a single pixel of a single frame of this movie that I don’t adore.

It’s just a marvel. Every scene, every camera movement makes me go *gasp*.

I think the movie is basically Godard saying “yeah, fuck you” twenty-five times a second.

Oh, and the 2K restoration (by the wonderful BFI) is beautiful. And it has a bunch of Godard shorts as extras, and a long, interesting interview with Karenina.

Another cocktail to get rid of Benedictine: Cunningham.

It’s OK.

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best series.

OTB#67: Sunset Blvd.

Sunset Boulevard. Billy Wilder. 1950. ⚄

It’s a Billy Wilder movie, so I assumed that this was a comedy. It’s not, and I’m a moron.

That’s some supporting cast.

This is one of three Billy Wilder movies on this “best of” list, and the only one I haven’t seen recently. (Or… ever? But it does seem somewhat familiar.) It’s about the movie business, which is a favourite subject of movie directors, of course.

Gloria Swanson is glorious here.

[lots of time passes]

OK, this is a pretty thrilling movie, but the central conceit here feels rather weird. It’s about William Holden, 32, becoming a kept man at Gloria Swanson’s (51), and it’s understood that we’re supposed to feel immediately squicked at even the concept of Holden having sex with Swanson. But… I mean… she’s even prettier than he is! She’s fabulous! I guess this was more of a thing in the 50s, but… it’s… not convincing? I guess that Swanson is playing somebody older than she is, and Holden is playing somebody younger than he is, but they basically look the same age. (Holden has one of those meat-fed faces that could be anything between 30 and 60 and I would have guessed 45.)

So that’s a thing to get past: I have to remind myself that he’s supposed to be all horrified that Swanson in lusting after him, because I’m just not.

And it’s rather misogynistic in the way that it’s alluding to him being feminised by Swanson holding the purse strings.

ANYWAY. The performances are so wonderful. Erich von Stroheim, Swanson, Holden… it’s such a pleasure to watch them. The cinematography is noir-er than noir, even if this isn’t much of a noir. Such fun.

The last quarter of the movie does kinda drag. As if they ran out of steam. Or perhaps it’s just because there’s not enough Swanson in it.

Oops! I forgot to make a cocktail.

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best series.

OTB#67: Journey to Italy

Journey to Italy. Roberto Rossellini. 1954. ⚅

This 2K restoration looks great:

Another class release by the British Film Institute. Your tax money at work, for some values of “your”.

But… “English version”? Oh! They seem to be moving their mouths in a slightly English-looking way? Did Rossellini film several versions of this? (As usual with Italian movies of this era, no sound was recorded when the video was filmed.)

Right; It was in filmed as an English-language movie:

Although the film was an Italian production, its dialogue was in English. The first theatrical release was in Italy under the title Viaggio in Italia; the dialogue had been dubbed into Italian.

It’s a pretty odd movie, and was apparently not a success at the time. The befuddling thing is that it’s not clear at all just what the movie is about: Even a half hour in (one third of the movie), there doesn’t seem to be any structure or … plot…

So I love it!

Bergman is so wonderful here; little comedic touches here and there, and a face that’s a magic display for All The Emotions. The cinematography is totes gorge, and it’s just engrossing.

Part of the fascination with this movie may be just with the fantasy of an unspoiled tourist Italy, and being able to travel around like Bergman, and having old Italian men explain everything to you.

As a bonus, the My Dad is 100 Years Old short (by Isabella Rossellini) is included. It’s just as weird as you’d imagine: Roberto is represented by a talking stomach.

Anyway, I looked up who voted for this movie, and among the nine directors is Joanna Hogg, who voted like this:

I think she has like the best taste in movies ever! That is, I haven’t seen all of those movies (Midnight, Portrait of Ga and Taipei Story), but the ones I have seen are wonderful. So I guess I should get the remaining three after I’m done with this series… Hm… Oh! I’ve got this movie directed by her, but I haven’t seen it yet.

Well, I tried to make the Brass Rail with this very odd rum instead of Bacardi…

… and it wasn’t very successful.

I think I have to give up on that rum for cocktails. It’s just too too.

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best series.

OTB#67: Singin’ in the Rain

Singin’ in the Rain. Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen. 1952. ⚅

Hey! We’re no longer on #75! It was a 16-way split, so we stayed on the same number for a while. #67 is only split between… eight movies…

Oh well.

I’ve seen this movie a bunch of times, but it’s been a few years since I seen it last, and I was surprised at finding this movie on this “best ever” list: It’s the only musical on the list (I think?), it was a huge commercial success, and it’s a breeze to watch. And if I were to pick one musical to put on the list (I wouldn’t; I’d pick more) I’d pick something with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

But then I started watching this movie again, and I’d totally forgotten that it’s about making movies, and people into movies love movies about making movies. And Kelly is a very manly, muscular dancer, so it makes this the… acceptable musical for this audience?

[time passes]

I’d also forgotten how full of little background gags this movie is. It feels so opulent: There’s so many throwaway bits that the movie’s mesmerising. And Donald O’Connor is wonderful as the funny side-kick.

It’s such an exuberant movie. When you think they’ve done enough wonderful stuff to fill the movie, the put the Gotta Dance thing in… for no dramatic reason what-so-ever, but presumably just because they could.

Today’s leftover liqueur coctail is Periscope, which uses almost as much St. Germain as gin! Exciting!

And more egg white than usual.

Hm! It’s interesting…

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best series.

OTB#75: M

M. Fritz Lang. 1931. ⚃

Oh! It’s German? I really thought I’d seen this before and that it was an American movie? Perhaps I was thinking of the 1951 Losey movie… but… I do remember Peter Lorre being in it?

I’m all kinds of confused.

Anyway, this is a very narrow movie. I mean, format wise. This 2K restoration is 1.19:1… and the interwebs says that it’s 1.2:1, so perhaps they’ve shaved off some pixels to stabilise the movie horizontally? In any case, 1.2:1 is pretty narrow, too — most movies around this era were 1.3:1, weren’t they? (That is, 4:3.)

[time passes]

The opening scene is really horrifyingly strong, but then there’s a lot of scenes that follow that seem… kinda… sloppy? Hm…


A Variety review said that the film was “a little too long. Without spoiling the effect—even bettering it—cutting could be done. There are a few repetitions and a few slow scenes.”

It was originally 117 minutes long, but then cut down to various lengths, and the 98 minute version was the one that was commercially available, and I guess that’s the version that’s landed it on this Officially The Best list. I’m watching the restored, 110 minute version, though, so perhaps that explains the flabbiness.

Every scene looks great, though, and especially in this restoration. The framing and the busy sets are wonderful.

It’s funnier than I’d expected: The smoke-filled rooms where serious men are discussing things slowly get ever more smoke-filled until it’s all a fog.

Lang may be a genius, but I think the pacing here is way off.

Can’t fault Peter Lorre.

Today’s leftover liqueur coctail is Old Friend, where, once again, I’m trying to make a dent in the St. Germain. But this recipe only calls for .7cl of it, so it’ll take… a bunch of these to make a dent in it.

It’s OK. It mostly tastes like Aperol.

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best series.