OTB#48: Pather Panchali

Pather Panchali. Satyajit Ray. 1955. ⚄

There aren’t a lot of movies on this list from outside the US/Europe/Japan/Hong Kong axis. Is this the only one? Haven’t made a survey, but it kinda looks like it? Uhm… Oh! It’s got Close-Up by Abbas Kiarostami, too. (From Iran.) That one’s really good. My guess is that the next survey (scheduled for 2022, if the world hasn’t ended by then) will include a lot more, like, for instance, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.

This is Indian, by the way, and is in Bengali.

I am not a conne… conos… connersue… I don’t know much from Indian movies. I watched a bunch of them last year for my Netflix blog series, and… I guess they weren’t any worse than the American movies, really? I mean, not much.

This is not a Netflix movie. (Note: Insightful comment.)

I really like this. I mean, on a scene by scene basis: I really love the pacing; it’s languorous and slippery, and every scene of picaresque poverty is exquisitely framed. The actors are great; not exactly naturalistic, but every look speaks volumes. It’s not that far from contemporaneous Italian cinema, I guess?

But…

I have to admit growing distracted after an hour or so. There’s some excellent, heartbreaking scenes here, but there’s a bit too much time spent on stuff that is less interesting than the movie assumes it would be. There’s like no… tension? In those scenes?

It is a lovely movie, though. I laughed, I cried.

The scenes with the cats feel quite 2020, I’m sure.

This leftover recipe (Bikini Martini) depletes both my stock of Peachtree and blue curacao, but not by much.

It’s OK? But it’s very alcohol-forward. After diluting it a bit more, it’s nicer.

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

OTB#48: Man with a Movie Camera


Man With A Movie Camera. Dziga Vertov. 1929. ⚅

I think… when English translators are translating from certain languages… they always end up with “scenario” being “SCENARIO” instead of “script”, which is what it means… At least that’s my impression after reading a book about movies translated from French to English the other month. And this just reinforces that impression.

ANYWAY.

This is an experimental silent movie from 1929 (when the silent era is almost over), and as usual with silent movies of this era, I loathe the music. The music does underscore the action (as it is), but it’s just not very good.

There aren’t a lot of experimental movies in this “best of” list. I think it Un chien andalou? And this? Which intrigues me, because this was voted the 8th best film ever by the critics.

And it is, of course, a subject beloved of people in movies: It’s about film, really. But it’s also about everything else… I mean, everything. It’s not a narrative movie exactly, but we get to see scenes from everybody’s lives, and things sorta interconnect. Slightly.

The thing that surprised me was that they hadn’t slowed the movie down. Everything happens 10% faster than natural, which I imagined was an artefact of how they used to transfer old movies. But they’d certainly fixed that for the 2K version of Potemkin I watched the other month. Here everybody’s moving around way too fast. I find it hard to believe that it was originally shown at this speed. But perhaps it was? It’s all about the bustle of modern life.

OK, I had to get rid of the music on the bluray, and I’m now listening to Boris in concert instead. That makes a whole lot more sense for this movie.

Right; I get it now. It’s just an exuberant, meta, nerdy movie enthusiast thing: Every shot is either funny or charming. Or both. There’s trick photography; there’s backwards photography; there’s moving-the-camera-around-a-lot photography (I’m sure there’s a term for that), there’s slo-mo athlete photography (“thirsty”, I think the technical term is)…

It’s just inexplicably fun. At least it is when you get rid of the annoying violins.

Ooops! There’s a teensy teensy hint at they end that the music’s by Michael Nyman! Well, OK. I’m not a fan of his, but I had no idea that he’d made something this bad ever.

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

OTB#48: Rear Window


Rear Window. Alfred Hitchcock. 1954. ⚅

I saw this movie just the other year (I think… on a plane?), but now I’ve got it in 2K, so I’m rewatching it.

The movie is kinda perfect, but this 2K transfer isn’t. Or perhaps it was just this soft on the celluloid (or er whatever the young whippersnappers were using in the 50s): Every single shot looks like it’s just a bit out of focus.

But otherwise, it’s still a perfect movie. You’ve seen it: It’s a movie about watching things, and nothing could be more apt.

I love everything about this movie, but particularly the way the nurse becomes a part of it all. She’s perfect.

Hm… did I do this leftover cocktail before? Cunningham tastes kinda familiar…

… and not particularly good. But it’s OK.

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

OTB#48: Goodfellas

Goodfellas. Martin Scorsese. 1990. ⚂

My most shocking, controversial opinion ever is this: I think Scorsese is overrated.

I was amused by all the accolades The Irishman got when it came out. I mean, just look at the critics falling over themselves in trying to praise it more than everybody else. It’s a mediocre movie, and while not the worst movie Scorsese has made, it’s just… OK… (If you can get beyond the horrible, horrible CGI, that is.)

So for once in my life I wondered how a movie would fare with the big awards: The BAFTA, the Golden Globes, the Oscars… Allegedly Netflix spent $70M on wooing the people voting for the Oscars, and it got nominated for everything in every single major award show. And it won zero of them. Zilch.

Which I interpret as people coming to their senses after the general scramble. Perhaps they even watched the movie? A feature I’d like to read is “Movies That I Wrote A Glowing Review For, That, In Retrospect, Turned Out To Be Kinda Naff”.

I dunno, but I found it funny, and I can’t really explain why, because I don’t like those award shows? The Oscars shitting on The Irishman should really convince me that it’s better than I thought?

ANYWAY! There’s three Scorsese movies on this “best of” list, and it’s the only one I can kinda recall watching. I mean, I’ve seen them all, but I don’t remember anything of Raging Bull and Taxi Driver, because it’s been such a long time. This one I do remember; it’s probably just a couple of decades since I watched it. And I remember being annoyed and slightly disgusted by the movie. I think it was… having to watch morons and assholes for two and a half hours being presented as if they were interesting somehow?

Perhaps I was wrong? *roll movie*

[an hour passes]

Nope. It’s a bunch of assholes having uninteresting conflicts. My interest in watching morons arguing about stupid stuff is low. All I’m thinking while watching this is SOMEBODY KILL ALL THESE FUCKERS ALREADY! I don’t think that’s what I’m supposed to think? I think it’s supposed to be like fascinating and stuff? It’s even more tedious than I remember.

Sure, this movie has some good qualities. Some of the scenes have pretty thrilling cinematography. I guess the set design is to be admired, but I think it’s a bit too much: Some of the scenes have so many props you can almost see the set designer’s assistants’ hands putting in some more vases and figurines between the shots.

It’s like they thought we wouldn’t accept this being set in the 70s if every wall didn’t have a differently patterned wallpaper and every armoire a bowl of bananas.

Am I getting whacked now?

OK, the early scenes where you get some info on how the mobsters work are fun, and the scene where the love interest meets the other wives is good, but it’s 70% boredom. I guess it’s like a male version of Housewives of Butthole County? It’s morons arguing with each other about things that don’t matter? But with guns, so it’s OK for men to watch?

I think that’s deep and insightful critique of this movie, but then again, I’ve had a couple of rum’n’cokes.

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