• Hanagatami

    Hanagatami

    scattered images: a soldier solemnly playing cello against a vivid red sunset. the moon, always bright and full, seen through small round windows, almost portholes. young men idling nude against a backdrop of shooting stars and fireflies. lush fields full of singing children and scarecrow soldiers, both doomed to war.

  • Moon Warriors

    Moon Warriors

    a miracle of wuxia that indeed has delights of kinetic friction in its fight scenes but resonates most as a sort of eclogue. the middle of the movie becomes a travelogue told on horseback--a white horse with a red velvet saddle trots through the woods, on the beach, and in fields (fields which are abundant with yellow flowers and white rabbits). lanterns make the fishing village resplendent in the night scenes like a bygone paradise. one can sense the anxiety…

  • Anatahan

    Anatahan

    one of the rare films that seems to operate on a self-contained, almost oneiric plane (e.g. melo, la captive)

    most relevant new detail in my second viewing:

    the nude scenes, absent from the censored version i had seen previously, are noticeably restrained. von sternberg depicts his lead actresss, akemi negishi, almost like a renaissance nude. the narration stands in for the male gaze, a collective of anonymous horny sailors with an old new york accent, but the camera's neo-classical poise…

  • Moonfleet

    Moonfleet

    Moonfleet undercuts the expectations of its children’s adventure plot through a series of memento mori that pervades the film’s atmosphere with an uncanny sense of dread. By selecting a few moments which stood out on this viewing, I hope to perhaps shed some light on a truly mysterious film.

    Early on in the film, John Mohune passes out and wakes up to see faces of smugglers looking at him from above in a semi-circle. The human face comes across as…

  • Love in the Time of Twilight

    Love in the Time of Twilight

    ★★★★★

    tsui hark's strange experimentation with cgi might have come to its fruition in this magical film. while american cgi is typically praised it reaches some semblance of verisimilitude (e.g. jurassic park), tsui's cgi revels in artificiality in order to create striking fantastical images. in this respect one could compare tsui's approach to, say, the matte paintings in hitchcock's marnie, but that would be somewhat inaccurate because cgi for tsui, certainly in this film, is a matter of elevating emotion rather…

  • Dust in the Wind

    Dust in the Wind

    ★★★★★

    while 'dust in the wind' does bridge hou’s early semi-autobiographical narratives and his more formally pronounced 90s films, it’s not a transitional work, in the sense that that label implies a journeyman quality. hou’s nuanced and varied approach to lighting should alone dispel that notion. hou’s staging often transforms relatively small areas into vast spaces. within these spaces the protagonists are often crowded by people, architecture, and ordinary objects. this strategy, employed both laterally and through depth of field, underscores the couple’s insignificance and malaise.

    (i'd really like to read an in-depth treatment of this film because i feel incapable of properly writing about hou hsiao-hsien.)

  • Lancelot of the Lake

    Lancelot of the Lake

    ★★★★★

    (this is my first attempt at a review, so please be kind!)

    robert bresson presents his moralistic revisionism of arthurian myth to the viewer of lancelot du lac from the start. the film opens on a hand gripping a sword, wearily struggling to swing it. we are witnessing two knights in combat. the camera obscures their heads until one knight decapitates the other. blood oozes out from the defeated man’s corpse. men do not die with honor; they die ignobly,…