Archive for April, 2012

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Judex (1963)

April 7, 2012

If Franju imprinted any personality onto his tribute to Feuillade it is a lack of personality. His Judex strips away the arch charm of the serial, leaving a highly compressed and vapid, almost Bressonian automation. Any outright changes he makes to the plot are a means to reference other Feuillade pictures: an added espionage sequence has Diana Monti creep around in a black catsuit a la Irma Vep, a later rooftop climax and characters scaling a building likewise incorporate Les Vampires, and at one point the detective is shown highly engrossed in the novel of Fantômas. Elsewhere throughout, silent era titlecards and iris effects complete the homage. Gone, however, is Judex and his allies’ surprising mercy towards Favraux and all the positive relationships formed on account of the criminal hijinks, including the once-delightful Cocantin’s adoption of the likewise once-delightful Licorice Kid. In effect, Franju’s sombre, deadpan affair purges all that I love about Feuillade’s original, oddly having the least amount of fun possible with such pulpy material. I don’t resent the change in tone, but I find it merely curious where others see poetry. Indeed, if it had been even further removed -a sinister variation finding ambiguity where there was none before, or simply if his mood was moodier -we could have had something much more striking.

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My March ’12 in Film

April 1, 2012

Somehow I managed to slightly better the average monthly viewings of late with 65 films total seen in March, despite work that kept me from the TV for a whole week (oh noes!). Though in that time I did sneak off to the ACMI for its “Asian Australia” double-bill, resulting in a most memorable communal experience for the charming risibility of Blazing Continent (nonetheless rousing for its ‘Scope colour images) and Brian Trenchard-Smith’s unrelentingly entertaining and hysterically funny (unintentional and not, it’s a mix of the two) The Man From Hong Kong. There was a time where I’d have dismissed the latter as mere camp, but the moderately wiser me appreciates the comic touches that flood the edges of the plot, not pointed out and probably only accidentally filmed in the first place (like the cop almost tripping over a cat, or the slit in a tough’s pants revealing bright yellow underwear), and the brutal fights that run far longer than they “need to” plotwise. Other cinema visits were to the French Film Festival, including a horrendously bright digital projection of House of Tolerance and the startlingly honest Goodbye First Love, another ACMI night for Flowers of Shanghai with 2046, and multiplex viewings of the uber-formalist Haywire and disposably enjoyable 21 Jump Street.

In fact it was a very Soderbergh month with his latest, the Ocean’s trilogy rewatches and both parts of Che. This worked to reaffirm my fondness for Ocean’s Twelve; indeed it’s perhaps his best film: the logical extension of Jerry Lewis’ self-reflexivity with a European notion of an unhypocritically glamourised Hollywood paradoxically realised in unconventional formal play, including assured long takes, use of offscreen space and a rich sound design often diminishing A-list celebrities’ physical “screentime”. The much-reviled Tess-as-Julia sequence is a highlight, perfectly incorporating Bruce Willis to recall the pair’s earlier self-deprecating appearance in Altman’s The Player. Well, here’s a sloppily ranked top 20 this time. Fucking fantastic month; it’s a pity I didn’t take the time to write anything on any of them!

  1. Limite (Peixoto, 1931)
  2. Wind Across the Everglades (Ray, 1958)
  3. Blood of My Blood (Canijo, 2011)
  4. House of Tolerance (Bonello, 2011)
  5. The Man From Hong Kong (Trenchard-Smith, 1975)
  6. Unfaithful (Lyne, 2002)
  7. The Barefoot Contessa (Mankiewicz, 1954)
  8. Haywire (Soderbergh, 2011)
  9. Goodbye First Love (Hansen-Løve, 2011)
  10. The Doll (Lubitsch, 1919)
  11. Time and Tide (Tsui, 2000)
  12. Faust (Sokurov, 2011)
  13. Housekeeping (Forsyth, 1987)
  14. The Deep Blue Sea (Davies, 2011)
  15. Play (Östlund, 2011)
  16. Wuthering Heights (Arnold, 2011)
  17. Hard to Handle (LeRoy, 1933)
  18. Michael (Dreyer, 1924)
  19. River of No Return (Preminger, 1954)
  20. Revenge (Scott, 1990)
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Compelled to mention:

  • Cracking Up (Lewis, 1983)
  • The Patsy (Lewis, 1964)
  • Triangle (Tsui/Lam/To, 2007)
  • Le Révélateur (Garrel, 1968)
  • Carnage (Polanski, 2011)
  • Young Adult (Reitman, 2011)

Best rewatches:

  • Flowers of Shanghai (Hou, 1998)
  • The Turin Horse (Tarr, 2011)
  • Ocean’s Twelve (Soderbergh, 2004)
  • 2046 (Wong, 2004)

Worst:

  • The Muppets (Bobin, 2011)
  • Logan’s Run (Anderson, 1976)