Valhalla Rising ; Dir: Nicolas Winding Refn
And whilst on the subject of cinema…
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 ; Dir: Quentin Tarantino
Bastards (Claire Denis, 2013)
Working on it…
The Grandmaster, Wong Kar-Wai. Time to get my shit together for year-end.
"Like, is this really my life? Is it happening right now?”
I have so many more things to say about this that I’ll probably never say any of them. Also, Before Midnight is no longer my favourite movie of 2013 but there’s a compelling argument that says that the Before Trilogy is one of the three or four most significant filmmaking projects of all time.
Anyways, go watch this.
And then this thing happened. Whilst trolling the Netflix with the impossible girl a week or two ago, the best trifecta possibly ever in the history of early-autumn movies happened all at once: Martha Marcy May Marlene, followed by Mud, followed by Winter’s Bone. In a weak-ass, disspiriting year for the movies - hell, even Price has announced his retirement! - a few golden rays of cinema shot out, all chilly and Novemberish though their light may have been. And one of them was even from this year.Read more
Saturday, 6:50 p.m. - The Lightbox - Art is magnificent. It is uncanny. There is no accounting for its alchemies. “Please let me be your pretend boyfriend,” a nerdy man asks a yakuza princess in an uncharacteristically quiet scene at around the midpoint of Sion Sono’s Why Don’t You Play In Hell?, and I found myself wondering: how did all the threads in this film (of which there are a great many, all running parallel in the first half) pull and twang just so, to arrive at this scene’s tension?
I left Hell early on Friday night and went back on a whim on Saturday, and could not be more grateful I did. Like Meadow Mari before it, I do not know what that film is, but I know that it is magnificent, daffy, outrageous, brilliant, and made (seemingly) just for me. It rung every single one of my bells, and made me take it more seriously than it wants to be taken. All of those parallel threads in the first half - too many and too complex, I’d argue, for a midnight viewing - snap together with perfect lucidity when viewed wide awake, and the back half of that movie, once all the pieces are in place, is a goddamned masterpiece. Like, I actually left wondering if Why Don’t You Play In Hell? might be the best movie I’ve ever fucking SEEN. Art transforms: and that movie takes its component elements and transforms, transcends, and transports.
Sunday, 5:16 p.m. - the Queen and Beaver - Two films in a row, Cannibal and Paradise: Hope, had me questioning at midpoint what outcome I actually wanted in each case. Cannibal is about a cannibal who falls in love with a woman associated with one of his murders; what do I want, there, from that couple, besides for the cannibal to die in a fire? Paradise: Hope is about a 13-year-old girl at fat camp who falls in love with the camp doctor. Do I want our heroine’s romantic aspirations to play out? Neither film is bad, and both films ring with an unpleasant tension. They are both best described as “austere.” I will not need to see either again.
TIFF ‘13 winds to a close. I am at the Queen & Beaver for a hand-chopped burger and some pints with my friends, to round things off. This was the year, festival-wise, when we finally walked across the border from film to digital - I never saw a single print, the whole week long, though I understand there were in fact three at the festival. It was also the year, apropos of nothing when we walked across the border from pubic hair being the norm, to its absence being the norm, on all those splendid vulvae on all the splendid women who make “art film” its notorious, proverbial self the world over. This sphere has moved from analogue to digital, from “what I grew up with” to “what I will tell my disbelieving grandkids about,” in all its forms.
I left the final Midnight Madness last night after about 15 minutes, for the best of all possible reasons: there was a scene in a car of four men talking about how much the women in their lives irritated them. I had a joyful moment of total certainty in my opposing thoughts, and went home to mine.