An eclectic assortment of recent viewing, including an obscure short feature from England, a couple of westerns old and new, and a pair of Elmore Leonard adaptations.
Arrow Video has released an excellent Blu-ray edition of Georges Franju’s little-known third feature, Plein feux per l’assassin (Spotlight on a Murderer, 1961), which adds surreal touches to a country house mystery centred on the missing body of a dead nobleman and the bickering relatives who gather hoping to inherit.
Darren Aronofsky’s mother! (2017) is a religious allegory disguised as a horrific comedy of social unease. Original and completely unhinged, it features an excellent cast and audacious imagery which has been unsettling and confusing audiences and critics.
The Art Life is a relaxed and nuanced portrait of filmmaker David Lynch’s evolution as an artist which, like his work, is both revealing and enigmatic.
Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women (2016) is a jewel of the art and craft of filmmaking, an intensely emotional and ultimately heartbreaking study of character and landscape.
More notes on recent viewing, from a sadistic thriller to emotionally resonant anime, from a literary adaptation to two investigations of racism in America.
Two recent releases uncover fascinating fragments of cinema history: G.W Pabst’s dramatically powerful and technically innovative early sound films Westfront 1918 (1930) and Kameradschaft (1931) from Masters of Cinema and Samuel Beckett’s sole foray into movies Film (1965) paired with Ross Lipman’s “kino-essay” about the production Notfilm (2015) together in a dual-format release from the BFI.
Sacha Guitry’s La poison (1951) is a deceptively light and witty comedy about murder; beneath the surface it is a bitter dissection of a society devoid of morality.
A round-up of recent viewing ranging from classic fantasy to low budget horror to rugged adventure and a western.
An almost lost masterpiece resurfaces in Criterion’s excellent Blu-ray release of Michael Curtiz’ The Breaking Point (1950) starring John Garfield. This Hemingway adaptation fell prey to Hollywood’s post-war Red Scare, but is now revealed as among the director’s and star’s finest work.