I’ve seen a bunch of good movies lately

(some spoilers below)

American Honey. Can there be romance, happiness, on a rundown bus and in dirty motels, selling mags?

King Jack. He just fell off his bike. That outmoded.

Eye in the Sky. You and me are not in that room.

Morris From America. Everyone should be a stranger some time somewhere.

The Shallows. Visually stunning.

Elle. Everything is unusual here: the approach to rape, to virtue and vice, to lesbianism, to work relations, even to religion and fatherhood.

Hell or High Water. Men in all ways authentic, for better and for worse. Superb acting and storytelling.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople and The Lobster. Essentially the same film —there’s no escape, period.

Nocturnal Animals. Failure to comply with the ancestral bases of both femininity and masculinity will lead to this mutual revenge.

Florence Foster Jenkins. Frears could have followed the usual cynical path but deliberately chooses to tell the story the benevolent way, what makes the film unique, and touching, funny and pathetic.

The Edge of Seventeen. Maybe the story is not about her, after all. Great performance again from Hailee Steinfeld (Mattie Ross in the extraordinary True Grit), and a good one from Blake Jenner (Everybody Wants Some, excellent film by the way).

 

 

 

Advertisements

Galilea

Saturday morning ride, as Strava puts it. I spot some doodles on a traffic sign, Kill cyclists, then mended, Love cyclists.

FELLOW BIKERS. I can’t help noting most of the cyclists I bump into on the road are old men; that leaves me wondering in misery, whether this is just and old men’s sport or if the routes I take are so insultingly easy for the aficionados that younger cyclists avoid them altogether.

DEAR FELLOW BIKERS, young or old. Since a smile is obviously way too much to ask of you, what about just a simple, trifle, uncompromisingly merely-acknowledging nod when we run into each other? Won’t settle even for that?

ON THE ROAD. But I ride like a pro this time for the first time! I enjoy my way hills up, even attacking them although briefly at certain spots. I try to swing my body left or right on my way down and have a pleasant feeling of the road and the wind as a result. I don’t set my foot on the ground not a single time —and when I arrive at my destiny goal I feel strong enough to keep on going a little further up.

Saturday afternoon. Zidane orders Cristiano out of the field. He shows himself braver than I thought, but less intelligent?

Saturday evening. Steve Jobs—the film, the one from 2015. A fine work of dramatization, which manages to keep a high level of tension from start to end—kudos to the film editor and to the great performances both by Seth Rogen as Wozniak and Kate Winslet as Hoffman.

 

Prizes bah

Sunday evening. The Emmys are around, and so many times J. said about watching The Americans but we didn’t, and what if it wins? So we hurry to watch its first episode and it’s not so good —almost quite bad, or worse —quite average.

And the Emmys… are you kidding me, Emmys? The almost insufferable season six of Game of Thrones takes it all? Come off it!

Monday morning. Three fourths into My Brilliant Friend by the ghostly Elena Ferrante and she tries but she doesn’t reach. Elena, if you want to succeed at depicting an irresistible power one person unwillingly, or not, have over another, just go and read the masterpiece —Maugham’s Of Human Bondage.

Speaking about ghosts, I have a feeling that a movie I saw a few months ago is better than the credit I gave it then —you know that when it comes back to you, unexpectedly: The Awakening.

And be like Johnnie too good

Saturday morning. I go biking. On my way out of the city I see a female coworker in her way in to the city to waste some hours doing overtime at the so-called parking day in which some streets are emptied of cars and children are invited to be expected to what? Don’t play soccer don’t play rough don’t play un-inclusively no competition allowed everybody has their prize don’t dare go to the street beyond don’t do anything without adult supervision if you’re wronged come here my darling and tell your teacher. But at least she’s worth looking at, in passing.

Although I’m out of form, I try na Burguesa, the tallest peak around. I fail at 2/3rds of the summit. No fellow cyclists around, by the way, and definitely none of the ones carrying 3000 euros worth of equipment on them. Just one mountain biker on my way up and two on my prudish and ridiculously-paced way down.

Saturday evening. Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some. You end up wondering if you’ve been cheated into thinking you’ve just seen another no-brains movie or if, on the contrary, a very inconsequential film is infiltrated with very interesting dialog and scenography to make you think this isn’t another no-brains movie.

Sunday morning. I try my new gadget to clean windows—a windows sucker. You apply your ordinary windows cleaner to the glass and then you proceed to vacuum. And it works, actually better than expected.

Sunday afternoon. Rio Conchos. Not a bad story made into a very watchable western whose very most merit lies on the way their heroes are not.

The Last Sunset

THE FILM — Superb. Probably the best western I’ve ever seen. A perfectly linked succession of non-trivial tropes very creatively enacted over a powerful Freudian symbolism worth of a Zizek review. No wonder that Lauren Bacall was offered the role of Belle Breckinridge but found the subject matter to be rather offensive (imdb).

A LINK — Between this dialogue, that takes place in front of a Mexican church,

STRIBLING (Rock Hudson): Lots of hopes, lots of prayers must’ve started here.

BELLE (Dorothy Malone): Or ended. Babies being christened, women burying their dead.

STRIBLING: Sometimes men, too.

BELLE: Men?

STRIBLING: I lost my wife and two daughters in an Osage war party.

BELLE: Oh, I’m sorry. I’m afraid I was only thinking of myself. To me, it’s always seemed like the women who keep on living. Men kill or get killed. And women bury them. We’re professional survivors.

and what Mircea Eliade (The Sacred and the Profane) has to say about the mythical justification of cannibalism in those societies where it’s actually practiced, based on a religious vision of life:

For the vegetable world to continue, man must kill and be killed; in addition, he must assume sexuality to its extreme limit —the orgy. An Abyssinian song declares this: “She who has not yet engendered, let her engender; he who has not yet killed, let him kill!” This is a way of saying that the two sexes are doomed to assume their destiny”

SO, THE TWO SEXES — Masculinity at its best both in the roles played (masterfully) by Kirk Douglas and Rock Hudson: protectiveness, straightforwardness, sportsmanship, trueness to one’s word, courage, sense of duty, absence of malice, and strength; with some of their inevitable counterparts as well, like ingenuity, pig-headedness, roughness, and helplessness when the danger comes not frankly. Masculinity at its worst in the roles of Mr Breckenridge and of course the hired treacherous cowboys. Feminity at its worst in the role of Belle-Mrs Breckenridge, and feminity at its best in that of her daughter Missy-Melissa,

BREN: Of course you can. And one of these days, a boy’ll come along…

MELISSA: I don’t want a boy. I want you.

BREN: You want someone who’ll fill your heart with warmth and sunlight. You want a young man, not me. All I can do is throw a cloud over you.

MELISSA: I’m not afraid of clouds. I’m not afraid of anything.

that is, determination, fearlessness, love and caring, long-term thinking, independence of character.

And the joy of life, male or female.

You say you want a revolution

Revolution? Don’t dare talk me about revolution. I know all about revolutions and how they start. The people that read the books they go to the people that don’t read the books, the poor people and say, the time has come to have a change, uh? So the poor people make the change, uh? Then the people who read the books they all sit around big tables and they talk and talk and talk and eat and eat and eat. But what has happened to the poor people? They’re dead. That’s your revolution.

There are people out there who I admire that have a positive approach to other people and things —they presuppose the best of them until disappointment comes. They’re outward, radiant, confident, embracing; they can also be bitter, vindictive, and mean. My way, for better or for worse, is just the opposite —I expect the worst until proven wrong. First thing I think first time I meet someone or something (be it a person, a song, a novel, a film, an idea, a new political star, a website, you name it) it’s this is gonna be a waste of time. Most of the time it is, so I quit.

But what exhilarating an emotion you get when it isn’t!

Sergio Leone‘s Giù la testa (A Fistful of Dynamite, aka Duck, You Sucker) gives you one of those.

—If you leave me now, what the fuck is going to happen to me?

—They’ll make you a general.

—Shit, I don’t want to be a general.

Man versus Leviathan, wins Leviathan.

If you happen to have any adolescent boy around in the house, make it happen, just casually —have him watch this film before it’s late.

Blissful, delighted, sexually aroused

This Woody Allen’s film is worth very little; the following piece of dialogue, though, caught my attention. A student, Jack (John Cusack), a regular customer in the city’s whorehouse, is having a conversation with one of the girls (Jodie Foster):

Prostitute: The chief magistrate likes me to tie him up, hand and foot…

Jack: Exactly. You take away his freedom.

Prostitute: …and he becomes blissful, delighted, sexually aroused.

Jack: He’s frightened of his freedom.

This Escape from Freedom explains a lot about our current disregard for it.

Once Upon a Time in the West

by Sergio Leone. When Harmonica (played by Charles Bronson) in apparent treason catches his wanted friend Cheyenne (Jason Robards) and delivers him to the sheriff in exchange for the money, the dialogue goes:

Harmonica: The reward for this man is $5000, that right?

Cheyenne: Judas was content with $4970 less.

Harmonica: There were no dollars in them days.

Cheyenne: But sons of bitches, yeah.

The film is excellent, and Claudia Cardinale’s gaze of hate, impotence and rage

quite remarkable.

Esa pareja feliz

That Happy Couple, that’s the title of a Spanish film from the 50s that they showed on TV a couple of days ago. It reminded me of Woody Allen’s Radio Days, because of that gentle way of dealing with life when life doesn’t fulfill your expectations; a non-obvious soft, civil, comic approach to the hardenings of life.