Samba (2015) (dirs. Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano) (118mins) (viewed 07/21/2015): His name’s “Samba.” And he can’t dance.
Magic Mike XXL (2015) (dir. Gregory Jacobs) (115mins) (viewed 07/23/2015): Adored this. The Soderberghian chill of the first film is gone. And SS’s photography and editing (both under his usual pseudonyms) are in service to a giddy, unbridled sensuality. There’s real depth, too, in Tatum and company’s exploration of the American Southeast, e.g. mistress Jada Pinkett Smith (so, so sexy) turning a Savannah plantation home into a palace of pleasure for a primarily black female clientele. Read several people complain about C-Tates’ final dance not living up to the rest of his bro-brethren. (Mangianello doing marital coitus to Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” is admittedly a high bar.) But then I got an interracial, ass-cheek-baring homage to Duck Soup, which is climax a-plenty.
Puzzle of a Downfall Child (1970) (dir. Jerry Schatzberg) (105mins) (viewed 07/24/2015): First of two Faye Dunaways with birthday boy Dan Callahan. Works mainly on the strength of the actress’ twitchy, paranoiac performance, as well as the specificity of the situation, stemming, as I’m to understand, from Schatzberg’s own experiences. The elliptical style could be termed “pretentious”; the context prevents it from ever feeling as such. Also weird to see that Barry Primus was always “old” onscreen.
Show Me a Hero, Part One (2015) (dir. Paul Haggis) (50mins approx) (viewed 07/24/2015): HBO miniseries on the Nick Wasicsko/Yonkers housing desegregation affair. More David Simon than Paul Haggis so far. Hoping it stays that way. Moment that gave me the most pause: A day-in-the-life music montage that lacks the free-floating Nashville-ness of Treme. But why should artists repeat themselves?
Bonnie and Clyde (1967) (dir. Arthur Penn) (111mins) (viewed 07/24/2015): Dunaway, Part II. One of my “epochal movies” blind spots. Shocking even now, I’d say, in its comical-casual approach to sex and violence. Many scenes are slapstick punctuated by exploding squibs. The comedy of death. Beatty and Dunaway’s movie-star gorgeousness perfectly meshes with the Freudian psychologizing, culminating in two beautiful people peppered in abyssal bullet holes. They look like they’ve been riddled by the void.
Hannibal, Season 3, “The Great Red Dragon” (2015) (dir. Neil Marshall) (44mins) (viewed 07/26/2015): The stuff the Hannibal Lecter faithful know by heart, beautifully restaged, especially Will’s horrifying reconstruction of the Leeds murder. Also inspired: Richard Armitage’s Dolarhyde as 16mm film projector monster—celluloid fetishism taken to extremes.
For One Cent’s Worth of Hope aka For One Cent’s Worth of Love (Pour un sou d’amour) (1932) (dir. Jean Grémillon) (85mins) (viewed 07/26/2015): There’s a scene with a gypsy woman saying her mother’s “ibis and owl” are used to people fucking in front of them. (Not those words exactly, but the implication is clear.) An unwieldy beast—a light musical comedy weighed down by extended tracking shots and copious overhead angles. The male lead has a hi-lo vocal range that suggests he’s Gallic kin to both Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy.
The Strange Madame X (1951) (dir. Jean Grémillon) (91mins) (viewed 07/26/2015): Michèle Morgan vehicle. Bloodless melodrama. If only the title appended “…with the X-Ray Eyes.”