The real highlight of Katyn is Krzysztof Penderecki’s magnificent score...which often works its discordant melodies just beneath the surface of the film, subtly affecting the mood and quietly amplifying the overall sense of horror. For all its embracing of dissonance, there is something unexpectedly reticent and shy about Penderecki’s score, which makes it all the more commendable and effective.
'The Caller thinks that by virtue of leaving certain plot elements and character motivations unexplained that it will become “mysterious." Instead, the film becomes a lame exercise in sub-par genre clichés, devoid of any sense of intrigue or suspense in either its story or characters.'
"A President to Remember seems to be the type of documentary that Primary was providing an antidote for. This new film is comprised largely of Kennedy’s telecast speeches, as well as footage from Drew’s four previous Kennedy films, strung together with narration from Alec Baldwin that negates any of the controversies and contentions about Kennedy’s presidency, reducing him to almost picture-book simplicity."
'Maddin’s narration (performed by Darcy Fehr, who previously performed as “Guy Maddin” in Maddin’s Cowards Bend the Knee) carries echoes of David Goodis’ noir lamentations, and while he speaks cynically about his hometown and its citizens, referring to them as “sleepwalkers,” he never forgets how closely linked to them he is (reinforced by the constant reminder to “stay awake” less he forget to get off the train and wake up back home in Winnipeg).'
On the way to her engagement party, a woman is dumped by her fiancé at a gas station. A mysterious man (who may or may not be either a serial killer or a bestseller’s ghostwriter) offers her a ride back to her parents’ house, and she asks him to pretend to be her fiancé for one night. Roman de Gare is undeniably cunning with a deft mix of mystery and romance (a Lelouch specialty), though the ending is ultimately more clever than satisfying.
"Toby Dammit appears in a new 35mm print whose restoration was overseen by its cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno. With its wide palette of vibrant hues that enhance the film’s delirious and seemingly never-ending tracking shots of leering faces and popping flashbulbs, the film has now been restored to its original hallucinatory glory."
"While at first the film’s amateur DV photography and iMovie-ish editing effects seem charmingly crude, there’s an extraordinary and admirable punk rock quality to them, as though van Peebles were giving the middle finger to every existing standard editing procedure. The editing is crucial to the film’s overarching iconoclasm and DIY-extreme aesthetic, and its technical limitations only seem to instigate even more innovations (the inserting of children sledding and a crowded-beach-shot-ala-Weegee into a sex montage is both breathtaking and scene-stealing)." Read my full review of Melvin van Peebles' Confessionsofa Ex-Doofus-ItchyFooted Mutha here at The L Magazine.
"What’s shocking about the conclusion of Captain Fracasse is its unbridled sobriety: coming after a fanciful series of swordfights in which no one actually dies, the stark reality of a single death is chilling...So much of Captain Fracasse can be written off as a fairy tale, which is why this execution scene is so powerful, because it is a moment when the fantastic façade of the fiction falls away to reveal a gritty reality: that actions have consequences, and while the rich are allowed to live a fairy tale existence, those less privileged do not always retain the authorship of their own destinies..."
'And in I Was Born, But…, the highlight of the set (and for my money, a masterpiece to surpass Tokyo Story), two young brothers, while trying to gain the respect of the neighborhood gang, struggle to understand why their father isn’t “important” in the grand scheme of things. The profound simplicity of the children’s disobedience (“Just because he spanked me doesn’t make him important”) and parents’ concern (“Will they lead the same sorry lives we have?”) are characteristic of Ozu’s sensibility, a universal blend of quotidian comedy and transcendental tragedy.'
The utter lack of character insight and depth could be interpreted as a weakness, but at the same time Street King’s bulldozer-like approach keeps it moving at a swift pace, something lacking in so many recent films. Its “surface-only” aesthetic also seems completely deliberate on the part of writer James Ellroy, whose career is steeped equally in contemporary cop lore and the urban mythology of post-WWII Hollywood (L.A. Confidential and The Black Dahlia). Essentially, the film feels like a pulpy late-40s noir made on the cheap...
Cullen Gallagher is a Brooklyn-based writer, musician, and curator whose work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Life Sentence, Moving Image Source, Bright Lights Film Journal, Beat to a Pulp, NoirCon, Crimefactory, Film Comment, The L Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, Fandor, Not Coming to a Theater Near You, Hammer to Nail, Spinetingler, Between Lavas, Reverse Shot, and Guitar Review. He records instrumental music as Modern Silent Cinema and plays in the hardcore band Night Squad.