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August 9th, 2014 § Leave a Comment

That title just struck me as have let ELENA sit with me for a day. This film, like Von Trier’s, deals with women who have depression, but not quite so literally metaphoric. The biggest similarity for me is the true beauty on screen. Not just in the love the camera gives to its subjects, but in the layered textures that weave into the whole film.580f9aa264f1108da3db844806f3952e_567x210

Petra Costa’s ode to her sister who committed suicide while she was just a girl has all the hallmarks of a great piece of art house cinema, yet it is a documentary. With some staged pieces and Petra’s reflective narration, we are taken on a journey that unifies multiple women until their story becomes one. Tying the film together is a great soundtrack featuring Amiina, a moody Icelandic band I’ve seen open for Sigur Ros.

ELENA is the sort of movie you’d only expect to see at a festival, so seeing it play a week of shows at the GI is a rare treat for fans of poetic biographic documentaries. Skip the CGI madness of TMNT and settle in for a quiet cinematic experience.

—peace out, or is it please out, dan


August 1st, 2014 § Leave a Comment

You can tell that Bogart likes little miss Bacall for real in the steamy TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT. And he definitely ends up having; the two are married by the time their next big picture THE BIG SLEEP comes out.

There are a lot of threads tying these two films together. Sure, Bogart and Bacall share top billing in both films, and are directed by Howard Hawks. But those with an eye on the screenplay credit will notice William Faulkner’s name on both. Yes, that William Faulkner!

TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT plays like a spiritual remake of CASABLANCA. Bogart plays an American in a Mediterranean location, pre-American involvement in WWII. And of course Bogart resists getting involved in these European affairs and becomes a reluctant hero. The overall tone of the film is lighter than CASABLANCA and does not feature as many memorable characters or memorable lines, but it does feature a 19-year-old Bacall eating up the screen. I haven’t seen a teenage actress come out and own their movie totally and completely, feeling years older and more mature since Jennifer Lawrence.

"Got a match?"

“Got a match?”

In other random thoughts of mine: TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT is from Ernest Hemingway. The film starts out with Bogart’s little fishing vessel taking on a marlin. Hemingway’s movie nee book THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA is all about a marlin. Just a little connection.

In THE BIG SLEEP Bacall’s charms and allures are overshadowed by most of the other women in the film, most namely Martha Vickers and Dorothy Malone, but still holds her own in scenes with Bogart. Bogart shows a little more range in this film than most of his other 40s private eye films (I love his character he plays in Geiger’s bookshop, I wish he’d done more disguises).

I don’t think THE BIG SLEEP will unseat THE MALTESE FALCON for me. Marlowe not better than Spade. But Marlowe seems like he’s having more fun than Spade ever could being a private eye, and the cracks come like in TO HAVE AND TO HAVE NOT: dry and perhaps just the hint of a smile.

Anyway, two 35mm prints in the same week. Both two of the biggest classics by one of Hollywood’s first auteurs. Come on down, we’ve got AC for Chrissakes!

—down in the dog days of summer, dan


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