By Ray Pride


LONG DAY'S JOURNEY 14Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Poetry, bliss, abandon: deep into Bi Gan’s indelible, narcotic masterpiece where a 28-year-old’s talent matches his imagination, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, the movie sinks into a sinuous, unbroken take, a gravity-shunning traveling shot in 3-D that lasts an hour. The director, whose first feature, Kaili Blues (2015), was equally attentive to time and duration in its movement across his native province of Guizhou in southwest China, creates gorgeous tableaux as well, fashioning fever dreams cool to the touch. While superficially the movie, called “Last Evenings On Earth” in Chinese, is neon-dreamt, lovelorn neo-noir, it is also topographical fantasia [Read more.]

Shadow.  Chinese censors withdrew Zhang Yimou’s latest film, One Second, set during the decade of Mao Zedong’s brutal Cultural Revolution, from Berlin in February. Shadow, a wuxia martial arts film set in a much earlier and much less controversial era, is on a par with his great, kinetic films like House of Flying Daggers (2004) and his martial arts masterpiece, Hero (2002). A variation on a Jingzhou epic, “The Three Kingdoms,” Shadow draws a canvas of blacks and grays and rain and blue-grays (with intermittent dashes of explosive color) in the style of traditional ink and wash Chinese paintings. Body doubles, the director says, hark back to ancient times. [Read more.] Playing nationwide: theaters.

Meeting Gorbachev. While never reaching for the ether (or ethereal) of his many great documentaries, Herzog’s four sit-down visits with Gorbachev are filled with spiky moments and unexpected questions that make the portrait compelling.  [Read more.]

Blaze (Blu and DVD).  Ethan Hawke doesn’t come right out and say what he’s up to in “Blaze,” but it’s snaky goodness: time and space, all in mind and out of whack. Splinters assemble and disassemble perspectives on a now-gone Austin, Texas songwriter, bright but lost, frustrated at the fall of each note, each sung syllable. Hard to live with; harder to ignore. Hawke calls “Blaze” a country-western opera, and the singer-songwriter at the center, Blaze Foley, “the Snuffleupagus of the outlaw country music scene,” whom he discovered via John Prine’s cover of the song “Clay Pigeons,” “one of the best country songs I’d ever heard.” (Townes Van Zandt, also fictionalized here, wrote and played with Foley.) Not only did Hawke discover Foley’s music, but also “Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze Foley,” the memoir of his partner, Sybil Rosen. The form of the film is the form of a song: a song sung, yes, but also a song struck; a song moaned; a song performed; a song sold; a song sundered; a song, a song as subterranean river, sometimes a trickle, sometimes a truculent rivulet, and often, so often, a waterfall of eager, needful romantic yearning. [Read more.]



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“I really want to see The Irishman. I’ve heard it’s big brother Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece. But I really can’t find the time. The promotion schedule is so tight, there’s no opportunity to see a three and a half-hour movie. But I really want to see it. In 2017, right before Okja’s New York premiere, I had the chance to go to Scorsese’s office, which is in the DGA building. There’s a lovely screening room there, too, with film prints that he’s collected. I talked to him for about an hour. There’s no movie he hasn’t seen, even Korean films. We talked about what he’s seen and his past work. It was a glorious day. I’ve loved his work since I was in college. Who doesn’t? Anyone involved with movies must feel the same way.”
~ Bong Joon-ho

“But okay, I promise you now that if I ever retire again, I’m going to ensure that I can’t walk it back. I’ll post a series of the most disgusting, offensive, outrageous statements you can ever imagine. That way it will be impossible for me to ever be employed again. No one is going to take my calls. No one is going to want to be seen with me. Oh, it will be scorched earth. I will have torched everything. I’m going to flame out in the most legendary fashion.”
~ Steven Soderbergh