Movie City Indie Archive for July, 2019

Friday Movies: ONCE UPON A TIME …, Fassbinder Trilogy on Blu; Why FLORIDA PROJECT on 35mm?

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio star in ONCE UPON TIME IN HOLLYWOOD.

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio star in ONCE UPON TIME IN HOLLYWOOD.

ONCE UPON A TIME … IN HOLLYWOOD.  Quentin Tarantino’s melancholy pop-rocket picaresque Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood is the truest of true “hang-out” movies: key characters spend the greater part of their screen time getting from one place to another, wandering blissfully, even wantonly to an incessant song score, across a delirious period landscape, a wholly realized world. It’s also a Western, a war movie, and a snow globe, shaken now and again, of Tarantino’s fascination with the filmmaking process.

A swarming cast crosses the fates of three characters over three days in another time: Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio, hilarious and tragic, too), a stammering falling star with a drinking problem; his stunt double-turned-body man/dogsbody, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt embodying epic sangfroid), who has a knack for abrupt violence—“More than a brother but less than a wife” and Rick’s neighbor, Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie, archetypal yet human, so human), a young actress who competes with the inexorable Southern California sunshine [Read More.]

THE BRD TRILOGY on Blu. A single, singular, boldly prolific filmmaker was an unstoppable force at the turn of the eighties, much as Godard had been in the early sixties when he turned out tasty, provocative film essays a couple times per annum. But Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the most prolific of the 1970s German New Wave directors, went out with his bad-boy image intact when he died thirty-seven years ago (at the age of thirty-seven), slumped over a flatbed editing machine after yet another long day of dogged work, plentiful cigarettes, bountiful beer, intermittent barbiturates, a taste of Jack Daniel’s and more than a tincture of cocaine. At the center of Fassbinder’s output were twenty-eight stage plays and forty-three or so films, including the magnificent parable of postwar German life, The Marriage of Maria Braun, and the epic fifteen-and-a-half-hour Berlin Alexanderplatz. [Read More.]

THE FLORIDA PROJECT. Sean Baker’s effortlessly headlong dive into a child’s imagination is a tender thunderclap, brisk, observant, funny, and built upon the writer-director’s customary attention to issues of class, and more specifically, the underclass. (It remains my choice for the best American feature film of 2017.) The Chicago Film Society hosts a premiere of a 35mm print of the movie, with Baker on hand. “Florida Project” was shot on film, but distributed in the standard DCP format. [Read More.]

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Friday Movies: MIDSOMMAR, THE JUNIPER TREE, THE CURE, COOKED

 

MIDSOMMARMidsommar.  Oh, shit: shit happens. Or “Holy shit, right?” as a doofus American laughs in writer-director Ari Aster’s second feast of grief, the anthropo-horror Midsommar, it’s not good grief, it’s grievous goodness: pain is protracted, agony prolonged, and so much of it is a manifestation of what is simmering inside its troubled central couple. Then the unforeseen pagan mysteries revealed under the midnight sun blow it up to nightmare scale. It’s also blackly funny, down to the brutal and extravagant final shot: a perverse post-Falconetti close-up that is both magisterial and hilarious. A character arrives, is anointed: avaricious beauty and brute malice make a final floral gesture. Aster’s detail-drenched, languorous, even ponderous follow-up to Hereditary is multitudes. [Read more.]

The Juniper Tree.The weight of the Icelandic landscape startles and captivates as it embraces and punishes its female characters; Björk, twenty-one, is sound and vision, grounded and ethereal at the very beginning, as she is to this day. [Read more.]

The Cure–Anniversary 1978-2018 Live In Hyde Park London. If a band’s gonna go through four decades of shamanistic repetition, these are dandy, candy incantations. [Read more.]

Cooked: Survival by Zip Code. Revising the 1995 heat wave that killed hundreds of Chicagoans, mostly poor, mostly black. Urgent questions, asked crisply and well.[Read more.]

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“I always thought that once I had lived in Chicago for a while, it would be interesting to do a portrait of the city – but to do it at a significant time. Figuring out when would be the ideal time to do that was the trick. So when this election came around, coupled with the Laquan McDonald trial, it seemed like the ideal time to do the story. Having lived in Chicagoland for thirty-five-plus years and done a number of films here, I’ve always been struck by the vibrancy of the city and its toughness. Its tenderness too. I’ve always been interested in the people at the center of all the stories. This is a different film in that regard, because we’re not following a couple of individuals over the course of the project in the way that a lot of the films I’ve done have, but I still feel like people’s voices and aspirations and hopes are at the center of this series.

It wasn’t easy. We started back in July 2018, it was actually on the Fourth of July – that was our first shoot. It’s like most documentaries in that the further you go along the more involved and obsessed you get, and you just start shooting more and more and more. We threw ourselves into this crazy year in Chicago. We got up every day and tried to figure out if we should be out shooting or not, and what it is we should shoot. We were trying to balance following this massive political story of the mayor’s race and these significant moments like the Laquan McDonald trial with taking the pulse of people in the city that we encounter along the way and getting a sense of their lives and what it means to live here. By election day, Zak Piper, our producer, had something like six cameras out in the field. You could double-check that, it might have been seven. We had this organized team effort to hit all the candidates as they were voting, if they hadn’t already voted. We hit tons of polling places, were at the Board of Elections and then were at the parties for the candidates that we had been able to follow closely. Then of course, we were trying to make sure we were at the parties of the candidates who made it to the runoff. So, yeah, it was kind of a monster.”
~ Steve James On City So Real

“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