Paul Thomas Anderson, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and August 2012 in Film
I worked a lot of hours in August and I also spent a weekend in L.A. (doing non-movie watching things if you can imagine!), so my new-to-me count for August is pretty low. I mean, for me anyways. I did, however, manage to finish Paul Thomas Anderson’s filmography. If you’ve been paying attention for the last few months, you’ll’ve noticed that Kristen of SalesOnFilm and I had been watching a Paul Thomas Anderson film a month, working our way through his filmography. August’s movie was supposed to be Hard Eight (which we did watch, and I highly recommend), but then a sneak preview popped up at the Castro Theatre for The Master in 70mm, therefore there were two PTA films. I’ll elaborate more on that after the cut. Speaking of films on the big screen, while I was in L.A. I finally got to go to the Aero Theatre (still haven’t made it to the New Bev!) where I saw two Sam Fuller films (including Shock Corridor, which is even better on the big screen!). Last night I saw Vertigo in 70mm at the Castro. I hadn’t seen that film in a good ten years. Recently it usurped Citizen Kane on Sight & Sounds once-a-decade poll of the greatest films of all time. I gotta say, as great as Vertigo is, I gotta call bullshit on that. Lastly, I’ve been watching may way through all of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle’s films that are available on DVD. I’ve still got quite a few left to watch. Boy do I love him. Oh, also when I was in L.A., I got to visit the boys at the Warner Archive. They even let me peak into the coveted DVD closet. I nearly passed out. I’m pretty sure that’s what Heaven looks like. Lastly, in case you missed it, I started writing Oscar Vault Monday again! It’s good to be back. As always, all my new-to-me films for the month are listed after the cut.
- The Landlord
- Damon and Pythias
- Kept Husbands
- Killer Joe
- Woman Chases Man
- Le diable probablement (The Devil, Probably)
- Dynamite (1929)
- Ercole sfida Sansone (Hercules, Samson & Ulysses)
- Espionage Agent
- Cattle Drive
- The Intruder aka Shame (1962)
- Hard Eight
- The Men
- The Keep
- 2 Days in New York
- Ambush at Cimarron Pass
- The Expendables 2
- The Master
- L’amore in città (Love in the City)
- Forty Guns
- To Live and Die in L.A.
- Fatty Joins The Force
- A Flirt’s Mistake
- The Knockout (1914)
- The Rounders (1914)
- Leading Lizzie Astray
- Mabel and Fatty’s Wash Day
- Fatty and Mabel’s Simple Life
- Fatty and Mabel at the San Diego Exposition
- Fatty’s New Role
- Choose Me
- People Will Talk
- White Palace
Before I write about the five films I wanted to give a shout out to two films still in theatres that you should give a shot if they’re playing near you: ParaNorman and Cosmopolis. They are both great films and they’ll probably both slip under the radar, so do try to see them if you can.
The Landlord, 1970 (dir. Hal Ashby)
This was Hal Ashby’s first film and it earned Lee Grant her second of three Academy Award nominations (she won for Ashby’s Shampoo a few years later). Ashby would go on to define the 70s with classics like Harold and Maude, The Last Detail, Bound For Glory (Best Picture nominee), Coming Home (Best Picture nominee) and Being There. Those films combined scored 24 Academy Award nominations and seven wins (oddly enough, Harold and Maude received no nominations whatsoever). The Landlord is a great film and much like Scorsese’s debut film Who’s That Knocking At My Door, not only shows Ashby’s promise as a new filmmaker, but also features the director playing with a number of film techniques. What I love about both films is that you can see just how much fun Ashby and Scorsese were having with this medium and how unafraid they were of experimentation. Beau Bridges gives a knockout performance and Lee Grant more than earns her Oscar nomination as his WASP-y mother. This is one that has never been released on DVD, but you can find it streaming on Netflix occasionally and it is definitely worth your time to check out.
Killer Joe, 2012 (dir. William Friedkin)
William Friedkin’s newest film is one that will make you uncomfortable, but in all the best ways. It fully earns its NC-17 rating and in ways that are completely unexpected. I can see that it might be described as a bit stagey, but that is something that has never bothered me. Matthew McConaughey gives the performance of his career and if there is any justice his name will pop up in discussions during Oscar season. Also, after you see this film you will never be able to look at fried chicken the same way again.
Heat, 1995 (dir. Michael Mann)
I cannot believe I’d never seen this film before. It is an epic in every sense of the word and I loved every minute of it. This film really belongs to Robert De Niro, who gives perhaps his best performance to date in this film (at the very least, top three). I just really love this screencap of Pacino though. Such a great shop. Seeing Pacino and De Niro tear up the screen separately and then come together in a wondrous slow-boil of a scene is almost too much to handle. Definitely a film for fans of the crime genre and these two actors who have rarely been better. It makes you wish there were still roles like this for them to play.
The Master, 2012 (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)
What can I even say about this movie? If you are in Los Angeles and you don’t see it in 70mm at the Cinerama Dome when it plays there you are an idiot. Just do it. The cinematography is just so, so, so amazing. This film is going to factor heavily in the Oscar race this year in many categories. It will make you uncomfortable, but in a very different way than Killer Joe. Maybe uncomfortable is the wrong word. Uneasy. It will make you uneasy. Joaquin Phoenix will be nominated for Best Actor. That is a thing that will happen. He is operating on a completely different level here. This is not just a performance. This is a new life. It’s phenomenal. There’s a lot more to be said about this film, but I am going to refrain right now because I am sure I will revisit it after I see it a second time. Do. Not. Miss. This. Film.
White Palace, 1990 (dir. Luis Mandoki)
My mother told me about this film years and years and years ago and somehow I never saw it. I remember seeing the VHS cover at my rental store all the time (I gather a lot of us did) and always wanted to see it. It’s actually a lot tamer than you’d think. Or maybe I’ve just gotten so used to explicate sex in film that this seemed tame. Regardless, this film is not just about the hot sex, but about two broken people who find solace in each other’s company. It’s a clichéd trope, for sure. They even come from different sides of the tracks! But I don’t care. clichés are clichés because they ring true and when they are done well, there is nothing wrong with them. Susan Sarandon is like a firecracker in this film and James Spader is a mouse, but these two temperaments works so well together. This is precisely the kind of film I hope to write someday. It’s everything I love about cinematic romance.
So that was August. The semester starts up again next week, so I have no idea how that will affect my movie watching, but I will continue to try to hit one film a day as long as I can. Oh, and Chicken With Plums, which I wrote about in April is finally being released in theatres in September. GO GO GO. It’s still my favorite film of the year.