vineri, 27 ianuarie 2023

Au hasard Balthasar (1966)

One of cinema's top masterpieces is on HBO Max (wtf, together with Romanian Netflix these must be the most Arthouse streaming services in the world!!!). Au hasard Balthasar (1966) is Robert Bresson tragic story of a donkey and the girl who befriends him (Anne Wiazemsky in her film debut, she later encountered -and married- Godard and that story is told in in Le Redoutable, she also wrote a book about her experience on this film, 'Petite fille')

It's Dostoievski's The Idiot put on Schubert's music (Piano Sonata no. 20 in A Major, II Andantino) , in pure black and white. One of the saddest films ever made but also one of the most beautiful. And if you don't love a donkey... (Colin Farrell knows, see The Banshees of Inisherin and weep...) 
And I can't wait to see Jerzy Skolimowski take on the donkey tale in EO (2022) !!!

Also on Romanian HBO Max there are other 3 films by Bresson (courtesy of Argos Films), all classics and voted masterpieces by the film lovers of the world 60 years, do yourself a service if you are true film buff and watch them.

Pickpocket (1959)

The Trial of Jeanne D'Arc/Procès de Jeanne d'Arc (1962)

Mouchette (1967)

I remember (and will never forget) the days (& nights) we were hunting those from Criterion Collection....The world was purer when everything was not at a touch of a button on your remote, when you had to walk for miles to catch on a good film, book or album...I know, I'm just old ;)                      ...but trust me on what Bresson pointed with this film, 'We are all Balthasars'...sooner or later, you're IT...

joi, 26 ianuarie 2023

Babylon (2022)

Hollywood, Cal. The year is 1926, the world was cool and the movies were silent...well, they also shot Horses, didn't they? ;)

Welcome to Babylon, a film abut excess, ambition, dreams and nightmares together, the fourth feature of Damian Chazelle (now 38) after the succeses of Whiplash, La La Land and First Man. 

A self-indulgent epic especially in the end montage of 'joie du cinema', which I could've done without (and most of us think about the same!!!), 3 hours long (and 9 minutes) but for me could've been longer ;). 

It's also rough and vulgar and decadent and loud, just like those times were supposed to be. Or so thinks Chazelle. Here's an interview with him explaining the sources and history of Babylon. 

Brad Pitt is silent movie star, Jack Conrad, modelled especially after John Gilbert...He's mostly Brad Pitt and that suffices plenty. 

Margot Robbie is the 'It' girl, Nellie LaRoy, made upon Clara Bow. She also has a scene that's sooo reminiscent of her playing Sharon Tate in Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood.. She's gorgeous and uber sexy, but she's kinda too modern and too sexy... 

The Mexican dude, Manny Torres (Diego Calva), I guess it's a composite.

The afro-american trumpet player Sidney Palmer (Jovan Adepo) too. These may seem like 'Woke' characters, but actually they were there then.

Lady Fay Zhu (Li Jun Li) is inspired by Anna Mae Wong, the first Asian star of Hollywood (she later went to Europe). 

The film makes the transition from the silent age to the talkies, borrowing plenty from 1952's Gene Kelly/Stanley Donen masterwork, Singin' in the Rain.

Other inspirations: the infamous classic book Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Anger, Peter Bogdanovich's Nickelodeon, John Schlesinger's Day of the Locust (two Paramount productions as this one is, even starting with the old black and white logo, but using Kinescope as a substitute of the studio). 

There's a comparison of Hollywood with a jungle, an Animal Kingdom, from the elephant at the beginning to a lizard, a rattlesnake, an alligator. Where's the Monkey? Well, plenty on the screen, from the extras to the actors themselves.

There's cameos of the era VIP's, from Irving Thalberg (Max Minghella) To Marion Davies and WR Hearst, to even Patty Arbuckle. I guess the German director should be Erich Von Stroheim. Also nice to see Eric Roberts in an A picture again, he plays Margot's father, Robert Roy. 


If I would've seen the film in 2022 (it opened for Xmas in the US but only beg. Jan. WW) it would've made made my Top Movies of the year list, even flawed as it is...It got mixed reviews,  loved the SF Gate calling it 'the worst movie of the year' and quote:

`It is like “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood,” if Quentin Tarantino directed it as a teenager.'

Got 5 noms and a Golden Globe for best music (Justin Horwitz, Chazelle's collaborator on all his fares) and only 3 Oscar nominations tho (music, which might win, set design and costumes). More generous with the Brits at BAFTA -8 noms (including cinematography and editing, which I think were shunned :(). Horwitz's score has some cues from La La Land, mixed with Fellini's Nino Rota circus music and Mussorgsky's Night on a Bald Mountain. And a song about a certain pussy...

3 1/2 out of 5 - 7 out of 10

“Careers come and go, and movie stars come and go. That, on some level, is very scary, and it can even be depressing. But on another level, and hopefully this is where Manny kind of reaches a place of peace at the end, it's comforting, because you can’t help but be aware of how much bigger it is than you, and how you’re a part of something bigger. Just to be a small part of that is, in its own way, really special and eternal.”

Damien Chazelle in EW 

And here's Chazelle's screenplay for the film, in it's entirety.

miercuri, 25 ianuarie 2023

Top albums 2022

well, mostly the Usual suspects, I have no urge to re-invent my taste....

 Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp -18 (the most special album of the year, especially now with Jeff Beck gone :(...)

Ozzy Osbourne-Patient Nr. 9  (title track with Jeff  Beck, many other guests incl. Tony Iommi, Eric Clapton)

Jack White-Fear of the Dawn  (one of the two albums he put out in 2022)

Rammstein-Zeit  (8th album from Till & co.)

Kirk Hammett-Portals (EP)

Neil Young With Crazy Horse -Toast (one of the two albums he put out in 2022)

Jethro Tull-The Zealot Gene (1st JT album in 19 years and their 22nd)

Joe Satriani-Elephants from Mars

Megadeth-The Sick, the Dying... and the Dead!


Billy Idol-The Cage (EP)

The Black Keys-Dropout Boogie

Todd Rundgren-Space Force (with special guests, Sparks, etc)

Bruce Springsteen-Only the Strong Survive (the covers album)

Udo Dirkschenider-My Way (Udo covers whatever he lkes.., and those songs I know better than the Boss`)

The Smile-A Light for Attracting Attention (the band is formed by Radiohead members Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood with drummer Tom Skinner). 

Elvis Costello & the Imposters-The Boy Named If

Blues albums:

Edgar Winter--Brother Johnny (featuring Joe Bonamassa, Steve Luckater, Bobby Rush, Ringo Starr, Joe Walsh, etc)

Ry Cooder &Taj Mahal-Get on Board

Boney Fields-Bump City

Van Morrison-What's It Gonna Take? 

Music video of the year:
(from their album, Fever Dream)

next on: Top Soundtracks 2022...

vineri, 20 ianuarie 2023

RIP David Crosby

David Crosby, co-founder of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young is now gone (Jan. 18, 2023). He was 81...

DEja Vu :(

Here's one of his top albums (and highly psychedelic), If I Could Remember My Name, from 1971. 
Well, thy name shall be remembered...