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M. Leary

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  1. M. Leary

    Heartbeat Detector

    Free on Prime! I will give it another go, as your radar has always served me well.
  2. M. Leary

    Heartbeat Detector

    Darren, how has Klotz's work held up for you? Low Life just did not click for me.
  3. M. Leary

    Heartbeat Detector

    I really love Le Livre D'Image, and keep returning to it. So fascinating that he is still producing art at that level. Notre Musique is the kind of film that makes me want to teach some kind of film class some day. All the 60s and 80s work remains compelling. But the shock of In Praise of Love abides, and still feels like an apex of his work. All the language games and editing puzzles take us somewhere sensitive and totally human. I guess it even hits transcendence a few times, which is not something I ever expect or even look for in Godard.
  4. M. Leary

    Heartbeat Detector

    Wow. I just yesterday went Heartbeat Detector > Code Unknown > Earth > In Praise of Love.
  5. M. Leary

    The Ascent (1977)

    Here is another item I have been revisiting during this period of list-thinking. Larisa Shepitko's The Ascent is set in WW II Belarus, during Nazi occupation. If one did not know it was made in 1977, it would be hard to guess when Shepitko was working. The Ascent grabs formal and narrative traditions from every era of Russian cinema, layering overt Christian imagery and iconography over its otherwise spare narrative. I do not want to spoil the tension drawn out by increasingly clear allusions to canonical gospel images. But, it is a wild and terrible film - somehow lost to conversations about Christian imagery in cinema. Watching it again recently, The Ascent strikes me as a great companion piece to A Hidden Life. Criterion has a beautiful edition, which looks to be streaming on their channel.
  6. M. Leary

    Earth (1930)

    I do not recall seeing this pop up in our conversations around the Top 100, but it is not hard to tell why Dovzhenko's film was treasured by Tarkovsky. There are many visual and thematic touchstones for Tarkovsky's cinema in this hour-long silent. Stunning natural cinematography throughout. The opening shot in particular will be familiar to Stalker fans. We also see precursors to Dreyer's love of close-ups, as Earth is full of odd match cuts between faces as the spare dialogue swaps back and forth. It is rich with brief, but elegant funeral scenes, and closes with a stunning double-montage (which I imagine was a technical feat at the time). I am not expert enough with Soviet cinema of this era to tease out comparisons to Pudovkin and Eisenstein, politically or formally. The film pits collectivism against both the local landowner and the local priest. It was censored and panned by Soviet critics, though I find the political backstory elusive. With that in mind, its overlapping interests in nature, social networks, and modernity has clear genetic links to Tarkovksy's work. Freely available online, given its age.
  7. M. Leary

    Things to Come

    I could not find a dedicated thread for Mia Hansen-Løve's Things to Come, which I have been considering for the new Top 100. It did appear on our "Growing Older," with some conversation in that thread. I am about to watch this again for the first time since that list-making experience. How has this aged for other fans?
  8. Bumping this for List-conversation. I have watched a fair bit of Diaz since my intro to his work through Norte. He requires commitment, but all of his post-Norte work is worth the perseverance (esp. Season of the Devil, From What is Before, and The Woman Who Left, the latter a heap of incongruous characters and themes kind of piled on top of each other in a series of intensive shots and sequences). Norte is a worthy look for our list, given all the Dostoevsky stuff going on. Since I have not seen this for a while, I will give it another look and check back in.
  9. M. Leary

    Heartbeat Detector

    Thanks for the comment here, Andrew. I like your comparative argument and have always appreciated the deep investigation of speech, words, and speech-acts here, which vectors well with Haneke's Code Unknown and Godard's last few films. Not sure if you have seen Lanzmann's Last of the Unjust, but it picks up on a similar Holocaust reception history. The way Klotz connects Holocaust trauma theory with the raw experience of contemporary corporate-speak is brilliant.
  10. Great thread! I agree with all the resolutions around voting and the timeline. I also agree with the overall ethos, as I have always seen this list more in terms of its differences from other lists - namely that it provides a sort of minority report against traditional factors in the "great film" decision making process and emphasizes connections between duration, craft, form, and that loosely shared constellation of experiences we label transcendent, spiritual, etc... I am reading Inferno with my daughter right now and Dante's first circle of hell (Canto 4) celebrates general human impulses for goodness, virtue, and discovery modeled by those caught outside the late Christian reframing of intellectual history. This struck me as a good metaphor for conversations in this thread. We are talking about a lot of limbo films here. On the diversity comment, I would simply be curious to see how the crop of nominations would look. I would wager we see a lot more nominations from female directors and more recent cinema emerging from discourse on race and ethnicity in the US. And as much as it pains me, Twin Peaks would not work. But it is simple enough to explain this a bit in the list intro and name examples of excluded items.
  11. I also have trouble deciding what to do with Dark Waters. It has great pacing. I like the restrained direction and palette, which allows the weight of the environmental tragedy to take on human scale. It does fall back on exposition in points and nearly every scene between Ruffalo and Hathaway is superfluous. What do you find unconventional about the structure? FWIW, I am always trying to find cinema on human research abuses for a national platform I host on narrative research ethics education. Dark Waters is a great entry on that list.
  12. Here is where I ended up: The Image Book Long Day's Journey Into Night The Souvenir A Hidden Life The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open* Transit Honeyland Diane The Irishman Last Black Man in San Francisco So many other contenders: Black Mother, Uncut Gems, Grass, Toy Story 4, Paddleton, Amazing Grace, For Sama, Ash is Purest White, Rolling Thunder Revue, Apollo 11, Dark Waters, High Flying Bird, The Wild Pear Tree, Knives Out *This stunning long-take, one camera wonder bodes well for an indigenous cinema I hope continues to flourish.
  13. M. Leary

    High Life (2018)

    Whoah: "This configuration of the family unit—a protective father figure and a dead or distant mother—is as foundational to Denis’s imagination as it is to fairy tales." Yeah, this is good. And helpful for High Life, with which I still cannot connect because I am not sure where it is going until it becomes Monte's film and we are back in traditional Denis territory. This is a bit heavy-handed and moralizing for Denis, so I hesitate to ascribe it to her film, but I do get this wonderful Ray Bradbury vibe at the end that if we are going to send anything into the void, it should be that the good do indeed survive.
  14. M. Leary


    I have been scanning interviews to see if Jones comments on religion/Christianity in the film and it does not seem to come up. He does cast the film as drawing on his experiences in this town, and notes that Diane in part draws on his own mother. I get the sense that Christianity and these little bits of language are just part of the package, in the sense that some of these people just have a general cultural Christian background and some of them have conversion experiences (like casually one mentioned and Brian's dramatic turn). There is a conversation in the last third of the film about how alcoholics sometimes dry out and become preachy Christians, trading one manic experience for the other. This turns out to be the case for Brian. Given this hollowed-out presence of Christian language and experience in the script, Diane has nowhere of consequence to turn in her search for absolution. I am guessing that this is Jones' intent. We are haunted people. Things have not turned out like we thought. We make choices we just can't undo and these choices define us until the last moments of our lives. The religious stuff is just a shell game. A few spoilers here... Her son does give her some room to breathe in his confession that his hatred of her was just a learned reflex. He was just kind of going along with how he thought he was supposed to respond to her. It may be that years of addiction have helped him understand how easy it is to ditch family for fleeting pleasure, and how that in the moment something feel less like a choice than it does just going along with something inevitable. I do love the way Jones lets the details of Diane story unfold so slowly as it gives us time to see her - rather than the specifics of her transgression. But it is a bit hard to tell when or how Brian's mind about this changes, other than that he was out in the woods with a beer and he wanted to get this off his chest. His character is just not as well developed as Diane's. Back from spoiler land... There is so much Rohmer in Jones' moral play and conversation. I agree with Joel that the scene with Brian and his wife fell flat. I am not sure what Jones could have done here to make this element of the story line happen more organically. He sure does nail the script here though... that "I am doing this because I love you" language touches on the weakest, most violent element of Evangelical theology. The sense of time here is so masterful - which we also get in Rohmer. Clearly Jones has been thinking about this story, and the whole scope of the film, for a long time. The edit taking us to the final scene of the film is perfectly done. Scattering unpredictable bits of time between scenes shifts Diane's story to a whole level of transcendence I was not at all expecting. I still can't shake the blend of audio, edit, perspective, and raw psychological energy in the final sequence. Can we take an entire life of regret and wondering and failure and transmute it into seconds of cinematic thought? I guess so.
  15. Same here, Evan. It feels a bit rote for Assayas, which makes it of interest, but it does not feel right for the list this year. -- Here are a few I do not see on the page 1 list. My apologies if they have already been nominated: The Souvenir American Factory Long Day's Journey Into Night An Elephant Sitting Still Under the Silver Lake
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