This is the only film completed by Brazilian director Mário Peixoto and it has been lost at various times throughout the decades. Supposedly Peixoto saw a magazine cover image of a woman’s face and a man’s hands in cuffs and he decided he would make a film.
The story involves three people stranded in a boat and flashbacks that reveal their backstories. I used to love teaching Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat” and talking about not only some of the dark humor, but how Crane uses perspective. We don’t have access to the characters’ interiority. This movie has a similar set-up and then takes the opposite approach, melding subjectivity with imagery not far from Deren or Buñuel’s L’Age d’Or (1930), but now that I see those dates, he was contemporary with Buñuel–a shame there weren’t more films
I intend to see this one again. Peixoto pulls off some fantastic camera work in this with the time, experience, and budget he was working with.
Described as a “film noir crime film”–I’d say it has a tad of Southern Gothic thrown in–Moonrise is gorgeously shot with fun performances for such a potentially dark movie. Everybody, including the director, is just going for it in this one. The story revolves around a boy who grows up in the shadow of his father’s execution as a murderer. You want to root for the guy, but he’s a jerk (and in the first five minutes or so, a murderer himself), but still somehow elicits empathy. Gail Russell is enthralling. I think this is my first Frank Borzage film and if his other pictures look like this one they are going to be worth it. Evidently he was influenced by Murnau, which explains some of Borzage’s use of shadows and heightened sensibilities.
Bonus: Lloyd Bridges plays a baddie!
I rarely get to use the word Künstlerroman, the coming-of-age of an artist. Technically, I suppose it’s used for novels, but there’s a lot of interchanging of terms in criticism, so I’m going to use it here to describe Claudia Weill’s film.
The artist in question is Susan Weinblatt, an aspiring NYC photographer taking on wedding and bar mitzvah gigs to make ends meet. She lives with her best friend who decides to get married. The film is about Weinblatt figuring out who she is and how to maintain the relationship with her best friend, if it’s even possible, as their lives diverge.
It felt like a Woody Allen movie from the era, but grittier and told from the perspective of the women in his films. I would say it’s akin to Margarethe von Trotta’s films, but from an American perspective. I’ve only seen Von Trotta’s first three films and this one film by Weill, and I can’t wait to see more. I guess while I’m recommending similar films I’ll say Kathleen Collins’s Losing Ground (1982) is another great one, though it deals more with the dynamics of married life, rather than the friendships of women.
Melanie Mayron is fantastic, plus you also get Christopher Guest as the young boyfriend and Eli Wallach as Rabbi Gold.
Solar Walk (2018)
Incredible multiple universe/Big Bang/creation myth animated film by Hungarian artist Réka Bucsi. Initially commissioned as a Fantasia-like feature for live jazz orchestra. You can see this one on a variety of online platforms. Evidently, the live score viewing also tours and is about an hour long. Anyone want to send me to a film festival in Europe so I can see it? The short version is about 20 minutes. Well worth it. For fans of Fantastic Planet (1973) and Son of the White Mare (1981).
I like red peppers and Jan Švankmajer movies.
1. Current Listening: Lots of soul from Muscle Shoals
2. Current Viewing: A Hard Day's Night (1964).
3. Current Reading: H.G. Wells: In the Days of the Comet