L’une chante, l’autre pas

L’une chante, l’autre pas. Agnès Varda. 1977.

I think… that means… The singer, otherwise not?

I don’t know from French.


Oh, right. “One Sings, the Other Doesn’t”.

That makes more sense.


This has been beautifully restored for 2K blu-ray. The colours are trés 70s. But it’s a bit difficult to get a handle on this movie.

The previous Varda movie I saw was completely unpredictable, and which made it riveting and fascinating. So I’m not sure why this is isn’t as gripping. It’s like what worked in that movie is working against it in this movie.

I mean, that’s just from my point of view: Those two movies were made a decade apart and have nothing to do with each other.

I haven’t seen many Varda film, but as usual, this one looks fantastic. The cinematography is enchanting, the colours are popping and the actors are so believable.

But I feel that the lack of? unusual? structure here is somewhat alienating. I mean, for the audience. But then it turns into a musical halfway through and everything’s awesome for a bit and then things flounder a bit again.

I don’t know… I just feel it lacks something. There are great scenes in here, but it just doesn’t fascinate.

I wonder if Varda was just improvising scenes until she had a sufficient amount of footage.


Marnie. Alfred Hitchcock. 1964.

Oh! Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery in an amusing thriller.

Tippi Hedren was, of course, one of the primary victims of Hitch’s incessant sexual abuse. Hitchcock went after a number of his leading ladies really hard, but Hedren is one of the few who have gone on record about the extent of the abuse. When she wouldn’t give in, he subjected her to humiliating and dangerous bits in the movies.


Marnie’s relationship with her mother is typical of Hitch in this period: Everything is intensely Fraudian. It seems over-the-top and risibly simple now, but I remember watching this as a child and being rather impressed by it.

I can see why Hitchcock would be interested in this movie. It’s basically about a man blackmailing a woman into doing what he wants.

It’s not framed that way, of course: Connery is a “good guy” and Hedren is totally wicked, so his manipulation and capture and rape of Hedren is like totes justified, dude.

It’s really creepy.


I love the way a central plot point is a guy not being able to remember a five digit safe combination that he uses multiple times a day.

The casting’s weird: Tippi Hedren’s mother looks like she’s approx. the same age are Tippi, only somebody’s scribbled wrinkles in mascara all over her face.


Is this where the dinner scene in Eraserhead came from?

Frenzy. Alfred Hitchcock. 1972.

I bought a box set of 2K blu-ray Hitchcock movies, and I was thinking of perhaps watching them chronologically. But then I started thinking that I should watch all of Hitchy’s movies… and then I looked up his filmography and he’s done … a lot .. of movies, starting in the 20s.

They’re probably all great, but it just sounded a bit exhausting, so here I am watching Frenzy, one of his last movies. And one I don’t remember at all.

So this is a British movie? Did Hitch move back to Britain in his dotage? I’ve forgotten everything I knew about his biography. I’m also surprised by barely recognising any of the actors… Hitch eschewed famous actors at this point? And it looks intensely “movies 70s”: All earth colours and hair that doesn’t move.

Hitchcock’s usual subtextual misogyny is now the text.

It’s really a pretty lighthearted thriller with a traditional plot: The coppers are after the wrong guy and he has to find the killer. But the crimes are depicted at length: The scenes¹ with psychopath raping and strangling women are difficult to reconcile with the rest of the movie (and would, frankly, be hard to take in any context).

But the contrast is efficient, I guess. Hitchcock knows what he’s doing. And what he’s doing isn’t very nice.

(That’s a Wolverine reference.)

As in any Hitchcock movie, there’s a lot of enjoyable scenes, of course. The dinner scenes are priceless, and the scene where the camera pulls back from the scene of probable murder, down the staircase and onto the cheery street is a classic, probably shown in every film school.

¹) There’s really only one but it feels like more.

Le Bonheur

That… looks like a fire hazard?

Le Bonheur. Agnès Varda. 1965.

Wow! Such a riot of colour!

I’ve seen less than a handful of movies by Agnès Varda, and none of them have looked even remotely like this.

The 2K restoration looks just amazing, and it was overseen by Varda herself:

This is one of those rare movies where I have no idea what it’s going to be about. There are no genre signifiers, and the while the title (“The Happiness”, no?) could be taken as a sarcastic signifier, it’s impossible to tell from the opening scenes: Perhaps this will be a movie of pure happiness?

I had a vague plan of watching all of Varda’s movies chronologically, but they’re so hard to come by (with English subtitles). This is from a five disc blu-ray set that was released a few years ago… and since Varda died some weeks ago, I somehow didn’t want to wait longer before starting to watch her movies.

The acting in this movie isn’t totally naturalistic… are some of them amateurs, perhaps?

Oh! This movie won the awards at the only film festival that matters:

two awards at the 15th Berlin International Film Festival, including the Jury Grand Prix

It’s a fascinating movie. Most of the editing is very traditional, for instance, but then *boom* she does these blink cuts that are so 60s.

Colour me flabbergasted. It’s so odd. And it all works brilliantly.

One pretty odd thing: This movie has a lot of small children who are amazing. But in a couple of the scenes you can see the children souring on the entire thing and just starting to cry their little eyes out, but Varda just drops the audio and has the adult actors add their lines on a sound stage.

It’s bizarre! Are we not supposed to notice the crying child, or are we, and that’s supposed to be like the verfremdung thing?

The blu-ray has a very funny documentary by Varda where she goes back to the village where this movie was filmed.

Kill Your Darlings

Kill Your Darlings. John Krokidas. 2013.

Oh, this is the movie where Harry Potter plays Allen Ginsberg. With such a saucy setup I envisioned something special, but this is a run-of-the-mill American biographical movie: You’ve seen way too many of these before, and you know just all the beats this is going to hit.

Everything about this is rote, from to the cinematography that goes shakycam when Lucian is particularly intense to the truly horrid score that marks whatever you’re supposed to feel in any scene.

I hate movies like this so much. I realise that this is a popular genre, and if you like this sort of thing, then you’ll like this thing, because it is strictly paint by numbers. There’s no scene, no line, no plot point you haven’t seen before in dozens of movies already.

Some details vary, of course, but this movie even manages to make William Burroughs seem tedious. This movie is basically Deadly Boring Poets’ Society, and that’s a gross disservice to all the people portrayed.

It’s cringe-worthy.

It’s progress, I guess, that a pretty large-budget, mainstream, boring movie is made about a bunch of gay poets instead of the usual variety of people these movies usually are about.

Heh heh:

Kill Your Darlings wants to be a young man’s movie, but it’s all “cinema du papa,” as the French New Wave used to call it.


Eraserhead. David Lynch. 1977.

I’ve just seen this movie once: In the 80s, on a small TV, from a VHS copy. It still made a big impact at the time.

One thing I did not realise from that experience is how thrillingly awesome the soundtrack is. All gnashing machines, rumbles and ominous electrical twitching. OK; I’m now switching the lights off and putting the headphones on.

[time passes]

I usually write these bloggy things when there’s a lull in the movie, but I was absolutely riveted here, so I’m writing this after the fact.

I mean, you all know it’s a masterpiece. What can I say?

It’s fun to see just how fully formed Lynch’ aesthetic was from the start: A fair amount of these interiors could have been in season three of Twin Peaks.

So many of these scenes depend on Lynch’ most impressive trick: Presenting the viewer with a basically, well, goofy scene, and then insisting on it until it goes beyond everything and then becomes the most important scene ever.

I wonder what the actors (and the crew) were thinking while making these scenes: Did they trust that Lynch was going to make it all turn out fine, or were they just going along with it because it’s a fun day out? I imagine him telling them “no, be more stylised! less human!” or something, and it did work out fine.

Without the audio tying it all together, this may have been tough sledding, but it’s really a fabulous experience now.

But I’m not surprised that it’s seldom on the list of officially the best movies ever. I think that for many people, it’s too much, and they laugh it off.

But it’s not too much.

It’s perfect.

A Midsummer’s Night Sex Comedy

A Midsummers Night Sex Comedy. Woody Allen. 1982.

What period Woody is this? I mean, I’ve seen them all but it’s like half a dozen decades.

At least!


Oh, it’s after his early, funnier period. Is this his attempt at making one of those summery Bergman movies? Like Wild Strawberries? Hm… no, perhaps not? It has a distinctly Russian look.


The plot is loosely based on Ingmar Bergman’s Smiles of a Summer Night.

Well OK then.

Well I never:

A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy received moderately positive reviews but was nominated for one Razzie Award: Worst Actress, for Mia Farrow – the only time a Woody Allen film has been nominated for a Razzie.

That’s bizarre and unfair.

Anyway, this is no Smiles of a Summer Night. I’m guessing how much you’d enjoy this depends on how much you like Woody playing his Woody role, which he does to excess here. But without the jokes.

I think the cinematography’s pretty good. The shots seem to want to go for an artificial painterly composition, but it’s like they didn’t take the time to place the characters are precisely as Sven Nykvist would have, so it looks a bit sloppy. I found myself going “why aren’t they half an inch to the left! Then it’d be perfect!”

I mean, two centimetres.

The sloppiness also perhaps explains why it looks more Russian than Swedish.

It gets better after it settles into its groove.

Tucker and Dale vs Evil

Tucker and Dale vs Evil. Eli Craig. 2010.

This is hilarious. It’s one of those hyper-aware horror comedies: It’s excruciatingly aware of all the clichés of the genre, and is also aware that we’re aware of them. This sort of thing can go very wrong, but it’s impossible not to be charmed by Alan Tyduk and Tyler Labine as the hapless guys who stumble around here.

Squeamish as I am, the inevitable hyper-violence is less than funny to me, and some of the schtick is a bit on the Benny Hill side.

Still, when it’s funny it’s very very funny.