Thoughts On: End Of The Week Shorts #72


End Of The Week Shorts #72

Today's shorts: mother! (2017), The Red Circle (1970), The Russian Revolution (2017), Inside Einstein's Mind (2015), Nightcrawler (2014), Extreme Animal Attacks (2003), To All The Boy's I've Loved Before (2018)

Upon seeing this for the first time, I was very critical. I thought the first hour was bad, pretentious even, but that the second half was masterful. I feel I got a good grip of what the film was attempting to say, however.

Upon re-watching this today, I experienced a completely different movie. From start to end, I was drawn in and entirely invested. I cannot now fault this movie. Everything is perfect. What I understood in seeing this for the first time has only been deepened. Yet, I also see so much more attached to this narrative - too much even. I have seen an entirely different film today, and I dare to say it is a solid masterpiece that compresses strains of the bible into a chaotic narrative witnessed not by a male force, but a female force. I cannot expand upon or clarify what this has punched me with, but this might just be Aronofsky's best work. Damn.

Maybe it's because I'm not French enough, but I do not understand the significance that is given to this film. For a long time, Le Samourai was the only Melville film I had seen, and I was taken by its patient character study. I next saw Army of Shadows, not particularly liking it, but more than understanding how Melville's subtle, casually realistic approach to crime and the dark underbelly of society gains notoriety. Melville's style remains bluntly understated in The Red Circle, yet there is no historical or characterlogical base for the film. The drama is sapped dry. We are made to watch a heartless version of Rififi. The greatest praise I could give this is that it ever so slightly feels like a Kieslowski film about coincidence and chance in crime - yet without the mysterious sense of magic. Alas, without the magic Kieslowski's lens searches for with great intrigue, this is left rather drab. In total, an exercise of a particular style I find no enjoyment and very little substance in.

An average, run-of-the-mill documentary. A construct of talking heads, paintings, drawings and found footage, this skates through the demise of the Romanov Dynasty and end with the rise of the Bolsheviks in Russia. Formally this does nothing special, but it does well to provide a general and brief introductory narrative to Russian history around the turn of the 20th century. It is paced rather quickly, sensationalised a little, is choppy in its editing of interviews and questionable in its use of its material (found footage especially - which is often used confusingly and inaccurately). Alas, this is a satisfactory glance into history that kept my focus.

Quite a few years ago, I was addicted to these American science/physics documentaries. So, though I know much of the surface level information that these programmes recycle, seeing this today was a weird mix of nostalgia and re-enlightenment.

What this does, and what other's like it often fail to do, in the first 30 minutes or so, is push visual exposition without unending cheese and cliche. In such, the best part of this is its impressionistic exploration of key thought experiments that formed the basis of Einstein's general and special theory of relativity. This is harmlessly romanticised and not put the scope or context of his other contributions - such as that on photoelectricity - alas, this inspires much thought and is, above all, very lucid. Recommended.

Very much so a film about product, business and work detached from ethic and morality, Nightcrawler is simultaneously fascinating and horrifying. One of the most striking contradictions about this film is Lou's apparent search for purpose and meaning, a "why" to help him accomplish any how that may get in his way. Lou presents himself as if he has full grasp of his why, but acts nihilistically; as if there is no why to be found in his life. This, to me, speaks to the kinds of young entrepreneurs and business people in the modern world, consumed by aphorisms and self-help, but emptied of personally cultivated meaning, that go fourth into life blinded to all, but with shades whose lenses have false eyes painted on them, or that reflect a great deal more than they will ever see--than they ever care to see. The ultimate question of this narrative concerns an audience, however. How is it that we produce and indulge these people? Who is to blame?

I haven't tried to sit through one of these soft-core exploitation films in quite a while.

Though the animal attack documentary and TV shows were made completely redundant soon after this was released due to the internet and YouTube, animal attack videos have to be the longest-surviving form of the exploitation film. The exploitation horror film, ever since the 70s, has only really sought to be ridiculous; sexploitation films, since the 80s and 90s, just became raunchy, teenage comedies; all else has become cult, so-bad-its-good nonsense. There must be something about the animal attack video that rests in our DNA. As bad and awkward as this is, I just can't help the fact that I want to see the crocodile death spin a guy's hand off at least 7 times in a row. For that I'll tolerate the horrible voice-over and weird interviews. It is what it is: trash.

This is more ridiculous to me than it could be to anyone else, alas, 'teenager makes a lot of stupid mistakes' movies either deeply frustrate me or shake my innards with anxiety. To All The Boy's I've Loved Before left me wrought with anxiety - almost profoundly so. So not a fun cinematic experience, but maybe an affecting one. The reason underlying my almost unbearable discomfort whilst watching this film stems from the fact that I pretty much avoided to make the stupid mistakes that these movies say we all make. It is cognitive dissonance, myself being torn between indifference, a sense that I'm far too weird, yet also a feeling of doom in my own life, that catalyse this overbearing conundrum. Self-indulgently or sadistically, I have to say I appreciate this movie most for putting me through such stress. Objectively I have to say that this is written and directed mediocrely, but performed nicely. That said, there's not much I could be objective about with this. In the end, more a personal therapy session than a film for me, I think I can say I kind of like this.

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