Last Baker’s Dozen Films I Saw

Out of the Past : Jacques Tourneur (1947)
Double Indemnity : Billy Wilder (1944)
The Darjeeling Limited : Wes Anderson (2007)
Rams : Grímur Hákonarson (2015)
Hitchcock Truffaut : Kent Jones (2016)
Thelma & Louise : Ridley Scott (1991)
The Tall T : Budd Boetticher (1957)
The Constant Gardener : Fernando Meirelles (2005)
Bande a Part : Godard (1964)
A Flickering Truth : Pietra Brettkelly (2015)
Miles Ahead : Don Cheadle (2015)
Eye in the Sky : Gavin Hood (2015)
Pursued : Raoul Walsh (1947)

A list coincidentally framed by two movies from the same year, both starring Robert Mitchum and both bound up in the noir fatalism that ran through so much American cinema in the immediate post-War era. Out of the Past would equally well serve as the title of Pursued, one a crime drama, the other a western: in the former Mitchum is doing his impossible best to turn his back on a life of crime and betrayal, blinded until too late by the duplicitous beauty of a woman; in the latter, he is struggling to comprehend and come to terms with childhood trauma, family guilt, and a quasi-incestuous love affair. Over both, the shadow of Freud looms large.

The Constant Gardener, as I’ve suggested elsewhere, strikes me as a far better adaptation of a John LeCarré novel than the much-hyped The Night Manager, less intent on showing off its budget and more concerned with the anti-capitalist thrust of the original. And Fiennes, in the standard LeCarré role of the well-meaning innocent drawn into unfamiliar action, turns in a performance of greater depth than Hiddleston.

Don Cheadle’s movie is so clearly a label of love and his performance as Miles Davis so convincing, one’s heart goes out to him over the presumably commercial decisions necessary to get the film made, lumbering himself with vacuous Ewan McGregor worst of all.

A Flickering Truth is another fine documentary to come out of the sad turmoil that is Afghanistan. Showing the attempts to rescue and restore old film stock that had been escaped destruction by the Taliban, the closing scenes, in which some of the surviving footage is taken out into the villages, is deeply moving for the wonder on the faces of its audiences, young and old, many of whom have never seen film before.

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