The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. It’s an odd one. Absolutely gorgeous at times. I like the olde-timey lens distortion and sepia tones. And the slow-burn obsession is awesome. Reminds me a bit of Public Enemies, with the possessive attraction to a charismatic criminal.
Midnight Special. This was one I liked so much in previews and during the majority of its runtime that there was probably no way for it to conclude in a way that I loved. Good ride. Jeff Nichols is on a roll.
Killing Them Softly. A steady chain of transactions – literal and figurative distancing from violence – with a constant undertow of economic collapse/politicking in the background. Very heavy-handed, thematically, but it works. Crummy neighborhoods, bare infrastructure, sweat and damp. The scene with Liotta reduced to tears was more disturbing than any movie violence in recent memory. Odd visuals with the shallow focus and vignetting. I love that hyper-experiential scene with the guy getting hight and his fitful conversation – zooms, speed changes, audio shifts, etc. Too bad the packaging was off. This was much more thoughtful and strange than they sold it.
Mud. Best summarized in this review I stumbled upon where I lifted the still above: “Mud reminds us that the most special effect is compelling characters caught in a vexing situation.” Check and check. I loved this movie. Jeff Nichols is on a roll right now, after directing Shotgun Stories, and then Take Shelter, and then this. I’m excited for whatever is next.
Days of Heaven. Third viewing (first, second). I don’t typically use words like “rapturous” or “transfixed”, but I feel like I need to here. I just sit there slack-jawed for 90 minutes. I don’t know how you can make a biblical, romantic prairie drama have such momentum. This is the first Terrence Malick movie I ever saw, and I still think it’s his best. I have to keep it in my top three, up there with Out of the Past and Heat.
Days of Heaven. Re-watched. Re-loved. Still near the top of my all-time list. (My first viewing.)
Days of Heaven. My first Malick film, and luckily an interesting, beautiful one. The story has scattershot narration by a young kid. Sometimes she has wise observations and sometimes she has immaterial asides. With this distance in age, we sort of see the characters in the central love triangle at a remove, a little more inscrutable. We see the drama and the tragedy but Malick’s not looking for your tears, I don’t think. The story’s too thin to bear it. The magic’s in the editing. The shots are elliptical, working by collage and juxtaposition and suggestion. Check out some lovely stills. Nice soundtrack from Mr. Morricone, to boot.