Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Kings of the Road soundtrack change, plus Upcoming at the Vancity Theatre and Cinematheque

Some very interesting films, as always, at the Vancity Theatre. Hoping to see the Haida Gwaii and Fractured Land docs later today - the latter a favourite at the VIFF, though I heard insider whispers that the former is a better-crafted film. Related, for local First Nations content, is the adaptation of The Golden Spruce, called Hadwin's Judgment. There's lots else - a Turkish film festival, say - but I'm mostly excited about the chance to see The Fool again, a Russian film from the festival before last that I'd given up hope of seeing a second time, in part because I'd completely forgotten the title. I found it quite compelling, in a grimly social realist kind of way - or perhaps we should call it "social cynicism," in this case? It's a perfect parable for those who believe that all virtue will be punished.
Meantime, at the Cinematheque... I left the screening of Kings of the Road after 45 minutes because, as I feared, I was having trouble "going home again," as they say; the reality of the film wasn't meshing with my cherished memories of it, I wasn't FEELING it like I used to, very early in my cinema consumption, when it routinely appeared at the top of my favourite films list (vying with Cassavetes' Husbands or Love Streams for the number one slot). After establishing that I was simply less entranced by it than I used to be, it seemed best to just protect my past experiences, though I stuck around for awhile to verify that the soundtrack has been officially and finally tinkered with (and that the poo scene is still intact). As I've said before, Chris Montez' bubblegummy "The More I See You" has been replaced with a song by Improved Sound Limited called "If I Could Read Her Mind." That band does many of the other songs on the film's soundtrack, including the lovely, memorable "Nine Feet Over the Tarmac" - which, okay, sounds a bit too close to "After the Gold Rush" at the start, but it's still a great song. Still, it's clearly a recent change to the film, since when Bruno Winter plugs the 45 into his 45 player, if you look quick and close (on the big screen, anyhow), you will clearly see on the label that it is "The More I See You" that is supposed to play. IMDB pretends that song was never featured. I don't know whether this is a copyright issue or a bit of tinkering on Wenders' part; I must admit, the new song DOES fit pretty seamlessly into the film, whereas "The More I See You" sticks out as a bit of a goofy sore thumb, and probably would attract some giggles from savvy cinemagoers nowadays, since it makes the veiled homosexual tension between the two men a little flippin' overt. There's even a moment between them - a brief glance, as the song plays - that may have gotten a bit of a trimming, to make this all a bit more subtle. In any event, it works, but in general I am against this kind of tinkering and it helped me leave the movie early.

Guess I won't be getting rid of my VHS copy of it!
On the other hand, everyone says Wenders' restored five-hour -long director's cut of Until the End of the World is far superior to that disappointing film we all remember (?) from the 1990's. It's premiering in Vancouver and looks to be a must-see. I mean, I love Max von Sydow in pretty much anything, and there was stuff in the theatrical cut (the only time I've seen it, first run in Vancouver) that I remember really wanting to like. More on the director's cut, from someone who has actually seen it, here.

In terms of other upcoming movies, the big deal double bill for me at the Cinematheque is Dec. 3rd. Local artists of note will be introducing some of their favourite films, as part of the Traces That Resemble Us series. Jeff Wall and Greg Girard have chosen two classic bits of 1970's American cinema. Wall's pick is Straight Time (with Dustin Hoffman and BOTH Harry Dean Stanton and M. Emmet Walsh - see the Stanton-Walsh Rule in Roger Ebert's movie glossary; if no film with either man in it can be all bad, as ol' Rog maintained, than is any film with both of them in it guaranteed to be good?).
I haven't see that film in a long time, so I can't really speak to it, but I do love The Yakuza (with Robert Mitchum and a young Takakura Ken), which will also screen that evening as Greg Girard's pick for the series. It's Sydney Pollack at the height of his powers, with Leonard Schrader, Paul Schrader, and Robert Towne co-authoring the screenplay: can you afford to miss it? I *have* seen this not too long ago, but I may go again, for the rare pleasure of seeing it on the big screen. It's a great, gritty, 70's actioner that even fans of Fukasaku Kinji and Beat Takeshi will be able to appreciate (it beats the living shit out of the Ridley Scott film, Black Rain, too, especially as an American representation of Japanese culture).
As for First Nations content, to bring things full circle, the Cinematheque will be doing a series called Through Indian Eyes, that no doubt has some fine films in it.  I've only seen three of them, so I can't really speak about the series knowingly: Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner is amazing, of course - an Inuit folk tale made into an unlikely but wholly successful Northern Canadian epic - but I barely remember Smoke Signals. It's worth a look for a non-Jarmuschian turn from Gary "Nobody" Farmer.

On the other hand, though I acknowledge its ambition and am happy for its success, I thought Rhymes for Young Ghouls was somewhat befouled and cheapened by the influence of Quentin ("fucking") Tarantino, who I guess makes sense as a postmodern code juggler, but who is positively dangerous when his cinema is taken as primary input and his voice mistaken for an original one. (Yes, I will probably still go see The Hateful Eight; hell, I may even brace myself and watch Django Unchained again, the only film of his so far that I have had no respect for or patience with; hell, I even watched Death Proof twice. But generally I think that Tarantino isn't humble enough for a borrower, and isn't audacious enough as an innovator; whatever early talent he showed - and there was a lot of it, peaking with Jackie Brown - he's the sort of person who cannot possibly survive Hollywood success, once he starts believing his reviews and getting Academy Awards and all that poisonous crap that goes along with fame). Rhymes would have been so much stronger if Jeff Barnaby had grown up on a steady diet of British kitchen sink social realism, or even Cassavetean high drama, than Tarantino.

Speaking of Cassavetes, Tom Charity (who should know) tells me that James White (no relation to the no waver) is quite Cassavetean; it opens Nov. 27th. Might just check it out (but not on a fucking Vimeo screener, thanks; how I wish reviewers could still access DVD copies of the films they're asked to review!). Lots of good movies for cold winter days, in any case...

By the by, Nathan Holiday tells me he'll have some cool Thai movie posters similar to the Yakuza poster above at the Flea Market this weekeend. That also might be worth checking out!

No comments: