I think we all know the answer to that is “Probably not!”
Sorry, I know it’s been a very long time and I’ve been absolutely awful at keeping in touch, but honestly I’ve still been thinking of you all and how I can actually review movies again.
Probably, if a lot of movie sites were to start quoting me, that would help. Because Klassiki has actually just started quoting my review of Я шагаю по Москве (I Walk Through Moscow) (1964) in its promo literature! It’s been an awful long time since anyone has done that. And look! It seems to have brought me back to life.
I say review, but this is about as much as I can do right now.
I can’t add much more to that, TBH. I’ll get better though.
It’s just a delightful film, with a group of guys walking around Moscow, looking for purpose in life and bumping into random people. One minute, they’re helping to tame an angry dog by reuniting it with its owner, the next they’re guiding a Japanese tourist (who only speaks Japanese and English) to where they think he’d like to go, the next they’re trying to dodge the draft so they can get married, the next they’re meeting poets and girls who work in record shops, trying to work out their futures and whether they need to be properly qualified geologists to work for the Soviet metro system.
It’s all set against the wonderfully beautiful backdrop of 1960s Moscow in the summer and also features one of the genuine classics of Soviet cinematic music, the eponymous Я иду, шагаю по Москве, which went on to become an unofficial anthem for Moscow youth, in a surprising musical number that’s as joyful as the movie itself.
Please do go and watch it when you have the chance!
In 1940s New York, down-on-his-luck Stanton Carlisle endears himself to a clairvoyant and her mentalist husband at a traveling carnival. Using newly acquired knowledge, Carlisle crafts a golden ticket to success by swindling the elite and wealthy. Hoping for a big score, he soon hatches a scheme to con a dangerous tycoon with help from a mysterious psychologist who might be his most formidable opponent yet.
Starting from his Immaculate Conception, the life of Jesus is retraced according to the Gospel of St. Matthew. When Jesus begins to travel through Palestine with his disciples to spread the word of God, the Romans conspire to have him silenced, leading to his arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection.
MUBI adds: “A ravishingly textured, soulful take on the life of Christ from Italy’s greatest poet-filmmaker. Coming from a gay atheist-Marxist such as Pier Paolo Pasolini, the film’s radically realist—dare we say reverential—treatment of religious belief was startling, even winning acclaim by the Vatican!”
The first mature masterpiece from one of world cinema’s true poets, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors bursts with imagination. Grounded in the folk traditions, aesthetics, and dialect of the Hutsul people of western Ukraine, Parajanov’s tale of the forbidden love between star-crossed Ivan and Marichka showcases his trademark visual exuberance. This magical realist triumph established Parajanov as one of the Soviet Union’s pre-eminent auteurs.
That’s a good get-out clause for me. Yay! I’m still succeeding in life!
Why don’t you all head over to MUBI then? Although it hasn’t formally said so, seems to be celebrating two women directors in particular this month. And they couldn’t be more different!
Andrea Arnold is English and very much dedicated to social realism, particularly with regards to working class women. She won an Academy Award for her short film Wasp in 2005, and her feature films include Red Road, Fish Tank and American Honey, all of which have won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. She’s also recently shot her first documentary, Cow, which is all about… a cow.
MUBI has pretty much her entire catalogue and while my above précis of her work doesn’t sound like too much fun, as I found with Wasp, it’s not as bleak as you might think. I’d definitely suggest giving it a try, starting with her short movies:
And if you’d like to hear her discuss her most recent work, I’d recommended listening to this interview:
Céline Sciamma is easily one of the most important and accomplished female directors, perhaps even directors working in France and perhaps the world in the past decade. The New Yorkerargued last month that she’s on a ‘quest for a new feminist grammar of cinema’ – while simultaneously arguing that her representation of Black women in Girlhood is unfeminist.
At the very least, with movies such as Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Water Lilies, Girlhood and Tomboy she has managed to bring into the mainstream feminist ideas and complex questions about gender and queer identity that previously have been poorly addressed by cinema. And with movies such as Petite maman, she shows she can do movies that are fantastic and beautiful, rather than political.
In which Nat talks briefly about the movies she’s been watching this week for no particular reason and that probably don’t warrant proper reviews, but hey? Wouldn’t it be nice if we all chatted about them anyway?
I’m not saying I’m going to turn into a cat lady any time soon, but I’ve not been out in a while. At least, not to the movies. This is strange for me, particularly with a Robert Pattinson movie in the cinema at the moment (The Batman), but honestly, that just looks nasty. I know: after the entire Dark Knight trilogy, could Batman get any nastier? I’m reassured by people who enjoy such things that yes, Batman can get nastier. So I’m going to give it a miss.
I really hope, though, that are some lovely new films for me to watch at the cinema soon, though.
I’ve not been watching many new films at home, either. Not even that collection of all the James Bond movies I got given for Christmas.
It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week
Doing this every two weeks seems to be working out for me right now. I think I can pull this off. Famous last words.
I’ve watched some new TV shows. One from pretty much every country of the world! Well, three of the four usual English-speaking ones. Most of them were rubbish, unfortunately. But at least one was fun. We can talk about those after the jump: Troppo (Australia: ABC), Our Flag Means Death (US: HBO Max), Children Ruin Everything (Canada: CTV) and The Endgame (US: NBC).
…four shows I didn’t manage to get around to watching
The Dropout (US: Hulu; UK: Disney+) is a switch of the usual ‘drama based on real-life’ offering that we’ve getting of late. It’s a mini-series that sees Amanda Seyfried playing Elizabeth Holmes, and Hulu/Disney+ summarise it thusly: “Elizabeth Holmes, an optimistic and determined young woman, drops out of Stanford to found a promising new blood testing startup.”
Yeah, I know all about Elizabeth Holmes. I know the twist and a whole lot more. Don’t really need to watch that, but I hear Seyfried is very good.
The Porter (Canada: CBC) is something a bit more of a period piece, but is still a real-life story. “The series will depict the history of Black Canadian and African-American men who worked as Pullman porters in the period following World War I, leading to the 1925 creation of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters as the first Black-led labour union.”
Again, I hear it’s really good and it even numbers Alfre Woodard. But… I don’t care. Sorry, the history of the Canadian trade union movement is niche even for me.
Shining Vale (US: Starz; UK: Starzplay) isn’t real at all. It also didn’t hold my attention more than a minute, since it’s a horror comedy-drama about depression/demonic possession.
“A dysfunctional family moves from the city to a small town after Patricia “Pat” Phelps, a former “wild child” who became famous through writing raunchy female empowerment novels, is caught cheating on her husband. The house the family had moved into is a place where in the past, terrible atrocities have taken place. Nobody seems to suspect anything odd except for Pat who’s convinced she’s either depressed or possessed. Pat has been sober for 16 years, but begins to feel very unfulfilled in life – she still hasn’t written her second novel, she can’t remember the last time she had sex with her husband, and her teenage kids have grown up to the point they don’t want their mother in their lives. But soon, the demons haunting the family’s new home begin to appear much more real.”
It may star Greg Kinnear and Courtney Cox but no.
Lastly, there’s The Ipcress File (UK: ITV), the first UK drama I’ve been tempted to watch in a long time. In this case, I simply haven’t got round to watching it. But you know what, I think I will, since I not only love the Michael Caine movie, I’ve even read the book, so I’m interested to see what ITV have done with it.
Superman & Lois (US: The CW; UK: BBC One/iPlayer) was great fun as usual, and of course the chance to reunite Supes and his brother was irresistible, so I’m looking forward to that. It’s fascinating that a show that was based on how compelling a performance one actor gave in a completely different TV show now has an equally compelling performance overshadowing it. I do also much admire the fact the show is ‘depatriarchying’ the entire Superman story, too.
Severance (AppleTV+) has continued to be fascinating and JustStark’s suggestion that it’s reminiscent of a Philip K Dick story was something I hadn’t noticed but is spot on the money. But the show alternates as well between interpretations, with allusions to the priesthood in the latest episode and there are also musical references to The Conversation (1974) as well. But the core considerations of whether work might actually be psychologically important to us – so what happens if we can’t – are also interesting. Really, really enjoying.
Bel-Air continues to be equally impressive and powerful. The characters are now evolving in fascinating ways and it’s fascinating to see Will ‘gentrifying’. One of the disadvantages of not watching UK TV any more is that I didn’t notice that this show’s Geoffrey is played by Jimmy Akingbola (In the Long Run, Kate & Koji, Holby City, Rev et al). And this Geoffrey is hardcore. Definitely a must-watch.
And back for a second season is Star Trek: Picard (US: Paramount+; UK: Amazon). That appears to have dumped the entire narrative it was setting up at the end of the first season in favour of yet more Borg stories. But we got Whoopi Goldberg back as Guinan and John de Lancie back as Q – that’s not a spoiler, as it’s in the trailer – all of which suggests better things are to come.
I should also point out that Wu Assassins (Netflix) mysteriously has a sequel movie, Fistful of Vengeance, set in Thailand and featuring all the Asian cast but almost no one else and is largely unrelated to the surprisingly good original in almost any way. The fights are poorly shot, even if the cast are good at them, making them pretty lacklustre, too. I quite enjoyed newcomer Francesca Corney, who was at least funny, but that was about it.
Join me after the jump for a brief rundown of the new shows.