1993: 6 movies

posted 2016 August 25

Trois coleurs: Bleu
Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski
Written by Krzysztof Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz
Produced by Marin Karmitz
Music by Zbigniew Preisner
Cinematography by Slawomir Idziak
Editing by Jacques Witta
Production design by Claude Lenoir
Set decor by Lionel Acat, Christian Aubenque,
Jean-Pierre Delettre, Julien Poitou-Weber,
and Marie-Claire Quin 
Hair and make-up by Jean-Pierre Caminade and Valérie Tranier
Costumes by Naima Lagrange and Virginie Viard
Starring Juliette Binoche

   This movie is so intricate and precisely-made that it feels good to watch as soon as it starts playing. It's the color, the silence, the rare perspectives that draw us in, and then, wham! The story and music pound harder than anything we've witnessed. The movie uses color saturation, brightness, darkness, silence, and Preisner's stunning score to bring to life Kieslowski's melancholy tale of loss and rebirth. It feels like a break into a new era of film-making. Poetry and technology, spirit, joy, and pain. Binoche's performance smolders with silent pain, and gives us the 
   The title translates from French to "Three Colors: Blue", a reference to the trilogy the movie is a part of, Blue, White, and Red, representing the colors of the French flag. Blue also refers to a feeling of melancholy.

Latcho drom
Written and directed by Tony Gatlif
Produced by Michèle Ray-Gavras
Cinematography by Eric Guichard
Editing by Nicole Berckmans
Art direction by Denis Mercier

   It's a new kind of musical. The story is more subtle, loose, but the music and dancing is intense, fiery and stirring. It's about a race of people scattered, wandering, and oppressed who somehow triumph in their unity and their culture of music, dance, color, and family. The cinematography catches the details that the curious eye craves, and the editing ties them together with poetic meaning. 
   The mind swoons at how this was all put together through all the countries, landscapes, times of day, languages, and customs. The title translates from Romani as "Safe journey".

Nirvana - MTV Unplugged in New York
Directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller
Series created by Jim Burns and Robert Small
Produced by Alex Coletti
Music by Kurt Cobain
Editing by Jon Vesey
Art direction by Robert Fisher
Starring Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic,
Dave Grohl, Pat Smear,
Lori Goldston, Cris Kirkwood,
and Curt Kirkwood

   So tasteful, so emotional, so beautifully staged. Could this really be a concert of a hard rock band? Every song is beautiful, and it showcases one of the truest artists of our lifetime.

Mùi du du xanh
Written and directed by Tran Anh Hung
Music by Tiêt Tôn-Thât
Cinematography by Benoît Delhomme
Editing by Nicole Dedieu and Jean-Pierre Roques
Production design by Alain Nègre
Costume design by Jean-Philippe Abril
Starring Tran Nu Yên-Khê and Man San Lu

   What am I watching? Is this Fellini? Is it Tarkovsky? Or is it Bergman? At times it feels like it could be either or all. Whatever it is, it feels like the work of a very talented director.
   The patience in unravelling the detail of the life of the protagonist is so sure, so confident and beautiful to behold! It takes nearly half the movie to fall into the groove and to recognize and trust the young girl as our protagonist, or emotional center. This is because of how unlike any other movie this is. It simply starts unravelling her life around us without any of the overt or subtle hints that this is who we should be following. We begin to follow Mui because she is morally pure, she does not grab the spotlight. She simply stands where it is proper for her to stand, and for that reason her spot ends up being a place of admirable humility, and thus beauty. 
   The magic multiplies when a little after the half-way point our sense of routine is disturbed by the passing of 10 years, and we again find ourselves observing the residence we find ourselves in, the characters, and find our protagonist still occupying the same space of beautiful pureness of heart and humility, except this time not as a girl, but as a young woman. Which makes for a brilliant cinematic two-act drama! The cinematography is unparalleled!
   On top of all this is the historical aspect which is not pounded into us but something light and in the distance. It reflects life as it was before it was forever changed by the decades-long war. And that adds a melancholic tint to the whole affair. It's absolutely delicious and certainly deserves a place on even the shortest list of best movies of all time.
   The title translates from the Vietnamese to "The scent of green papaya".

Directed by Derek Jarman
Written by Derek Jarman, Terry Eagleton,
and Ken Butler
Produced by Tariq Ali
Editing by Budge Tremlett
Art direction by Annie La Paz
Costumes by Sandy Powell
Starring Karl Johnson, Michael Gough,
Tilda Swinton, and Clancy Chassay

   It's a play on film. It's a philosophy lesson on film. It's the life of a historical figure on film, and the fact that it's able to be all three in an engaging way makes this an eternal classic. The performances, the stark set, the color, contrast, lighting, and camera-angles are all top-notch. It inspires a hunger for learning, for research, for thought. And it's got it's humorous moments as well as it's moments of profound pathos. Bravo! I was hoping to get into a movie of Jarman's. They are so exquisite to look at, but this is the first that hasn't bored me to tears. Maybe the way Wittgenstein was misunderstood and under-appreciated is energized with a sense of Jarman's own history. In other words, the movie feels historical as it does autobiographical.

Nirvana: Live and Loud

Starring Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic,
Dave Grohl, and Pat Smear

   Not as polished as the Unplugged concert listed above, but still historic as it lays the ground-work for that concert, and it shows a different side of the band.
   This movie blasts through its first 11 minutes with three hard-rocking, super-hooky songs. For fans of the musical group Nirvana, this is a major treat in that the songs are performed with satisfying energy that rivals the studio versions. As the concert progresses, we begin to admire lead member, lead vocalist, and guitarist Kurt Cobain. We think of his genius in penning the songs, in leading the band, and in being able to translate his emotions so well through groovy sonic waves. We are awed by the capabilities of his voice. It defies the odds. It always seems on the verge of collapsing, of running out of steam, of straining itself too far, he seems on the brink of screaming himself into silence. Yet it never does, he never does. Every throat-scraping scream, makes way for a desperate frustrated yell, a mocking deep-throated lilt, or possibly a soft, fragile falsetto.
   We observe the band, admire their artistry, think of where they would go next, and we are awed by their synchronization, their unity. We are amazed at how they achieve one united, passionate feeling through four or five separate strong individualities, talents, and instruments. We yearn to have had Kurt last longer and develop even further. Then the cellist comes on stage and we become more aware of the audience. We see the mosh-pit fans who want to thrash around to cool, fast tunes, and we see the more passive fans who are there more for the tunes and less for the action. And we see Kurt, we think that he might be bored with the same raucousness and may be playing more for the artier portion of the audience. We understand the conflicting strains of the band, how they came from the punk esthetic which frowns on over-production and anything that gets in the way or clutters the rawness of the music.
   We notice how the sequence of songs is trying to keep the hard-rocking section of the crowd happy while the set is interwoven with slower more cerebral songs. Finally, a little after the one-hour mark, Nirvana begins a full-on jazz jam session. It's a complete drama of pure emotion screaming through a maelstrom of noise ending in utter destruction of the setting. This is a concert that clearly encapsulates the band, Kurt Cobain, and the times. It's about strife, and chaos, and glimpses of genius, of symphony, of purity, of trying to deliver something real, a message, a confession, maybe even a revolution, or maybe complete destruction.

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