I am in the process of writing two longer pieces but I have a few quick notes.
Beetlejuice – dir. Tim Burton – 6.6 – I had a desire to re-visit an old friend that I hadn’t watched in many years and Beetlejuice won that toss. Watching it I noticed that I prefer earlier Burton films as they are slightly less stylized. There is a clear stamp of his design aesthetic but Beetlejuice is oddly bright when compared to the directors more modern works. This viewing could easily be seen through a haze of youthful memories but everyone had wonderful performances, especially Michael Keaton which should never be a surprise. I recommend this to everyone.
Face to Face – dir, Ingmar Bergman – 7.8 – Face to Face simply knocked my socks off. There is little point in trying to weave more praise and it shouldn’t be a surprise to any long time readers as it is yet another pairing of Ingmar Bergman and Liv Ullmann. The experience of the film is similar to watching a pool of gasoline gradually spreading at a drip pace toward a flaming zippo, we all know what is going to happen as Ullmann plays a psychiatrist suffering with a mental illness. I would warn that Face to Face is not immediately available in the US and the copy I secured looks like a DVD copy of a video that had been rented out for years before the transfer.
My Own Private Idaho – dir. Gus van Sant – 5.4 – This will likely be a contentious review because, while I enjoyed My Own Private Idaho, I did not like think it was very well made. I have said it before that I am not a fan of filmed theater and the nearly Shakespearean performances really distracted me from the overall performance. Also, please note, if prostitution or homosexuality bother you then you should definitely avoid this film. I will say though that the photography was delightful and van Sant’s intentions were clear. It just didn’t stick the landing as well as I had hoped.
Dziga Vertov: The Man with the Movie Camera and Other Newly-Retored Works – dir. Dziga Vertov – 7.6 – I also had the joy of watching the new Flicker Alley release of The Man With the Movie Camera. My overall opinion of the film hasn’t changed but the transfer certainly has. This restoration is magnificent and this film from 1927 looks like it could have been photographed yesterday. It is not quite the best restoration I have ever witnessed but it is darn near close. (The best is The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp for the curious).