THE LONG WAVE

Watch it!

Kris

Can't decide what to watch?FollowTheThread.
Each week Elma and I give you 5 opinionated but culturally relevant choices, based on our experience of curating smart sticky stuff for Ovation, Trio, Bravo, A&E, Sundance, Fuse, and others.
Watch it!

Latest posts by Kris (see all)

This week, as Hollywood takes a Halloween break, we at The Thread celebrate the opening of Jean Luc Godard’s latest film – the endless experimenter is 83.

After all these years we are still enamored of that band of high-minded, low-budget rebels, La Nouvelle Vague.  The onset of cool weather always triggers a flashback to college and the first time we saw JULES AND JIM.  It inspired us to do the kind of things it would be stupid to do now and even more stupid not to do then. 

image

GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE (2014) 

Godard’s latest film won the Jury Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.  The concept of the film is simple, it begins with an affair, a married woman and a single man.  Their story takes place over a number of seasons and is observed by a dog named Roxy (Godard’s own dog).  By all accounts, Godard’s innovative experiment with 3D makes this a must-see cinematic experience. 

http://www.indiewire.com/article/watch-jean-luc-godard-makes-landscape-his-muse-in-goodbye-to-language-trailer-20141014

image

CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 (1962) 

Although Agnes Varda was not part of Cahiers du Cinema contingent, we think she was as integral to the movement as any of the core group.  CLEO captures Paris at the height of the sixties in this captivating study, told in real time, of a pop singer (Corinne Marchand) who wanders the streets of Paris awaiting the results of a recent biopsy.  The film features cameos from Godard and his muse, Anna Karina. 

Madonna tried to get this film remade with Varda in 1993 but failed to find financing due to Hollywood’s insistence on a finished script prior to shooting.  Not the New Wave way. 

https://itunes.apple.com/ie/movie/cleo-from-5-to-7/id401883932

 image

MY NIGHT AT MAUD’S (1969) 

Eric Rohmer’s centerpiece in his Moral Tales series was the film that propelled him to international acclaim.  A chaste 34-year-old Roman Catholic (Jean-Louis Trintignant) pines for a blonde woman at church and vows to marry her although they have never spoken.  That evening he meets an old friend, Vidal, who invites him to dinner at his fiancé Maud’s.  

The Catholic ends up spending a night alone with the spirited Maud (Francoise Fabian) engaged in a long, spirited discussion of religion, temptation and nature of faith.  The pivotal importance of a chance encounter is central to this film which was nominated for an Oscar – and inspired much debate. 

https://itunes.apple.com/ie/movie/my-night-with-maud/id402604349

image

JULES AND JIM (1962)

Truffaut’s early masterpiece is one of cinema’s most captivating love triangles.  It charts the long, tumultuous relationship between two men (Henri Serre and Oskar Werner) who are both in love with the same woman (Jeanne Moreau). 

Galateria quotes Truffaut: “I begin a film believing it will be amusing — and along the way I notice that only sadness can save it.” 

The style and energy of this doomed love story inspired 1967’s BONNIE AND CLYDE – which Truffaut was originally invited to direct.  Instead he directed FAHRENHEIT 451, his only English-language film 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/jules-and-jim/id590835029

 image

CONTEMPT (1963)

Godard’s CONTEMPT is an amazing sardonic take on the interplay between art, life and business.   The film is about a writer (Michael Piccoli) whose wife, Camille (Brigitte Bardot), loses respect for him as he works on a film adaptation of Homer’s “Odyssey”.   

But the acid that eats away at their relationship is the Hollywood-industrial-complex, as represented by the film’s Hollywood producer (played by an arresting, young-ish, Jack Palance).  The great Austrian director, Fritz Lang, puts in an appearance as a director who is not mainstream enough for Hollywood’s taste. 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/contempt-le-mepris/id351844825

image

400 BLOWS (1959)

François Truffaut’s first feature is his most personal. Told through the eyes of Truffaut’s lifelong cinematic counterpart, Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), the film movingly re-creates the trials of Truffaut’s own childhood that included aloof parents, cruel teachers, and petty crime. 

The film marked 27-year-old Truffaut’s audacious leap from critic to trailblazing auteur of the French New Wave. 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/the-400-blows/id474110329

For die hard Godard fan’s Film Comment has recently released a digital anthology of everything they have published on the director.  See link below:

http://filmsociety.myshopify.com/products/digital-anthology-jean-luc-godard

 

THE STATE OF INTELLIGENCE

Watch it!

Kris

Can't decide what to watch?FollowTheThread.
Each week Elma and I give you 5 opinionated but culturally relevant choices, based on our experience of curating smart sticky stuff for Ovation, Trio, Bravo, A&E, Sundance, Fuse, and others.
Watch it!

Latest posts by Kris (see all)

Here at The Thread, one of us lives in a part of L.A. where it’s not unusual to be jolted awake at 3am by the unholy roar of a ghetto bird circling directly overhead.  Like us, many of the neighbors seem to think the LAPD is a little chopper-happy.  But one day recently when we were all complaining, another neighbor piped up: “That’s the sound of freedom! When I hear that sound, I feel safe.”

 

 

image

CITIZENFOUR (2014)

Everywhere we turn this week we’re seeing Laura Poitras, the filmmaker behind the Edward Snowden documentary, CITIZENFOUR.

We tend to think of ourselves as just slightly left of centerline in the debate over Snowden – we’re inclined to see him more as a hero than a traitor.  But since the beginning we’ve questioned his motives.  Which makes CITIZENFOUR a must-see.  By all accounts, the film convincingly portrays Snowden as earnest and his motives as sincere.

If that’s true then the whole “homeland security” thing gets even scarier.

The trailer: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4044364/

 

 

 

image

THE FOG OF WAR (2003)

We love the title phrase of Errol Morris’ Oscar-winning doc because the underlying concept applies so broadly – it’s nearly impossible to maintain a clear vision of any part of life as you’re living it.   But it’s most especially apt for those who are enmeshed in the self-perpetuating apparatus of national security.

It would be stretching it to say that Robert McNamara – Secretary of Defense during the height of the Vietnam War – is honest.  But he does willingly submit to interrogation in front of Errol Morris’ camera, and between them they manage to find some truth.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/the-fog-of-war/id527777466

 

 

 

image

THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN AMERICA:
DANIEL ELLSBERG AND THE PENTAGON PAPERS (2009)

This 2009 documentary will remind you that the government outcry against Snowden and his revelations is déjà vu all over again.

Daniel Ellsberg was a golden boy who worked for McNamara when he was running the Pentagon.   But Ellsworth had a change of heart and in 1970 he “leaked” documents to the NYTimes – which showed that presidents all the way back to Truman had been lying about Vietnam.  By this time, Nixon was in office – it was Henry Kissinger who called Ellsberg “the most dangerous man in America”.

Ellsworth was eventually tried and acquitted of treason.  But before that happened, the White House set up a dirty tricks unit – nicknamed “The Plumbers” because they were supposed to “stop leaks”.  But somehow they couldn’t stop the liquid metaphor from spreading – they got caught at Watergate.  Ooops.

This engrossing 2009 PBS POV documentary won a Peabody award for its retelling of the story.

http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=4433099&utm_source=PBS&utm_medium=Link&utm_content=pov_mdma401_mostdangerousman_covebuyit&utm_campaign=cove_buyit

 

 

 

image

SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS (2013)

THE FIFTH ESTATE (2013)

In addition to several governments, the creepy blonde founder of Wikileaks has slipped through the fingers of two pretty good filmmakers.  Both Alex Gibney’s documentary and Bill Condon’s feature with Benedict Cumberbatch miss the mark.

It’s too bad that the definitive Assange film hasn’t been made yet, because he’s such a fascinating character and adds another layer to the discussion of what Poitras and Snowden are doing.   To wit: what if the whistleblower fighting a valiant fight against the encroachment of the security state is also self-serving and kind of whacked?

If you’re hard core enough to watch both films, you’ve probably already done so.  Our suggestion is to take a look at the Cumberbatch trailer (the UK version is best) and then spend your time on the doc.

We Steal Secrets: https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/we-steal-secrets-story-wikileaks/id649785153

Fifth Estate trailer: ttp://www.theguardian.com/film/video/2013/jul/17/fifth-estate-trailer-benedict-cumberbatch-julian-assange-wikileaks

Fifth Estate (whole movie): https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/the-fifth-estate/id726731308

 

 

 

image

THE OATH (2010)

Snowden sought Laura Poitras out – not vice versa.   He did this based partially on two earlier Poitras documentaries that form a trilogy on security, freedom and truth in America post 9/11.

The first of these, MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY is about an Iraqi doctor in the months leading up to the first elections in US-occupied Iraq.  It was nominated for an Oscar and got Poitras placed on the Department of Homeland Security’s watch list.

THE OATH follows – at a distance – the story of Guantanamo detainee Salim Hamdan’s quest for justice.  A parallel story dominates the film – Hamdan’s brother Abu Jandal is a sometime jihadi who is raising a young son as he works as a cabdriver in Yemen.   The complex portrait of Jandal is never quite what you expect.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/the-oath-2010/id390584159

 

 

 

image

WHY WE FIGHT (2006)

We include Eugene Jarecki’s film here for two reasons.

First, because it so patently preaches to the converted.  To our eyes it manipulates facts, figures and personalities to make an overly simplistic and ultimately unconvincing argument that American foreign policy is completely driven by business interests.  As such it serves as a warning that the liberal viewpoint can become a Fox-News-unto-itself.

Second, because it captures a lot of history, and traces some roots of the forces that  drive the security-industrial complex to rabidly dredge the internet in the interest of protecting the “homeland”.  In his recent New Yorker profile, George Packer speculates that Poitras and others are living in Berlin because Germans – with their experience of the SS and the Stasi – are always aware of how quickly state security can morph a self-perpetuating raison unto itself.

What’s at work is not exactly the same as the “military-industrial complex” that ex-general Eishenhower warned against. But close enough to make watching worthwhile.

https://itunes.apple.com/ie/movie/why-we-fight/id905304789

 

 

 

image

ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN (1976)

As we sat working on this week’s post, the news came in that Ben Bradlee, Washington Post editor during Watergate, has died.

Like all famous men of stature, he happened to be in the right place at the right time – and then rose to the occasion.   He had a lot more to lose than Woodward and Bernstein, but he took the gamble anyway.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/all-the-presidents-men/id532163464