Unseen: The Lives of Looking. Dir. Dryden Goodwin. 2015
Entries on MUBI
Mister Lonely. Dir. Harmony Korine. 2007
You are not alone. Actually though, you are. If you believe you can fly, you can. Actually though, you can't.
First of all, I want to say something about a pair of Parisian twenty-somethings I met at a street vendor’s crepe cart in 2010.
I was trying to remember French prepositions I didn’t learn in high school so I could ask for Nutella and coconut on my crepe when two sleek young black men who looked like dancers from Madonna's “Truth or Dare” introduced themselves like this:
“Hello. Please, please say aus coco, again.”
So I did and when they stopped laughing they lamented their lives in Paris with the same hopeless tone of street people begging for money for food. “Paris is so boring. Please, there is nothing to do here. We are dying of the boredom.”
They said they wanted to live in the United States, where life is like in the movies.
“You are from Arizona? Cow-boy!”
I thought about how when I was a teenager, all of my pals would have lived in Paris given the chance. Then I thought about how young people are bored no matter where they are.
Swagger. Dir. Olivier Babinet. 2016
“Swagger” is a beautiful environmental portrait of a group of African and Middle Eastern youth at a school in a rough neighborhood on the outskirts of Paris. The things they talk about are the same things young people everywhere talk about: Dreams, love, the future, and what it feels like to be an outsider.
But when they speak of being outsiders, it's with a bittersweet degree of understanding of the World that most of us don’t have the credentials for. They dream of being French and living in Paris; and even though they are, they aren’t.
So close and yet so far away.
If you like honesty, light, hope and laughter or even if you don’t like any of those things and the only thing in life you like is drone photography, see this movie.
Il Boom. Dir. Vittorio De Sica. 1963
Giovanni is a contractor looking for a way out of the debt he's amassed maintaining appearances. At first, things are frenetic: Giovanni buying his wife a car and furs, Giovanni writing lots of checks, Giovanni at the racquet club. Ciao, Giovanni. Ciao! Then things get frantic: Giovanni at the loan company asking for an extension, Giovanni asking a friend for a very large loan, Giovanni trying to scheme his brother-in-law. No, Giovanni. No!
Everyone is zipping around Rome in tiny cars, drinking and dancing the Twist in smart suits and cocktail dresses until dawn, talking Italian. Everything is happening so fast and I start to wonder if the words for frantic and frenetic are as easily confused in Italian as they are in English. Any time you can make out a few words here and there of a language you can't speak, things are bound to feel like they're going too fast, I suppose.
Things slow down eventually and everyone goes to bed. The next day, the wife of a wealthy manufacturer offers Giovanni a way out. It will costare un occhio della testa. I know that idiomatic expression because Spanish has a similar one: costar un ojo de la cara, which means (translated literally) to cost an eye from your face. Or, as an English speaker would say, "It'll cost you an arm and a leg."
This adds an existential dimension to the film's premise. If Giovanni were living beyond his means in Manahattan, he would have to sell two limbs.
If you don't think about the dark socio-economic implications — and there isn't a lot of time to, so you probably won't — it's a light and fun film. There's even an intermission. You can use it to get snacks or look up words you're wondering about.
Sleeping Beauty. Dir. Julia Leigh. 2011
A nihilistic college student moonlights with a Helmut Newton styled catering company. She is soon promoted to the role of Sleeping Beauty, a job that entails sleeping for powerful men who can't risk engaging with a woke person.
Un chant d'amour. Dir. Jean Genet. 1950
There's so much beauty packed into these twenty five minutes. And seeing it tonight for the first time, its influence on generations of visual artists is obvious if you have seen a music video or purchased underwear in the last thirty years.
The film was banned and eventually deemed obscene by the Supreme Court. I think the standard for obscenity has changed since then, but if at the time obscenity was any depiction that leaves you desiring intimacy with a strong, hairy-chested man of mediterranean descent, I think this film is deliciously obscene.
I imagine these days the justification for banning the film would probably be more for its depictions of smoking than sex.