The besties review
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Fear and Desire
I guess I understand why Kubrick disowned this, but there is a place for amateur filmmaking in the world of cinema. Plus this film has great cinematography and some beautifully philosophical voice-over that hint toward Kubrick’s bright future.
Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro
A royal wedding, a castle full of counterfeit bills, and a jubilant thief willing to expose it all! Can we get some more animated action comedies please? Because this was so much fun! I have yet to see any of Hayao Miyazaki’s other work (yes, I know, it’s incredible I’ve made it this far without catching a single one), but I can already tell that the hype is real. If you haven’t seen The Castle of Cagliostro, I would highly recommend it— if not for the gorgeous animation and rich characters, then at least to see where Miyazaki’s long and influential journey began.
This may be his first film, but it’s pure Nolan. The nonlinear structure, sneaky plot twists, and B&W noir aesthetic all hint towards his future filmography.
Nolan’s greatest asset here is his 16mm cinematography and shot selection. The film is jarring and intimate in a way that reminds me a lot of Memento. I also really enjoyed the lead performances much more than I anticipated (especially Alex Haw as Cobb, who feels like he’s pulled straight out of a pulpy crime novel).
Looking forward to rewatching this at some point in the near future, maybe on a Nolan binge before Tenet.
sex, lies, and videotape
As far as indie debut features go, it doesn’t get more slick than this. With such a great script, cast (Andie McDowell and James Spader are both brilliant), and sense of pace, it’s no wonder Soderbergh has become one of the most successful directors of this era. As far as the Palme d’Or is concerned, I think it’s definitely deserving, though I do think Do The Right Thing is the better film.
P.S. Between this movie and American Beauty, I think Peter Gallagher might be in the running for most punchable face… and I mean that in the nicest way possible.
P.P.S. While we’re on the topic of American Beauty, I think if we had kicked Kevin Spacey to the curb sooner, James Spader could’ve had a bigger presence in Hollywood throughout the 2000s and 2010s. The guy would’ve been great in American Beauty, Se7en, even House of Cards maybe.
It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books
A nicely atmospheric and lo-fi slice-of-life film that doesn’t offer much in the way of plot. That being said, it does capture a certain feeling of transience that I found deeply poetic. I think it’s also important to note that Linklater wrote, directed, produced, shot, edited, and starred in the film himself, a fact that should be motivating for any aspiring filmmaker who isn’t sure how to get started on making their own movie.
What is 5 Film Film Festival (5FFF)?
In short, 5 Film Film Festival is an ongoing personal project to help me watch more classic films. For each mini “festival,” I will choose a random theme (be it a genre, actor, director, etc.) and curate five movies that fit that theme to watch for the first time. When I started this journey, I posted my brief, unpolished thoughts on Letterboxd. I like this more informal, less pretentious mode of watching older movies, so as I begin documenting the project here on the site, don’t expect a lot of in-depth analysis— every “review” will read more like a “first reaction.”
If you’re like me, and you have more than a few blind spots in your cinematic knowledge, then consider joining me on this lifelong endeavor. Watch along, recommend themes, and organize some mini festivals of your own!
David Merkle rules.