Movies reviewed this week: Run Lola Run, The Rules of the Game, Detour, Werewolf by Night, The Banshees of Inisherin, and Like Rabid Dogs.
12/1/2022: Run Lola Run (1998): ****
I saw this in theaters in 1998 and it blew my little mind: they make action movies in Europe? Also is it allowed to do that many punch ins in one movie?
It’s paced as well as I remember, although I hadn’t realized how important the still moments were for the overall flow. I also hadn’t totally picked up on the drumbeat of alternate paths. This time through, what really struck me was the way the chaos was independent of any human choice. Lola never consciously does anything different; she reaches different outcomes because of pure chance.
Bump into a woman here, and she loses her child. Bump into her there, and she wins the lottery. There’s no controlling destiny.
All the visual style in the world. Did I mention it blew my mind?
12/2/2022: The Rules of the Game (1939): ****1/2
It’s a great farce that has that underlying element of melancholy required to transcend the form. It takes a little while to get going, for my tastes, but by the time we get to the ball it’s a dynamic little whirlwind of disaster. I’m deeply impressed by the fluidity of both the story and the camerawork.
It’s also a lovely eat-the-rich movie, excepting that none of the rich get eaten. Metaphorically or otherwise. The pain falls on the heads of the hangers-on, which is of course the point. The foibles of the French pre-war aristos is a bit less interesting to me than (say) Silicon Valley, so in that sense I suppose this is dated, but the underlying principles are sound.
Jean Renoir was brilliant, swanning around in the middle of the whole thing. I spent the first quarter of the movie thinking of him as cheerful Timothy Spall.
12/3/2022: Detour (1945): ****
Criterion Challenge 2022
Prompt: watch a film on the Hollywood Classics list
That’s about as savage a movie as I expect to see this year. Tom Neal’s an amazingly depressing sad sack who isn’t ever going to blame himself for anything. “Oh, man, somehow she just talked me into doing the dumb thing!” Yeah, you keep telling yourself that.
I didn’t think twice about the assumption that the narrative is his self-serving version of what happened. The facts just aren’t consistent with what we see. We know he’s lying to himself, so there’s almost no chance he isn’t lying to us, too. “Sue loved me!” What a sap.
12/3/2022: Werewolf by Night (2022): ***
More of an extended introduction as a movie, but I’d watch more of these characters. Well, the ones who survived the hour, anyhow. It’s maybe a little bit too Haunted Mansion until the blood starts flowing, but the blood flows pretty copiously and at that point the goofy excess is all part of the fun.
12/4/2022: The Banshees of Inisherin (2022): *****
I spent about fifteen minutes thinking that the beautiful Irish landscapes were too on the nose, but no, they’re just there to contrast with the fucking people of Inisherin. This one left me in pieces; I wonder if it says anything that so many of 2022’s great movies are about despair and failure?
The trio of leads are the three pillars that hold up the movie and the metaphor, and don’t let anyone tell you Kerry Condon isn’t right there with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. Barry Keoghan isn’t all that far behind, really, but it’s not his movie in the way it belongs to the others.
Bleak all the way through.
12/4/2022: Like Rabid Dogs (1976): ***
Ninety minutes of nihilistic sleaze with a hefty dose of class consciousness. Even if you don’t know that the movie’s based on a real group of wealthy right-wing kids, it’s pretty clear where we’re going once Inspector Muzzi’s boss tells him to stop turning the station into a Communist cell. Apparently wild claims of socialism aren’t a 21st century invention.
Not that Muzzi is a paragon. It’s Italian sleaze: the misogyny is layered on thick. Nobody’s a good guy and that’s not just my modern eye talking: Muzzi’s way more interested in sleeping with his partner than he is in the fact she was almost raped. And the grim finale isn’t exactly a celebration of left-wing activist spirit.
Mario Imperoli knows what he’s doing, though. The violence is brutal but the hand-held camera work brings you right into it, sharpening the emotional impact. The sex… well, that’s pretty much just gratuitous.