Notes on “About Elly”

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:

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“About Elly” uses the disappearing-woman device from “L’Avventura” but to a much different end. Where Antonioni uses it to comment on the modern condition, taking a quintessentially macro POV, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi uses it to examine the particulars of human interaction. The high-status social group on excursion in the country is reminiscent of the group in Satyajit Ray’s “Days and Nights in the Forest.” Farhadi is a more malicious artist than Ray (like most filmmakers who truck in suspense, he’s a bit of a sadist), but he has a similar observational delicacy. Character insights are surprising yet in hindsight seem inevitable. When the plot takes a turn towards the sinister, the picture’s tenor changes in a way that’s perceptible but not measurable. Suddenly, it’s as though the wind has shifted (wind is a constant presence in the movie). Separating the two phases of the story is a wonderful (and very Ray-like) sequence of the enigmatic Elly cavorting on the beach. It has a self-contained beauty. Farhadi is beloved by progressives, who take the movie as an examination of the mores of an honor culture, but I think it’s hard to deny that his concept of Woman is at least somewhat traditional. The movie’s disappearing women, Elly and the German ex-wife of Elly’s suitor Ahmad, are presented as troublesome figures whose independence has brought discord to this group of friends. And the young Sepideh (who, interestingly, is featured prominently on the movie’s poster) has all the mischievousness of Pandora or Eve. It’s to Farhadi’s credit that he never criticizes or condemns these women; rather, he presents their behavior as part of the panoply of human existence. Still, it’s hard to squeeze the picture into the box of progressive dogma, and I do wonder if Farhadi won’t eventually make a movie that pisses off the college professors who claim to love his work. The other Farhadi I’ve seen, “A Separation,” also deals with a broken marriage.

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Notes on “The Minds of Men”

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:

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Aaron and Melissa Dykes, who operate under the name Truthstream Media, are Alex Jones expats (they seem to regret the affiliation) who make videos about government cover-ups, conspiracy lore, and the like; they’re like Mulder and Scully without the FBI expense accounts. Their new documentary, “The Minds of Men,” is more impressive than the (already pretty impressive) videos on their YouTube channel. They claim the movie took them three years to put together, and I don’t doubt them; they not only live up to their rep as research mavens, they vault over it. The information presented is so tightly woven, and so seemingly well-sourced, that it is at times overwhelming. The Dykeses cannily twist this overwhelmingness towards an aesthetic end: The movie zaps your neurons, leaving you in a fugue state suitable for a documentary about mind control, hypnosis, and the subjective nature of perception. The editing is equally impressive. It may be the most densely cut picture I’ve seen this year, its lapping, almost-stream-of-consciousness rhythms recalling — no joke — Chris Marker. The big drawback: at nearly four hours, it’s a long sit, especially given the level of attention it demands. But I learned a lot while watching it, and I’m still a little freaked out by the footage of monkeys running around with little electrode pillboxes poking out of their skulls.

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Is it Showtime?

Fenster writes:

If you are anti-Trump you may well believe it is Showtime: time has finally run out on the Orange Man, and Mueller will crater the bastard real soon now.

If you are pro-Trump, or at least anti-swamp, anti-Clinton or anti-Obama, you may also believe it is Showtime: Spygate will break real soon now.

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Weekend Linkage

Paleo Retiree writes:

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Couldn’t Do It Today

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:

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Notes on “The Birds”

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:

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The moods of Hitchcock’s movies from the ’50s and early ’60s were often keyed to his leading ladies. “Vertigo” is voluptuous and mysterious, like Kim Novak. “To Catch a Thief” is pert and a little mischievous, like Grace Kelly. And “The Birds” is remote and affectless, like Tippi Hedren. It’s wickedly funny, almost kinky, watching Hitchcock bring a cosmic dimension to his Cinema of Guilt. By being a bad girl, Tippi doesn’t just endanger herself, she endangers the whole world, and the meagerness of her transgression underscores the perverseness of the resulting punishment. As in Preminger’s “Bonjour Tristesse,” there’s a sense of postwar malaise, of traditional society coming apart at the seams. Hedren’s Melanie is a city girl, an international jet-setter (Hitchcock throws in a reference to “La Dolce Vita”), who visits a rural enclave and brings the fury of the universe down upon it. I’d always intuited that the movie was a big influence on “Jaws,” but watching it closely I noticed how much Spielberg borrowed, particularly in his depictions of the Amity townspeople. The scene in the diner could almost take place in Amity. And the bit in which Hedren slaps the hysterical mother may be the origin of the similar scene in “Jaws” in which Mrs. Kintner slaps Roy Scheider.

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Naked Lady of the Week: Sylvie Dessartre

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:

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The cool beauty known as Sylvie Dessartre appeared in a number of French erotic films of the late 1970s. As the images below attest, she also posed for cheesecake photos.

That’s all I know.

Her comportment is remarkably variable. Sometimes she looks bratty, sometimes dewy, and sometimes like a fierce jungle cat. She seems like the kind of woman who’d give you a lot of trouble.

Nudity below. Have a great weekend.

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