I'm maybe better off.
Watched a lot of Cassavetes recently. Loved loved loved Shadows (1959) and A Woman Under the Influence (1974). Really liked The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976) Opening Night (1977) and Faces (1968). Thumbs down for Husbands (1970). I always start his movies reluctantly as if knowing this will be an uneasy experience. There is a sense of discomfort through much of the film feeling like I'm intruding on an unpleasant family moment. That car trip to the market that's gone array. But I'm gradually able to simultaneously distance myself emotionally from their argument and become involved in the life that surrounds them. Ultimately the story becomes compelling as it reveals truths and shared understandings of how we live and think and interact. I suppose Husbands didn't work for me because I felt distanced from these men who lived such different lives with such a different rhythm from my own. Most of Cassavetes' films have the feel of Beat Generation literature. Maybe he's the only director who could have made On the Road.
The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) a film included among my top ten of all time. It is also one I could literally watch once a week. The face of Renée Jeanne Falconetti. There is so much joy resolve defeat acceptance wisdom loss and hope in that face. She is utterly and completely defeated. And the victor. Above her (always looming above) are the faces of her judges captors enemies. No more no less than the soulless bureaucrats of today who preside over the lives of the innocent and push papers of thick lies. The film is a triumph of style making substance. Such a wonder.
Another and very different cinematic trip to France last night with my third viewing of Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki's Le Havre (2011). Colors and amazing set pieces. Establishing shots of simple beauty held just so. Understated performances so as not to interrupt the natural flow of a simple story. This one of basic humanity. It's interesting to see Kaurismak's very Finnish sensibilities set in and among the France and the French and how well they blend. Such a hopeful film. Such a different wonder.
I've noticed recently how effectively we can use fiction to tell the truth be it social or political. At the same time I see how non fiction is used to tell lies and distort. People use kernels of truth to tell large lies parsing out bits of information to suit the narrative they've created (hello political commentary). One can learn a lot more about life from a good novel.