Two Reviews from Double Feature Night

Glib Reviews Of Recent DVDs, Blu Rays.

Double Feature Night

- Directed by Jeff Maloof & Charlie Siskel

Finding Vivian Maier is one of those modern docs that probably would have been impossible to make before the internet, computers being what they are these days. I have followed this story since Maloof first put some of Maier’s photos online, and they went viral. It was extremely interesting to find out actual information and hear from people who knew this often mysterious Nanny with a Rolliflex. She was doing selfies way back in the day, and her street photography is up there with the greats like Fred Herzog, or Walker Frank.

The film makers, I felt did a great job of unravelling Vivian’s secrets, which every single person who knew her confirms, she would have hated. Hated all the attention to her and her story. Which is very interesting: She left a lot of audio tapes, and 8mm/16mm film as well. 

Giving both more oblique, and more obvious insights into who this photographer who should have been famous really was. There is even a debate whether her vaguely French accent is real, with speech pathologists denying it. Interestingly she has basically an Ingrid Bergman accent though, to my ear. Listen to her with your eyes closed, its like hearing Bergman in Casablanca, or her daughter Isabella Rossellini putting on airs in a Guy Maddin film, with her own voice. I think that says a lot about the woman. 

A well done job of getting grown up kids she nannied to talk about both her good and bad qualities. She was a human being, with foibles, and a lot of neuroses, hoarding being the biggest thing that she kept doing her whole life. Thus the thousands of undeveloped pictures, and film we haven’t even seen yet. An entire lifetime’s art all exposed mostly for the first time, after her death.

Something that amazes me is how many great documentaries there are about outsider artists, people who have more rep than show, or no rep as artists, are of course/it turns out, just as interesting as Andy Warhol, or Picasso. People have interesting and varied lives, and like many of us, she probably thought hers was not nearly as interesting or inspiring as it really was. I grok that.  I also grok that the art really does speak for itself, if you get a chance to see, experience the art. 

I’ll be checking this out again along with other recent similar artist docs, like Marwencol, The Woodmans, and Cutie  & the Boxer to name a few. Maybe a little outsider art fest for my blog! Will update.

9.1111 screaming kids being dragged to slaughterhouse to pose with dead sheep outta 10

-Directed By Jim Jarmusch

The second film in my artsy double feature was a swirling droney vampire movie; Only Lovers Left Alive, directed by cult grandpa Jim Jarmusch. This film was heavily hyped to me, but like the majority of Jarmusch’s later output I found it beautiful, but sleepy and kind of lazy. I loved Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston as the titular lovers/vampires. They drop a lot of historical figures as old pals/enemies, so you know they are old. I enjoyed the film visually, but it had very little tension, nothing pulling at the frayed edges of the ‘story.’

The droning soundtrack, aside from a really thoughtful bluesy pop tune selection of Wanda Jackson and such made me kind of nod off, occasionally, so I’m not sure I was able to give my full attention to the mumbly mix of dialogue and drone. 

This all sounds worse maybe than the experience was. I don’t know what would have worked to make it a better picture. Some real conflict, tension. I did like that neither of them, as secluded as they made themselves, had little idea how to handle normal interactions. They seemed alien, and were. 

But despite Jarmusch never really needing much of a plot, I feel this film needed a bit of one. The younger Vamp - Mia Wasikowska, who holds her own with these great character actors, getting to strut their stuff - comes in far too late, and the tension of what predictably happens is all kind of muted for me.

Wonderful performances, all round, Anton Yelchin channels Steve Zahn as Ian, Hiddleston’s Adam’s only human ‘friend.’ John Hurt of course, is John Hurt. Can do no wrong. the appropriate Pirandello to infer here is “Two Vampires not in search of a plot.”  I didn’t hate the film, but I definitely didn’t love it like I thought I might. It’s one that despite the nodding off here and there, I want to give it another shot, maybe with headphones, so I can hear all the mumbled dialogue. Hiddleston is literally is talking to his navel all movie.

6.66 dorky but clever historical references outta 10


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