1. Talaash (Reema Kagti, 2012)
2. Siesta (Mary Lambert, 1987) (re-watch)
3. Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (Cathy Yan, 2020) (cinema)
4-5. Star Trek: Picard 3 episodes 44+43+42=129 minutes
a) Episode 1 "Remembrance" (Hanelle M. Culpepper, 2020)
b) Episode 2 "Maps and Legends" (Hanelle M. Culpepper, 2020)
c) Episode 3 "The End is the Beginning" (Hanelle M. Culpepper, 2020)
6. Portrait de la jeune fille en feu / Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma, 2019) (cinema)
7. Naissance des pieuvres / Water Lilies (Céline Sciamma, 2007)
8. Talvar / Guilty (Meghna Gulzar, 2015)
9. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes - Episode 2 - "The Dying Detective" (Sarah Hellings, 1994)
10. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes - Episode 4 - "The Red Circle" (Sarah Hellings, 1994)
11. Blue Steel (Kathryn Bigelow, 1990) (re-watch)
(Barbara Loden, 1970)
I've seen this described as "low-rent Badlands
" or "Cassavetes does Bonnie and Clyde
"; those are both handy if insufficient descriptors - I would also mention that the cheap and dingy life-on-the-margins in dying industrial towns feel reminds me of Dennis Hopper's later Out of the Blue
, as well as some of Jon Jost's films. Which is not to say that this is highly derivative, or just one of many similar films, but in this case I guess I wasn't as impressed as many are by anything new or novel here - yes, it's an independent American crime film directed by a woman (certainly rare at the time) who also stars in the film, and it does have a particularly real kind of grittiness, due in part I think to the 16mm photography and direct sound (often quite difficult to understand - wish I'd had a copy with subs), but on the level of narrative it just didn't connect with me very well. The two lead performances, by Loden as the housewife who seems disconnected to her world, and leaves for danger and thrills, and Michael Higgins as the drifter and petty criminal she hooks up with, are interesting and at times excellent but whatever there is lurking under the surface of these sad, bored, angry people remained a mystery to me. I feel like I was in the wrong mood for this, perhaps, because it felt like something that should have very much been up my alley, but it ended up missing the mark overall.
13. Street Corner
(Muriel Box, 1953)
(Muriel Box, 1956)
Both of these films are on a couple of noir lists, which is how I came across them. Box was a British filmmaker - like Ida Lupino on the other side of the Atlantic, she specialized in social problem pictures dealing with women's issues and women protagonists, and like Lupino (during part of her directorial career) she had a producing partner in her husband, and wrote or co-wrote some of her screenplays. And like Lupino she is due I think for some re-evaluation and remembrance, though I can't say either of these films are on the level of Lupino's best.
focuses on the women's police, and several stories - a couple of them related to each other in the end - involving women in trouble in one way or another. A young woman ditches her hubby and ends up with a gangster, who in turn becomes involved in a jewelry shop heist, and the wife of the jewelry shop owner begs the police for help when her husband refuses it; a woman in her 30s or so saves a young boy from drowning, but refuses any aid herself, prompting suspicion on the part of the cops, and revelations about two marriages and going AWOL from the army. I personally wouldn't call the film as a whole "noir", it's definitely a pro-police "just stay on the right side" sort of film, but it's fairly well done and nicely shot, and, being shot on location, there certainly are some good noir-like scenes of a city still recovering from the war, with vacant and desolate lots everywhere and buildings showing recent scars.
starts out great, and is more overall in the noir mode, though the second half's entirely hospital-set plot isn't nearly as interesting as the beginning, in which a young woman leaves her husband (as in the first film) because he's squandering their money, goes to the movies, sees a terrible crime being committed, then runs from the crooks and gets hit by a bus. The crooks - a fairly smooth but hard and nasty career criminal and a younger, mostly deaf amateur safe-cracker - are still around the cinema and want to see if the woman, who might identify them, is still alive, and when they find out she is spend the rest of the film trying to get at her in the hospital. This is about on the same level as the first film overall I think but certainly might have been more special had the hospital sequence not been so drawn out.
15. Mi vida loca
(Allison Anders, 1993)
I've wanted to watch this for years because it features Salma Hayek's first film role - be warned that she's only in it for maybe 5 minutes, near the end. Anyway this is a pretty decent little drama with gang elements set in the Echo Park area of L.A., a mostly low-rent Hispanic neighborhood, at least at the time, and virtually all of the characters are supposed to be Chicano, though the whole film with only a few brief exceptions is in English. Mostly the story of two best friends/rivals, Mousie and Sad Girl, who both love the same guy, Ernesto, which for a while breaks up their friendship and is on the verge of making them fight each other when something tragic happens; the rest of the film explores other characters around this trio, with another tragic act of violence at the end. I think the film is making a statement about the place of Latinas in the male culture, and how fucked up this world of violence mostly committed by and for men is, but I can't say it's terribly interesting in it's social posture - better off really as an entertainment frankly, and as a visual portrait of this area of Los Angeles.
16. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
- Episode 6 - "The Cardboard Box" (Sarah Hellings, 1994)
The final episode of this season, and of the whole Brett series is probably the best of the season and one of the best of the series as a whole - nice that it went out on a high note. A Christmas-set story like the first season's "The Blue Carbuncle", this features a trio of sisters - one has disappeared and another is blamed for that disappearance by the third. When a couple of severed ears - from different heads - turn up at the third sister's house as a Christmas gift, she - and Holmes and Watson - fear murder. Was it the tenant harshly kicked out of the house, or the husband of the missing woman, or someone or something else? What I like most in this is the way in which our sympathies are turned between the sisters - and the potential murderers; very skillfully done.
17. Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love
(Mira Nair, 1996, USA/INDIA
Filmed in India entirely in English with a principal cast of mostly British-born actors, this is one of those weird coproductions made by a liberal/left-wing director in and about a conservative country that realistically has no place in that country. According to IMDb this didn't show in India until 20 years after filming and had to be shot largely in secret; there are a few similar stories regarding Iranian films and I'd imagine others as well. It's a sumptuous, beautifully shot and fairly well-acted story that takes it's name from the ancient erotic Sanskrit text and it certainly seems like Nair wants this to be some kind of new-old tale of the relationship between sex and love, but alas it feels very cliched and ordinary in most respects outside of the sex scenes, which are fairly steamy even by conventional western standards (though far from porn) let alone those of south Asia. Essentially the story of a servant who becomes the courtesan to a seemingly powerful king, rivaling her girlhood friend who has become the queen, all after having falling in love with the king's sculptor who is naturally a rival to the kind in this love quadrangle. All four of the lead actors are attractive, especially Indira Varma as Maya, the courtesan, and it's not unpleasant to watch or anything but it really doesn't add up to much in the end.