The Lost City of Z (James Gray, 2016)

lostcityofz-hunnam-jungle-hat

…a voice, as bad as Conscience, rang interminable changes
On one everlasting Whisper day and night repeated—so:
“Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges—
“Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!”

–Rudyard Kipling, “The Explorer”

And the women all were beautiful
And the men stood
straight and strong
They offered life in sacrifice
So that others could go on.

Hate was just a legend
And war was never known
The people worked together
And they lifted many stones.

They carried them
to the flatlands
And they died along the way
But they built up
with their bare hands
What we still can’t do today.

And I know she’s living there
And she loves me to this day
I still can’t remember when
Or how I lost my way.

He came dancing across the water
Cortez, Cortez
What a killer.

–Neil Young, “Cortez the Killer”

James Gray’s adaptation of the story of early 20th Century British explorer Percy Fawcett, based on a New Yorker article and subsequent book by David Grann, is as beguiling, beautiful and ultimately confounding as the Amazonian jungle in which it is largely set. Shot on actual film by the great Darius Khondji (Seven, My Blueberry Nights) the film has a granular opulence rarely seen in the Hollywood cinema today, lush details of both the rain forest wilderness and the rich dark warmth of the woods and leathers of English libraries that are overwhelmingly tactile and mesmerizingly immersive, which, combined with the film’s languorously fluvial pacing washes away all the gaps and inconsitencies and oddities in the screenplay, leaving only the impression of the grace and tragedy of the human impulse toward transcendence.

Continue reading The Lost City of Z (James Gray, 2016)”

Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2014)

maxresdefault

Neil Young has a habit of changing course just when everybody starts to get on his wavelength. He’ll follow up an acclaimed album of pretty acoustic songs like Harvest with some loud fucked up sadness like On the Beach and Tonight’s the Night. It’s becoming apparent that Paul Thomas Anderson is a little like that, too. Early in his career, Anderson made a name for himself as the guy who wove dozens of disparate characters into the sweeping tapestries of Boogie Nights and Magnolia. He then abandoned his templates for the anger and intimacy of Punch-Drunk Love. Now Anderson, the zig-zag wanderer, has done it again, following up two raw portraits of American ego with an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice, a goofy escapade to the paranoid summit of Stoner Mountain. If the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis was the album cover of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan come to life, Inherent Vice is the cover and title of Young’s Everybody Knows This is Nowhere. It’s the death knell of the ‘60s being banged on a dimestore gong. Continue reading Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2014)”