Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '86 - Aaron West ""

Friday, June 24, 2016

Underrated '86 - Aaron West

Aaron West is an art film enthusiast, a Criterion obsessive (as evident from his writings at Criterion Blues and his podcasting for Criterion Close-Up) and can be found on Twitter @awest505.

Jimi Plays Monterey
D.A. Pennebaker’s “fly on the wall” style of filmmaking is ideal for concert photography, especially when the subject is such a dynamic and unique talent like Jimi Hendrix. This is Jimi at a high point in his career, in 1967 as he was just beginning to reach people, where his vitality and energy on stage were infectious. Pennebaker could have succeeded just by turning the camera on and letting Jimi do the rest, but the filmmaking is up to the task and captures a magnificent performance.
When the Wind Blows
When it comes to bleak, nuclear animated tales, Grave of the Fireflies tends to get first mention, and deservingly so. However, When the Wind Blows gets close in terms of both storytelling and impact. What appears at first to be a trite story of an aging couple becomes an unlikely perspective to process the fears and terrors of the cold war.
Mona Lisa
This early work of Neil Jordan’s boasts two standout performances, most notably from Bob Hoskins and also Cathy Tyson. What is essentially an ordinary neo-noir is elevated by the relationship and chemistry between the two characters, one of whom is a gangster thug and the other a high class prostitute. The two worlds converge and learn about the world and themselves from the experience.
Le Rayon Vert / The Green Ray
Éric Rohmer is a master at portraying the trials and tribulations when it comes to men and women connecting with each other. Even if his films often contain a lot of dialogue, an ensemble cast, and romantic difficulties, none of his films follow a formula. They approach relationships from a unique place each time. With Le Rayon Vert, Delphine is trying to reconcile a recent break-up while witnessing others indulge in the opposite sex during a summer vacation. As always with Rohmer, it is captivating, and has my favorite endings of the films of his that I’ve seen.

Jean de Florette
This film is often paired with its sequel, Manon of the Spring, and together they tell a complete story, yet the first film is of such quality that it stands alone as a tremendous film. It contains plenty of gorgeous scenery from the Provence countryside. I have been critical of Gérard Depardieu on many occasions, but he gives the performance of his career as the titular character, and the conflict about water is captivating.

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