10 on the 10th – June 2018

The last ten movies I’ve watched nod strongly toward Australia (Body Melt, Hollywood BurnTerror Nullius, Toni Collette in Hereditary) and found footage (the Soda_Jerk films again and The Green Fog). It’s a good batch of titles with The Green Fog (a clever and hilarious take on Hitchcock’s Vertigo), Hereditary (family trauma and arch performances in a disturbingly manipulated world), and Terror Nullius (a tale of political revenge told through Australian film with the stridency of a student newspaper – in a good way) all finding places on my best of 2018 list.

  1. The King of Jazz (John Murray Anderson, 1930)
  2. Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)
  3. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (Dario Argento, 1970)
  4. The Green Fog (Guy Maddin, Galen Johnson, and Evan Johnson, 2017)
  5. Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1978)
  6. Have a Nice Day (Liu Jian, 2017)
  7. Body Melt (Philip Brophy, 1993)
  8. Hollywood Burn (Soda_Jerk, 2006)
  9. Terror Nullius (Soda_Jerk, 2018)
  10. Paddington 2 (Paul King, 2017)

I was lucky enough to see The Green Fog with Guy Maddin and the Johnson brothers. Here are my favourite observations from the Q&A:

  • None of the filmmakers re-watched Vertigo to prepare for its re-making. “We’ve all seen it a bunch of times right?”;
  • The Johnsons became so enamoured with the TV series The Streets of San Francisco (1972-1977) and Hotel (1983-1988) that The Green Fog started to become an effort in not using footage from the shows;
  • As a Douglas Sirk fan, Maddin was happy to feature Rock Hudson in McMillan & Wife and wanted to avoid creating any kind of queer commentary by his appearance;
  • The film was commissioned by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Despite being asked to produce a 45-minute work (in an extremely short amount of time!) and actually submitting a 63-minute film, the initially completed version was over 80 minutes long. The filmmakers cut 20 minutes of people sitting at dinner tables not talking to each (a situation that makes up a sizeable portion of the 63-minute final cut) as they thought audiences would not be able to stand the extended joke. (Personally, I hope this longer cut somehow gets circulated should The Green Fog reach hard media);
  • Midway through The Green Fog is an extended sequence of Chuck Norris looking sad in various settings. The footage came from the film An Eye for an Eye (Steve Carver, 1981) and Maddin remarked that Norris achieves a “Bressonian expressionlessness” in the footage;
  • Animation and Canadian cinema scholar Gene Walz remarked that The Green Fog reveals how easy and repetitive much of filmmaking is. “Get a shot of a car driving by. Then one of it rounding a corner. Now going down a hill.”
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