Chronicle of a Slummer: LABOR DAYS Pt 1

Labor Day Weekend, the time of year where any good system-gaming worker knows to shave some extra days off and reap the (in my case) five-day rewards! As you can see below, I have really and truly kicked it all off with a bang!

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The Garden of Women | Keisuke Kinoshita | 1954

My idea of cultural vegetables at this juncture of my filmgoing is all the so-called arthouse-tagged stuff outside the glorious Old Hollywood cosmos. When it comes to Japanese cinema I only know some of the basic constellations and so feel ill-equipped to really haggle about history or act authoritative or exude expertise. My response to this random Kinoshita that popped up on my Hulu watchlist and that I decided would be a nice blindspot filler for the evening basically boils down to its status as (maybe?) a precedent of sorts to Night and Fog in Japan (allowing, naturally, for many other leftist beads that might be threaded thru the postwar years that I have no idea about). As what it is — a movie about students at an all women college in righteous revolt against the authoritarian superstructure — it’s really good, methinks. There’s this first-act morass of stifling pedagogical fascism that withholds any characterization for a good fifteen minutes, which is just one structural ingredient in this perfectly strategically paced 2.5hr runtime whereby a nice slow simmering of braised tension is incrementally brought to an apoplectic boil. But what’s most impressive is the ambiguity, the pointed ambiguity, concerning the proliferation of faulthood, the privileged left hijacking the more incremental and actionable causes of the truly marginalized, and the inability for any of the film’s many sermons to win out against the others. Truly, this is one fine, fiery flick!

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The Patsy | MGM | King Vidor | 1928

This, on the other hand, is pure politix-less Americana! The social imbalances of family life are gnawing but hilarious, Marie Dressler’s bulgy mobility is like she’s made of plasma, or like the Fleischers’ squash-and-stretch animation was based entirely on her, and there are these great little drudgery-puncturing turning points in the story, like when it cuts from that snooty party to Mr. Speedboat veering into port. Oh, also, this is a good movie to watch to learn how great intertitles are. So witty! It’s like its own dual comedy channel bobbing and weaving with the slapstick. Love those silents.

I hope your Labor Day Weekend Movie Marathon is going as well as mine! Till next time, pals!

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