Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mubi Roulette

So I was poking around on Mubi--formerly The Auteurs--today, and I was struck by the complete randomness of how it displays my preferences. If you'd like, you can see my Mubi profile here. Feel free to follow me and invite me to follow you if you're there, too. It's the location of my ever elusive list of favorite films.

What I'm seeing right now, having just clicked over to my profile, is four movies I've designated as favorites (out of a completely freely associated selection of 284 movies I've added to that list), ten favorite "auteurs," and ten "style" keywords.

These are the four films that are displayed for me today. I could change it by reloading the page, but it's an interesting random bunch:

That Obscure Object of Desire
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
The Naked Prey
The Narrow Margin

I don't know what you can glean about me from that selection, but it's interesting to speculate. Two of the four are resolutely masculine movies. Seriously, Cornell Wilde all naked and sweaty in The Naked Pray just REEKS of testosterone. You can almost smell it! Three of these movies are mindfucks. None of them is a horror movie, which seems a significant failing. I suppose a case could be made for Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. One is film noir. It's a cool selection of films and, yeah, all four of them ARE favorites, even if I haven't seen any of them in a while. I think the last one I saw was The Narrow Margin back when it showed up on the second Warners film noir box. It's been a while. Interestingly enough, seeing them spread across the top of my profile makes me WANT to see them again, particularly That Obscure Object of Desire, which is the farthest in the past for me.

These are the styles:

Serene & subtle
Wildly romantic
Deliriously surreal
Canonical classics
Shh!—silent cinema
Pop Art

Again, I'm not sure what this says about me, other than that I have (little "c") catholic tastes. Serene & Subtle coming in right above Wildly Romantic and Deliriously Surreal seems contradictory to me, even though I go for all three modes. Note to self: watch more deliriously subtle surreal romantic movies. That's pretty much The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, isn't it? Or maybe Mulholland Dr.?

Finally, the directors:

John Farrow
Henri-Georges Clouzot
Tod Browning
James Whale
Budd Boetticher
John Ford
John Carpenter
Buster Keaton
Billy Wilder
Frank Borzage

This is probably more representative.

Farrow is probably the eyebrow raiser, but every time I see one of his noir films, I wonder why he's still outside the bright circle of unreflected auteur worship. Sure, his films are occasionally eccentric--possibly because he worked for Howard Hughes--but, man, movies like His Kind of Woman and The Big Clock are all kinds of fun. Interesting that Browning and Whale come up right in succession. That seems appropriate to the chronological way I organize horror movies in my mind. Carpenter is listed on the strength of his early work, not his long eclipse. Budd Boetticher is another manly director, as is John Ford. Ford and Wilder are the 800 lb. gorillas here, I guess. Keaton would be, too, if more people watched silents. Keaton. Wow. If there's a filmmaker in the history of movies who has given me more genuine pleasure than Buster Keaton, I don't know who it is. And then there's Frank Borzage, who I am in the process of discovering. I've always loved his Seventh Heaven, which is one of the glories of silent film, but watching his Lucky Star last year was kind of tranformative.

I was surprised that no women came up, so I looked at the complete list and was shamed by the fact that I haven't listed any. This, after grumbling on my social networks about how the Best Director Oscar this year is another boy's club. DOH! Soon to be added: Agnes Varda, Lucretia Martel, Catherine Breillat, Kathryn Bigelow, and Ida Lupino (off the top of my head). I should make a project out of women in film this year. Be warned.


DeAnna said...

"Note to self: watch more deliriously subtle surreal romantic movies."

Hmmm, I think this describes my favorite movies ever! Arichapong Weerasethakul immediately comes to mind, but perhaps also Wong Kar-Wai and Guy Maddin get partial credit.

I love visiting my mubi page and should spend some serious time on the boards there, because the conversations are pretty damn smart. Like you, I don't have a single female director listed in my auteurs. But I don't think I tend to like movies made by women. I guess I'm a movie misogynist. I should probably add Andrea Arnold as her movies are the only female directed ones on my ever growing list of "favorites" at mubi. But with cinema, I've made a point for years to see the films that are by women and comment on women and have decided that they may be more harsh to female characters than the boys are. So I'm preferring the more loving treatment of women in cinema by men that worship women (Tarantino, Ozon, Almodovar) then those that are more critical of women's place in culture (Campion).

My four representative favorites right now are Down By Law, Memento, Blow-Up and The Company. I haven't a clue what that says about me.

Vulnavia Morbius said...

Hah! It's not an accident that the banner graphic on my profile over there is from In the Mood for Love. So I'm down with Wong Kar Wai.

I was having an argument a couple of days ago with someone who suggested that because there are no comparable female directors to Kubrick, Hawks, Hitchcock, etc, that ipso facto, women weren't capable of forging those kinds of careers. Which, of course, is complete bullshit. I'll take Agnes Varda over Godard or Truffaut any day of the week, thanks. But I see your point about women being harder on women. There's a lot of internalized misogyny in some of the films I see by women, though I wonder if that's just a byproduct of raging against a rigged system. Not sure.

Interesting quartet of films, by the way. As random as mine.

DeAnna said...

I think it is a product of women's status in society. Women teach women how to be women, if that makes sense. In Jr. High, the most severe bullying I encountered was from other girls and women vehemently warn about working for female bosses. And the reason women love high heels and dress certain ways is often to be noticed or accepted by other women, not to attract men.

In a perfect world, women would help other women, but sadly the opposite is what occurs. And it is this reason that I have very few girl friends. I don't trust them and find men easier to be around.

And my current four favorites: Letters From Iwo Jima, Raspberry Reich, Tokyo Story, & Witness.