Guadagnino. A few years removed from it now, it is easier to see Call Me By Your Name a magnificent feat and one of the best films of the back half of the 2010’s decade. As fond as I am of I Am Love and A Bigger Splash (I look forward to a second viewing of both) this strength of Guadanino’s case is in his one truly great film. He works quickly though- three films (all archiveable) between 2015-2019 so there’s certainly the distinct possibility he builds out the depth of that filmography in the 2020’s. He certainly cares more for mood than plot, and given the somewhat disappointing Suspiria, I do hope he spends more time in the romance/sensual genre like Call Me By Your Name and I Am Love moving forward.

Best film: Call Me By Your Name

  • It’s one of the highlights of 2017 because of the cast, the photography (by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom (who regularly works with Apichatpong Weerasethakul which may be why much of this film feels like a dream)), the songs by Sufjan Stevens, but it’s Guadagnino at the center here putting it all together. It’s his third archiveable film after I Am Love and A Bigger Splash
  • Excellent performances by Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer, and the ever-brilliant Michael Stuhlbarg
  • The entire film feels like a fond memory of your best summer. Guadagnino shoots the film better than reality possibly could—almost with a filter of nostalgia— meaning it could never be this beautiful
  • Strong character building of the two leads—I love how Hammer’s character is built. He comes in and falls asleep for like 16 hours, eats an egg in 2 seconds flat, dancers with all his heart (“love my way” by Psychedelic Fur will always remind me of this film now) and without giving a shit about what people think and goes all out at volleyball. He even drinks his juice in one entire gulp. He’s sensitive enough to wait for Chalamet’s character to make the first move but then falls all the way in love
  • There is a tremendous tracking shot around a war monument in town. It’s as if the two can’t speak of their budding romance and love for one another yet so it’s all done by looks and wrestling—Guadagnino does it in one shot here and it’s one of the films many highlights

There is a tremendous tracking shot around a war monument in town. It’s as if the two can’t speak of their budding romance and love for one another yet so it’s all done by looks and wrestling—Guadagnino does it in one shot here and it’s one of the films many highlights

  • Another highlight is the monologue delivered by Stuhlbarg at the end. His warmth and goodness just wash over you
  • And the final highlight for me is the final long take of Chalamet in close up and the devastation he feels. It is a bold choice and works here
  • It’s largely a slow-burn- slowly paced but it does punch you in the third act
  • Form in food with the apricot and peaches and the study of antiquity (from the opening credits to the office of Stuhlbarg during the monologue) are a formal backdrop as well- it doesn’t hurt that Hammer, the center of the summer fixation, basically looks like a roman god
  • Medication on love and heartbreak
  • More than just the brilliant final shot—the change of seasons in the finale is an important jolt to the viewer and in step and form with the film’s themes
  • A great film can sometimes have just one transcendent cinematic moment—masterpieces have many (or some it seems like a transcendent cinematic moment throughout)- I’m not ready to compare Call Me By Your Name to like Children of Men or In the Mood For Love) but there are at least four such moments here: one is the final shot that holds on Chalamet’s face, one is the speech by Michael Stuhlbarg towards the end, one is the green editing transition during the earlier Sufjan Stevens song “Futile Devices”(again on Calumet) and the fourth is the tracking shot at the Piave monument

A great film can sometimes have just one transcendent cinematic moment– CMBYN has at least four- including the “Futile Devices” sequence– lyrical, experiential

  • He’s better than this- he’s a special auteur- but at the very least Guadagnino is a director of immaculate taste—he’s working on a script (Oscar win) from James Ivory, has Sayombhu Mukdeeprom as his DP (frequently works with Apichatpong Weerasethakul), hired Sufjan Stevens to do a few songs, chose to shoot this in glorious 35mm- brilliant decisions
  • John Adams Hallelujah Junction, 1st Movement—stunning score
  • Shot in northern Italy on location in 35mm as I said- sumptuous
  • Guadagnino edits it magnificently as well- chooses to use dissolves and fades in lieu of harsher cuts- fits perfectly
  • 35mm photography during the opening credit sequence montage on antiquity sculpts- glorious- lets you know right away this is different
  • Three wonderful performances, Chalamet gets most of the great moments and he’ll never do anything better- I like him- but films/roles like this do not come along. Hammer is great as the idol and sort of Greek god- he sleeps, eats, and dances with his entire being—there’s comic elements as well- he’s wholly American with the “later” and that the first thing he wants to do there is open a bank account- haha
  • The family is so warm- great performances- it would be very easy to be turned off by this uber-intellectual family… the discussions of Bach, the origin on the word of Apricot as a test for their grad student visitors— they remind me a bit of the two great sisters in Ivory’s Howard’s End (Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter)— this is modern of course in the 80’s with the “Talking Heads” t-shirt
  • Idyllic, paced, leisurely
  • Ralph Lauren galore- 80’s primary colors

a dedication to the color green throughout the film, foreground/background focus here- depth of field

  • The tracking shot Piave monument shot is perfection- a dance- not only a stunner of a tracking shot but the change for the two young men in the film
  • Shows range for Guadagnino—A Bigger Splash is very verbal and angry- this is the opposite
  • Mountains and waterfall to Sufjan Stevens- does it get better than that? Impeccable
  • Guadagnino and Sayombhu Mukdeeprom shoot greens and nature so well- awe inspiring—reminiscent of Sayombhu Mukdeeprom shooting in Thailand with the jungle exterior mise-en-scenes just loaded with greens
  • Michael Stuhlbarg’s monologue may be his finest moment on screen- and this is from an actor who is superb, and the lead, in a Coen Brother’s masterpiece (A Serious Man)- so think about that
  • The winter at the end blasts you away—it’s otherworldly here and then that final transcendent moment with the fire and Calumet staring into it as the credits roll to Stevens’ song

 

total archiveable films: 4

it isn’t a total success- can’t compare with Guadagnino’s previous film or the Argento masterpiece, but Suspiria is still ambitious filmmaking

top 100 films:  0

top 500 films:  0

top 100 films of the decade:  1 (Call Me By Your Name)

most overrated: Guadagnino does not have any overrated films. I Am Love is recent, 2009- and was his third film I believe and put his name on the map, so noting yet on the TSPDT top 1000 list—but both I Am Love and Call Me By Your Name land on the TSPDT 21st century consensus list. I Am Love is around slot #20 for 2009—underrated. And though it isn’t far off, Call Me By Your Name is underrated as well as the #5 slot for 2017.

most underrated :  A Bigger Splash. There are 43 films from 2015 on the TSPDT consensus top 1000 and no mention of A Bigger Splash.

a stunner of a belongs in a museum up on a wall shot in A Bigger Splash

Fiennes is like a bat out of hell in A Bigger Splash

gem I want to spotlight :  I Am Love. If you are only going to watch one Guadanino film- that’s easy- it’s Call Me By Your Name– but if you want to expand beyond that. Start here.

The obstruction of the frame with the flower in I Am Love with soft focus is straight out of Antonioni’s playbook- gorgeous work

three of his four archiveable films star Tilda Swinton– you probably know you’re a talented filmmaker if Swinton has agreed to be in your movie

stylistic innovations/traits:                             

  • He makes unique romances set in a gorgeous backdrops (Italy).
  • Mood and memory more than narrative (peaches and food in Call Me By Your Name, flowers in I Am Love)
  • work with Tilda Swinton- three out of the four archiveable films
  • lyrical, experiential
  • Fade to color (green in Call Me By Your Name) elliptical editing—the dissolves in his masterwork are absolutely the right editing transition choice
  • The obstruction of the frame with the flower in I Am Love with soft focus is straight out of Antonioni’s playbook- gorgeous work
  • Guadagnino has a dedication and enthusiasm for music-  we do have the collaboration from Radiohead’s Thom Yorke in Suspiria— it’s very good- different. Guadagnino cares so much about music, a veiled biopic on David Bowie (A Bigger Splash), Sufijan Stevens in Call Me By Your Name

I remember wanting Guadagnino to end the film with the Stuhlbarg monologue– and then we get the epilogue, including this final shot… wow…. transcendent

top 10

  1. Call Me By Your Name
  2. I Am Love
  3. A Bigger Splash
  4. Suspiria

 

By year and grades

2009- I Am Love R
2015- A Bigger Splash R
2017- Call Me By Your Name MS/MP
2018- Suspiria R

 

*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film

MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film

HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film

R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives