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Death to Videodrome

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Death to Videodrome

#1

Post by brokenface » March 28th, 2014, 5:40 pm

A new log, this time with a specific approach: tackling my watchlist & backlog of downloads via director filmographies.

I shall pick a director who features heavily on my watchlist and attack their filmography, logging what I watch here. Not necessarily aiming to complete filmographies, but at least watch whatever I have in watchlist. Then onto the next director and so forth.

Discussion & recommendations very welcome B)

--

Directors:
Jerzy Skolimowski
Ken Loach
Andrzej Wajda
Vincente Minnelli
Karel Zeman
Last edited by brokenface on July 19th, 2014, 11:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#2

Post by brokenface » March 28th, 2014, 5:54 pm

Jerzy Skolimowski

Previously seen:
Deep End (1970) 9/10
The Shout (1978) 7/10
Essential Killing (2010) 5/10

Watched for this log:

Moonlighting (1982) 8/10

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Splendingly claustrophobic allegory following a group of Polish workers illegally hired to renovate a house in London. Jeremy Irons is their boss (though he has a boss of his own) and as the only English-speaker & keeper of the money is also essentially their jailer. Some irony in their being no freer in an ostensibly free country away from the communist rule at home.

Their situation in London is cast against the political upheaval happening back in Poland (the military repression of the Solidarity movement), about which they are kept in the dark by the very ambigious Irons. On the one hand, you see the individual pressure he feels trying to keep the group going with limited money & numerous setbacks, but the way he treats these workers (shown as none-too-smart) is undoubtedly cruel even if he believes he is acting in their best interests. Irons carries the movie very impressively, given that his voiceover and limited exchanges with Londoners is basically all the dialogue you get.

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Rysopis/Identification Marks: None (1965) 5/10
Walkower (1965) 6/10
Rece do góry/Hands Up (1967/1981) 5/10

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These are grouped together because they are a kind-of trilogy, with Skolimowski playing the same character in all three (though this is only loosely true for Rece do gory). The first two are clearly early efforts. They are very new wave in style & the character Skolimowski plays is one of those disillusioned young men you tend to get in new wave films, presumably autobiographical. Not a great deal happens, but they don't outlast their welcome at just over an hour each and they show him learning techniques as director.

The third one is an oddity - it's a film that was made in 1967 as the third in this trilogy, but banned and some of the footage then reassimilated into a new film in 1981 when the ban was lifted. it's experimental and I couldn't make a great deal of sense of it! There's a bit of meta stuff discussing the nature of films and so forth, some political backdrop with contemporary footage of Solidarity movement and some stuff I don't really know what it was supposed to be. I'd say this is for Skolimowski completists or experimental mafia only!

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Bariera (1966) 7/10

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Takes the nouvelle vague stylings of Identification Marks None & Walkover into more surreal, dream-like territory. Much like the later Deep End, the soundtrack plays an important role in setting the tone & was one of the highlights for me. This is an enigmatic film, full of strange imagery and dialogue that doesn't quite follow - so if the previous two were most reminiscent of early Godard/Truffaut, this is one which brings to mind Resnais.


--
Shorts:
Oko wykol/The Menacing Eye (1960)
Hamles/Little Hamlet (1960)
Erotyk (1960)
Pieniadze albo zycie/Your Money or Your Life (1961)

Four short shorts, mostly under 5 mins. For me, the pick of these was easily Erotyk which makes good use of mirror & manages to conjure an unsettling atmosphere in its short runtime. Hamles was the longest & least interesting, skip that one.

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Le départ (1967) 6/10

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Light-hearted new wave jaunt, with attractive and likeable leads (shame Catherine-Isabelle Duport was in so few films, she's cute!). Not a great deal in story or depth, it's more a film carried on charisma and pacing. I think Bariera from the previous year was a much more interesting & ambitious film visually - this being his first non-Polish film is perhaps the reason - but there are some nice touches and you see some of Skolimowski's familiar motifs like mirrors featuring. Also the soundtrack veers into that 60s 'wacky caper' sound sometimes, which rather dates the film to my ears.

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King Queen Knave (1972) 4/10

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Despite solid cast (David Niven, Gina Lollobrigida + John Moulder-Brown returning after Deep End from a couple years previous) and a Nabokov novel as source material this one is a real dud. The main problem is that it's mostly played as broad comedy and I didn't find any of it funny. Moulder-Brown's role is not altogether different from Deep End, but here he is much dumber and much more irritating. There are noticeable recurring motifs from Deep End and others - water & mirrors play their roles, the sexually aggressive older woman and the odd slightly surreal touch. These are really the only things which keep it recognisable as a Skolimowski film. I haven't read the original book, but I generally love Nabokov and I'm sure in his hands this is a great black comedy - alas in the film the duff comedy aspects bring it down to the level of a badly dated sitcom.

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The Lightship (1985) 6/10

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A battle of wills on a boat - Skolimowski returns to the territory of Knife in the Water, but this is much less successful. Robert Duvall hams it up as a Southern gent who is also some sort of criminal on the run with two halfwit cronies and for some reason winds up on Klaus Maria Brandaeur's Lightship (a stationary boat which acts a lighthouse, who knew?).

Klaus and Bob face off, good against evil, with some weirdly flirtatious undertones, as Bob offers a brand of freedom which Klaus doesn't have in his stationary life on his stationary ship. Klaus also has an annoying son in tow (who also provides a crappy voiceover) and tries to stave off accusations of cowardice as he doesn't want to fight Duvall for control of the boat and is more concerned with making sure the light keeps working. It's not a bad film but never really manages to ratchet up the tension that the situation could provide and the dialogue is only sporadically interesting.

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Cztery noce z Anna/Four Nights With Anna (2008) 7/10

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For some reason (funding?) Skolimowski made no films from 1991 until his return in 2008 with this one. It's a downbeat, sad film, about a loner who is also something of a voyeur and gets involved in the life of Anna a nurse who lives nearby. It's a well shot film with definite shades of Dekalog.
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#3

Post by monty » March 28th, 2014, 6:11 pm

Nice choice of director and film to start off your log with, brokenface. I for one would love to see you review his Le départ (1967) next - one of his best IMO.

Btw, Jerzy has no iCM filmography yet. Would anyone care to rectify that?
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#4

Post by Kasparius » March 28th, 2014, 6:18 pm

I was fairly disappointed by Le départ, very derivative of the new wave without getting anywhere near it in terms of quality. Always nice to see Léaud though.

Deep End and Moonlighting are great on the other hand.

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#5

Post by brokenface » March 28th, 2014, 6:23 pm

monty on Mar 28 2014, 12:11:57 PM wrote:Nice choice of director and film to start off your log with, brokenface. I for one would love to see you review his Le départ (1967) next - one of his best IMO.

Btw, Jerzy has no iCM filmography yet. Would anyone care to rectify that?
Le départ will come. I've watched Rysopis & Walkower today, and going to watch Rece do góry next as they are a linked trilogy

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#6

Post by bal3x » March 28th, 2014, 8:35 pm

Skolimowski has no filmo on iCM? WTF? I will take care of this ASAP.
Moonlighting is my favorite by a mile, I was not so much impressed by Le départ as well.

EDIT: done!
http://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/jerzy ... phy/bal3x/
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#7

Post by brokenface » March 28th, 2014, 9:18 pm

nice work bal3x! I did notice the lack, but I'd just requested a Johnnie To list so thought it was too soon to ask for another :D

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#8

Post by burneyfan » March 28th, 2014, 10:26 pm

brokenface on Mar 28 2014, 03:18:37 PM wrote:nice work bal3x! I did notice the lack, but I'd just requested a Johnnie To list so thought it was too soon to ask for another :D
Ha, I would have done that one in a heartbeat (though I'm delighted that bal3x took care of it)! I love both Moonlighting and Deep End, been looking forward to The Shout. (Less wild about Bariera, but hey...)
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#9

Post by bal3x » March 28th, 2014, 10:40 pm

No problem, enjoy :)

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#10

Post by brokenface » April 2nd, 2014, 12:01 am

Finished my blast through Skolimowski. seen all but 4 features (none of the remainder look that appealing & I'm not quite so sold that I feel the need to complete). Here's my rank, all the reviews in the post up-thread:

1. Deep End (1970)
2. Moonlighting (1982)
3. Bariera (1966)
4. The Shout (1978)
5. Cztery noce z Anna/Four Nights With Anna (2008)
6. Walkower (1965)
7. Le départ (1967)
8. The Lightship (1985)
9. Rysopis/Identification Marks: None (1965)
10. Essential Killing (2011)
11. Rece do góry/Hands Up (1967/1981)
12. King Queen Knave (1972)

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#11

Post by brokenface » April 3rd, 2014, 11:44 am

Ken Loach

Previously seen:
Kes (1969) 8/10
The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006) 6/10
The Angel's Share (2012) 7/10

Watched for this log:

Cathy Come Home (1967) 7/10

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Very much a document of its time but perhaps still relevant in some ways, this is a TV film which was made to highlight the housing crisis and how easily a young couple is able to slip into poverty, putting a human face on people who are otherwise demonised as scroungers and wastrels. Made in documentary style, it's effective but also limited by the directness of its message.

--
Land and Freedom(1995) 8/10

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Follows a naive young communist from Liverpool who goes to help fight the fascists in the Spanish Civil War. It's a conflict that seems to get overlooked by cinema. There's no mistaking Loach's sympathies with the idealistic socialist militia & the film is most successful when showing the comradeship building between the disparate members of the group. Not so sure it needed the framing story, but I guess it gave it a contemporary hook.

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Hidden Agenda(1990) 7/10

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Conspiracy drama/thriller set against the backdrop of Northern Irish politics of the 70s/80s. Heavier on talk than action, it's well done but also gets a little bit dry and preachy at times. Feels a bit like a TV production of the time (House of Cards, Edge of Darkness), though it is lifted by strong cast, Brian Cox in particular.

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Family Life(1971) 8/10

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Stifling study of a young woman's mental health difficulties, although it's more about the generation gap between her and her parents. She is dissatisfied with the life of bland conformity her parents want for her - so proudly defiant in the protestations that they gave her exactly what anyone could want, a 'normal' upbringing - and this generation gap is mirrored in the comparison between the two types of institute she ends up in and their differing forms of treatment. I realized her parents are pretty much exactly of my grandparents' generation & social background and I can actually recognise some of their characteristics.

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My Name is Joe(1998) 7/10

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Familiar territory for British film: underclass characters in a deprived area trying to find hope against a backdrop of violence, drugs, alcoholism. Peter Mullan is good, as usual. It's reminiscent of Tyrannosaur of a couple years ago (or rather I should say Tyrannosaur is clearly very influenced by this), though Mullan's character is a bit more sympathetic here (partly because we're not shown so much of him as his lowest points, they are only referred to). I think they could have developed the female lead's character a bit more.

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Riff-Raff(1991) 7/10

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Early role for Robert Carlyle as a Scot working in London on a construction site. Particularly concerned with working conditions & politics of the time. There is also a relationship plot which is less effective.

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Raining Stones(1993) 7/10

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Another of Loach's likeable underdogs striving to succeed and being beaten down on all sides. The spin here is the religious side and a little more into melodrama in the finale as he takes risky and ultimately extreme measures to raise the money for his daughter's confirmation outfit.

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Sweet Sixteen(2002) 8/10

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This time the likeable underdog is a Glaswegian teen, with a mother in jail and a drug dealing stepfather. His drive to succeed is limited by his options and his proneness to violence.

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Ladybird Ladybird(1994) 7/10

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Most reminiscent of Cathy Come Home of all those I've seen. Retains the somewhat documentary-style, as it follows the story of a woman's clashes with social services over her children. Lots of raw emotions and anger - tough watch.
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#12

Post by jvv » April 3rd, 2014, 11:53 am

I haven't seen Land and Freedom, but generally speaking I dislike framing stories. Examples: Life of Pi and Titanic. :yucky:

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#13

Post by brokenface » April 3rd, 2014, 12:01 pm

jvv on Apr 3 2014, 05:53:27 AM wrote:I haven't seen Land and Freedom, but generally speaking I dislike framing stories. Examples: Life of Pi and Titanic. :yucky:
yeah they don't often add a lot. the one in Land & Freedom is pretty small & only really bookends the film so it didn't bother me particularly, just seemed rather unnecessary.

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#14

Post by Kasparius » April 3rd, 2014, 3:07 pm

I remember liking it, but I haven't seen it since it came out. No passeran!

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#15

Post by brokenface » April 24th, 2014, 2:26 pm

Okay I'm done with Loach's social realism for now. His films are consistently good, but not quite great (hence mostly getting 7s from me) and starting to feel a little formulaic. Here's a top 10:

1. Family Life
2. Land and Freedom
3. Kes
4. Sweet Sixteen
5. Hidden Agenda
6. The Angels' Share
7. Riff-Raff
8. My Name is Joe
9. Raining Stones
10. Cathy Come Home

next up: Andrzej Wajda.
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#16

Post by brokenface » April 28th, 2014, 9:09 am

Andrzej Wajda

Previously watched:
Pokolenie / A Generation (1955) 8/10
Kanal (1957) 7/10
Popiól i diament / Ashes & Diamonds (1958) 8/10
Czlowiek z marmuru / Man of Marble (1977) 7/10
Katyn (2007) 7/10

Watched for this log:

Czlowiek z zelaza / Man of Iron (1981) 7/10

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Not the easiest film to follow, probably requires more understanding of the history and politics of the time than I possess in order to get all the context. It's the follow-on to Man of Marble and perhaps slightly less successful overall, but strikes a more optimistic tone in line with the contemporary Solidarity movement.

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Niewinni czarodzieje / Innocent Sorcerers (1960) 6/10

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I have to agree with the couple of IMDB comments on this, which say this film seems to be more the work of its screenwriter Jerzy Skolimowski than of Wajda, sharing common ground with the early Skolimowski features Walkover & Identification Marks None. It's rather new wave in style and mostly consists of dialogue, in the form of games & flirtation between a man and a woman over the course of a night. I'd have liked a little more depth to the characters.

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Krajobraz po bitwie / Landscape After Battle (1970) 7/10

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The landscape in question is not physical but mental. This film follows two characters after their liberation from a concentration camp at the end of WW2. It captures the chaos of the immediate post-war situation & through the couple at its centre, approaches the psychological damage done by the horrors they endured. My main criticism would be that sometimes the tone of the film felt a bit inconsistent.

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Brzezina / The Birch Wood (1970) 6/10

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Made the same year as Landscape After Battle, and with the same lead actor (Daniel Olbrychski, who is in many Wajda films), this one is a bleak piece about mortality, based around a young man who is sick and has come to stay with his brother. I could imagine Bergman making a similar film, but with sisters at the centre. The birch wood of the title where several scenes take place makes for some nice imagery.

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Panny z Wilka / The Young Girls of Wiko (1979) 6/10

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A film about a man's return to a place he left behind many years earlier, and how his reappearance affects a family of sisters. The film has some quite beautiful scenes but I never quite warmed to it. Several of the sisters were rather interchangable in character, and the man at the centre is not all that interesting.

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Danton (1983) 8/10

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Very good historical piece, capturing a pivotal time in the French revolution - the downfall of Danton. The contrast of character & attitudes of Danton & Robespierre in their struggle for power are at the heart of the film. Depardieu plays Danton big in every sense. My knowledge of French revolution is not sufficient to say whether its portrayals of Danton & Robespierre are accurate - it clearly paints Danton in the more favourable light, but both he and Robespierre are conflicted characters, which drives the film's drama.

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Przekladaniec (1968) 7/10

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Wajda does science-fiction - Stanislaw Lem, no less. Short film based around the question of human identity in a world where transplants are so commonplace & complex that when two brothers are in a car accident something like 40% of the brother who dies is transplanted into the other to save him. but the question opens: with this much of him surviving, is the dead brother really dead? Is the living brother who he thinks he is? The film is satire, and takes the scenario in absurdist/comic direction. Script is a bit overwritten with exposition (bad subs probably didn't help) & it could've been a bit sharper overall, but still quite a good watch & interesting to see Wajda doing something so different from what I've come to expect.

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Ziemia Obiecana / The Promised Land (1975) 8/10

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Saga of 19th century capitalists. Olbrychski again, playing one of a trio of amoral businessmen.

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Wesele / The Wedding (1973) 6/10

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I found this a difficult film, there's a lot going on: a lot of allusions and references, a backdrop of class & political differences in a big cast of characters all set in the backdrop of a wedding party. So it's somewhere between Robert Altman and The Rules of the Game, but encased in Polish history.
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#17

Post by brokenface » May 17th, 2014, 1:32 pm

Calling time on my Wajda investigations. Think I've seen all his major films now, he has a huge filmography and there's still much I could explore (hardly seen anything he made in the 60s or the last 30 years), but I'm kinda sick of seeing Daniel Olbrychski ;)

Obligatory Ranking:

1. A Generation
2. Ashes & Diamonds
3. Danton
4. Man of Marble
5. The Promised Land
6. Kanal
7. Landscape After Battle
8. Man of Iron
9. Przekladaniec
10. Katyn
11. Innocent Sorcerers
12. The Birch Wood
13. The Young Girls of Wilko
14. Wesele

--
next up: Vincente Minnelli.

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#18

Post by monty » May 17th, 2014, 2:36 pm

brokenface on May 17 2014, 07:32:43 AM wrote:next up: Vincente Minnelli.
AKA Brokenface spends time in cinema hell.

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#19

Post by brokenface » May 17th, 2014, 3:40 pm

monty on May 17 2014, 08:36:25 AM wrote:
brokenface on May 17 2014, 07:32:43 AM wrote:next up: Vincente Minnelli.
AKA Brokenface spends time in cinema hell.
not a fan, eh?

I've seen 6 of his so far. I'm not a particular musical fan & his are a bit sweet for my taste, but Meet Me in St Louis, The Band Wagon & An American in Paris all have their moments, even if none are favourites overall. only one I hated was Gigi. seems to have made some good non-musicals - I liked The Bad & the Beautiful and Some Came Running.

on my watchlist are: Cabin in the Sky, The Clock, Undercurrent, The Pirate, Father of the Bride, Brigadoon, The Cobweb, Lust for Life, Home From the Hill, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Two Weeks in Another Town.

doubt I'll watch them all, we'll see how it goes.

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#20

Post by Kowry » May 17th, 2014, 4:11 pm

The Bad and the Beautiful is really great. The only other I've seen from Minnelli was An American in Paris, which definitely wasn't bad, though maybe not really my thing.

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#21

Post by brokenface » May 31st, 2014, 8:04 pm

Vincente Minnelli

Previously Watched:

Meet Me in St Louis (1944) 7/10
An American in Paris (1951) 6/10
The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) 8/10
The Band Wagon (1953) 7/10
Gigi (1958) 4/10
Some Came Running (1958) 7/10

Watched for Log:

Cabin in the Sky (1943) 6/10

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Songs are okay, but not all that memorable. This one is notable for the rarity of a Hollywood film of the time featuring an all-black cast.

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Lust for Life (1956) 7/10

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Biopic of Van Gogh, with Kirk Douglas in good, intense form. There's other films which do the tortured artist thing more convincingly but for a Hollywood studio film of the time, it's a pretty good shot at it.

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Father of the Bride (1950) 6/10

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Mildly amusing, very much of-it's-time comedy. It keeps a layer of sentimentality which stops it from developing into quality screwball as it sometimes threatens. Spencer Tracy is good as usual & Joan Bennett as his wife is okay, but all the other characters are pretty one-dimensional.

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The Pirate (1948) 6/10

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Complete and utter fluff, but still quite a fun example of the Arthur Freed musicals. Songs are generally mediocre, the only memorable one is Be a Clown, which is clearly the basis for Make 'em Laugh from Singin' in the Rain. Gene Kelly carries it in his usual style.

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The Clock (1945) 7/10

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Sometimes straddles a dangerous line between romantic and hokey but with the spectre of war hanging over it to temper the sentimentality, it stays on the right side. Robert Walker will always be Bruno from Strangers on a Train to me, so it's slightly difficult to see him in a non-sinister light.

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Two Weeks in Another Town (1964) 6/10

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Similar territory to The Bad & the Beautiful, tale of self-destruction which doesn't quite amount to much. always good to see Eddie G Robinson, here playing a film director.

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Home From the Hill (1960) 6/10

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Big Southern epic about father-son relationship. Robert Mitchum as the hyper-masculine father with a son who turns against him when he learns of his father's philandering - in a way, it feels like a reverse-role version of Hud. Well made and all, just a bit long and not a theme I was all that interested in.

--

Brigadoon (1954) 5/10

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Plot too silly & songs not my cup of tea. Gene Kelly not at his best either.
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#22

Post by plasma_birds » May 31st, 2014, 8:41 pm

Can't argue with the colors in The Pirate though… It can make me happy even on mute.

True that the songs aren't too memorable but that one with that crazy inferno shit has some of the craziest imagery save Busby Berkeley I've seen in a Hollywood musical.

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#23

Post by brokenface » May 31st, 2014, 8:56 pm

true, the colours are ace - with Judy Garland there it's a bit like being in Oz sometimes!

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#24

Post by brokenface » June 26th, 2014, 3:51 pm

finished with Vincente Minnelli. didn't really find any new favourites, The Clock & Lust for Life both pretty good. rank:

1. The Bad and the Beautiful
2. The Band Wagon
3. The Clock
4. Lust for Life
5. Some Came Running
6. Meet Me in St Louis
7. The Pirate
8. An American in Paris
9. Cabin in the Sky
10. Home from the Hill
11. Father of the Bride
12. Two Weeks in Another Town
13. Brigadoon
14. Gigi

next up: Karel Zeman.

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#25

Post by brokenface » July 5th, 2014, 4:41 pm

Karel Zeman

Previously Watched:

Vynález zkázy/The Deadly Invention (1957) 8/10
Baron Prásil (1961) 9/10
Carodejuv ucen/Krabat: The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1978) 8/10


Watched for Log:

Bláznova kronika/The Jester's Tale (1964) 6/10

Image

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Na komete/On the Comet (1970) 7/10

Image

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Ukradená vzducholod/The Stolen Airship (1967) 7/10

Image

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Cesta do praveku/Journey to the Beginning of Time (1955) 6/10

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I think this was Zeman's first foray into Jules Verne-type adventure territory. Has its charms, but the kids are a bit annoying.
--

Pohádky tisíce a jedné noci/A Thousand and One Nights (1971) 7/10

Image

Made up from a series of shorts based on Sinbad the sailor/A Thousand & One Nights. Real nice simple but effective animation style.
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#26

Post by XxXApathy420XxX » July 7th, 2014, 1:36 pm

My rankings for Karel Zeman now

Baron Prásil 10/10
Vynález zkázy [A Deadly Invention]
Na kometě [On the Comet] (7/10)
Čarodějův učeň [Krabat: The Sorcerer's Apprentice] 6/10
Bláznova kronika [The Jester's Tale]
Ukradená vzducholoď [The Stolen Airship]
My father didn’t have the skill of a professional cameraman. The result? Avant-garde cinema.

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