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Knocking out TSP top 500

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Re: Knocking out TSP top 500

#41

Post by cinewest » April 15th, 2020, 4:42 am

Thanks for the tips about films sources.

As for Harold and Maude, I’m sure that’s one of those I caught at a revival theater in SF the first time. I have always liked Hal Ashby (who always seemed related to Altman, Raffelson, and Ritchie...), and My favorite period in American cinema is probably the late 60’s to late 70’s

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#42

Post by prodigalgodson » April 15th, 2020, 5:08 am

Oh I forgot to mention there's some cool rare stuff upstairs at The Lost Weekend (now in Alamo Drafthouse) too. I rented a DVD of Goodbye South Goodbye there a few years ago and was shocked to find it ran about $100 on Amazon when I went to buy it later. Cinefile in LA's a pretty great resource too, and even has online rips burned onto DVDs of films that aren't available in any other format.

I'd love to see it on film, saw it on Amazon Prime instead lol. I think the only one of his I've seen in a theater was The Landlord, which I loved. I heartily agree on that decade of American film.

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#43

Post by prodigalgodson » April 16th, 2020, 12:31 am

425. The Cloud-Capped Star

The delicately observed interactions and trials of an impoverished intellectual family (Hindu refugees on the outskirts of Calcutta fleeing post-Partition Pakistan, though I wouldn't have figured this out from the movie if I hadn't known it already). Starts out in a slightly poetic, slightly exaggerated social realist vein reminiscent of Renoir, with the English-obsessed father's comic relief and the mother always about to blow a gasket. As it progresses it takes a hard turn into melodrama, with an escalating series of tragedies that hit one daughter, the excessively selfless protagonist, the hardest. The performances and direction are an odd mix of naturalism and overemphasis, with the music cues to denote psychological states and reactions especially a bit much. I find this kind of stylistic lane-jumping takes me out of the action, particularly in any scenes involving the lead's asshole boyfriend. Overall I do like Ghatak's fundamentally humanist style, which mostly eschews establishing or traveling shots to focus on the characters, with the exception of the wider, usually palate-cleansing shots of the road from school to the family's home, and a more impressionistic sequence in the countryside toward the end. The emotional core of the film is the relationship between the lead and her lazy but artistically ambitious singer brother, and the music scenes, especially involving the two of them, are highlights for me. Also worth mentioning that the themes of the disappearing middle class and inconvenient practicality resonate strongly in contemporary America.

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#44

Post by cinewest » April 16th, 2020, 8:57 am

I’ve seen 10 of the films you’ve reviewed so far, and of the remaining, Quince Tree Sun is the highest on my list to see.

I haven’t seen the Fassbinder, but his aesthetics and style don’t attract me that much. I do think I need to see some of the most highly praised ones that I have missed (like “13 Moons”), and not long ago I purchased a trilogy from Criterion that includes 2 I missed during my initial foray into his work about 25 years ago.
Berlin Alexanderplatz is the one that stands out above the rest that I have seen, despite the claustrophobic TV / theatrical feel.
Which are your favorites by him?

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#45

Post by prodigalgodson » April 16th, 2020, 10:56 pm

426. The Sorrow and the Pity

"I must say that life in France at that time is very difficult to imagine, and even more so to describe."

I knew this was a chronicle of collaboration, but I didn't expect this patchwork illumination of the shadow history of occupied France with German and English perspectives included, nor did I expect so much focus on the Resistance in the second half...no wonder it's so long, and it still feels fragmentary. Vichy French gets psychoanalyzed from various angles the Citizen Kane way, with truly unreliable narrators. "Give me your watch, I'll give you the time," is posited as the underlying philosophy behind collaboration, but the "watch" the French were planning to gain is so abstract -- militaristic virility, organizational prowess -- that it has the feeling of an ego-soothing excuse. There's a fascinating kind of Stockholm syndrome as occupation brought out the worst scapegoating tendencies in a Red-panicked France, with the country as a whole internalizing, promoting, and acting on Nazi ideology. The throngs of French sieg-heiling Petain after a half-assed war with Germany is a disturbing snapshot. None of the interviewees evince any guilt or regret, just a sense of having done one's duty or denial, attitudes of annoyance, indignation, and despondency. The resistance fighters are easily the coolest dudes in this, but even they're given an ambivalent treatment. One of the highlights is an extended discussion toward the end with an unflinchingly honest French aristocrat and former Foreign Waffen SS member who, with 7000 others, was sent on a suicide mission to the eastern front in a Nazi uniform. He gives an unsettling insight into the normalcy of the fascist mindset at the time, highlighting the enormous vulnerabilities of a society so sharply divided, in this case into fascist and communist camps. By the time the topic of Liberation and its repercussions is reached at the end, it takes on a bitterly ironic and hypocritical light. Ultimately there's no resolution or clear lesson, just horror and absurdity, and a self-imposed collective amnesia. Ophuls strikes me as an exceptionally penetrating interviewer, with an intuitive sense of how to elicit brutal honesty from his subjects. The requisite political documentary moving-train shots and newsreel footage put in a few nice appearances too. I'm barely scratching the surface of what this film has to offer, it's a pretty incredible document and flies by considering its length. More quotes on the way out:

“Even if reactions to such things are dormant or stifled, all it takes is one event, one incident, one international crisis, ore one Dreyfus affair, for feelings we thought long gone to suddenly re-emerge in full force, for beliefs we thought dead to be simply dormant.”

“And I think that in life, no matter where you go, people often consider what they have to lose. I had nothing to lose. That’s why I did it.”

“I believe there’s a risk that either Nazism will reemerge, or some form of Nazism under a different name.”

“There were some Germans who weren’t Nazis in their heart. But those Germans were in the concentration camps.”

“What I’m going to say may sound mean, but I think to be a Resistant you had to be maladjusted.”
“We were free in the sense that, as outcasts of society, the organization of society no longer concerned us in the least.”
“You can’t imagine a real Resistant being a full-fledged minister, or a colonel, or a businessman. Such people have succeeded. They would succeed with Germans, Englishmen, or Russians. But we were failures, and I was one of those failures. We had quixotic feelings that are so typical of failures.”
“Some people are Resistants by nature. In other words, some people are naturally headstrong. Others, on the contrary, try to adapt to the circumstances and get what they can out of it.”

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#46

Post by prodigalgodson » April 16th, 2020, 11:09 pm

cinewest wrote:
April 16th, 2020, 8:57 am
I’ve seen 10 of the films you’ve reviewed so far, and of the remaining, Quince Tree Sun is the highest on my list to see.

I haven’t seen the Fassbinder, but his aesthetics and style don’t attract me that much. I do think I need to see some of the most highly praised ones that I have missed (like “13 Moons”), and not long ago I purchased a trilogy from Criterion that includes 2 I missed during my initial foray into his work about 25 years ago.
Berlin Alexanderplatz is the one that stands out above the rest that I have seen, despite the claustrophobic TV / theatrical feel.
Which are your favorites by him?
I feel you on Fassinder's aesthetics, but since they seem to have been limited by necessity rather than capability, they're easier for me to overlook, especially given how all-over-the-map he went stylistically. Berlin Alexanderplatz might be my favorite too, that last chapter especially elevated the whole thing (another one I was lucky enough to see over two weeks at the PFA). I'd say World on a Wire, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, and Effi Briest are his cleanest/smoothest aesthetically, and World on a Wire has the added benefit of being his most conventionally entertaining. Beware a Holy Whore and Satan's Brew are two of my favorites because they lean in to his more gonzo, absurd tendencies the most. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, Fox and His Friends, and The Marriage of Maria Braun are among his most psychologically and politically penetrating. And then if you like nutty improvisation, Why Does Herr R. Run Amok? is unlike anything else.

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#47

Post by cinewest » April 17th, 2020, 7:04 am

Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve seen a couple of the ones you noted and liked them both.

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#48

Post by prodigalgodson » April 17th, 2020, 7:46 am

387. October

I don't think I've seen a silent before where the vast majority of the narrative is conveyed through intertitles; even with the titles, the details of the plot weren't always discernable to me -- Eisenstein wasn't big into transitions or context. What he was big into is going nuts with the montage, and this account of the October 1917 Revolution is probably his most impressionistic, edited in an uptempo associate flow that reminds me of my favorite rappers. Aside from the rhythm the important thing in montage is knowing what to film that will retain its impact at a higher rate of cutting, and at its best this has the most striking imagery of Eisenstein's pre-Ivan the Terrible career, and the most varied: settings include all manner of metropolitan and industrial, the trenches, tanks, and boats of the military, aristocratic palaces, and even a brief glimpse at a pastoral countryside where Lenin is supposed to be laying low. Its successes are unfortunately tempered by its propagandistic nature, severely limiting the imaginative potential of Eisenstein's method, which is so intricately bound to the content it portrays. Still, he finds ways to vent his creativity, and when the propaganda's not corny as hell it can lead to some balls-out insanity: a scene where a woman gets the hots for a Bolshevik who beats up her White military boyfriend and ends up joining in the ass whooping is straight out of a music video for Kesha or someone. Then there's Kerensky burying his head in pillows on a plush couch during Kornilov's attempted coup, horses asses and mechanical peacocks spliced into imagery of Provisional hotshots, and even ballsier stuff like cutting between a sexualized Virgin Mary and shots of toilets. And just little funny stuff like "long live the provisional government" or a nice Bolshevik hoedown in the middle. All this makes it sound better than it is -- I'd lump it in with Eisenstein's other early hits Strike and Potemkin as more interesting conceptually and potentially than in inherent achievement -- but it's certainly an entertaining slice of history.

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#49

Post by prodigalgodson » April 17th, 2020, 10:22 am

354. Suspiria

My first giallo! Sometimes it's nice to just turn your brain off and watch something dumb. And this is pretty dumb. Great score though.

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#50

Post by prodigalgodson » April 18th, 2020, 7:19 am

349. The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

Ben Gazzara in his ultimate incarnation as a sleazily charming strip club owner whose excessive vision results in hilariously overconceptualized ethnographic stage shows; his vacillation between suavely measured and panicked as events accrue out of hand over a gambling debt is a blast to watch. I'm not sure why I picked the longer 1976 cuts when one of my main complaints with Cassavettes is his editorial reluctance, and there is an unevenness here (some exchanges go on for ages, others cut mid-conversation or -action, others portray the passing of hours in just a couple shots), but apparently most of what was cut was the ridiculous, only incidentally sexual strip club acts, which were some of the best parts. I tend to like auteurist takes on genre, and it helps that noir is one of my favorite genres, and one that's rife for what an astute Time critic called Cassavettes' "wild riffs from a basic, familiar melody." Sly ironies and meta winks abound, and as often occurs with him it's hard for me to tell if Cassavettes is trying to get at some deeper meaning or is just enjoying observing characters and interactions within the confines of the genre. This is probably my favorite of his thus far though, and went by a lot quicker than most of the others. Also, for a film set in LA it has an unusually indistinct sense of place and noticeably vibes New Yorker filming LA.

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#51

Post by prodigalgodson » April 20th, 2020, 10:40 pm

355. Dogville

Wow, as incisive a look at nascent darkness in small town America as anything Lynch or anyone else has made, and Von Trier's vision of corruption of truth and morality in American society feels more relevant than ever. The sparse set design works wonders in contributing to the sense of a thought experiment come to life (and is inspiring to low-budget filmmaking everywhere). The quirky chapter titles, quaint British narration, and idyllic violin/harpsichord/flute score add to the sense of ironic aloofness. Everything except the rat-in-a-maze overhead shots is captured via kinetic handheld photography, and I haven't seen anything filmed like this for awhile, with the panning wide shots and tight closeups, zooms, and jump cuts putting the camera fully in service of the characters and actors. The script is amazing, with a climactic philosophical exchange and explosive finale that manage to be incredibly cathartic without sacrificing any thematic relevance -- actually the ending feels very Tarantino, no surprise he's a fan. Many of the occurrences and eventualities seem metaphorical for America and the capitalist system in general, though it's hard for me to pick out exact analogs. The whole ensemble puts in stellar work (I'm running out of adjectives), with Kidman in maybe career-best form, elevating a character that could easily feel more like an idea than a person to full-fledged humanity. Poor Ben Gazzara looks like the entirety of his life's aging process occurred in the decade since The Big Lebowski; I liked his blind lecher's obsession with qualities of light. The ornery doctor from Curb Your Enthusiasm ("little prick") plays exactly the same role here as a retiree, to my delight. That "tiny change of light" early on where Kidman turns around and suddenly everyone's looking at her, or she feels they are (it's ambiguously literal, since everyone's inside their "houses"), is such a familiar feeling to me and I love how it's portrayed. Really there are a lot of clever nuances. Overall one of my favorite films of the century so far and a very pleasant surprise for me from Von Trier.

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#52

Post by cinewest » April 21st, 2020, 1:18 am

prodigalgodson wrote:
April 20th, 2020, 10:40 pm
355. Dogville

Wow, as incisive a look at nascent darkness in small town America as anything Lynch or anyone else has made, and Von Trier's vision of corruption of truth and morality in American society feels more relevant than ever. The sparse set design works wonders in contributing to the sense of a thought experiment come to life (and is inspiring to low-budget filmmaking everywhere). The quirky chapter titles, quaint British narration, and idyllic violin/harpsichord/flute score add to the sense of ironic aloofness. Everything except the rat-in-a-maze overhead shots is captured via kinetic handheld photography, and I haven't seen anything filmed like this for awhile, with the panning wide shots and tight closeups, zooms, and jump cuts putting the camera fully in service of the characters and actors. The script is amazing, with a climactic philosophical exchange and explosive finale that manage to be incredibly cathartic without sacrificing any thematic relevance -- actually the ending feels very Tarantino, no surprise he's a fan. Many of the occurrences and eventualities seem metaphorical for America and the capitalist system in general, though it's hard for me to pick out exact analogs. The whole ensemble puts in stellar work (I'm running out of adjectives), with Kidman in maybe career-best form, elevating a character that could easily feel more like an idea than a person to full-fledged humanity. Poor Ben Gazzara looks like the entirety of his life's aging process occurred in the decade since The Big Lebowski; I liked his blind lecher's obsession with qualities of light. The ornery doctor from Curb Your Enthusiasm ("little prick") plays exactly the same role here as a retiree, to my delight. That "tiny change of light" early on where Kidman turns around and suddenly everyone's looking at her, or she feels they are (it's ambiguously literal, since everyone's inside their "houses"), is such a familiar feeling to me and I love how it's portrayed. Really there are a lot of clever nuances. Overall one of my favorite films of the century so far and a very pleasant surprise for me from Von Trier.
Von Trier is one of the few filmmakers with risk taking genius still working today. Never mind the man (who clearly has a lot of issues), the divisive response to his work is one proof of that. He has made so many unique, ambitious films since the start of his career roughly 35 years ago, I don't know if any other filmmaker can be compared over this entire time. I don't like every thing he has done, but almost all of his movies are amazing in some way, though he may have reached the end (not so sure about his last 2) with Antichrist

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#53

Post by prodigalgodson » April 22nd, 2020, 10:17 am

cinewest wrote:
April 21st, 2020, 1:18 am
Von Trier is one of the few filmmakers with risk taking genius still working today. Never mind the man (who clearly has a lot of issues), the divisive response to his work is one proof of that. He has made so many unique, ambitious films since the start of his career roughly 35 years ago, I don't know if any other filmmaker can be compared over this entire time. I don't like every thing he has done, but almost all of his movies are amazing in some way, though he may have reached the end (not so sure about his last 2) with Antichrist
Sounds about right. I think Antichrist was the first one I saw, and it made a big impression on me at the time. I've only watched a few more over the years but even when I was less enthusiastic with the results I was impressed by the vision. This is easily my favorite so far, shame there are so few new filmmakers working with so much inspiration and passion.

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#54

Post by prodigalgodson » April 22nd, 2020, 10:17 am

470. Chelsea Girls

"You're not supposed to like it at all."
"I love it!"
"Shut up!"

The concept's simple enough: initially two black-and-white screens projected side-by-side featuring long takes of the loony goings-on in various rooms in a hotel, with sound from one side at a time (the juxtaposed screens are supposed to be divided moralistically too, though I wouldn't have worked that out if I hadn't read it afterwards). The fixed camera often stays still, but it's free to pan, tilt, zoom, and rack focus to capture or obscure whatever minutiae of its subject it deigns to follow. As it progresses Warhol starts tinkering, its form evolves, and it ultimately escalates into proto-Lynchian insanity. I was delighted to find, despite its reputation, that it has more the form of a movie than an art installation, complete with a musical outro. It's undoubtedly tiresome, especially its more low-key first two hours, but in a charmingly Warhol way, and I was viscerally reminded by contrast what a unique experience it is when the field of vision is first reduced to one silent screen somewhere in the middle. As a document of 60s funkiness it maintains its potency, but it's also an avant garde haunted house classic in its own right, and more ideal isolation viewing.

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#55

Post by cinewest » April 23rd, 2020, 12:23 am

prodigalgodson wrote:
April 22nd, 2020, 10:17 am
cinewest wrote:
April 21st, 2020, 1:18 am
Von Trier is one of the few filmmakers with risk taking genius still working today. Never mind the man (who clearly has a lot of issues), the divisive response to his work is one proof of that. He has made so many unique, ambitious films since the start of his career roughly 35 years ago, I don't know if any other filmmaker can be compared over this entire time. I don't like every thing he has done, but almost all of his movies are amazing in some way, though he may have reached the end (not so sure about his last 2) with Antichrist
Sounds about right. I think Antichrist was the first one I saw, and it made a big impression on me at the time. I've only watched a few more over the years but even when I was less enthusiastic with the results I was impressed by the vision. This is easily my favorite so far, shame there are so few new filmmakers working with so much inspiration and passion.
The first Von Trier I saw was Europa Zentropa at the SF International the year it came out, pre-dogma days, and what an impression it made. Hypnotic back & White creating a post WW2 dreamscape in a broken Germany, seething with corruption and betrayal. Each one of his films is not only unique, but full of the kind of cinematic ambition and artistic vision that makes someone like Warhol look like the posing, amateur rip off that he was. OK, AW expressed things that are true about our culture, but he was as much a participant in its superficial commercialism that I think he diminished the art world more than he gave meaning to it.

That doesn't mean that his work is completely without value, as he certainly helps create a picture of his time (a home movie pretty much does the same) that is anthropologically relevant, but watching a documentary about him and the world he moved in is more interesting to me than spending time with more of what he created. Ok, a bit harsh. In the right mood, I can imagine my response to Chelsea Girls being somewhat similar to your own.

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#56

Post by prodigalgodson » April 23rd, 2020, 8:19 am

375. A Separation

Starts out with two sequences of bureaucratic and interpersonal annoyance, and continues as a humanist chronicle of the stifling pain-in-the-ass factor of everyday life in a society whose rigid regulations Farhadi obviously doesn't take kindly to, which progresses into a more serious web of ambiguous injustices and disappointments as the film goes on. As they accumulate the reveals and moral quandaries start to feel a bit soapy and manipulative, but it's fairly affecting stuff. It's shot in an artful, deceptively workmanlike style -- thoughtfully-framed handheld compositions, narrow depth of field, well-lit with a nice color palate, lots of visual jail bar metaphors -- which captures the subject matter nicely. Judging from the couple I've seen, Farhadi doesn't strike me as a torch-carrying talent on the level of Iran's previous generation of internationally recognized filmmakers, with whom he's often compared, but it may be that I'm just not the target audience for his moralizing Cassavettesesque bickerfests. Worth noting that his portrayal of the more conservative aspects of society might ironically play conservative in the US, but it never feels one-sided, and it's remarkable how, despite the difference in specifics, the degree to which societal, religious, legal, functional, and interpersonal annoyances constrain so much of quotidian life for many Americans make it somewhat transposable to here.

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#57

Post by prodigalgodson » April 23rd, 2020, 8:33 am

cinewest wrote:
April 23rd, 2020, 12:23 am
The first Von Trier I saw was Europa Zentropa at the SF International the year it came out, pre-dogma days, and what an impression it made. Hypnotic back & White creating a post WW2 dreamscape in a broken Germany, seething with corruption and betrayal. Each one of his films is not only unique, but full of the kind of cinematic ambition and artistic vision that makes someone like Warhol look like the posing, amateur rip off that he was. OK, AW expressed things that are true about our culture, but he was as much a participant in its superficial commercialism that I think he diminished the art world more than he gave meaning to it.

That doesn't mean that his work is completely without value, as he certainly helps create a picture of his time (a home movie pretty much does the same) that is anthropologically relevant, but watching a documentary about him and the world he moved in is more interesting to me than spending time with more of what he created. Ok, a bit harsh. In the right mood, I can imagine my response to Chelsea Girls being somewhat similar to your own.
Ah nice, I'll have to make his early films a priority.

I don't know much about the art world, but I do like his questioning and subversion of a whole system of value judgments, and he was at least tangentially related to some of my favorite 20th century artists across various mediums. It's hard for me to know how to respond to his work, and even hard to know what response is genuine (like what aspect of the experience is Apichatpong Weerasethakul so drawn to that he lists Empire in his top 10 films?), and I find that extent of uncertainty rare and interesting. That said, I didn't find Chelsea Girls to be the most inaccessible thing in the world, and its length and tiresome aspects are essential to its cumulative effect.

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#58

Post by cinewest » April 23rd, 2020, 11:43 am

prodigalgodson wrote:
April 23rd, 2020, 8:33 am
cinewest wrote:
April 23rd, 2020, 12:23 am
The first Von Trier I saw was Europa Zentropa at the SF International the year it came out, pre-dogma days, and what an impression it made. Hypnotic back & White creating a post WW2 dreamscape in a broken Germany, seething with corruption and betrayal. Each one of his films is not only unique, but full of the kind of cinematic ambition and artistic vision that makes someone like Warhol look like the posing, amateur rip off that he was. OK, AW expressed things that are true about our culture, but he was as much a participant in its superficial commercialism that I think he diminished the art world more than he gave meaning to it.

That doesn't mean that his work is completely without value, as he certainly helps create a picture of his time (a home movie pretty much does the same) that is anthropologically relevant, but watching a documentary about him and the world he moved in is more interesting to me than spending time with more of what he created. Ok, a bit harsh. In the right mood, I can imagine my response to Chelsea Girls being somewhat similar to your own.
Ah nice, I'll have to make his early films a priority.

I don't know much about the art world, but I do like his questioning and subversion of a whole system of value judgments, and he was at least tangentially related to some of my favorite 20th century artists across various mediums. It's hard for me to know how to respond to his work, and even hard to know what response is genuine (like what aspect of the experience is Apichatpong Weerasethakul so drawn to that he lists Empire in his top 10 films?), and I find that extent of uncertainty rare and interesting. That said, I didn't find Chelsea Girls to be the most inaccessible thing in the world, and its length and tiresome aspects are essential to its cumulative effect.
I think it is easy to subvert values, but much more challenging and difficult to create alternatives. Many of my favorite artists and filmmakers have challenged social norms, as well as the dominant way of seeing. Bunuel was the first "non-English language filmmaker I got into. You have spoken about Lindsay Anderson's If up above (I like O'Lucky Man even more), and we have been discussing Von Trier (who is one of the few modern filmmakers with subversive instincts), right along. Another of my contemporary favorites is Michael Haneke.
I guess when it comes to Warhol I find him a bit gimmicky, and as I said, guilty of the very same things he claims to be subverting, in other words, insincere.

I haven't seen Chelsea Girls, though, so I can't get into that one (perhaps I would find it brilliant, even more-so as it dragged on, but probably not.

Have you seen Exit Through The Gift Shop? Or, The Square?

I've seen 9 of the ones remaining on your "to see" list, and the only one I didn't like was the Spielberg (Kubrick project or not, it's still Spielberg throughout, and I didn't even finish it). Seven of the other 8 are in my own top 1000, somewhere.

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#59

Post by prodigalgodson » April 25th, 2020, 3:45 am

374. Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks

"Get this place on film now, because it won't be around much longer..."

Probably the most surreal documentary I've seen and a towering work in the medium's evolution. The first part, Rust, follows the few remaining workers at nationalized factories in Shenyang wandering like ghosts through the decomposing industrial wasteland -- idling, drinking, and fighting in break rooms when they're not performing menial mechanized labor (mostly loading and unloading machines, it seems) -- at the turn of the century as China shifts to a more privatized, hi-tech economy and the factories slowly go bankrupt and shut down. The second part, Remnants, follows the absurdity of the day-to-day social lives of families living in the factory district housing communities as they prepare for relocation. The third part, Rails, is the most intimate, meditative, and sentimental segment, focusing on the immediate circle of a railway scavenger scraping by in the industrial twilight, and serves as a comparative palate-cleanser after the sustained madness of the previous seven hours. Wang's lo-fi, gritty camerawork redefines immersive filmmaking, and despite the Tarr-esque long takes and the overall sprawl, his sense of timing as an editor can't be overstated. A sense of despair is potent throughout, but the relentlessly escalating lunacy and sheer apocalyptic strangeness make it hypnotically watchable, and its cynicism is tempered with caustic dark humor and the occasional glimpse of human warmth. A scene near the end where the scavenger's son is looking through photos from the recent past and the district looks just like any bustling, middle-class American factory compound really nailed home the ease with which the failure of a system that rewards corruption and lacks any structural ability to cope with change can so quickly and thoroughly devastate a whole way of life.

The aesthetics of factories, trains, and entropy have always held a fascination for me, as has the otherworldly aura of industrial landscapes on an inhuman scale, but form-challenging chronicles of social change are something I've only become passionate about more recently (eg Middlemarch, War and Peace, Hour of the Furnaces), so this feels like an ideal time in my life to see this. It's a totally incomparable experience, though it's hard not to think of Dante, Kafka, and Steinbeck at various points. Looking for historical counterparts, I'd say most of all Wang Bing's relationship to digital feels like Dziga Vertov's to film: revolutionizing the form as a new kind of collective political document amid a young century's upheavals. I can imagine a whole generation of both documentary and fiction filmmakers being influenced by this -- I don't think I've ever left a movie so eager to get my hands on whatever camcorder I can and get to work.

“We depend on each other for life. It’s always the same struggle, whether it’s people or animals. What I’m talking about here is survival of the fittest. The weak become extinct. You can’t get a piece of the pie, a piece of the market? Well then, you die out. That’s just the way it is. A lot of people are out there wondering: ‘what the hell? I can barely afford to eat!’ Doesn’t take a scientist to understand why. It’s just the way things are today.… I know we’re not what you’d call ‘educated,’ but we read the papers, we watch the news. We know what’s going on out there. We know how our lives compare.”

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#60

Post by prodigalgodson » April 25th, 2020, 5:15 am

cinewest wrote:
April 23rd, 2020, 11:43 am
I think it is easy to subvert values, but much more challenging and difficult to create alternatives. Many of my favorite artists and filmmakers have challenged social norms, as well as the dominant way of seeing. Bunuel was the first "non-English language filmmaker I got into. You have spoken about Lindsay Anderson's If up above (I like O'Lucky Man even more), and we have been discussing Von Trier (who is one of the few modern filmmakers with subversive instincts), right along. Another of my contemporary favorites is Michael Haneke.
I guess when it comes to Warhol I find him a bit gimmicky, and as I said, guilty of the very same things he claims to be subverting, in other words, insincere.

I haven't seen Chelsea Girls, though, so I can't get into that one (perhaps I would find it brilliant, even more-so as it dragged on, but probably not.

Have you seen Exit Through The Gift Shop? Or, The Square?

I've seen 9 of the ones remaining on your "to see" list, and the only one I didn't like was the Spielberg (Kubrick project or not, it's still Spielberg throughout, and I didn't even finish it). Seven of the other 8 are in my own top 1000, somewhere.
Sorry for the late response, I've only been checking back when I have a new movie down.

Interesting comment about Warhol being hypocritical or insincere, I do feel like a lot of his stuff is meant to be appreciated ironically to some degree, which I'm not down with, but I think much of his output, even when not consisting of genuinely stimulating objects d'art itself, can genuinely stimulate reevaluation of our means of artistic assessment and the boundaries of artistic experience. I agree that deconstructing existing predominant forms can be a distinct process from offering alternative forms, and the former does sound inherently easier, but I think it depends on the degree of consideration and rigor put into whichever endeavor. I also think the degree to which his work's been assimilated by mainstream culture makes it harder to gauge its subversiveness. In any case some of Warhol's work can feel lazy in a certain way to me, but never facile or unintentioned.

Chelsea Girls, on the other hand, just felt like a really solid, unusually people-forward structuralist film. The bunch of very talented guys you mentioned, while socially and formally groundbreaking, are interested in a more fundamentally conventional cinematic space; this feels a part of the more elemental, experimental tradition of Mekas (who I haven't explored much, but I know was a major influence on Warhol's career), Frampton, Snow, or Gehr, and I think it stacks up admirably against much of their output.

I haven't seen either of those, but given how much I've been enjoying documentaries recently, I'll have to check out Exit Through the Gift Shop. I meant to see The Square in theaters, I'm sure I'll get around to it.

Oh yeah, I've started A.I. twice now and it's sooo Spielberg, gonna have to grit my teeth for the deep dive lol.

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#61

Post by cinewest » April 25th, 2020, 5:15 am

I really want to see Tie Xi Qu and other works by the director on something other than my laptop, and though I am living in China at the moment, the non-commercial stuff (especially if political) is not easy to find. With baby twin girls at home, It's also really difficult to get more than an hour to myself every day, usually after they are asleep at night, and by the time that happens, I am usually so exhausted, it's hard to reactivate certain parts of my brain, especially when I have to get whatever sleep that I can because they won't sleep the night through, and I have to work the next day.

Right now, TV series or short films are the best solution, as circumstantially, I often can't get all the way through a 2 hour feature in one sitting, and the interruptions detract from my viewings. Can't even remember the last time I read something longer than an article or short story for exactly the same reason, and other books I have started are just lying in a corner waiting for me to restart them from the beginning.

Take advantage of this time....

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#62

Post by cinewest » April 25th, 2020, 5:20 am

prodigalgodson wrote:
April 25th, 2020, 5:15 am
cinewest wrote:
April 23rd, 2020, 11:43 am
I think it is easy to subvert values, but much more challenging and difficult to create alternatives. Many of my favorite artists and filmmakers have challenged social norms, as well as the dominant way of seeing. Bunuel was the first "non-English language filmmaker I got into. You have spoken about Lindsay Anderson's If up above (I like O'Lucky Man even more), and we have been discussing Von Trier (who is one of the few modern filmmakers with subversive instincts), right along. Another of my contemporary favorites is Michael Haneke.
I guess when it comes to Warhol I find him a bit gimmicky, and as I said, guilty of the very same things he claims to be subverting, in other words, insincere.

I haven't seen Chelsea Girls, though, so I can't get into that one (perhaps I would find it brilliant, even more-so as it dragged on, but probably not.

Have you seen Exit Through The Gift Shop? Or, The Square?

I've seen 9 of the ones remaining on your "to see" list, and the only one I didn't like was the Spielberg (Kubrick project or not, it's still Spielberg throughout, and I didn't even finish it). Seven of the other 8 are in my own top 1000, somewhere.
Sorry for the late response, I've only been checking back when I have a new movie down.

Interesting comment about Warhol being hypocritical or insincere, I do feel like a lot of his stuff is meant to be appreciated ironically to some degree, which I'm not down with, but I think much of his output, even when not consisting of genuinely stimulating objects d'art itself, can genuinely stimulate reevaluation of our means of artistic assessment and the boundaries of artistic experience. I agree that deconstructing existing predominant forms can be a distinct process from offering alternative forms, and the former does sound inherently easier, but I think it depends on the degree of consideration and rigor put into whichever endeavor. I also think the degree to which his work's been assimilated by mainstream culture makes it harder to gauge its subversiveness. In any case some of Warhol's work can feel lazy in a certain way to me, but never facile or unintentioned.

Chelsea Girls, on the other hand, just felt like a really solid, unusually people-forward structuralist film. The bunch of very talented guys you mentioned, while socially and formally groundbreaking, are interested in a more fundamentally conventional cinematic space; this feels a part of the more elemental, experimental tradition of Mekas (who I haven't explored much, but I know was a major influence on Warhol's career), Frampton, Snow, or Gehr, and I think it stacks up admirably against much of their output.

I haven't seen either of those, but given how much I've been enjoying documentaries recently, I'll have to check out Exit Through the Gift Shop. I meant to see The Square in theaters, I'm sure I'll get around to it.

Oh yeah, I've started A.I. twice now and it's sooo Spielberg, gonna have to grit my teeth for the deep dive lol.
I can pretty much agree with your response on all fronts....

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#63

Post by prodigalgodson » April 25th, 2020, 5:55 am

cinewest wrote:
April 25th, 2020, 5:15 am
I really want to see Tie Xi Qu and other works by the director on something other than my laptop, and though I am living in China at the moment, the non-commercial stuff (especially if political) is not easy to find. With baby twin girls at home, It's also really difficult to get more than an hour to myself every day, usually after they are asleep at night, and by the time that happens, I am usually so exhausted, it's hard to reactivate certain parts of my brain, especially when I have to get whatever sleep that I can because they won't sleep the night through, and I have to work the next day.

Right now, TV series or short films are the best solution, as circumstantially, I often can't get all the way through a 2 hour feature in one sitting, and the interruptions detract from my viewings. Can't even remember the last time I read something longer than an article or short story for exactly the same reason, and other books I have started are just lying in a corner waiting for me to restart them from the beginning.

Take advantage of this time....
Wow, good luck with all that! Especially the twins!

Yeah, I'm incredibly grateful to have a stable situation and be receiving reasonable unemployment insurance (temporarily laid off from my restaurant job, thanks Cal Philosophy lol) -- I haven't had this kind of time to focus on my passions since college. I'm going back to school in the fall to get a radiology tech certification, but I'm hoping to work on some film, writing, and music projects this summer.

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#64

Post by cinewest » April 25th, 2020, 8:51 am

prodigalgodson wrote:
April 25th, 2020, 5:55 am
cinewest wrote:
April 25th, 2020, 5:15 am
I really want to see Tie Xi Qu and other works by the director on something other than my laptop, and though I am living in China at the moment, the non-commercial stuff (especially if political) is not easy to find. With baby twin girls at home, It's also really difficult to get more than an hour to myself every day, usually after they are asleep at night, and by the time that happens, I am usually so exhausted, it's hard to reactivate certain parts of my brain, especially when I have to get whatever sleep that I can because they won't sleep the night through, and I have to work the next day.

Right now, TV series or short films are the best solution, as circumstantially, I often can't get all the way through a 2 hour feature in one sitting, and the interruptions detract from my viewings. Can't even remember the last time I read something longer than an article or short story for exactly the same reason, and other books I have started are just lying in a corner waiting for me to restart them from the beginning.

Take advantage of this time....
Wow, good luck with all that! Especially the twins!

Yeah, I'm incredibly grateful to have a stable situation and be receiving reasonable unemployment insurance (temporarily laid off from my restaurant job, thanks Cal Philosophy lol) -- I haven't had this kind of time to focus on my passions since college. I'm going back to school in the fall to get a radiology tech certification, but I'm hoping to work on some film, writing, and music projects this summer.
Good luck with everything. I made 7 short films with a friend (al types) over a 3 year period while he could still scam equipment from grad school. Since then, I have done very little with film, though I have played a little with a digital camera (even made a Survivor profile for a friend who wanted to be on the show). Nowadays, I just shoot short videos of my girls. I got into photography for a few years after my filmmaking phase, and have done a fair bit of writing (all kinds), which was my major in school. Also love music (all kinds- mostly acoustic, and what might be called jazz, roots, or world), but haven't played an instrument since high school. Still love film, though, and still love discovering new great films and filmmakers, even if they are old ones.
Right now, my main focus is my family and my work (I teach ESL, and also work as a English copywriter in China (it was Brazil for a few years before coming to Asia). I also feel grateful for my situation, and have come to realize that wherever we are there is usually some benefit to us, or opportunity to evolve in some way.

Cheers for now, and awaiting your next review.

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#65

Post by prodigalgodson » April 25th, 2020, 5:42 pm

cinewest wrote:
April 25th, 2020, 8:51 am
Good luck with everything. I made 7 short films with a friend (al types) over a 3 year period while he could still scam equipment from grad school. Since then, I have done very little with film, though I have played a little with a digital camera (even made a Survivor profile for a friend who wanted to be on the show). Nowadays, I just shoot short videos of my girls. I got into photography for a few years after my filmmaking phase, and have done a fair bit of writing (all kinds), which was my major in school. Also love music (all kinds- mostly acoustic, and what might be called jazz, roots, or world), but haven't played an instrument since high school. Still love film, though, and still love discovering new great films and filmmakers, even if they are old ones.
Right now, my main focus is my family and my work (I teach ESL, and also work as a English copywriter in China (it was Brazil for a few years before coming to Asia). I also feel grateful for my situation, and have come to realize that wherever we are there is usually some benefit to us, or opportunity to evolve in some way.

Cheers for now, and awaiting your next review.
Nice, glad you're still able to find time for creative outlets while raising a family. Brazil and China sound exciting too!

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#66

Post by prodigalgodson » April 25th, 2020, 6:05 pm

365. The Elephant Man

Another one of those major movies I'd missed, and the reasons I had for postponing it seem justified. The murky feelings evoked and sense of melancholic unease are tres Lynch, but it feels like too conventional a take on its subject matter to really play to his strengths, with only hints of that oneiric alchemy he would come to hone over the course of his career. It might sound disingenuous in a week I watched La region centrale, Chelsea Girls, and West of the Tracks, but the story that's presented really doesn't feel like it justifies its length, retreading the same moral territory and narrative patterns throughout with diminishing returns. The silvery high-contrast photography is beautiful and the insular settings an apt reflection of Merrick's isolation. Some scenes seem to have a tinge of meta subtext about the sensationalist aspects of the film itself, and it's moments like these, when the film gets away from the more obvious aspects of its emotional core, that feel most successful. It hadn't occurred to me before, but Anthony Hopkins is a very strange actor, and pairs well with Lynch's style as a foil for the Elephant Man. It also didn't occur to me until I started watching this how personal the story must be to a weirdo like Lynch -- he demonstrates an intuitive understanding of the minutiae of this breed of alienation. Damn that man has had a graceful career arc.

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#67

Post by cinewest » April 26th, 2020, 1:11 pm

Glanced back at your film ratings, and I'm surprised you didn't like A Separation very much. While I wouldn't call it groundbreaking, I thought it one one of the tightest, most well crafted films of the past decade- basically a family drama treated like a suspense thriller, and with nary a flaw.

I remember liking Elephant Man quite a bit, as well. David Lynch's first feature film, I think, and very well done at that stage in his career. I also saw the play (the source material was popular at the time) not too long before, and I loved the way Lynch turned it into cinema as B & W gothic noir. Don't think I would have it in my top 500, but maybe among my top 1000, and probably among my top 10 of 1980.

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#68

Post by prodigalgodson » April 27th, 2020, 4:10 am

396. Festen

400 down! I went into this expecting a bitter black comedy about a dysfunctional family, which is how it starts, but it soon develops into a heavier study of complicity and the legacy of abuse, and ends up more cathartic, less nihilistic, and warmer than I would have imagined, almost incongruously so. It's the first Dogme 95 film, with a rough, grungy look that anticipates the digital age (digital pioneer Anthony Dod Mantle dp'd) and gives the film a home-video found-footage vibe in its more intimate, less expressionistic moments. Not too much to say about it, but I found it both entertaining and powerful.

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#69

Post by prodigalgodson » April 27th, 2020, 4:24 am

cinewest wrote:
April 26th, 2020, 1:11 pm
Glanced back at your film ratings, and I'm surprised you didn't like A Separation very much. While I wouldn't call it groundbreaking, I thought it one one of the tightest, most well crafted films of the past decade- basically a family drama treated like a suspense thriller, and with nary a flaw.

I remember liking Elephant Man quite a bit, as well. David Lynch's first feature film, I think, and very well done at that stage in his career. I also saw the play (the source material was popular at the time) not too long before, and I loved the way Lynch turned it into cinema as B & W gothic noir. Don't think I would have it in my top 500, but maybe among my top 1000, and probably among my top 10 of 1980.
I've only seen this and The Past from Farhadi, both similar takes on family dramas, and felt somewhat at a distance to both.

Not to beat a dead horse, but this is another one that probably would've made a bigger impression if I'd seen it when it first came out -- this and Blue Velvet, which I rewatched recently, suffer from my being such a fan of Lynch's later developments. I agree it's an awesome step in his career -- after the highly personal Eraserhead, figuring out what was and wasn't right for him with this and Dune, then finding his truly unique lane of filmmaking with Blue Velvet and running from there. He's gotten deeper down the rabbit hole, and for my money better, with almost every project since, with Inland Empire and Twin Peaks: The Return being my favorites so far.

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#70

Post by cinewest » April 27th, 2020, 8:42 am

prodigalgodson wrote:
April 27th, 2020, 4:24 am
cinewest wrote:
April 26th, 2020, 1:11 pm
Glanced back at your film ratings, and I'm surprised you didn't like A Separation very much. While I wouldn't call it groundbreaking, I thought it one one of the tightest, most well crafted films of the past decade- basically a family drama treated like a suspense thriller, and with nary a flaw.

I remember liking Elephant Man quite a bit, as well. David Lynch's first feature film, I think, and very well done at that stage in his career. I also saw the play (the source material was popular at the time) not too long before, and I loved the way Lynch turned it into cinema as B & W gothic noir. Don't think I would have it in my top 500, but maybe among my top 1000, and probably among my top 10 of 1980.
I've only seen this and The Past from Farhadi, both similar takes on family dramas, and felt somewhat at a distance to both.

Not to beat a dead horse, but this is another one that probably would've made a bigger impression if I'd seen it when it first came out -- this and Blue Velvet, which I rewatched recently, suffer from my being such a fan of Lynch's later developments. I agree it's an awesome step in his career -- after the highly personal Eraserhead, figuring out what was and wasn't right for him with this and Dune, then finding his truly unique lane of filmmaking with Blue Velvet and running from there. He's gotten deeper down the rabbit hole, and for my money better, with almost every project since, with Inland Empire and Twin Peaks: The Return being my favorites so far.
Yes, both A Separation and Elephant Man were conventional approaches, but I thought that each worked very well within their adopted structures, especially A Separation, which I found rather "intense," and extremely well scripted, acted, directed and edited.

As for Lynch, I agree that Elephant Man was an early step, but a perfect lead in feature before he took full control of his material. Haven't seen the reprisal of Twin Peaks, but I would say his films have become less and less conventional (aside from 1 or 2), and more and more like very strange dreams, with recurring elements. Inland Empire was pretty far out there, for me, and not only difficult for me to follow / stick with, but not very attractive otherwise (I might contrast it Mulholland Drive).
Films that go off the deep end are hit or miss for me, depending on whether I can hook in enough to go along for the ride, and some times they take a second viewing (Claire Denis' Intrus is a good example of one that wore me out the first time I saw it, but simply wowed me the second time- I now consider it her best).

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#71

Post by prodigalgodson » April 27th, 2020, 10:05 pm

407. 1900

Another long one, this time an epic following two friends born on the same day, a landowner and a peasant, in Emilia-Romagna during the first half of the 20th century, as the Italian oligarchy gives way to the opposing tides of socialism and fascism. The broad swath of the story follows a fairly predictable set of beats, though it's hard to figure why it skips over big chunks of history and lingers in so many unexpected and unsettling corners, often to explore its bizarrely persistent penis fixation. A number of odd, disturbing characters pepper the landscape, including Burt Lancaster's impotent would-be molester patriarch and Donald Sutherland's fascist foreman, who for a start head-butts a cat to death. When we're not getting a bunch of sensational extraneous specifics, many of the wide cast of characters feel underdeveloped and broad. Their dialogue frequently veers into bombastic clunkiness, to the extent that it's hard to imagine how some of these lines made it past the brainstorming phase. The English translation may be responsible for some of it, and I can't remember seeing such distractingly disjointed dubbing before: De Niro speaks with a New York accent, Depardieu with a French one, and the English dubbing of Italian actors is wildly out of sync. The cinematography is probably the most interesting aspect of the film. The first section, set after the turn of the century, is shot in blazing daylight, which looks blown out, or in the golden hour, which gives everything a sickly red hue and jaundices the skin tones -- the intention seems to be to convey a sense of pastoral nostalgia (old-school actors, Lancaster and Sterling Hayden, also dominate this section), but whatever film stock or color process was used at the time is not flattering to this approach. Once the film moves onto the adult years of the two friends, almost everything is shot on overcast, foggy days with a more muted palate to match its more cosmopolitan setting, and most of this looks fantastic. It takes on an increasingly colder, diffused look as time goes on, culminating in borderline grayscale to mirror the darkest days of fascism. The last bit, set post-Liberation, returns to the earlier, warmer tones, with a correspondingly (and surprisingly) sentimental resolution.

I've heard "bloated" used to describe movies before, but at 5 plus hours, this was the first time I can remember it really coming to mind for me, with the attention to subplots and tangents at the expense of more relevant story details distracting from the world-building instead of contributing to it. I tend to be easy to please when it comes to sweeping historical melodrama, but this is both too ambitious and too narrow, lacking the scope and insight that draws me to that subgenre. It's an interesting mess, but mostly valuable as a curio.
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#72

Post by prodigalgodson » April 27th, 2020, 10:12 pm

cinewest wrote:
April 27th, 2020, 8:42 am
Yes, both A Separation and Elephant Man were conventional approaches, but I thought that each worked very well within their adopted structures, especially A Separation, which I found rather "intense," and extremely well scripted, acted, directed and edited.

As for Lynch, I agree that Elephant Man was an early step, but a perfect lead in feature before he took full control of his material. Haven't seen the reprisal of Twin Peaks, but I would say his films have become less and less conventional (aside from 1 or 2), and more and more like very strange dreams, with recurring elements. Inland Empire was pretty far out there, for me, and not only difficult for me to follow / stick with, but not very attractive otherwise (I might contrast it Mulholland Drive).
Films that go off the deep end are hit or miss for me, depending on whether I can hook in enough to go along for the ride, and some times they take a second viewing (Claire Denis' Intrus is a good example of one that wore me out the first time I saw it, but simply wowed me the second time- I now consider it her best).
I agree that all the elements of A Separation were operating at a high level, and I don't have a problem with convention, but in this case I just wasn't drawn in. I guess I don't have a great history with family dramas in general.

I think that's a good description of Lynch's evolution, and the new Twin Peaks definitely falls into that far out category. I liked the digital aesthetic of Inland Empire a lot, and thought it matched the material well, but agree Mulholland Dr. is more classically beautiful. I have a soft spot for stuff that goes off the deep end, both in movies and music -- The Intruder's one I'd really like to see again, could see it being a favorite on revision.

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#73

Post by cinewest » April 28th, 2020, 12:07 am

Good review of 1900. Remember I said I thought 7 of 8 remaining I'd seen were very good besides A.I.?
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#74

Post by prodigalgodson » April 28th, 2020, 12:34 am

Haha, guess I've got a good run to look forward to then

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#75

Post by cinewest » April 28th, 2020, 7:07 am

prodigalgodson wrote:
April 28th, 2020, 12:34 am
Haha, guess I've got a good run to look forward to then
I hope you are seeing the long version of Scenes from a Marriage (2 hours were trimmed from the feature film), but then, given your comment about "family dramas" and rating of Fanny & Alexander, this one might not be up your alley.

Out of the other 4 remaining ones that I've seen, just for fun, I'll try and guess what you might like the most (based on your reviews and our conversation- All That Jazz is a Felliniesque musical, so probably not that one), and do the same with the others, based on their reputation (Out 1 is probably hit or miss).

Personally, I think that Short Cuts was as influential on American Indies as Pulp Fiction, or at least anticipated many of them, and was also superior, but I also liked Death of Mr. Lazarescu, which I consider one of the jewels of "New Romanian" cinema. And Closely Watched Trains remains a favorite from my late teens when I was first getting into foreign film.

My background in literature, writing, and photography probably influences my taste in cinema, though these mediums are as variable in approach as any other. I find a lot of different philosophies of art interesting, but am most moved by that which engages me emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually in multiple ways, and I love films I can feel my way into. In saying that, I'm not talking about melodrama or emotional content per se, but rather about a way of perceiving and expressing that certain filmmakers have.

I also prize originality. A film doesn't have to be radically different for me to think highly of it, only do something in a way that feels fresh and alive (to some extent older films need to be viewed in the context their time).

Last but not least, I prize craftsmanship, and the art of editing (the wedding of image and sound to create some kind of narrative) though I appreciate various kinds, as long as it works.

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#76

Post by prodigalgodson » April 29th, 2020, 10:57 pm

434. Scenes from a Marriage

"Remaining content requires a certain technique. You need to put a lot of effort into not caring."

I watched the miniseries version of this, slightly afraid I'd feel burnt out after a run of long movies, but it's truly bingeable. From the start, it uses the relationship drama structure to explore the human experience of modern reality and the various ways we interpret and interact with it. It's Bergman operating at his most human while retaining his metaphysical allure, reminiscent in its talkiness and philosophical bent of my favorite of his, Winter Light, but more grounded in lived experience. The compositions are immaculate, especially the close-ups, but they only work so well because of the strength of the actors. Liv Ullman seems descended from another realm: every expression and intonation is a work of art, even giving such excessively Bergmanesque lines as "sometimes all you get is the vast silence of outer space" a natural and slyly ironic read. Erland Josephson's beady-eyed strengths also emerge as his character's strengths recede, gradually revealing the vulnerabilities behind a stoic facade. It's a testament to the subtlety and vividness of the direction and acting that I could relate to these characters on a gut level despite sharing so few of their fundamental problems (I understand their sense of emptiness and confusion about the world, but I can't (yet?) empathize with their angst related to repression and conformity). Reinforcing the sense of hidden depths, Sven Nykvist plies his supernatural finesse to render the ordinary interior settings masterpieces of light, color, and texture in a grainy, painterly mode (I'm guessing this was shot on 16mm). I can't think of any cinematographer who was able to bring so much beauty out of and to the commonplace, and getting to the nature shot at the end of each episode was almost as incentivizing to watch another as the story itself. Off the top of my head, this is my favorite thing of its kind; I'm eager to explore the Fanny and Alexander miniseries soon.

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#77

Post by prodigalgodson » April 29th, 2020, 11:01 pm

cinewest wrote:
April 28th, 2020, 7:07 am
I find a lot of different philosophies of art interesting, but am most moved by that which engages me emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually in multiple ways, and I love films I can feel my way into. In saying that, I'm not talking about melodrama or emotional content per se, but rather about a way of perceiving and expressing that certain filmmakers have.
I can definitely agree with this. I think it'd be hard for me to formalize a description of my taste in film, but I'll have to try someday. I've gotten better with time at knowing what I will and won't like, though I'm still pleasantly and unpleasantly surprised fairly often.

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#78

Post by cinewest » April 30th, 2020, 1:31 am

prodigalgodson wrote:
April 29th, 2020, 11:01 pm
cinewest wrote:
April 28th, 2020, 7:07 am
I find a lot of different philosophies of art interesting, but am most moved by that which engages me emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually in multiple ways, and I love films I can feel my way into. In saying that, I'm not talking about melodrama or emotional content per se, but rather about a way of perceiving and expressing that certain filmmakers have.
I can definitely agree with this. I think it'd be hard for me to formalize a description of my taste in film, but I'll have to try someday. I've gotten better with time at knowing what I will and won't like, though I'm still pleasantly and unpleasantly surprised fairly often.
Happy you liked Scenes From a Marriage (I need to revisit that one after so long).

I can also relate to what you said in response to my comment. My antenna have really sharpened over the years, even as my taste in films has changed (becoming less conventional) over time. And when I am really tuned in, I can count on it to lead me to something I will like, even love (and avoid what I won't, corroborated by by occasional experiments or the entrapments of others), though I'm not quite sure how it works (some kind of a mix of knowledge and intuition).
That said, I like nothing more than to be surprised, and have my expectations confounded by the unexpected (something I did;t think I would like, or even better, a new discovery), which is partly why I have steered more and more away from more mainstream filmmaking (English language films, in general, unless they are something atypical). Watching a film once and a while with family members, friends (or my wife) provide enough mainstream films for my diet, and my late night pursuits are either devoted to writing or watching something none of my familiars would be into.

Lazarescu, next?

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#79

Post by prodigalgodson » April 30th, 2020, 8:12 pm

483. Triumph of the Will

Riefenstahl demonstrates an intuitive mastery of the cinematographic image, a poetic eye for form and movement matched with the boundless scope of her subject, directing from an editorial standpoint to maintain a constancy of stunning variety. I hate to say it but if I was able to detach myself from history and just judge it on aesthetic standards as the depiction of some grand occult ritual I'd have to give it a perfect score. It's crazy how harmless it can feel in its quieter moments if you let your guard down. The speechifying really raised my blood pressure though. I kind of wish I'd seen this when I was younger and less sensitive to this sort of thing.

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#80

Post by prodigalgodson » April 30th, 2020, 8:17 pm

cinewest wrote:
April 30th, 2020, 1:31 am
I can also relate to what you said in response to my comment. My antenna have really sharpened over the years, even as my taste in films has changed (becoming less conventional) over time. And when I am really tuned in, I can count on it to lead me to something I will like, even love (and avoid what I won't, corroborated by by occasional experiments or the entrapments of others), though I'm not quite sure how it works (some kind of a mix of knowledge and intuition).
That said, I like nothing more than to be surprised, and have my expectations confounded by the unexpected (something I did;t think I would like, or even better, a new discovery), which is partly why I have steered more and more away from more mainstream filmmaking (English language films, in general, unless they are something atypical). Watching a film once and a while with family members, friends (or my wife) provide enough mainstream films for my diet, and my late night pursuits are either devoted to writing or watching something none of my familiars would be into.

Lazarescu, next?
Yeah, I watch almost all my mainstream films with my girlfriend; by myself I'm still often in the mood for something chill and easy, but that's what tv's for heh. Damn I really should push myself to do some writing every night.

Lazarescu next now, I think, I was feeling provocative last night.

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