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Knocking out TSP top 500

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prodigalgodson
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Knocking out TSP top 500

#1

Post by prodigalgodson » March 21st, 2020, 10:34 pm

Hey guys, I hope this is the right place to post this. I figured I'd use this uncertain time to watch all the films on They Shoot Picture's top 500 of all time that I haven't seen. I'll post updates on my progress if anyone's interested.
Last edited by prodigalgodson on May 15th, 2020, 8:51 pm, edited 38 times in total.

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#2

Post by prodigalgodson » March 22nd, 2020, 1:02 am

Here's my ratings for everything I've seen thus far, cuz I'm bored to death. I'll add in the new ones I watch as I go. Some of these ratings are old as hell fyi.

1. Citizen Kane 9/10
2. Vertigo 10/10 - personal top 3
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey 9/10
4. The Rules of the Game 10/10
5. Tokyo Story 5/10 - needs rewatch
6. 8 1/2 9/10
7. The Godfather 9/10
8. Sunrise 9/10
9. The Searchers 10/10 - personal top 30
10. Seven Samurai 8/10
11. Apocalypse Now 9/10
12. Singin' in the Rain 5/10
13. Bicycle Thieves 6/10
14. Taxi Driver 9/10
15. Battleship Potemkin 7/10
16. Breathless 9/10
17. The Passion of Joan of Arc 6/10
18. L'atalante 8/10
19. Persona 7/10
20. Man with a Movie Camera 9/10
21. Rashomon 7/10
22. The 400 Blows 7/10
23. Psycho 6/10
24. The Godfather Part II 9/10
25. Raging Bull 8/10
26. Some Like It Hot 7/10
27. Andrei Rublev 10/10 - personal top 3
8. City Lights 4/10
29. La dolce vita 9/10
30. Mirror 10/10
31. Touch of Evil 8/10
32. Ordet 8/10
33. Lawrence of Arabia 9/10
34. Au hasard Balthazar 10/10
35. Sunset Blvd. 8/10
36. Casablanca 9/10
37. Blade Runner 9/10
38. L'avventure - personal top 30
39. Contempt 10/10 - personal top 30
40. The General 6/10
41. Rear Window 9/10
42. In the Mood for Love 9/10
43. The Night of the Hunter 7/10
44. Grand Illusion 6/10
45. The Third Man 10/10
46. Ugetsu monogatari 8/10
47. Playtime 9/10
48. Modern Times 3/10
49. Dr. Strangelove 10/10
50. Fanny and Alexander 5/10
51. Stalker 10/10 - personal top 30
52. Chinatown 10/10
53. Barry Lyndon 10/10 - personal top 30
54. Mulholland Dr. 9/10
55. Pather Panchali 8/10
56. The Apartment 9/10
57. Rio Bravo 9/10
58. M 8/10
59. North by Northwest 7/10
60. Metropolis 9/10
61. Wild Strawberries 7/10
62. Children of Paradise 6/10
63. Viridiana 6/10
64. Pierrot le fou 8/10
65. La strada 3/10 - needs rewatch
66. Shoah 10/10
67. The Wild Bunch 9/10
68. Once Upon a Time in the West 9/10
69. The Seventh Seal 9/10
70. Goodfellas 8/10
71. Amarcord 5/10
72. Pulp Fiction 7/10
73. Battle of Algiers 9/10
74. The Leopard 10/10 - personal top 30
75. Voyage to Italy 8/10
76. The Gold Rush 7/10
77. The Magnificent Ambersons 8/10
78. Late Spring 7/10
79. Pickpocket 9/10
80. A Clockwork Orange 8/10
81. It's a Wonderful Life 7/10
82. Close Up 9/10
83. Jules and Jim 8/10
84. Jeanne Dielman 5/10
85. Blue Velvet 9/10
86. The Conformist 9/10
87. Nashville 10/10
88. Annie Hall 6/10
89. Gertrud 6/10
90. A Man Escaped 9/10
91. The Shining 10/10
92. Jaws 6/10
93. Sansho the Bailiff 7/10
94. A Woman Under the Influence 7/10
95. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 7/10
96. Greed 9/10
97. Sans soleil 9/10
98. Last Year at Marienbad 10/10
99. Blow Up 9/10
100. Once Upon a Time in America 6/10
101. Aguirre, the Wrath of God 9/10
102. To Be or Not to Be 9/10
103. The Mother and the Whore 10/10
104. The Spirit of the Beehive 5/10
105. The Wizard of Oz 3/10
106. Intolerance 8/10
107. Gone with the Wind 7/10
108. Satantango 7/10
109. L'eclisse 7/10
110. Hiroshima mon amour 9/10
111. Alien 5/10
112. Ikiru 4/10 - needs rewatch
113. Sherlock Jr. 9/10
114. La jetee 9/10
115. Manhattan 6/10
116. Star Wars 9/10
117. ET 3/10
118. Beau travail 9/10
119. Nosferatu 7/10
120. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 6/10
121. A Brighter Summer Day 10/10 - personal top 30
122. Madame de... 9/10
123. Yi yi 9/10
124. All About Eve 6/10
125. Bringing Up Baby 9/10
126. Letter from an Unknown Woman 8/10
127. Don't Look Now 7/10 - needs rewatch
128. My Darling Clementine 8/10
129. Rome, Open City 6/10
130. Los olvidados 5/10
131. Partie de campagne 6/10
132. Badlands 7/10
133. Vivre sa vie 6/10
134. Rosemary's Baby 7/10
135. Notorious 6/10
136. Stagecoach 6/10
137. Do the Right Thing 10/10
138. Un chien andalou 5/10
139. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 8/10
140. L'age d'or 8/10
141. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul 9/10
142. His Girl Friday 8/10
143. The Lady Eve 6/10
144. The Passenger 8/10
145. Duck Soup 5/10
146. The Gospel According to St. Matthew 9/10
147. A Matter of Live and Death 7/10
148. Double Indemnity 6/10
149. Trouble in Paradise 9/10
150. Come and See 6/10
151. Spring in a Small Town 6/10 - needs rewatch
152. Brief Encounter 8/10
153. On the Waterfront 4/10 - needs rewatch
154. The Conversation 7/10
155. Days of Heaven 6/10
156. Histoire(s) du cinema 8/10
157. The Exterminating Angel 4/10
158. Cries and Whispers 8/10
159. The Red Shoes 7/10
160. Chimes at Midnight 10/10 - personal top 30
161. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie 8/10
162. The Piano 5/10
163. King Kong 8/10
164. L'argent 9/10
165. Black Narcissus 7/10
166. There Will Be Blood 10/10
167. The River 8/10
168. The Deer Hunter 7/10
169. Earth 9/10
170. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg 8/10
171. Rocco and His Brothers 7/10
172. Spirited Away 9/10
173. The Great Dictator 8/10
174. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 7/10
175. Mouchette 6/10
176. Napoleon 9/10
177. Imitation of Life 10/10
178. The Grapes of Wrath 7/10
179. The Last Laugh 9/10
180. Night and Fog 8/10
181. Dekalog 6/10
182. The Birds 9/10
183. A City of Sadness 10/10 - personal top 30
184. Brazil 8/10
185. Out of the Past 6/10
186. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp 8/10
187. Kes 6/10
188. Raiders of the Lost Ark 7/10
189. Umberto D. 7/10
190. Fargo 9/10
191. Salo 4/10
192. Chungking Express 8/10
193. Close Encounters of the Third Kind 3/10
194. Solaris 8/10
195. The Traveling Players 6/10
196. Belle du jour 5/10
197. Death in Venice 9/10
198. Performance 8/10
199. Celine and Julie Go Boating 6/10
200. Red River 8/10
201. Sweet Smell of Success 5/10
202. Paisan 6/10
203. Breaking the Waves 6/10
204. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 5/10
205. Le samourai 7/10
206. The Quiet Man 8/10
207. Vampyr 3/10
208. Unforgiven 8/10
209. The Best Years of Our Lives 8/10
210. Nights of Cabiria 6/10
211. Black God, White Devil 9/10
212. McCabe and Mrs. Miller 10/10 - personal top 30
213. Ran 9/10
214. Cache 9/10
215. Ashes and Diamonds 7/10
216. The Graduate 9/10
217. The Exorcist 5/10
218. The Tree of Life 5/10
219. The Thin Red Line 6/10
220. Nanook of the North 6/10
221. Wings of Desire 6/10
222. Wavelength 8/10
223. My Neighbor Totoro 6/10
224. Kind Hearts and Coronets 9/10
225. Schindler's List 7/10
226. The Big Lebowski 10/10
227. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 3/10
228. Ivan the Terrible, Part II 9/10
229. Tropical Malady 10/10 - personal top 30
230. Paris, Texas 6/10
231. Paths of Glory 6/10
232. Germany Year Zero 5/10
233. Only Angels Have Wings 9/10
234. Diary of a Country Priest 10/10 - personal top 30
235. Treasure of the Sierra Madre 9/10
236. Zero for Conduct 6/10
237. Sullivan's Travels 6/10
238. Groundhog Day 7/10
239. 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her 7/10
240. F for Fake 6/10
241. Night of the Living Dead 9/10
242. Meet Me in St. Louis 6/10
243. The Crowd 8/10
244. La notte 6/10
245. Bonnie and Clyde 8/10
246. Johnny Guitar 10/10
247. The Band Wagon 5/10
248. Cleo from 5 to 7 9/10
249. The Color of Pomegranate 5/10
250. Tabu 9/10
251. Freaks 3/10
252. El verdugo 6/10
253. The Shop Around the Corner 6/10
254. The Thing 8/10
255. Life of Oharu 8/10
256. Magnolia 5/10
257. Memories of Underdevelopment 9/10
258. Floating Clouds 10/10 - personal top 3
259. The Thin Blue Line 7/10
260. Story of the Last Chrysanthemums 9/10
261. Ivan the Terrible, Part I 8/10
262. Faces 6/10
263. Mean Streets 9/10
264. Meshes of the Afternoon 8/10
265. In a Lonely Place 8/10
266. Distant Voices, Still Lives 6/10
267. Broken Blossoms 2/10
268. Kings of the Road 6/10
269. Eraserhead 8/10
270. Beauty and the Beast 7/10
271. The Maltese Falcon 8/10
272. Three Colors: Red 8/10
273. Throne of Blood 6/10
274. My Night at Maud's 9/10
275. Love Streams 6/10
276. The Wages of Fear 9/10
277. Day of Wrath 8/10
278. Monsieur Verdoux 7/10
279. Peeping Tom 3/10
280. Cinema Paradiso 5/10
281. Husbands 8/10
282. The Empire Strikes Back 9/10
283. M. Hulot's Holiday 6/10
284. Three Colors: Blue 6/10
285. The Matrix 8/10
286. This Is Spinal Tap 3/10
287. Pandora's Box 9/10
288. Crimes and Misdemeanors 8/10
289. Birth of a Nation N/A
290. The Big Sleep 9/10
291. Daisies 4/10
292. The Kid 6/10
293. Videodrome 9/10
294. Where Is the Friend's House? 10/10
295. An Autumn Afternoon 8/10
296. Dawn of the Dead 8/10
297. Make Way for Tomorrow 6/10
298. Underground 9/10
299. Week End 10/10
300. Touki Bouki 6/10
301. Killer of Sheep 9/10
302. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 3/10 - needs rewatch
303. City of God 6/10
304. Red Desert 6/10
305. The Music Room 8/10
306. Back to the Future 8/10
307. The Puppetmaster 7/10
308. The Last Picture Show 9/10
309. All About My Mother 8/10
310. In the Realm of the Senses 10/10
311. Stranger Than Paradise 10/10
312. The World of Apu 10/10
313. Bride of Frankenstein 8/10
314. Cabaret 6/10
315. Reservoir Dogs 5/10
316. Midnight Cowboy 5/10
317. The Sacrifice 9/10
318. Dog Day Afternoon 7/10
319. A Time to Live and a Time to Die 9/10
320. Terra em transe 9/10
321. Eyes Without a Face 6/10
322. It Happened One Night 5/10
323. A Canterbury Tale 6/10
324. Kiss Me Deadly 10/10
325. Harold and Maude 8/10
326. A Touch of Zen 8/10
327. Quince Tree of the Sun 9/10
328. Days of Being Wild 9/10
329. The Philadelphia Story 6/10
330. West Side Story 4/10
331. Berlin Alexanderplatz 9/10
332. The House Is Black 5/10
333. Wanda 9/10
334. Aliens 7/10
335. Heat 9/10
336. Eyes Wide Shut 8/10
337. To Kill a Mockingbird 7/10
338. The Tenant 9/10
339. Orpheus 9/10
340. I Was Born, But... 8/10
341. Amadeus 7/10
342. Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks 10/10
343. Happy Together 6/10
344. The Innocents 8/10
345. Listen to Britain 7/10
346. I Am Cuba 5/10
347. How Green Was My Valley 7/10
348. The Green Ray 8/10
349. The Killing of a Chinese Bookie 8/10
350. The Silence of the Lambs 5/10
351. Uncle Boonme Who Can Recall His Past Lives 8/10
352. Teorema 6/10
353. Yellow Earth 10/10
354. Suspiria 5/10
355. Dogville 9/10
356. Stromboli 9/10
357. Marnie 6/10
358. Written on the Wind 8/10
359. Brokeback Mountain 9/10
360. Carrie 7/10
361. High Noon 6/10
362. Lola Montes 8/10
363. Salvatore Giuliano 7/10
364. Platform 9/10
365. The Elephant Man 6/10
366. Las Hurdes 8/10
367. Werckmeister Harmonies 9/10
368. High and Low 7/10
369. Through the Olive Trees 6/10
370. If... 7/10
371. Last Tango in Paris 5/10
372. The Young Girls of Rochefort 6/10
373. Lost Highway 8/10
374. I Know Where I'm Going! 5/10
375. A Separation 6/10
376. The Palm Beach Story 7/10
377. Lost in Translation 8/10
378. The Turin Horse 8/10
379. Russian Ark 6/10
380. El 8/10
381. WALL-E 8/10
382. Habla con ella 9/10
383. Woman in the Dunes 9/10
384. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 5/10
385. The Crime of M. Lange 8/10
386. The Bridge on the River Kwai 9/10
387. October 7/10
388. The Gleaners and I 6/10
389. Network 5/10
390. Mon oncle 9/10
391. Nostalghia 8/10
392. Don't Look Back 6/10
393. The King of Comedy 8/10
394. Army of Shadows 6/10
395. Voyage to the Moon 7/10
396. Festen 8/10
397. A nos amours 10/10
398. The White Ribbon 8/10
399. Tristana 7/10
400. Heaven's Gate 8/10
401. All That Heaven Allows 7/10
402. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 7/10
403. Ivan's Childhood 8/10
404. Yojimbo 6/10
405. The Double Life of Veronique 5/10
406. Pinocchio 6/10
407. 1900 5/10
408. Vidas secas 8/10
409. Landscape in the Mist 7/10
410. An Affair to Remember 7/10
411. Raise the Red Lantern 7/10
412. Shoot the Piano Player 9/10
413. Fitzcarraldo 6/10
414. The Awful Truth 8/10
415. In a Year with 13 Moons 9/10
416. Taste of Cherry 8/10
417. The Scarlet Empress 8/10
418. Charulata 9/10
419. Monte Python's Life of Brian 8/10
420. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu 7/10
421. Punch Drunk Love 6/10
422. Man of Aran 6/10
423. Opening Night 4/10
424. Day for Night 5/10
425. The Cloud-Capped Star 7/10
426. The Sorrow and the Pity 9/10
427. A Star Is Born 5/10
428. The Long Goodbye 10/10 - personal top 30
429. Repulsion 5/10
430. Halloween 3/10
431. Two Lane Blacktop 10/10
432. Five Easy Pieces 6/10
433. Dead Ringers 6/10
434. Scenes from a Marriage
435. Dead Man 10/10
436. The Hustler 5/10
437. Shadows 5/10 - needs rewatch
438. The Terminator 7/10
439. Flowers of Shanghai 10/10 - personal top 30
440. The Shawshank Redemption 6/10
441. Flowers of St. Francis 6/10
442. A Moment of Innocence 10/10
443. Elephant 8/10
444. The Dead 6/10
445. Easy Rider 6/10
446. Accattone 10/10
447. The Cameraman 8/10
448. Cat People 7/10
449. Senso 10/10
450. Naked 8/10
451. Out 1, noli me tangere 10/10
452. Hoop Dreams 5/10
453. Withnail and I 6/10
454. The Hour of the Furnaces 10/10
455. Le plaisir 5/10
456. Some Came Running 9/10
456. All the President's Men 8/10
458. Fight Club 8/10
459. The Lady from Shanghai 9/10
460. All That Jazz 8/10
461. Closely Watched Trains 7/10
462. The Cranes Are Flying 5/10
463. Fantasia 5/10
464. Frankenstein 6/10
465. Melancholia 6/10
466. Shane 6/10
467. Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors 8/10
468. Pyaasa 7/10
469. Dersu Uzala 6/10
470. Chelsea Girls 9/10
471. Mad Max 2 7/10
472. Safe 8/10
473. French Cancan 8/10
474. The Tree of Wooden Clogs 8/10
475. Oldboy 9/10
476. Point Blank 8/10
477. Limite 10/10
478. Vagabond 9/10
479. Grey Gardens 2/10
480. A.I. Artificial Intelligence 7/10
481. The Wind 7/10
482. Laura 8/10
483. Triumph of the Will N/A
484. Tootsie 6/10
485. Hour of the Wolf 7/10
486. Inland Empire 10/10
487. Chronicle of a Summer 7/10
488. To Have and Have Not 7/10
489. The Sound of Music 4/10
490. India Song 10/10 - personal top 30
491. Toy Story 7/10
492. Alexander Nevsky 7/10
493. Boogie Nights 4/10
494. The Lives of Others 8/10
495. Shadows of a Doubt 7/10
496. Short Cuts 9/10
497. Koyaanisqatsi 9/10
498. Strangers on a Train 7/10
499. The Wind Will Carry Us 6/10
500. Orlando 5/10
Last edited by prodigalgodson on May 15th, 2020, 8:51 pm, edited 39 times in total.

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#3

Post by prodigalgodson » March 22nd, 2020, 1:10 am

268. Kings of the Road

First one down. On paper I should like this a lot -- I love the idea of bloated road movies even if I often don't like the result -- and if I was still at the point where my primary appreciation was aesthetic, this would probably be one of my favorites. As things stand I enjoyed it but it didn't make a huge impression, and in contrast to the ravishing imagery I had a hard time connecting with the human element. I've seen a handful of Wenders', and aside from The American Friend didn't especially enjoy any of them -- his style tends to swing between artsy and corny. I'd imagine aspects of it haven't aged that well either -- the pattern of one of the leads saying something banally profound before overbearing music cues in and we cut to a shot of the truck breezing on down the road might've worked better at the time. I tend not to love improvised scenes that much either, some Cassavettes and Leigh and Curb Your Enthusiasm coming to mind as exceptions. I did like the line from The Idiot Wind too. Not a bad way to spend 3 hours considering the alternatives atm.

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erde
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#4

Post by erde » March 22nd, 2020, 7:41 am

Nice to hear about your project! I'm aiming to complete the TSPDT 500 (7 left) and TSPDT 1000 (158 left) during this year myself, and it has been a really nice trip so far. Right now I'm enjoying/suffering through the third hour of Chelsea Girls, and I'm becoming more and more certain that I cannot operate with ratings when it comes to films: I both like and dislike it intensely, and I think that it might also be one of the points of this film. In general, I feel that the more complex and interesting the film, the worse it fits the simple numeric scale from 1 to 10.

This thread might suit the Challenges section better, but the mods will decide.
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#5

Post by prodigalgodson » March 23rd, 2020, 6:16 am

erde wrote:
March 22nd, 2020, 7:41 am
Nice to hear about your project! I'm aiming to complete the TSPDT 500 (7 left) and TSPDT 1000 (158 left) during this year myself, and it has been a really nice trip so far. Right now I'm enjoying/suffering through the third hour of Chelsea Girls, and I'm becoming more and more certain that I cannot operate with ratings when it comes to films: I both like and dislike it intensely, and I think that it might also be one of the points of this film. In general, I feel that the more complex and interesting the film, the worse it fits the simple numeric scale from 1 to 10.

This thread might suit the Challenges section better, but the mods will decide.
Ah groovy, good luck! Yeah I imagine Chelsea Girls and West of the Tracks are gonna be tough, but Triumph of the Will is the one I'm least looking forward to lol. I understand what you mean with ratings -- when I frequented boards a lot I tended to think in terms of 1-10 automatically, which is a habit I fell out of with time. I can still pull one out pretty easily, but it's obviously very arbitrary and subjective and I just accept that being a 10, for instance, can mean a lot of different things -- I appreciate very different things about The Big Lebowski, Shoah, and Rose Hobart, even if I give them all 10s and consider them all among my favorites.

Ah cheers. I'm an old Film General refugee and don't know the rules and regs here well.

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#6

Post by prodigalgodson » March 23rd, 2020, 6:33 am

291. Daisies

To the new wave what Das EFX is to hip hop. I kind of figured going in the style was gonna annoy me, so I tried to keep an open mind within that framework, and because of its short length it wasn't insufferable. Elements of this period that get labelled as "playfulness" tend not to gel with me -- even in Godard and Rivette, for example -- so a whole movie with this approach taken to its extreme was pretty grating. I did like the dedication at the end over footage of wartime decimation, which the criterion edition translates as "this film is dedicated to all those whose sole source of indignation is a trampled-on trifle." According to Wikipedia Milan Kundera wrote that the "monstrosity of the main characters was depicted elegantly, poetically, dreamlike and 'beautifully,' but without becoming any less monstrous" -- which seems like an odd read on the film, unless it's a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgment of his philosophical differences with Chytilova. I was pretty stoned when I watched this, but unless I missed something major, I don't think anything the girls did in the film could be construed as "monstrous" by any means, and what point there is to the film seems to be, per the dedication, that people shouldn't get so upset at others having fun even in ways that flout or interrupt societal conventions.

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#7

Post by prodigalgodson » March 24th, 2020, 11:56 pm

408. Vidas secas

Solid and stylistically apt take on the titular hardscrabble lives. Could only find a low-res rip of this on YouTube, but though I'd obviously love to see it on film, the aesthetic kind of matched the medium. Seemed to oscillate between conventional low-budget social realism and roughshod art film, both pretty well though in an unconventional style. That style isn't the easiest to get used to, with the combination of smooth, focus-racking long shot dolly takes, more rapid-fire cuts transitioned with jerky, twisting zoom tilts sometimes accompanied by time ramps, and more explicitly, experimentally subjective scenes (the flaring exposure/time jump shots in the torture scene, the dog's POV shots) -- and I have no idea what buzzing, screeching instrument produced what sounded at least on the copy I saw like a literally one-note score. Not my favorite of the subversive "lives of the proletariat" type movies -- Yellow Earth, Harvest: 3000 Years, and The Tree of Wooden Clogs come to come as ones I like more -- but I know those all fall into different traditions, and I think I can see why this one was so important in the history of Third Cinema.

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#8

Post by prodigalgodson » March 25th, 2020, 8:09 am

374. I Know Where I'm Going

Intermittently charming, slightly dull ethnographic romcom (light on the com). Even though I usually like their movies, I still fail to click entirely with the Powell/Pressburger style. Here there are a lot of scenes that should be visually striking (and apparently intend to be so), but the somehow pedestrian compositions and stilted editing hold them back from quite coming alive to me. Also I can't really understand a sensibility that wouldn't cut this exchange off after the first two lines:

"People around here are very poor, I suppose."
"Not poor, they just haven't got money."
"It's the same thing."
"Oh no, something quite different."

Not terribly much chemistry between the leads either, and I found Wendy Hiller pretty unengaging. Overall all, it's not unpleasant though, and there are enough good moments to balance it out.

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#9

Post by prodigalgodson » March 26th, 2020, 11:47 pm

382. Habla con ella

Damn, the premises for these films get wonkier as you go down the list. This one ("men bond over comatose girlfriends as their relationships with their 'partners' devolve") is nestled between 381. WALL-E ("trash compactor robot on postapocalyptic earth falls in love with machine that’s out of his league") and 383. Woman in the Dunes (“amateur entomologist chases a beetle and gets stuck digging sand out of a hole with a horny widow the rest of his life”). Of course, that doesn't stop these from all being great movies, and this might be my favorite Almodovar so far. I enjoyed actually watching All About My Mother more, but this one's meaning doesn't quite strike you til after it's over, and the extent to which it makes the viewer reevaluate their moral position with regards to the characters and narrative makes it feel like his most "important" film in the sense of pushing the medium's capabilities forward. It's also interesting to think about where the story goes when we leave the action given the last segment heading that comes right before the credits. I'm continually impressed by Almodovar's ability to humanize seedy material and make utterly unconventional stories conventionally entertaining, even compulsively watchable, without sacrificing any of their artistic merits, in stark contrast to someone like Fassbinder whose influences and plot scenarios are pretty similar. I should mention I haven't seen any of Almodovar's early work except for part of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, and it seems like that period's more self-consciously arty along Fassbinder's lines. Anyhow great movie.

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#10

Post by prodigalgodson » March 28th, 2020, 2:18 am

411. Raise the Red Lantern

Watching something filmed entirely within the grounds of one household (aside from the first two shots) feels especially a propos to these times, but I'd enjoy this hermetic approach regardless, and I can see why the aesthetic's been compared to silent film. But as much as I've enjoyed more recent output like Shadow and A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shot, Zhang's style when he was making a name for himself strikes me as too bombastic for such delicate subject matter. While I enjoyed the compositions, the much-celebrated color palate, like the dialogue, acting, and heavily telegraphed plot machinations, is somehow both muted and overstated. It's hard not to imagine how affecting the story would be in the hands of a richer and subtler sensibility like Hou Hsiao-hsien's, who somehow served as an executive producer despite his work blatantly decrying the mainland Chinese government (not that it takes much imagining -- Hou's own period chamber piece deconstructing interpersonal politics and passions came out 7 years later and puts this to shame). It looks like I'm not alone in my opinion -- a cursory read through the Wikipedia page has one journalist-activist opining that "this kind of film is really shot for the casual pleasures of foreigners" -- and given the boost this gave to Chinese tourism and that Zhang was later handed the reigns of the Beijing Olympics, it seems like an apt criticism. Still, I did what I could to gauge this on its own artistic merits, and it's undoubtedly a solid, rigorously constructed film.

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#11

Post by prodigalgodson » March 29th, 2020, 12:35 am

360. Carrie

I was kind of procrastinating on this one, since it felt like a concept that would make a good short but would feel stretched thin in a feature, and because it's been so widely homaged and parodied I felt way too familiar with the content to watch it with fresh eyes. And I was right and wrong on both counts. There is a lot of filler, but a fair amount of it's enjoyable, especially anything involving the PE teacher. And even though I knew how the climactic prom scene was gonna wrap up, it's still very cathartic, and everything after that usually neglects to get mentioned, so I was able to enjoy the denouement without the shadow of preconception. Aside from that, I was impressed with the ambiguity of both Carrie's vengeance and its impacts, and the surrounding cast of characters many of whom are genuinely kind people to an even unlikely degree -- the story really is somewhat more complex than the stock "misfit takes revenge on town who's torturing her" plot I'd been led to expect. A movie like this is never gonna be a favorite of mine, but I was pleasantly surprised.

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#12

Post by prodigalgodson » April 1st, 2020, 11:48 pm

415. In a Year with 13 Moons

The talkiest and most philosophically substantial Fassbinder I've seen, to the extent that I had to rewind often to catch all the meaning of the subtitles and follow what was happening visually. The film also covers some ground in this regard I haven't seen explored much before: several stretches focus on the philosophy of suicide (Fassbinder made this in response to his lover's suicide), and it's the first time I can really remember a film diving deep into the psyche of a trans protagonist -- in contrast to the abstract, artier tact of Flaming Creatures and Werner Schroeter's collaborations with Magdalena Montezuma, or the sensationalist vein of Funeral Parade of Roses, Trash, and Pink Flamingos (haven't seen the latter in full). At a more fundamental level, it's an aloof yet incredibly poignant portrait of a flawed outsider's trials and tribulations in a world that has no room for her. Not all of Fassbinder's provocative choices, like his Freudian take on gender identity, would hold up in today's climate, though his poststructual-ish portrayal of the extent to which meaning and self-conception are invented and reinforced by society certain would. From a filmmaking standpoint, Fassbinder remains fascinatingly unique -- he wears his influences on his sleeves (the Mahler and dusky photography of the opening scene recalls Death in Venice, and an IMDb reviewer pointed out Nino Rota's Amarcord score elsewhere), takes an array of homegrown cinematographic approaches to capturing his scenes (other than a few tech hands, he filled every major crew position himself), yet his surreal flourishes and assorted kinkiness are imprinted like watermarks. One of the odder scenes (or more difficult to explain, there's a lot of oddity), features the protagonist's best friend watching TV while she sleeps, switching channels between soapy melodramas, interviews of Fassbinder himself discussing his work, and news about Pinochet's Chile, the latter of which continues in voiceover as the film cuts to long panning shots of the eaves of buildings. In its out-of-place-ness, aesthetically and substantially, this feels significant to Fassbinder's intentions, but intentionally vague, like Straub (who was part of Fassbinder's early cohort and who, politically and aesthetically, this sequence is most reminiscent of) calling The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach his contribution to the Viet Cong war effort; maybe it's just tying in to the theme of the title ("when a Moon Year also has 13 new moons, inescapable personal tragedies may occur; in the 20th century, this dangerous constellation occurs six times [1908, 1929, 1943, 1957, 1978, and 1992]"). One of the more fun aspects of watching a new Fassbinder is seeing how he'll cast his regular troupe, and Gottfried John absolutely cuts loose as a flamboyant Holocaust survivor cum business magnate who got his start managing brothels modeled on concentration camps (as with most of his work, the shadow of WWII looms large). I will say, for all the effort he puts into blocking and camerawork, and with a number of exceptions (Petra von Kant, Berlin Alexanderplatz, Querelle), Fassbinder makes some drab-looking movies (some people suppose he's not interested in the visual aspect of filmmaking -- I strongly disagree, I think it's more a matter of the difficulty of doing everything perfectly when one's doing practically everything by themselves). All in all, it was an absolutely thrilling refresher on one of my favorite directors, dense with meaning and human feeling and cinematically vivacious. I apologize for the scattershot and rambling review, but if it was ever apropos...

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#13

Post by prodigalgodson » April 3rd, 2020, 8:59 am

370. If...

I'll always appreciate things so fervently anti-authoritarian and anti-institutional, especially with the (proverbial) sights aimed at academia, and I'm glad McDowell's nihilistic sociopath lead isn't too glorified either. The boys boarding school setting doesn't appeal much to me, but does have the benefit of yielding lines like "this homosexual flirtatiousness is so adolescent." I was ready to say it was tamer than I'd expected until the last few minutes, which I hesitate to call prescient but are certainly more unsettling in the age of school shootings. The portrayal of gender dynamics in the free love era hasn't aged well either; it's remarkable how conceptions of liberalism change with time. There's a great monologue from one of the cool teachers on the rise of nationalism and fascism that includes: "in studying the 19th century, one thing will be clear: that the growth of technology...is matched by a failure of imagination, a fatal inability to understand the meaning and consequences of all these levers, wires, and railways." This feels more resonant than ever, with the breakneck pace of technology eating away at society in more insidious ways and, aptly, not allowing films like these to continue to be made.

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#14

Post by prodigalgodson » April 6th, 2020, 8:31 pm

338. The Tenant

Don't have too much to say about this one considering how much it affected me, but it's one of the most visceral and frightening portrayals of paranoia and erosion of identity I've seen, themes that have a lot of personal relevance to me. I find it increasingly difficult to separate art from the artist, but damn, Polanski knew how to build a mood, down to the small touches -- oranges falling under a hospital bed, a car passing inches behind the lead, a door smacking into his face. There's a palpable sense of unease, with claustrophobic framing, disorienting editing, and a dearth of establishing shots and context. I don't know how Polanski got Sven Nykvist to shoot this, but his way of bringing eerie beauty out of what would otherwise be dull and drab scenery is put to excellent use. I also don't know how good an actor Polanski is, but he cast himself perfectly as the lead, and I found myself relating to his ticks, sweating, and difficulties parsing meaning to an unnerving degree. Unnerving is an apt choice of adjective for the whole experience -- a new horror favorite.

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#15

Post by cinewest » April 7th, 2020, 1:06 am

erde wrote:
March 22nd, 2020, 7:41 am
Nice to hear about your project! I'm aiming to complete the TSPDT 500 (7 left) and TSPDT 1000 (158 left) during this year myself, and it has been a really nice trip so far. Right now I'm enjoying/suffering through the third hour of Chelsea Girls, and I'm becoming more and more certain that I cannot operate with ratings when it comes to films: I both like and dislike it intensely, and I think that it might also be one of the points of this film. In general, I feel that the more complex and interesting the film, the worse it fits the simple numeric scale from 1 to 10.

This thread might suit the Challenges section better, but the mods will decide.
I pretty much agree with you about ratings, Erde, though I continue to use them if only to continue logging the movies I have seen on imdb. I am pretty choosy about what I see (though it isn't always up to me, alone), and experience has honed my antenna fairly well, so most of what I choose is interesting, and at least somewhat complex, so I tend to score the majority of films I see in the 6-8 range, with rare misses landing below that, and occasional major standouts landing above.

Totally agree, that this does not do them justice, as films with similar scores are often so unalike, and have such different reasons for getting the score that they do that assigning them a number is really a terrible description.

Haven't seen Chelsea Girls, and not as highly motivated to do so as I would have been 25 years ago when I was more enraptured with film history and tasting everything that stood out, or took a different approach. Did you finish it?
Last edited by cinewest on April 7th, 2020, 8:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#16

Post by cinewest » April 7th, 2020, 1:34 am

Am enjoying your thread and commentary, prodigal, much the same way I have appreciated Mathew Scott's 2009 project. But, then, I appreciate commentary more than lists and scores, and often feel like a fish out of water on this board, where my own comments and responses often sit dead in the water. This has probably turned me into something of a provocateur, here, especially as my sense of connection (beyond being passionate about film) and engagement less than I would like.

But, I digress. Your commentary is pretty spot on, even if our taste is a little different (have seen 6 of the ones you speak about above, and about half of those you are set to se ), and I'll try to weigh in when I have more time later on

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#17

Post by erde » April 7th, 2020, 6:26 am

cinewest wrote:
April 7th, 2020, 1:06 am
Haven't seen Chelsea Girls, and not as highly motivated to do so as I would have been 25 years ago when I was more enraptured with film history and tasting everything that stood out, or took a different approach. Did you finish it?
Yes I did. I won't be forgetting that film soon. :blink: :lol:

This is great about committing to a diverse and interesting list: I certainly wouldn't have watched it if it wasn't on the TSPDT list, and now I'm very glad that I did. Same goes for Berling Alexanderplatz which I had been putting off for a long time (because it's 15,5 hours long!!!), but finally watched it last week because it was the highest ranked unseen film for me on the list. And now I'm completely overwhelmed by the great experience. I still find myself going through it in my head quite often.

Next stop: "Out 1, noli me tangere" which is my last film on the top 500 (12 hours this time... (D:) ). However, I'm having a little break now and watching some films for the Nordic films challenge.
Image Image

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#18

Post by cinewest » April 7th, 2020, 8:58 am

erde wrote:
April 7th, 2020, 6:26 am
cinewest wrote:
April 7th, 2020, 1:06 am
Haven't seen Chelsea Girls, and not as highly motivated to do so as I would have been 25 years ago when I was more enraptured with film history and tasting everything that stood out, or took a different approach. Did you finish it?
Yes I did. I won't be forgetting that film soon. :blink: :lol:

This is great about committing to a diverse and interesting list: I certainly wouldn't have watched it if it wasn't on the TSPDT list, and now I'm very glad that I did. Same goes for Berling Alexanderplatz which I had been putting off for a long time (because it's 15,5 hours long!!!), but finally watched it last week because it was the highest ranked unseen film for me on the list. And now I'm completely overwhelmed by the great experience. I still find myself going through it in my head quite often.

Next stop: "Out 1, noli me tangere" which is my last film on the top 500 (12 hours this time... (D:) ). However, I'm having a little break now and watching some films for the Nordic films challenge.
Sounds like you left the long ones for last. I saw Berlin Alexanderplatz in the 1980's (the first half at a theater), and though I liked it a lot, my viewing (over time) was interrupted so much that I've always wanted to see it again for a more saturated experience (the way binge watching a TV series can be). When I saw it, it was being shown at a theater in weekly 2 hour segments, and when I missed a showing in the middle, I had to wait (maybe up to a year) until I could rent it at a video store, at which point I didn't have time to re-watch the entire thing from the beginning. Hence, the totality of my experience was somewhat fractured, after I had really gotten into the first half of it.

My experience of avant garde cinema over the years has been a mixed bag. Though I have often been stimulated by the ideas being conjured up, I have equally often found these films to be laborious, not very pleasurable, and even full of shit I don't mind tasting, but am not all that interested in consuming large quantities of. Thus, I have usually preferred the shorter ones. Being in the right mood- very similar to the one which prompts me to visit a museum of modern art- seems to help, though at least with the museum experience, I get to walk around.

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#19

Post by prodigalgodson » April 7th, 2020, 10:18 am

cinewest wrote:
April 7th, 2020, 1:34 am
Am enjoying your thread and commentary, prodigal, much the same way I have appreciated Mathew Scott's 2009 project. But, then, I appreciate commentary more than lists and scores, and often feel like a fish out of water on this board, where my own comments and responses often sit dead in the water. This has probably turned me into something of a provocateur, here, especially as my sense of connection (beyond being passionate about film) and engagement less than I would like.

But, I digress. Your commentary is pretty spot on, even if our taste is a little different (have seen 6 of the ones you speak about above, and about half of those you are set to se ), and I'll try to weigh in when I have more time later on
Ayy, thank you! It's gratifying to know people are reading this lol. Lists and ratings are nice dopamine hits but I feel you on valuing commentary and conversation more, I myself just tailed some fellow Film General refugees here. Look forward to hearing your thoughts on any of these!

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#20

Post by prodigalgodson » April 7th, 2020, 10:19 am

327. Quince Tree of the Sun

"We would talk for hours and hours. We were discovering the world. We'd probably be bored to death now."

I'd say something about watching paint dry, but that'd be low-hanging fruit. What begins as a meticulous journal of the artistic process as a painter tries to capture the quince tree in his backyard develops into a textured exploration of space and ultimately reveals itself to be a poignant reflection on the passage of time. The artist Lopez Garcia's process focuses obsessively on how to best capture his subject through his lens, rather than what spin to put on that subject, and this is mirrored in Erice's hypnotically observant style of direction. I, of course, felt most connected to it during its more abstract, oneiric moments, but it's spellbinding throughout. Another one I'd love to see on film.

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#21

Post by prodigalgodson » April 8th, 2020, 7:24 am

275. Love Streams

As much as I admire Cassavettes' approach and have many favorites that bear marks of his influence, I always feel at a distance to his work and often find it a bit of a slog. His films feel true to life, but not necessarily the parts of life I find compelling, and there's a lot of droning inconsequential dialogue to sit through for the odd moments of spontaneous poetry and emotional payoff. The scattershot editing, verite shot selection, and improvisational performances give this the feel of a scrapbook of miserable assholes self-destructing. Which could also describe my favorite Cassavettes, Husbands, and I could see this being a favorite of his hardcore fans, but this is more confined and subdued where that has more the feel of an adventurous romp. Cassavettes' decrepit sleaziness and Rowlands' frantic fragility both grated on my nerves, but I came to like both Rowlands' character and the siblings' bond more as things went on. One scene toward the end had me laughing my ass off and I was pleasantly surprised by the surreal touches introduced late in the game.

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#22

Post by prodigalgodson » April 9th, 2020, 9:23 pm

454. The Hour of the Furnaces

"This is not a space for spectators, or enemy’s accomplices, but for only the authors and protagonists in the process that this films tries to document and explain."

[Gulp.] This is radical filmmaking at its most radical -- I don't think I've ever seen a film blatantly advocate and justify violent revolution. It's really something difficult to describe: overwhelming, incendiary polemic spurred on by the successes of Algeria, Cuba, Vietnam, and early Peronism; relentless chronicle of the brutal, bitter modern Argentine history and manifesto for what must follow; precise, rigorous treatise on revolutionary political philosophy, with a moral weight beyond any fictional cinematic tragedy. It reconceptualizes film form itself as a revolutionary act: overlaying essays on found footage and raw portraits of and glimpses at a country in crisis; interpolating epigrams from the likes of Franz Fanon, Stokely Carmichael, and Che and Fidel; replacing traditional intermissions with "espacios abiertos para el dialogo;" ultimately judging its own success only by the extent to which its conclusions are acted upon. The imagery, sometimes lyrical, sometimes stark, sears the camera in a way I've never seen outside silent film; the interviews and testimonials give abstract concepts human substance and bring slivers of history to vivid life. It ends optimistically but inconclusively, with room for further contributions and testimony from freedom fighters on the way to the national and international liberation from imperial powers it previsages.

I remember my 9th grade biology teacher Ms. Sanderson saying that she in the 60s she felt herself to be a political centrist, but now found herself way left of the median, and I always wondered quite what she meant and kind of doubted the accuracy of her perspective, but as I get older I understand better. Something equivalent to this today would never get any kind of wide distribution, and it's a terrifying realization in response to something so forward-looking that we're living in a future where the bad guys won (and there's no ambiguity as to the identities of the bad buys: the genocide perpetrated and propagated by the colonial powers of Spain, England, and subsequently the US are laid bare -- how easy to forget and hard to keep track of all the evil our country has committed throughout history and the world). How did we get from there to this self-interested apathy and collaboration; how did urgent, life-or-death politics devolve to quibbling over trivialities, when so few of the problems that instilled that urgency have yet been resolved? It seems all the distractions and conveniences of modern life have replaced religion as the opiate of the masses and completely shifted the focus of the political paradigm.

Anyhow, this is one of the most incredible film experiences I've had in years, one that not only renews my passion for cinematic form and its potential but inspires me to be a better human being and work toward a more just world. I'll leave you with a few of the excerpts I found most powerful, which stretch their relevance temporally and indict all of us in one way or another:

"Gold and coffee, meat and oil, grain and tin: the labor of a people reduced to cheap manpower has built the wealth of the great powers."

"In Latin America, the war is waged principally in the minds of men. Ideological frontiers replace conventional ones. The means of mass communication replace conventional weapons.”

“Only those within battles will win or lose them.”

“What is commonly understood by solidarity, is just a form of piteous charity and satisfies more those who give than those who receive it.”

“The regime involves in its crimes all who don’t fight them directly.”

And, given the half-century that's followed, the most tragic of all:

“If 500,000 Marines, the elite of the American army, couldn’t overcome the small heroic people of Vietnam, how many millions will they need to face and fight against more than two thirds of humanity: 700 million Chinese, the Cubans, the Koreans, the Latin Americans, the socialist countries, the Africans, the Arabs, the black Americans, and the progressive forces of the industrialized countries? Imperialism has no chance at all.”

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#23

Post by prodigalgodson » April 10th, 2020, 9:23 am

449. Senso

Damn, this and Hour of the Furnaces in the same day. What struck me first here was its warm, dusky, almost milky palate; I don't think I've seen another film with quite that weathered postcard look, and I'm curious to know how Visconti and d.p. GR Aldo managed it (the color process at the time may've had a lot to do with it). Between this quality of light, the grace of the camera, the coordination of movement within shots, and the exhaustive sumptuousness of the production design, it's one of the most visually rich and stimulating movies I've seen. All this combined with the rapturous temperamental swings of a doomed wartime romance make this the first Visconti I've seen to truly earn the description operatic, the word I find most often associated with his mature period. On top of all that, I just wasn't expecting it to hit me so hard emotionally -- that ending was a gut punch to the soul. This strikes me immediately as one of those unequivocal masterpieces of the medium.

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#24

Post by Cinepolis » April 10th, 2020, 2:31 pm

Good luck to you, especially for "Chelsea Girls" and "Triumph of the Will". Also, "A Separation" and "Festen" are both within my top 100, so I'm looking forward to your reviews for them.

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#25

Post by prodigalgodson » April 10th, 2020, 8:24 pm

Cinepolis wrote:
April 10th, 2020, 2:31 pm
Good luck to you, especially for "Chelsea Girls" and "Triumph of the Will". Also, "A Separation" and "Festen" are both within my top 100, so I'm looking forward to your reviews for them.
Thanks my friend! Yeah my sensitive Jewish self is gonna be really squirming through Triumph of the Will lol. A Separation's one of the biggest movies I've missed from recent years; I got into Dogme 95 when I was in a film program in high school but never got around to Festen despite owning the DVD since then. Looking forward to both of them!

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#26

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

340. I Was Born, But...

Ah, I haven't watched a silent in a while. I remember my old pal tosser used to say that silent film should be considered a separate medium from sound, and at least for narrative film I kind of see what he's saying: the meaning of a film's images change when they, including intertitles, are the only means of conveying its story and feelings. It necessitates a different approach to directing and acting, and therefore a different way of analyzing those aspects. I think I got enough of them in early on to be able to readjust to that different form of movie-watching, but it really is like switching to another language, and I can see why it's easy for people who aren't movie geeks to zone out -- especially today when the visual aspects of film are increasingly irrelevant to their meaning other than as decoration. It's also interesting how much the styles of the silent medium stick with directors who came to fame in that era -- people with as diverse styles as, say, Ozu, Sternberg, and Lang all retained more of the aesthetics of silents than their sound-era counterparts, giving their sound films unique styles.

Anyhow, this child's-eye-view societal critique already has many of the hallmarks of Ozu's style: the stationary camera, tatami shots, naturalism in service of gently stirring emotion. It's peppered with signs of a society at a crossroads: omnipresent electrical lines and poles and literally constant trains crisscrossing a landscape of fields and trees; a white picket fence around the lead household's traditional minka; the poor protagonists sporting wooden clogs while their richer friends wear western-style shoes. The main, unresolved crux of the story is these kids getting embarrassed at their dad's lowly position, of which the dad sadly concludes, "it's a problem kids these days will face all their life." I don't know enough about prewar Japan to know exactly what "these days" refers to, but the kids' (hopefully fanciful) decision at the end to become generals take on a bitter edge in light of forthcoming history. The child actors, both the leads and their friends, are amazing, and the dad's incredible, switching from his default charming bemusement to stern with his trouble-making kids to sniveling with corporate higher-ups to cringey embarrassment with blink-and-miss-it versatility. Ozu is the most acclaimed director I've had trouble getting into; this is one of my favorites so far, though still not quite an unqualified favorite. The location photography, genuine charm, and nuanced, open-ended emotion make it fly by and distinguish it from the more contrived, overblown style of most studio silents I've seen.

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#27

Post by cinewest » April 12th, 2020, 2:25 pm

Looking at your film ratings, I we seem to share a similar sense of many in the TSP 500. I won't comment on those that you love more than I, or talk about musicals, which you don't seem to like much, but some of those films and filmmakers i think you missed the boat on are:

Tokyo Story (perhaps when you revisit it will make a different impression)
Fanny and Alexander (try the original long version some day when you have 5 hours to be engulfed)
Amarcord (Fellini paints with broad, expressive strokes, but this film is amazing to me)
Spirit of the Beehive (Have already mentioned my love of this film in my comment about Erice, above)
Days of Heaven (This film amazed me when I saw it at 18, the year it came out, and it continues to be a favorite of mine)
Last Tango in Paris

Bunuel-The first non-English filmmaker I got into in my late teens, those in the top 500 are his best
Chaplin- silent era master comedian, and satirist (as with musicals, perhaps not your thing)
Keislowski- One of my all time favorite filmmakers, and those in the top 500 are his best
Kiarostami- As with Kieslowski and VonTrier, one of the top 5 filmmakers of the 90's to me.
Von Trier- Annoying personality, but has displayed genius as a filmmaker
PTA- The most interesting American filmmaker to come out of the 90's for me

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#28

Post by prodigalgodson » April 12th, 2020, 7:58 pm

cinewest wrote:
April 12th, 2020, 2:25 pm
Tokyo Story (perhaps when you revisit it will make a different impression)
Fanny and Alexander (try the original long version some day when you have 5 hours to be engulfed)
Amarcord (Fellini paints with broad, expressive strokes, but this film is amazing to me)
Spirit of the Beehive (Have already mentioned my love of this film in my comment about Erice, above)
Days of Heaven (This film amazed me when I saw it at 18, the year it came out, and it continues to be a favorite of mine)
Last Tango in Paris

Bunuel-The first non-English filmmaker I got into in my late teens, those in the top 500 are his best
Chaplin- silent era master comedian, and satirist (as with musicals, perhaps not your thing)
Keislowski- One of my all time favorite filmmakers, and those in the top 500 are his best
Kiarostami- As with Kieslowski and VonTrier, one of the top 5 filmmakers of the 90's to me.
Von Trier- Annoying personality, but has displayed genius as a filmmaker
PTA- The most interesting American filmmaker to come out of the 90's for me
Hey cinewest, thanks for the reply!

Tokyo Story - I'm almost certain I'll like it more now, having seen a lot more Ozu; for some reason I've had more trouble getting into Ozu than any other major Japanese director, ironically since he's considered maybe the most "Japanese" (I love Naruse and Mizoguchi, though, so I dunno...)
Fanny and Alexander - I'll take your suggestion, thank you!; another one I think I'd like more
Amarcord - yeah, Fellini's hit-and-miss for me, but I think that "broadness" is often what makes the misses miss; maybe I should return to this when I've seen more of his movies
Spirit of the Beehive - another one that's probably worth revisiting, especially considering how much I loved Quince Tree of the Sun recently
Days of Heaven - the only one you mentioned that I don't think would benefit from a rewatch; I've seen it at least twice on film and just couldn't get into the rhythm or storytelling method, though I liked it most the most recent time
Last Tango in Paris - may well be worth a revisit

Bunuel - mixed bag for me: Nazarin, Simon of the Desert, and The Young One are among my favorites, I really like That Obscure Object of Desire, Las Hurdes, L'age d'or, El, and The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz, but many of his most acclaimed and lesser known films just strike me as middling, and there are a few I really couldn't get into; I appreciate the freshness of his approach more than I can get into his style, with some major exceptions
Chaplin - ah yeah, maybe I'm not in the right headspace to enjoy his stuff, but I find his humor repetitive and unfunny and his sentiment cloying; I don't think it's just a prejudice against silent comedy either, Keaton's movies have me laughing out loud throughout and whizz by
Kieslowski - it's funny, I love White and like Red fairly well but have been unable to lose myself in his world other than that; I know I watched The Double Life of Veronique, for instance, but remember almost nothing of it; maybe another guy to revisit in a few years and see if my palate's evolved
Kiarostami - oh yeah, one of my favorite directors ever; I think I've rated everything on here between 8 and 10 except Through the Olive Trees and The Wind Will Carry Us, both of which I'd be happy to see again; Life and Nothing More's my favorite, and Where Is the Friend's House? would probably make my top 100 too.
Von Trier - I'd agree with flashes of genius, just doesn't match my sensibilities; my favorite is Antichrist lol
PTA - I'd agree that he's one of the best American directors to emerge in the last few decades (largely because there's not much competition), I just don't like his early work; There Will Be Blood especially is incredible

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#29

Post by prodigalgodson » April 13th, 2020, 3:40 am

Hey, knocked out the top 300!

280. Cinema Paradiso

Finally saw one of the most famous movie I'd procrastinated on for years, due to its reputation in many cinephile quarters as nostalgic schlock. And it's not quite schlocky; it's obviously very personal but takes a crowd-pleasing approach that only sometimes comes off as calculated with its (occasionally funny) sitcom-style humor, borderline-grotesque cutsieness, and broad pastichey performances. Phillipe Noiret's melancholy projectionist, who mentors the young film-going protagonist, is the film's greatest asset, thanks to the actor's ability to modulate his energy between bouncy vivacity and maudlin sentimentality in a way that feels organic. The seaside scene where he pushes the lead to leave his small Sicilian town and make something of himself is my favorite part of the movie. The second half in general is a big improvement on the first, when the focus moves past the protagonist's early childhood and sheds some its more cloying aspects. Towards the end, it tends to land on that sense of mono no aware more naturally, reflecting on the weight of memory, the best way to live life, and what we lose with maturity and worldly success. This is the rare case where I'd prefer to see the longer cut of a film I didn't particularly enjoy: more room to breathe and a more leisurely pace would cast it closer to the flow of life and give it an apter sweep for the emotional payoff it aspires to. I can certainly relate to a youthful obsession with a kind of film-watching that's no longer feasible, but by and large it wasn't the communal aspect that attracted me to screenings, so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself moved by the end despite my gripes throughout.

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#30

Post by cinewest » April 13th, 2020, 5:14 am

I Quite liked Cinema Paradiso the first time I saw it, probably in large part because I developed my love of cinema in the company of my own Sicilian grandfather. Sentimental and nostalgic, for sure, with the kind of imagery that hearkens back to Films of the 30’s, 40’s and early 50’s.

Didn’t bother me the first time I saw it, even touched me, as you say, but I watched the longer director’s cut a few years ago and could barely get through it.
In fact, this is a problem I have with a lot of old studio films these days. They are just too corny for me, and unless there is a good reason to overlook that (something I can do with the best musicals, or best noirs and sophisticated comedies), it’s hard to forgive in modern era films (one reason I never liked Speilberg) unless there is a conscious attempt to play off it, perhaps.

Nostalgia and sentiment are huge themes for Fellini, as well, but the difference for me is that he turned the exploration of them into an art form by creating unique, indelible imagery, larger than life characters, and drawing upon very memorable musical scores. Leone tried something similar with his takes on the old American West and gangster genres, but I find his palette and imagination much more limiting.

If all three filmmakers could be likened to musical composers, Tornatore might be said to create popular, romantic suites with strings; Leone, early post-modern trumpety plays on Hollywood genres (is Tarantino the less tethered Italian American clarinetist / grandson?), and Feliini, splashy jazz scores, full of wild imaginative riffs on a trombone.

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#31

Post by cinewest » April 13th, 2020, 7:16 am

prodigalgodson wrote:
April 12th, 2020, 7:58 pm
cinewest wrote:
April 12th, 2020, 2:25 pm
Tokyo Story (perhaps when you revisit it will make a different impression)
Fanny and Alexander (try the original long version some day when you have 5 hours to be engulfed)
Amarcord (Fellini paints with broad, expressive strokes, but this film is amazing to me)
Spirit of the Beehive (Have already mentioned my love of this film in my comment about Erice, above)
Days of Heaven (This film amazed me when I saw it at 18, the year it came out, and it continues to be a favorite of mine)
Last Tango in Paris

Bunuel-The first non-English filmmaker I got into in my late teens, those in the top 500 are his best
Chaplin- silent era master comedian, and satirist (as with musicals, perhaps not your thing)
Keislowski- One of my all time favorite filmmakers, and those in the top 500 are his best
Kiarostami- As with Kieslowski and VonTrier, one of the top 5 filmmakers of the 90's to me.
Von Trier- Annoying personality, but has displayed genius as a filmmaker
PTA- The most interesting American filmmaker to come out of the 90's for me
Hey cinewest, thanks for the reply!

Tokyo Story - I'm almost certain I'll like it more now, having seen a lot more Ozu; for some reason I've had more trouble getting into Ozu than any other major Japanese director, ironically since he's considered maybe the most "Japanese" (I love Naruse and Mizoguchi, though, so I dunno...)
Fanny and Alexander - I'll take your suggestion, thank you!; another one I think I'd like more
Amarcord - yeah, Fellini's hit-and-miss for me, but I think that "broadness" is often what makes the misses miss; maybe I should return to this when I've seen more of his movies
Spirit of the Beehive - another one that's probably worth revisiting, especially considering how much I loved Quince Tree of the Sun recently
Days of Heaven - the only one you mentioned that I don't think would benefit from a rewatch; I've seen it at least twice on film and just couldn't get into the rhythm or storytelling method, though I liked it most the most recent time
Last Tango in Paris - may well be worth a revisit

Bunuel - mixed bag for me: Nazarin, Simon of the Desert, and The Young One are among my favorites, I really like That Obscure Object of Desire, Las Hurdes, L'age d'or, El, and The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz, but many of his most acclaimed and lesser known films just strike me as middling, and there are a few I really couldn't get into; I appreciate the freshness of his approach more than I can get into his style, with some major exceptions
Chaplin - ah yeah, maybe I'm not in the right headspace to enjoy his stuff, but I find his humor repetitive and unfunny and his sentiment cloying; I don't think it's just a prejudice against silent comedy either, Keaton's movies have me laughing out loud throughout and whizz by
Kieslowski - it's funny, I love White and like Red fairly well but have been unable to lose myself in his world other than that; I know I watched The Double Life of Veronique, for instance, but remember almost nothing of it; maybe another guy to revisit in a few years and see if my palate's evolved
Kiarostami - oh yeah, one of my favorite directors ever; I think I've rated everything on here between 8 and 10 except Through the Olive Trees and The Wind Will Carry Us, both of which I'd be happy to see again; Life and Nothing More's my favorite, and Where Is the Friend's House? would probably make my top 100 too.
Von Trier - I'd agree with flashes of genius, just doesn't match my sensibilities; my favorite is Antichrist lol
PTA - I'd agree that he's one of the best American directors to emerge in the last few decades (largely because there's not much competition), I just don't like his early work; There Will Be Blood especially is incredible
When I saw Days of Heaven the first time (in a large theater, the year it came out), it struck me as something very new: A cinematic epic poetry delving into America (in the footsteps of Ford),but also into feeling, as well as spiritual ideas, and relying almost entirely on visuals, music and a narrative voice over to transmit its message. Given that you like McCabe and Mrs Miller so much (perhaps my own favorite Western), I'm surprised you didn't sense an affinity between the two (of course, I don't like The Searchers or much of Ford, for that matter, though I recognize his influence as a filmmaker, something I might also say about Hitchcock, though I seem to enjoy him more).

As for the filmmakers I brought up, I guess I didn;t notice your other high scores for Kiarostami or Kieslowski, especially when you rated my favorites of theirs a 6 or less. Actually, my favorite Kiarostami is Taste of Cherry (the first I saw by him, the year it came out), where I think he fully masters his way of working and thematic material that began roughly 10 years before. The Wind Will Carry Us is nearly as brilliant.

Turning to Kieslowski, the 3 films you gave lowish scores to are my 3 favorites of his, and both Blue and Double Life of Veronique might be in my top 30 all time.

Another filmmaker I almost typed in is Antonioni, at least until I saw that L'aventura is one of your top 30 all time (mine, as well). He and Fellini are my two favorite Italian filmmakers, though they are about as different stylistically as two filmmakers from the same country and era can be.

I don't want to belabor our differences, though, as, like I said, there seems to be many films we agree upon, and more importantly than agreement is intelligent commentary about what you do or don't like, which is what I am finding your short reviews to be.

Here's a short review I wrote of Kieslowski's Blue awhile back:

The "beauty" of Kieslowski's later works has little to do with "pretty pictures," but everything to do with his cinematic imagination, and his ability to tap into and enrich the emotional, spiritual, and aesthetic content of his work.

The opening sequence to "Blue," involving the car passing through a tunnel, as we are immersed in the ambient sounds (hearing bits of familial conversation, viewing the swish of vehicles and splash of lights through the window), followed by the passage into late afternoon light (and the silvery blue balloon being sucked out the side window flapping in the breeze), just before the accident, is as astounding in its beauty as it is penetrating in its content....

This film is resplendent with cinematic sequences as unique and profound as its opening, and, throughout," Kieslowski's use of sound as a way to access Binoche's interior process is absolutely brilliant. Witness the sequence, when she finally feels able to step out into the world again and move into the city after the accident. She rents an apartment on an upper floor of a large, strange vacuous building, and there, that first night, through her window, witnesses the beating of a man on the street, who escapes and runs into her building. The fear on her face, as she listens to him climb the long metal escape stairway, floor by floor, still followed by his assailants, as he comes closer to her, not only reminds one of Hitchcock, but describes how vulnerable she still is after her terrible accident.

It is not only the imagery (Binoche blurry through window, staring vacantly somewhere as she experiences intimate relations for the first time since her accident), or the ambient sound (the sudden clamor and echo of the indoor swimming pool as she comes up for air from under water) that reflects the nature of her psyche, but Preisner's haunting musical score that simultaneously reconnects us to her husband and her tragedy, as much as towards her recovery of self as she engages her own creative process.

She is a woman who has lived in the shadow of her husband, while yet participating in the creation of the very music he is famous for, and as the music enters the film, each time, it is her reflecting on and coming to terms with all that it represents to her, including, finally, the bridge to her salvation....

This is not a typical Hollywood redemption tale handing us the standard prescription for such a tale of woe, no "how to reclaim your power as a woman course 101." This is a tale of truth, and we believe Binoche every time she makes a decision because we are not only privy to her experience, but fully involved in her process of transformation that becomes her liberation.

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#32

Post by prodigalgodson » April 13th, 2020, 8:43 pm

477. Limite

Props to Armani and Cartier for funding the restoration, funny how prevalent high fashion and luxury cars are in the world of film restoration and independent theaters. Yanti would approve.

This was a unique thrill to watch, and one I'm eager to revisit soon. Both a repurposing of many of the techniques developed in the more artistically inclined films of the prior two decades, and a completely new approach to the evocative power of imagery. It's the first precursor to slow cinema I've seen from this period, and the languorous rhythm, lingering shots, and elliptical approach to story of this "genre" mesh ideally with the otherworldly aesthetic of silent film. The composition ranges from classically masterful to boldly eccentric, rough around the edges in a way that makes it feel fundamentally experimental and more alive than artifactual. Shame that silent film became obsolete just as its formal potential was beginning to be explored.

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#33

Post by prodigalgodson » April 13th, 2020, 9:17 pm

cinewest wrote:
April 13th, 2020, 5:14 am
I Quite liked Cinema Paradiso the first time I saw it, probably in large part because I developed my love of cinema in the company of my own Sicilian grandfather. Sentimental and nostalgic, for sure, with the kind of imagery that hearkens back to Films of the 30’s, 40’s and early 50’s.

Didn’t bother me the first time I saw it, even touched me, as you say, but I watched the longer director’s cut a few years ago and could barely get through it.
In fact, this is a problem I have with a lot of old studio films these days. They are just too corny for me, and unless there is a good reason to overlook that (something I can do with the best musicals, or best noirs and sophisticated comedies), it’s hard to forgive in modern era films (one reason I never liked Speilberg) unless there is a conscious attempt to play off it, perhaps.

Nostalgia and sentiment are huge themes for Fellini, as well, but the difference for me is that he turned the exploration of them into an art form by creating unique, indelible imagery, larger than life characters, and drawing upon very memorable musical scores. Leone tried something similar with his takes on the old American West and gangster genres, but I find his palette and imagination much more limiting.

If all three filmmakers could be likened to musical composers, Tornatore might be said to create popular, romantic suites with strings; Leone, early post-modern trumpety plays on Hollywood genres (is Tarantino the less tethered Italian American clarinetist / grandson?), and Feliini, splashy jazz scores, full of wild imaginative riffs on a trombone.
Couldn't agree more about studio films and corniness, and where it's forgivable and not (and about Spielberg lol). I feel like when I was first getting into older film, there was something so entrancingly different and otherworldly about studio films, almost the youthful exotic appeal of visiting a different country. Now with a more jaded understanding of why things are the way they are -- that dreamlike background is just a matte painted by a bunch of guys and placed there -- I feel like I'm able to judge their shortcomings with the scales lifted from my eyes a bit, and the shortcomings, especially in Hayes-code era America, are abundant. If that's a drawback to getting older in film exploration, a benefit is reconsideration of the gut reactions that comprised the bulk of film appreciation in my subjectivity-obsessed, and in retrospect kinda solipsistic, young cinephile's mind; a tempering of this with a sense of context and a realization of the limits of my own perspective and cinematic prejudices. Hopefully that means that when I revisit things like Amarcord or La strada, the reactionary responses of my teens -- such-and-such is too cartoony (heh) and over-the-top, or I don't like how such-and-such was conveyed -- will be replaced by an appreciation of why Fellini decided to convey what he does how he does.

I like your comparison of these guys to jazz musicians, sounds about right from what I know of them.

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#34

Post by prodigalgodson » April 13th, 2020, 10:07 pm

cinewest wrote:
April 13th, 2020, 7:16 am
When I saw Days of Heaven the first time (in a large theater, the year it came out), it struck me as something very new: A cinematic epic poetry delving into America (in the footsteps of Ford),but also into feeling, as well as spiritual ideas, and relying almost entirely on visuals, music and a narrative voice over to transmit its message. Given that you like McCabe and Mrs Miller so much (perhaps my own favorite Western), I'm surprised you didn't sense an affinity between the two (of course, I don't like The Searchers or much of Ford, for that matter, though I recognize his influence as a filmmaker, something I might also say about Hitchcock, though I seem to enjoy him more).

As for the filmmakers I brought up, I guess I didn;t notice your other high scores for Kiarostami or Kieslowski, especially when you rated my favorites of theirs a 6 or less. Actually, my favorite Kiarostami is Taste of Cherry (the first I saw by him, the year it came out), where I think he fully masters his way of working and thematic material that began roughly 10 years before. The Wind Will Carry Us is nearly as brilliant.

Turning to Kieslowski, the 3 films you gave lowish scores to are my 3 favorites of his, and both Blue and Double Life of Veronique might be in my top 30 all time.

Another filmmaker I almost typed in is Antonioni, at least until I saw that L'aventura is one of your top 30 all time (mine, as well). He and Fellini are my two favorite Italian filmmakers, though they are about as different stylistically as two filmmakers from the same country and era can be.

I don't want to belabor our differences, though, as, like I said, there seems to be many films we agree upon, and more importantly than agreement is intelligent commentary about what you do or don't like, which is what I am finding your short reviews to be.

Here's a short review I wrote of Kieslowski's Blue awhile back:

The "beauty" of Kieslowski's later works has little to do with "pretty pictures," but everything to do with his cinematic imagination, and his ability to tap into and enrich the emotional, spiritual, and aesthetic content of his work.

The opening sequence to "Blue," involving the car passing through a tunnel, as we are immersed in the ambient sounds (hearing bits of familial conversation, viewing the swish of vehicles and splash of lights through the window), followed by the passage into late afternoon light (and the silvery blue balloon being sucked out the side window flapping in the breeze), just before the accident, is as astounding in its beauty as it is penetrating in its content....

This film is resplendent with cinematic sequences as unique and profound as its opening, and, throughout," Kieslowski's use of sound as a way to access Binoche's interior process is absolutely brilliant. Witness the sequence, when she finally feels able to step out into the world again and move into the city after the accident. She rents an apartment on an upper floor of a large, strange vacuous building, and there, that first night, through her window, witnesses the beating of a man on the street, who escapes and runs into her building. The fear on her face, as she listens to him climb the long metal escape stairway, floor by floor, still followed by his assailants, as he comes closer to her, not only reminds one of Hitchcock, but describes how vulnerable she still is after her terrible accident.

It is not only the imagery (Binoche blurry through window, staring vacantly somewhere as she experiences intimate relations for the first time since her accident), or the ambient sound (the sudden clamor and echo of the indoor swimming pool as she comes up for air from under water) that reflects the nature of her psyche, but Preisner's haunting musical score that simultaneously reconnects us to her husband and her tragedy, as much as towards her recovery of self as she engages her own creative process.

She is a woman who has lived in the shadow of her husband, while yet participating in the creation of the very music he is famous for, and as the music enters the film, each time, it is her reflecting on and coming to terms with all that it represents to her, including, finally, the bridge to her salvation....

This is not a typical Hollywood redemption tale handing us the standard prescription for such a tale of woe, no "how to reclaim your power as a woman course 101." This is a tale of truth, and we believe Binoche every time she makes a decision because we are not only privy to her experience, but fully involved in her process of transformation that becomes her liberation.
I can imagine Days of Heaven would've been more affecting if I saw it at the time it came out, though I was around when Tree of Life hit theaters in real time, and I wasn't too impressed with that. My biggest gripe with Malick is his editing, the jumpy rhythm of his films really takes me out of their more meditative elements. Thematically, I can see the comparison with McCabe and Mrs. Miller: the dreamlike drudgery, the deconstructive take on the building of America, the tragedy of human isolation. Aesthetically, Altman's has an easy flow, a grimy beauty, an earthy poetry that makes its unostentatious beauty all the more stunning in its organic spontaneity. Malick's aesthetic feels much more polished and regimented even in its more spontaneous moments (not denying it results in some gorgeous filmmaking) that also keeps me at an emotional arms-distance. Malick's much more interested in spiritualism than Altman, but at least in their early periods I feel much more of a spiritual connection to Altman's work. Then again, The New World is one of my absolute favorite films (also in that top 30), and I thought A Hidden Life was one of the best movies of the decade and criminally underrated. So... :shrug:

With Kiarostami, I was actually more surprised than anyone not to love Through the Olive Trees. As I recall the whole Koker Trilogy screened over one weekend at the Pacific Film Archive, and I was blown away by the first two films individually and by the meta nesting-doll structure film to film. But the smaller scale of Olive Trees compared to the first two felt almost anticlimactic, and the romance the film revolves around didn't interest me at all. I should watch all three again now though, I may well like it more this time. A Taste of Cherry I saw in the same series and again once I got used to the more intimate scale loved, especially the ending. I'd like to watch it again actually, kind of straddles the fence between 8 and 9, whatever those numbers mean. The Wind Will Carry Us I saw years later on DVD and barely have any memory of, definitely worth revisiting.

Maybe with Kieslowski I should explore his earlier stuff first, sometimes that kind of context helps me appreciate a filmmaker more. Double Life of Veronique, despite being my most recent viewing from him, I have barely any memory of. I do remember loving the cynical humor and slyly subversive political and historic take of White. Thanks for the review of Blue, enjoyed reading that.

I love Antonioni too -- even when I don't love the films, I dig the unique approach to themes and structure and the influence on later directors that I count among my favorites (especially Hong Sangsoo and Shinji Aoyama). L'avvetura's definitely my favorite, top 10 material, followed by Zabriskie Point (maybe due to my gonzo obsession with the desert and love for 70s Americana), The Passenger, and Blowup. L'eclisse and Red Desert I absolutely loved formally and visually, but they left me surprisingly cold and felt kind of empty (maybe that's the point); other than Blowup (which I must've seen 5 times in high school), La notte's the only one of these I haven't seen on film, and between that and the smaller scale, it left a correspondingly lesser impression.

And thanks for your take on these reviews! They've been a lot of fun to write.

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#35

Post by cinewest » April 14th, 2020, 1:37 am

Speaking of the Pacific Film Archive, they had an amazing Keislowski retrospective about 15 years ago, where I saw a few, maybe even Double Life of Veronique, when it became my new co-favorite of his (criterion has put together a fabulous DVD package, but the film is meant for at least a good home theater). As with Malick, I absolutely love the visual / sound tapestries that both these directors create, and I would actually liken Tree of Life to his attempt to turn a symphony into cinema, or visa versa.

One of the things that has seemed to come out of this discussion is how the venue for watching films, and when one sees them (not only in terms of our own age, but in terms of the film's age) can be important. In fact, I can say that every one of my most memorable film experiences has been in a movie theater, where I in some way discovered something new that ignited my passion for the medium.

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#36

Post by prodigalgodson » April 14th, 2020, 9:29 pm

359. Brokeback Mountain

Can't believe I hadn't seen this before. Not only does it still feel like a historic landmark in mainstream queer film, it's more broadly a truly powerful examination of repression and the difficulty discovering, let alone embracing, one's true self when constrained by deeply ingrained indoctrination, psychological societal pressure, and mortal danger in a society that prides itself on freedom and individuality. The ensemble carries the movie, but damn if Heath fucking Ledger doesn't elevate the whole thing; the man really was a national treasure. The way he inhabits his character is acting on a whole other level: the shifty sad squinty contact-avoidant eyes, hunched shoulders, clenched lips, habitual mumbling grumbles, and halting drawl; the embodiment of a sensitive man's aspiration to stoic, rugged masculinity (him desperately clutching his rifle like a reassurance of his cowboy machismo after his first sexual encounter is one of my favorite little touches). Watching the erosion of his soul as he works, drinks, and smokes his life away while waiting for the next rare peak to poke out through the clouds encapsulates the fundamental tragedy of the film, the loneliness and degradation of living the life the world says you're supposed to live instead of one you find truly fulfilling. The thing is, I didn't even really like the movie aesthetically: Lee has that almost ironic ultra-Americana imagery down, but many of the shots are more textbook beautiful than genuinely inspired, and the slapdash editing rhythm -- before I can even take in everything in the frame, it switches to the next shot -- especially at the beginning took me out of the story (this approach does have the benefit of giving the scene more psychological weight on the rare occasions the camera does linger, like the early shot of Gyllenhaal's character actively not watching Ledger wash himself nude). But despite all that, I can't deny its incredible emotional force, and this sensitive guy was definitely welling up by the end. If it was an hour longer with a more lyrical, leisurely pace it would be one of my all-time favorites, but I'm kind of glad it's not so it could find the wide audience the story deserves.

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#37

Post by prodigalgodson » April 14th, 2020, 9:46 pm

cinewest wrote:
April 14th, 2020, 1:37 am
Speaking of the Pacific Film Archive, they had an amazing Keislowski retrospective about 15 years ago, where I saw a few, maybe even Double Life of Veronique, when it became my new co-favorite of his (criterion has put together a fabulous DVD package, but the film is meant for at least a good home theater). As with Malick, I absolutely love the visual / sound tapestries that both these directors create, and I would actually liken Tree of Life to his attempt to turn a symphony into cinema, or visa versa.

One of the things that has seemed to come out of this discussion is how the venue for watching films, and when one sees them (not only in terms of our own age, but in terms of the film's age) can be important. In fact, I can say that every one of my most memorable film experiences has been in a movie theater, where I in some way discovered something new that ignited my passion for the medium.
Ah nice, yeah the PFA has an incredible dedication to inspired programming, and a community that's awesomely supportive (I'd never think that a screening of Four Nights of a Dreamer would be so packed I'd have to sit in the front row crammed between people on both sides). I almost never missed a film there when I was in college, and almost always missed class lol.

I agree that the importance of context can't be overstated in film appreciation. I've definitely had some amazing at-home movie experiences, but there's nothing I've watched that I wouldn't rather see in a theater, and theater viewings comprise a disproportionate percentage of my favorites. I feel both blessed and sad to have developed a passion for film in some of the (apparently) last years of retrospective film culture. I came back to LA after 8 years in the Bay, to find all of my favorite high school haunts deserted or watered-down -- LACMA's discontinued its double feature programs (many of the best memories in my whole life come from here, it's hard to explain how much retrospectives of Oshima, Resnais, Renoir, Tarkovsky, Hong, Bong, Malick, etc. etc. can open up the world to a high school film geek); The New Beverly's bought by Tarantino and now shows Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on an endless loop and grindhouse schlock meant to be enjoyed ironically I guess, the same place I saw The Human Condition and Sternberg flicks back in the day; Cinefamily's closed down amid #metoo allegations; even the Aero and Egyptian, neither of which I used to frequent, now has more big-hits style programming. And even when there are interesting screenings, they're almost always digital projections of things shot on film, which is an anathema to me comparable to showing photographs of paintings at an art gallery under the pretext of displaying the originals. Ah, but there's bigger problems these days I guess.

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#38

Post by cinewest » April 15th, 2020, 3:11 am

prodigalgodson wrote:
April 14th, 2020, 9:46 pm
cinewest wrote:
April 14th, 2020, 1:37 am
Speaking of the Pacific Film Archive, they had an amazing Keislowski retrospective about 15 years ago, where I saw a few, maybe even Double Life of Veronique, when it became my new co-favorite of his (criterion has put together a fabulous DVD package, but the film is meant for at least a good home theater). As with Malick, I absolutely love the visual / sound tapestries that both these directors create, and I would actually liken Tree of Life to his attempt to turn a symphony into cinema, or visa versa.

One of the things that has seemed to come out of this discussion is how the venue for watching films, and when one sees them (not only in terms of our own age, but in terms of the film's age) can be important. In fact, I can say that every one of my most memorable film experiences has been in a movie theater, where I in some way discovered something new that ignited my passion for the medium.
Ah nice, yeah the PFA has an incredible dedication to inspired programming, and a community that's awesomely supportive (I'd never think that a screening of Four Nights of a Dreamer would be so packed I'd have to sit in the front row crammed between people on both sides). I almost never missed a film there when I was in college, and almost always missed class lol.

I agree that the importance of context can't be overstated in film appreciation. I've definitely had some amazing at-home movie experiences, but there's nothing I've watched that I wouldn't rather see in a theater, and theater viewings comprise a disproportionate percentage of my favorites. I feel both blessed and sad to have developed a passion for film in some of the (apparently) last years of retrospective film culture. I came back to LA after 8 years in the Bay, to find all of my favorite high school haunts deserted or watered-down -- LACMA's discontinued its double feature programs (many of the best memories in my whole life come from here, it's hard to explain how much retrospectives of Oshima, Resnais, Renoir, Tarkovsky, Hong, Bong, Malick, etc. etc. can open up the world to a high school film geek); The New Beverly's bought by Tarantino and now shows Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on an endless loop and grindhouse schlock meant to be enjoyed ironically I guess, the same place I saw The Human Condition and Sternberg flicks back in the day; Cinefamily's closed down amid #metoo allegations; even the Aero and Egyptian, neither of which I used to frequent, now has more big-hits style programming. And even when there are interesting screenings, they're almost always digital projections of things shot on film, which is an anathema to me comparable to showing photographs of paintings at an art gallery under the pretext of displaying the originals. Ah, but there's bigger problems these days I guess.
I would imagine LA would be a great place to indulge film, apart from everything being so spread out. I grew up in the city of SF. Loved movies as a kid (westerns and musicals (probably because of my mom's influence on the latter) were my favorites), and as I got older my appreciation for all of the genres grew, though I followed actors (Bogart and Brando were my favorites, and it turns out so were Huston and Kazan) more than directors at that point. Then, when I was home with the chicken pox my junior year in high school, I had a kind of cinematic awakening when I stumbled across the Janus collection during a PBS pledge drive (so I did have at least a few of my most memorable film experiences outside of a movie theater). Kurosawa, Bergman, and Truffaut immediately made huge impressions on me, and, from there, my real film education began.
Luckily for me, San Francisco in the late 70's and 80's was full of theaters that screened world cinema, as well as revival theaters showing interesting double bills that changed nightly. At one point in the early 80's, I counted 15-20 such theaters in a city, that as you know, is easy to traverse, even using public transportation. I went to college at UC Berkeley (where the old PFA became a mainstay), and later SF State, where I also made 7 short films over a 3 year period in my late 20's.
Things changed when the home video market took off in the late 80's (first VHS, and not long afterward, DVDs). In one sense, I could get access to stuff I couldn't before, especially at Le Video, which had an amazing collection, but it killed off most of the revival theaters, and the opportunity to see great films in a movie theater has increasingly become more difficult, though there are still a few options in SF (The Roxie, The Castro, etc), and, of course the PFA remains, with new digs in downtown Berkeley.

If I may ask, what sources are you using to get access to the TSP 500 not readily available on dvd?

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prodigalgodson
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#39

Post by prodigalgodson » April 15th, 2020, 3:56 am

cinewest wrote:
April 15th, 2020, 3:11 am
I would imagine LA would be a great place to indulge film, apart from everything being so spread out. I grew up in the city of SF. Loved movies as a kid (westerns and musicals (probably because of my mom's influence on the latter) were my favorites), and as I got older my appreciation for all of the genres grew, though I followed actors (Bogart and Brando were my favorites, and it turns out so were Huston and Kazan) more than directors at that point. Then, when I was home with the chicken pox my junior year in high school, I had a kind of cinematic awakening when I stumbled across the Janus collection during a PBS pledge drive (so I did have at least a few of my most memorable film experiences outside of a movie theater). Kurosawa, Bergman, and Truffaut immediately made huge impressions on me, and, from there, my real film education began.
Luckily for me, San Francisco in the late 70's and 80's was full of theaters that screened world cinema, as well as revival theaters showing interesting double bills that changed nightly. At one point in the early 80's, I counted 15-20 such theaters in a city, that as you know, is easy to traverse, even using public transportation. I went to college at UC Berkeley (where the old PFA became a mainstay), and later SF State, where I also made 7 short films over a 3 year period in my late 20's.
Things changed when the home video market took off in the late 80's (first VHS, and not long afterward, DVDs). In one sense, I could get access to stuff I couldn't before, especially at Le Video, which had an amazing collection, but it killed off most of the revival theaters, and the opportunity to see great films in a movie theater has increasingly become more difficult, though there are still a few options in SF (The Roxie, The Castro, etc), and, of course the PFA remains, with new digs in downtown Berkeley.

If I may ask, what sources are you using to get access to the TSP 500 not readily available on dvd?
Hey, that's an awesome personal history! Damn, 15-20 revival theaters in a few miles would be incredible.

I used to use surrealmoviez, but once that went down my ability to see rarer films has decreased substantially, especially since my kg account timed out a few years ago. Mostly I'm using Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon (the latter of which has some surprising offerings, eg In a Year with 13 Moons and Out 1), occasionally YouTube (Vidas secas and how I'm gonna see West of the Tracks, how low I've fallen), with PirateBay for stuff I can't find anywhere else (surprisingly, Hour of the Furnaces is on there), and then this random Spanish-language blogspot called Arsenevich (the only place I found a download of Quince Tree of the Sun, for instance).

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#40

Post by prodigalgodson » April 15th, 2020, 4:14 am

325. Harold and Maude

"Ah my, how the world still dearly loves a cage."

Boy, I'm really sweeping up the big movies I've missed these last few weeks. Unfortunately, this is another one of those ones that's too embedded in the pop culture landscape to see with fresh eyes, but fearless countercultural satire is my forever cup of tea. The deadpan delivery, sense of timing, and juxtapositions are on point (Ashby's experience as an editor is evident), and it has a great look too (his visual acumen is quite underrated). Maybe it's the mood I'm in, but I also found it very moving. I think my favorite character was actually Harold's long-suffering, eternally unfazed, determinedly practical mother, who kind of reminded me of Yanti.

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