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Filmspotting Message Boards => Marathons => Topic started by: Teproc on November 15, 2015, 07:12:59 PM

Title: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 15, 2015, 07:12:59 PM
I've started listening to the Filmspotting archive, starting at the very start, and I'm getting to the very first Filmspotting Marathon : Classic Westerns. After taking a look at all the marathons (http://shttp://filmspotting.netmadame/marathons.html) that have been done on the podcast over the years and seeing how few of those films I've seen, I've decided to marathon all the Filmspotting marathons.

I'll do this at my own rythm (ie not super quickly), and post my review here along with a link to the podcast as I'll probably want to respond to points raised on the show.

Here's the (rather daunting but also exciting) list :

Westerns

High Noon (Fred Zinnemann, 1952) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg821669#msg821669)
The Searchers (John Ford, 1956) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg822051#msg822051)
Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg822248#msg822248)
My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg822286#msg822286)
Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg822346#msg822346)
Per un pugno di dollari / A Fistfull of Dollars (Sergio Leone, 1964) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg822675#msg822675)
Winchester '73 (Anthony Mann, 1950) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg822799#msg822799)
The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg823037#msg823037)

The Dukes (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg823038#msg823038)

Horror

Dawn of the Dead (George A. Romero, 1978) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg823208#msg823208)
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg823655#msg823655)
Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg824188#msg824188)
Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg824381#msg824381)
Re-Animator (Stuart Gordon, 1985) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg824631#msg824631)
Evil Dead 2 (Sam Raimi, 1987) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg824836#msg824836)

The Haddonfields (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg824839#msg824839)

Alfred Hitchcock

The 39 Steps (Alfred Hitchcock, 1935) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg825322#msg825322)
Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg825465#msg825465)
Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg825651#msg825651)
Shadow of a Doubt (Alfred Hitchcock, 1943) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg825727#msg825727)
Strangers on a Train (Alfred Hitchcock, 1951) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg825965#msg825965)
Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg826041#msg826041)
Frenzy (Alfred Hitchcock, 1972) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg826498#msg826498)

The MacGuffins (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg826524#msg826524)

Overlooked Auteurs

Shock Corridor (Samuel Fuller, 1963) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg826662#msg826662)
The Big Red One (Samuel Fuller, 1980) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg826733#msg826733)
Andrey Rublev (Andrei Tarkovski, 1969) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg827735#msg827735)
Solyaris / Solaris (Andrei Tarkovski, 1972) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg831892#msg831892)
Tôkyô monogatari / Tokyo Story (Yasujirô Ozu, 1953) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg833845#msg833845)
Ukikusa / Floating Weeds (Yasujirô Ozu, 1959) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg834588#msg834588)

The Andys (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg834603#msg834603)

Musicals

Yankee Doodle Dandy (Michael Curtiz, 1936) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg835233#msg835233)
Swing Time (George Stevens, 1932) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg835514#msg835514)
An American in Paris (Vincente Minnelli, 1951) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg836206#msg836206)
West Side Story (Jerome Robbins & Robert Wise, 1961) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg836744#msg836744)
Les parapluies de Cherbourg / The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Jacques Demy, 1964) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg838232#msg838232)
Cabaret (Bob Fosse, 1972) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg838780#msg838780)

The Gingers (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg838786#msg838786)

Werner Herzog / Klaus Kinski

Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes / Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, 1972) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg839435#msg839435)
Nosferatu, Phantom der Nacht / Nosferatu the Vampyre (Werner Herzog, 1979) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg839669#msg839669)
Woyzeck (Werner Herzog, 1979) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg840046#msg840046)
Fitzcarraldo (Werner Herzog, 1982) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg840800#msg840800)
Cobra Verde (Werner Herzog, 1987) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg841630#msg841630)
Mein liebster Feind - Klaus Kinski / My Best Fiend - Klaus Kinski (Werner Herzog, 1999) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg841651#msg841651)

My Best Fiends (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg841659#msg841659)

Screwball Comedies

The Thin Man (W.S. van Dyke, 1934) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg841801#msg841801)
My Man Godfrey (Gregory La Cava, 1936) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg842601#msg842601)
The Awful Truth (Leo McCarey, 1937) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg843022#msg843022)
Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg843084#msg843084)
Sullivan's Travels (Preston Sturges, 1941) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg843240#msg843240)
The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg843379#msg843379)
Adam's Rib (George Cukor, 1949) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg843532#msg843532)

The Astas (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg843557#msg843557)

Documentaries

Dont Look Back (D.A. Pennebaker, 1967) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg844107#msg844107)
Harlan County, USA (Barbara Kopple, 1976) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg844240#msg844240)
Hearts and Minds (Peter Davis, 1974) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg846208#msg846208)
Gates of Heaven (Errol Morris, 1978) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg846781#msg846781)
Vernon, Florida (Errol Morris, 1981) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg847008#msg847008)
The Times of Harvey Milk (Rob Epstein, 1984) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg847234#msg847234)

The Nanooks (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg847235#msg847235)

Animation

Watership Down (Martin Rosen, 1978) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg847431#msg847431)
Hotaru no haka / Grave of the Fireflies (Isao Takahata, 1988) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg847900#msg847900)
Akira (Katsuhiro Ôtomo, 1988) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg848156#msg848156)
Kôkaku Kidôtai / Ghost in the Shell (Mamoru Oshii, 1995) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg848402#msg848402)
Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi / Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg848504#msg848504)
The Iron Giant (Brad Bird, 1999) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg848645#msg848645)

The Harryhausens (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg848648#msg848648)

Silent Movies

The Birth of a Nation (D.W. Griffith, 1915) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg849032#msg849032)
Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari / The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1920) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg850443#msg850443)
Bronenosets Potyomkin / Battleship Potemkin (Sergei M. Eisenstein, 1925) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg851156#msg851156)
Sunrise : A Song of Two Humans (F.W. Murnau, 1927) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg851598#msg851598)
Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg851857#msg851857)
La passion de Jeanne d'Arc / The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg851912#msg851912)

The Chaneys (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg852025#msg852025)

Film Noir

Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg852488#msg852488)
The Killers (Robert Siodmak, 1946) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg852899#msg852899)
Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg853114#msg853114)
Gun Crazy (Joseph E. Lewis, 1949) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg853360#msg853360)
The Asphalt Jungle (John Huston, 1950) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg853731#msg853731)
Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1955) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg853835#msg853835)

The Marlowes (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg853840#msg853840)

Ingmar Bergman

Sommarnattens leende / Smiles of a Summer Night (Ingmar Berman, 1955) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg854082#msg854082)
Det sjunde inseglet / The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Berman, 1957) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg854380#msg854380)
Smultronstället / Wild Strawberries (Ingmar Berman, 1957) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg854840#msg854840)
Nattvardsgästerna / Winter Light (Ingmar Berman, 1963) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg855472#msg855472)
Skammen / Shame (Ingmar Berman, 1968) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg855683#msg855683)
Fanny och Alexander / Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Berman, 1982) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg855862#msg855862)

The Svens (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg855880#msg855880)

Pedro Almodovar

La flor de mi secreto / The Flower of My Secret (Pedro Almodovar, 1995) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg856328#msg856328)
Carne trémula / Live Flesh (Pedro Almodovar, 1997) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg856666#msg856666)
Todo sobre mi madre / All About My Mother (Pedro Almodovar, 1999) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg857095#msg857095)
Hable con ella / Talk to Her (Pedro Almodovar, 2002) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg857541#msg857541)
La mala educacion / The Bad Education (Pedro Almodovar, 2004) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg857869#msg857869)

The Matadors (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg858038#msg858038)

70's Sci-Fi

The Omega Man (Boris Sagal, 1971) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg861599#msg861599)
The Andromeda Strain (Robert Wise, 1971) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg862499#msg862499)
Silent Running (Douglas Trumbull, 1972) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg862738#msg862738)
Soylent Green (Richard Fleischer, 1973) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg862853#msg862853)
Logan's Run (Michael Anderson, 1976) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg863207#msg863207)
The Man Who Fell to Earth (Nicolas Roeg, 1976) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg863382#msg863382)

The Damn Dirty Apes (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg863416#msg863416)

Classic Heist

The Lavender Hill Mob (Charles Crichton, 1951) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg863908#msg863908)
The Killing (Stanley Kubrick, 1956) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg864346#msg864346)
Du rififi chez les hommes / Rififi (Jules Dassin, 1955) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg864437#msg864437)
The Italian Job (Peter Collinson, 1969) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg864733#msg864733)
Le cercle rouge (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1970) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg865437#msg865437)
The Getaway (Sam Peckinpah, 1972) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg866601#msg866601)

The Stéphanois (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg866622#msg866622)

Angry Young Men

Look Back in Anger (Tony Richardson, 1958) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg867033#msg867033)
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Karel Reisz, 1960) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg867250#msg867250)
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Tony Richardson, 1962) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg868044#msg868044)
This Sporting Life (Lindsay Anderson, 1963) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg869153#msg869153)
Billy Liar (John Schlesinger, 1963) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg873227#msg873227)
If... (Lindsay Anderson, 1968) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg874947#msg874947)

The Kitchen Sinks (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg874952#msg874952)

New Hollywood

Jules et Jim / Jules and Jim (François Truffaut, 1962) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg875363#msg875363)
Bonnie and Clyde (Arhur Penn, 1967) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg875535#msg875535)
The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg876657#msg876657)
In the Heat of the Night (Norman Jewison, 1967) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg879198#msg879198)
Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, 1969) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg879323#msg879323)
Midnight Cowboy (John Schlesinger, 1969) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg879448#msg879448)
The Long Goodbye (Robert Altman, 1973) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg879856#msg879856)
Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg880163#msg880163)
Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg880218#msg880218)

The Plastics (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg880230#msg880230)

Akira Kurosawa

Rashômon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg880903#msg880903)
Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa, 1952) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg881009#msg881009)
Kumonosu-jô / Throne of Blood (Akira Kurosawa, 1957) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg881088#msg881088)
Kakushi-toride no san-akunin / The Hidden Fortress (Akira Kurosawa, 1958) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg881139#msg881139)
Yôjinbô / Yojimbo (Akira Kurosawa, 1961) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg881282#msg881282)
Tengoku to jigoku / High and Low (Akira Kurosawa, 1963) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg881396#msg881396)

The Ronins (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg881400#msg881400)

Cannes Golden Palm Winners

Otac na sluzbenom putu / When Father Was Away on Business (Emir Kusturica, 1985) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg885956#msg885956)
Ba wang bie ji / Farewell My Concubine (Chen Kaige, 1993) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg886023#msg886023)
Ta'm e guilass / Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg886075#msg886075)
Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier, 2000) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg886632#msg886632)
La stanza del figlio / The Son's Room (Nanni Moretti, 2001) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg886675#msg886675)

The Bronze Fronds (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg886684#msg886684)

Ernst Lubitsch

Ninotchka (Ernst Lubitsch, 1939) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg888106#msg888106)
Trouble in Paradise (Ernst Lubitsch, 1932) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg888136#msg888136)
The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg888421#msg888421)
To Be or Not to Be (Ernst Lubitsch, 1942) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg888700#msg888700)

The Lubitsch Touches (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg888701#msg888701)

Billy Wilder

Sunset Blvd. (Billy Wilder, 1950) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg888812#msg888812)
The Lost Weekend (Billy Wilder, 1945) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg893441#msg893441)
Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg893521#msg893521)
The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg893690#msg893690)
Stalag 17 (Billy Wilder, 1953) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg893764#msg893764)

The Sheldrakes (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg893795#msg893795)

Powell-Pressburger / The Archers

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1943) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg895721#msg895721)
Black Narcissus (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1947) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg895748#msg895748)
A Matter of Life and Death (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1946) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg895945#msg895945)
The Red Shoes (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1948) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg896242#msg896242)
Peeping Tom (Michael Powell, 1960) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg896460#msg896460)

The Archers (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg896493#msg896493)

Krzysztof Kieslowski

Amator / Camera Buff (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1979) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg900634#msg900634)
Krotki film o zabijaniu / A Short Film About Killing (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1988)
Krotki film o milosci / A Short Film About Love (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1988)
La double vie de Véronique / The Double Life of Veronique (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1991)
Trois couleurs : Bleu / Three Colors: Blue (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1993)
Trois couleurs : Blanc / Three Colors: White (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1994)
Trois couleurs : Rouge / Three Colors: Red (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1994)

Robert Bresson

Journal d'un curé de campagne / Diary of a Country Priest (Robert Bresson, 1951)
Un condamné à mort s'est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut / A Man Escaped (Robert Bresson, 1956)
Pickpocket (Robert Bresson, 1959)
Au hasard Balthazar (Robert Bresson, 1966)
Mouchette (Robert Bresson, 1967)

Contemporary Iranian Cinema

Nema-ye Nazdik / Close-Up (Abbas Kiarostami, 1990)
Nun va Goldoon / A Moment of Innocence (Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 1996)
Bacheha-Ye aseman / Children of Heaven (Majid Majidi, 1997)
Ayneh / The Mirror (Jafar Panahi, 1998)
Chaharshanbe-soori / Fireworks Wednesday (Asghar Farhadi, 2006)
Offside (Jafar Panahi, 2006)

Blaxploitation

Shaft (Gordon Parks, 1971)
Super Fly (Gordon Parks Jr., 1971)
Coffy (Jack Hill, 1973)
Black Caesar (Larry Cohen, 1973)
Cooley High (Michael Schultz, 1975)
Ganja & Hess (Bill Gunn, 1973)

Marx Bros.

Animal Crackers (Victor Heerman, 1930)
Monkey Business (Norman Z. McLeod, 1931)
Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)
A Night at the Opera (Sam Wood & Edmund Goulding, 1935)

Max Ophüls

Letter From An Unknown Woman (Max Ophüls, 1948)
La ronde (Max Ophüls, 1950)
Madame de... / Earrings of Madame de... (Max Ophüls, 1953)
Lola Montès (Max Ophüls, 1955)

Korean Auteurs

Bin-jip / 3-Iron (Kim Ki-duk, 2004)
Haebyeonui yeoin / Woman on the Beach (Hong Sang-soo, 2006)
Ssa-i-bo-geu-ji-man-gwen-chan-a / I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK (Park Chan-wook, 2006)
Chugyeogja/ The Chaser (Na Hong-jin, 2008)
Milyang / Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-doong, 2007)
Janghwa, Hongryeon / A Tale of Two Sisters (Kim Jee-woon, 2003)

Satyajit Ray

Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 1955)
Aparajito / The Unvanquished (Satyajit Ray, 1956)
Apur Sansar / The World of Apu (Satyajit Ray, 1959)
Jalsaghar / The Music Room (Satyajit Ray, 1958)
Mahanagar / The Big City (Satyajit Ray, 1963)
Charulata / The Lonely Wife (Satyajit Ray, 1964)

Elaine May

A New Leaf (Elaine May, 1971) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg826411#msg826411)
The Heartbreak Kid (Elaine May, 1972) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg828214#msg828214)
Mikey and Nicky (Elaine May, 1976) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg832644#msg832644)
Ishtar (Elaine May, 1987) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg834409#msg834409)

The Blind Camels (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg834417#msg834417)

Contemporary Nordic Cinema

Sanger fran andra vaningen / Songs from the Second Floor (Roy Andersson, 2000) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg839076#msg839076)
Mies vailla menneisysttä / The Man Without a Past (Aki Kaurismäki, 2002) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg840496#msg840496)
Du levande / You, the Living (Roy Andersson, 2007) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg842186#msg842186)
Haevnen / In a Better World (Susanne Bier, 2010 (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg844382#msg844382)
Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg845791#msg845791)
1001 gram / 1001 grams (Bent Hamer, 2014) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg846670#msg846670)
Hrutar / Rams (Grimur Hakonarson, 2015) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg847504#msg847504)

The Sad Tubas (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg847979#msg847979)

Luis Bunuel

Un chien andalou (Luis Bunuel, 1929) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg848855#msg848855)
L'âge d'or (Luis Bunuel, 1930) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg848855#msg848855)
Robinson Crusoe (Luis Bunuel, 1954) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg850800#msg850800)
La mort en ce jardin / Death in the Garden (Luis Bunuel, 1956) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg852400#msg852400)
Le journal d'une femme de chambre / Diary of a Chambermaid (Luis Bunuel, 1964) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg863819#msg863819)
Tristana (Luis Bunuel, 1970) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg864181#msg864181)
Cet obscur objet du désir / That Obscure Object of Desire (Luis Bunuel, 1977) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg866241#msg866241)

The Obscure Objects of Desire (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg866268#msg866268)

Agnès Varda

La Pointe-Courte (Agnès Varda, 1955) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg866788#msg866788)
Les créatures / The Creatures (Agnès Varda, 1966) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg868448#msg868448)
L'une chante, l'autre pas / One Sings, The Other Doesn't (Agnès Varda, 1977) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg868637#msg868637)
Sans toit ni loi / Vagabond (Agnès Varda, 1985) (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg868831#msg868831)
Les glaneurs et la glaneuse / The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg874980#msg874980)
Les plages d'Agnès / The Beaches of Agnès (Agnès Varda, 2008) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg875232#msg875232)

The Cléos (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg875233#msg875233)

New Argentine Cinema

Historias extraordinarias / Extraordinary Stories (Mariano Llinas, 2008) (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=13566.msg875258#msg875258)
Castro (Alejo Moguillansky, 2009)
La Ciénaga (Lucrecia Martel, 2001)
La mujer sin cabeza / The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel, 2008)
Relatos salvajes / Wild Tales (Damian Szifron, 2014)

Vincente Minnelli

Cabin in the Sky (Vincente Minnelli & Busby Berkeley, 1943)
Meet Me in St. Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944)
The Bad and the Beautiful (Vincente Minnelli, 1952)
The Band Wagon (Vincente Minnelli, 1953)
Lust for Life (George Cukor & Vincente Minnelli, 1956)
Some Came Running (Vincente Minnelli, 1958)

John Cassavetes

Faces (John Cassavetes, 1968)
A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes, 1974)
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (John Cassavetes, 1976)
Opening Night (John Cassavetes, 1977)

Stanley Donen

On the Town (Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly, 1949)
Funny Face (Stanley Donen, 1957)
Charade (Stanley Donen, 1963)
Two for the Road (Stanley Donen, 1967)

I put the (very few) I've already seen in italics, I'll see if I decide to revisit them when I get there.

If I count correctly, that's 176 films... so, I'll be at it for a while.

A look back (and stats) one year into the marathon (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg852854#msg852854).
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Junior on November 15, 2015, 07:17:06 PM
Oh man, that's really great. I've done this throughout my 9 years of listening (I think that number is right) and going back to hear what they have to say about, for example, The Red Shoes or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was really fun. That musicals selection is amazing. So many good movies in this entire project. You'll be better for doing it!
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on November 15, 2015, 08:11:10 PM
Good idea. That is quite a selection, and plenty for you to see for the first time!
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Bondo on November 15, 2015, 11:15:37 PM
I put together a list a while back that was basically the highest rated (by the hosts) of each of the marathons to make it a little smaller a dive, but didn't actually go ahead with it. Still was a pretty impressive list.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sandy on November 16, 2015, 07:39:56 AM
Will be reading your reviews, Teproc!

Looking forward to the Musicals and the Westerns, especially!
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 16, 2015, 09:24:48 AM
I approve of the meta nature of this thread's title.

Would you mind terribly if I blatantly and quite shamelessly stole your idea ? I used this list to come up with my Essentially marathon but this is too good a thing not to join in. I should probably try to get to the end of that other marathon first but still...
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Dave the Necrobumper on November 16, 2015, 01:15:27 PM
Big and wide ranging, looking forward to reading along.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 16, 2015, 01:19:02 PM
Wouldn't mind it at all DH.

Will be reading your reviews, Teproc!

Looking forward to the Musicals and the Westerns, especially!

It's a good thing they're coming up first !
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 16, 2015, 01:31:27 PM
What is New Hollywood ?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: philip918 on November 16, 2015, 02:06:39 PM
What is New Hollywood ?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Hollywood
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 16, 2015, 04:27:32 PM
High Noon (Fred Zinnemann, 1952)

(http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-6CTqQdBLRsc/TasGvDAgB_I/AAAAAAAAAFA/VQ_HLI6WxnM/s1600/high+noon+2.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (starts around 17:20) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/0/5/4/054fa5446e848150/cinecast091305.mp3?c_id=1303017&expiration=1447712014&hwt=a43de0278cd9e7690e5fba5c296551ee)

My knowledge of Westerns so far is limited to Sergio Leone, but something tells me this isn't quite the typical "classic" Western. Our hero, played by Gary Cooper, is a flawed man, and you get the sense that law & order aren't the only reasons he's going to meet Frank Miller at high noon. And while it ends with the bad guys defeated, we are left with a sour taste as people of the town flood out of their houses to congratulate the man they were fine abandoning to his fate a few minutes beforehand. That's more moral complexity that I was expecting from the genre, and probably part of the reason it's considered a classic.

The conceit here, which has us watching Cooper trying to raise a "posse" to face an outlaw who's just been pardonned, all in real time, is a very effective one. Zinnemann keeps coming back to shots of the clock or to the empty railroad, while Cooper gets rejected by everyone around town. This is very effective at creating tension for the final confrontation, while we meet character after character who all end up standing on the sidelines for various reasons, good or bad.

Zinnemann does a great job at making the town feel like a real place, with characters who have history with each other and conflicting aspirations. There's a deputy who's resentful because he's constantly dismissed as too young for the main job, there's a saloon owner who never liked the marshal much anyway and thinks a few outlaws might be good for business, and more importantly there's a Hispanic businesswoman who seems to be the wisest person in town, and decides to sell and leave before things get ugly.

Now where the film fails for me is in the villain department. They have a good introduction, when we see them ride into town and set up at the train station, and then... not much else. Frank Miller is hyped up as being the baddest outlaw around, and then... I wasn't even able to know which one he was in the final battle. When the cast of villains features a young Lee Van Cleef and you do so little with them, you've missed an opportunity. The whole climax overall is a bit of a letdown. It feels pretty contrived that these guys, who have been built up as being so scary that everyone thinks Cooper's marshall is crazy to even try, don't really try to use their numerical advantage.

There's also the whole wedding business, which doesn't fully work either. When Grace Kelly picks up the gun and kills one of the outlaws, it should be a big moment because she's a Quaker and is thus opposed to any form of violence, but it doesn't work because there's no sense of what her place is in this community. How did they even meet ? She doesn't seem to know anyone in town, so how did she come to marry the marshal ? We don't know, and we don't really care.

Re : the Gary Cooper discussion on the podcast. I'm firmly on Adam's side here, I think his performances is central and carries the film, as we see him grow more desperate and by the end he seems to be downright scared, which makes him a very relatable hero. I also agree that there is nuance in his reaction to the various rejections, especially that last one Adam comments on.

7/10 - Good
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on November 16, 2015, 05:55:33 PM
Cooper is the only thing in High Noon that isn't mediocre. The film is play-by-the-numbers the whole way through.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sandy on November 16, 2015, 07:16:19 PM
I may add this to my Western Marathon, because I just can't remember if I've ever seen it, or have only heard about it for long. Great beginning review, Teproc!
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 21, 2015, 05:21:34 PM
The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)

(http://www.popoptiq.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/the-searchers-closing-shot.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/e/d/d/edd7b18cf853961a/cinecast092305.mp3?c_id=1303020&expiration=1448146567&hwt=e54a24753bfc466727a9fb0432ea8a7a)

Imitating the early days of Filmspotting/Cinecast, I'll start with what I liked here. The shot above is an example of it. The literal framing of the film, beginning and ending with Ford inviting us into 1860's America, and then closing the door on it. It looks great, and there are a few other great shots, mostly set in Monument Valley, such as the silent confrontation with two groups of Indians riding alongside the initial search party or the final cavalry charge in Scar's camp.

Then we get do stuff I'm ambivalent about, ie Ethan. Great performance by John Wayne, who manages to find the humanity in a disgusting, hateful and bigoted character. The shred of "good" that makes him unable to go through with killing Debbie is present throughout the film, and that's to Wayne's credit. That doesn't mean I particularly enjoyed following him in his years-spanning journey to find Scar and Debbie. It's like the Odyssey, but with Achilles instead of Ulysses : not as pleasant an experience when you're actively rooting against the main character and cringing at everything he says. And sure, he does have an overall more sympathetic companion in Charlie, though that relationship is strangely stagnant throughout, considering they spend five years together at all time.

Maybe I could appreciate The Searchers more if it was solely about Ethan and Charlie's quest, but it spends too much time with many ancillary characters that are neither as interesting nor as well played. This is where I must agree with Sam about the acting style, which comes off as either stiff of over-the-top to my eyes. There are many attempts at humour that are failed at best, offensive at worst, and a romance that always feels like a afterthought, and ends up serving as comic relief too with the brawl between Martin and Charlie.
Also worth noting : it seems that for every gorgeous shot of Monument Valley, there's a campfire scene that looks like a 50's TV show more than a feature film.

Finally there's the issue of the racism that's portrayed. Obviously Ethan is racist, but that's clearly presented as a character flaw and we're clearly supposed to see him as a broken man driven by hate and revenge, that's the point. But characters like the Reverend/Captain are barely less bigoted than him and are consistently presented as voices of reason. What's more, there is that scene where Martin inadvertently ends up with a Native American wife (hilarious, right ?), and kicks her down the hill... which is played for laughs ! And this is coming from the younger, "progressive" character.

In the end, all of it adds up to a deeply flawed film with some redeeming elements. I know many consider it a masterpiece, so I'm curious to hear responses here, especially considering the non-John Wayne elements of the story.

4/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 21, 2015, 05:41:46 PM
And I thought we were alike... (https://pretensiouslyyours.wordpress.com/2015/09/24/the-searchers/)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 21, 2015, 05:50:09 PM
Also, I got dibs on Odyssey comparisons over here, so you beware...
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Junior on November 21, 2015, 06:03:02 PM
Pretty sure I get that title, at least until you write 15 pages on the Odyssey.

And I'll be back to defend The Searchers after I watch Spotlight.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: 1SO on November 21, 2015, 06:57:43 PM
Maybe I could appreciate The Searchers more if it was solely about Ethan and Charlie's quest, but it spends too much time with many ancillary characters that are neither as interesting nor as well played. This is where I must agree with Sam about the acting style, which comes off as either stiff of over-the-top to my eyes. There are many attempts at humour that are failed at best, offensive at worst, and a romance that always feels like a afterthought, and ends up serving as comic relief too with the brawl between Martin and Charlie.
Also worth noting : it seems that for every gorgeous shot of Monument Valley, there's a campfire scene that looks like a 50's TV show more than a feature film.

The film falls apart and then puts itself back together again. It's very indulgent, then suddenly tightly focused. Extremely well-made, and then we get a scene of a dead guy breathing rather obviously (I didn't look it up beforehand. I thought he was buried alive.) I try to forgive the glitch and then the very scene ends where the actors break the prop stone. It's an Ed Wood move. The sets are beautifully lit, but it's like half the film was shot in the greatest outdoor location ever and the other half was shot at Disneyland. I wish I liked it more, but Liberty Valance gets right everything this film gets wrong and is just as John Ford and John Wayne about it. (To a lesser extent, so is My Darling Clementine.)

Because I don't like The Searchers, I thought for a long time that I didn't like John Ford. You hit on two of my problems. I've watched The Searchers a few times over the years - the Blu-Ray came free with my DVD - and I just don't think it's a good movie, nor is it a good example of why the Western is one of the greatest genres in cinema. I do love that final image, but the rest, like you say, is hampered by too much time with the side characters (something that gives most of John Ford's films their charm) and some gallingly bad technical decisions.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 21, 2015, 07:02:44 PM
And I thought we were alike... (https://pretensiouslyyours.wordpress.com/2015/09/24/the-searchers/)

Funny how, despite you liking it a lot more than me, you don't buy Wayne's final decision whereas I do.

As for the Odyssey, maybe the "surprise Indian wife" is supposed to be Calypso ?

@1SO : I read your write-up in the John Ford thread just after writing this, obviously I agree with a lot of it, you especially expressed the technical concerns much better than I did. Glad to learn I can still like John Ford, because I have two coming up.  ;D
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sandy on November 21, 2015, 07:51:51 PM
I'm afraid, I can't be of much help with the non-John Wayne aspects of the film, Teproc (except for the vistas and the opening and closing shots, the music, Ward Bond...haha! maybe I could be of help after all!).

It's John Wayne's brokenness that is the film to me.

What's going on with John Wayne's character? He has so many layers that I can't get to them all... 

Nothing is spelled out with him, but his determination and unhinged moments leave me speculating a great deal. What a rich, wounded, indomitable character is Ethan Edwards.

I'll tag on this, even though it's half because of John Wayne too. :)

Quote
The beginning and ending scenes of this movie are imprinted in my soul. The wind blowing the dresses and his signature walk. The Western genre's charm captured in two beautifully framed snapshots.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Junior on November 21, 2015, 10:38:45 PM
What I like so much about The Searchers comes down to two things (that I guess are really just one thing two ways). The first is Ford's direction. The guy is going all out here. I like many of his other movies as well, but I think this one might be the most technically brilliant one of them all. From the deep focus in many of the shots (even dark night shots!) to the fantastic action scenes and his ability to capture the beauty and barrenness of the Monument Valley, the guy is firing on all cylinders here.

But better than all of that is that he is doing it for very specific reasons. As I've said here before, The Searchers is the culmination of all of his pet themes, especially those of the necessity of community and the need for an outsider to keep the integrity of the community intact. It is the first element which speaks towards the non-Ethan stuff that happens in the film (though I can't point to specific examples because I haven't watched it super recently), and the latter speaks to the way that the film handles the Ethan character, which is admittedly strange.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sandy on November 22, 2015, 09:05:07 PM
Excellent points, Junior. Yes on this! "the guy is firing on all cylinders here." :)


Quote
especially those of the necessity of community and the need for an outsider to keep the integrity of the community intact.

There is an essay waiting to be shared from this thesis statement. Has it been written yet, or would you like to write it sometime? :)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Junior on November 22, 2015, 09:20:50 PM
Yeah, there's an essay there. I know, because I stole it from an essay written by another student in my John Ford class.  8)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sandy on November 22, 2015, 10:29:16 PM
 :D

Well, would you ask him if it's okay if I read it?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Junior on November 22, 2015, 10:32:03 PM
Yeah, I'd be happy to. Just need a flux capacitor and a long enough stretch of road.

But seriously, here's a rundown of it as far as I know

John Ford movies about community:
Judge Priest
Steamboat Round the Bend
Wee Willie Winkie
Young Mr. Lincoln
The Grapes of Wrath
How Green Was My Valley
They Were Expendable
My Darling Clementine
The Quiet Man
The Sun Shines Bright
The Searchers
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Now, look for the ones that have a big ol' dance scene. That's basically all of them. The town comes together to affirm their togetherness. This is subverted in stuff like My Darling Clementine and The Searchers when the heroes don't actually join the dance and in some cases stop it with their antics. But they're always working towards the dances happening because they want the town/fort/whatever to work, even if they can't or won't dance themselves.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sandy on November 22, 2015, 11:17:09 PM
Haha! I'll meet you at the clock at 10:04 pm. :)


You can add Fort Apache to your list!

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x817u_fort-apache-officers-dance_news

You're right, the community dance is a big thing for him, isn't it? If I had an abundance of time, I'd love to make a montage of Ford's dance scenes. :) That idea of needing "an outsider to keep the integrity of the community intact" made me think of Shane, which could start a whole other list!
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 23, 2015, 04:50:50 AM
I agree with the nice things Junior has said too (mostly). Except for the stealing part. Stealing is wrong kids, unless done at an institutional level by loophole-exploiting financial organisations. That or Robin Hood.

I maintain that the movie suffers from the character arcs though.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 25, 2015, 05:35:33 PM
Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939)

(http://explore.bfi.org.uk/sites/explore.bfi.org.uk/files/styles/sas_polls_large_film_image/public/image/stagecoach-bfi-00m-lf1.jpg?itok=HDlpYdMt)

Adam & Sam's take (starts at 20:13) (http://libsyn.com/media/cinecast/cinecast092905.mp3)

I'm having a hard time finding things to say about this film. It has a very simple yet compelling premise : a disparate group of characters are stuck together in a stagecoach while Apache riders are roaming about, drama ensues. I like the economy of storytelling that Ford employs here : every character is quickly introduced, we get what their deal is, and we move on. He gets a little heavy-handed with the social conflict involving the hooker (with a heart of gold of course), but it works. And unlike in the Searchers, the comic relief mostly works, in part because there are darker undercurrents to it, with the drunken doctor, who seems to be drinking at least in part to avoid thinking about the way he was rejected by the town at the start, not to mention the threat of getting killed by Apache riders.  And of course John Wayne appears in his first starring role, and he's unsurprisingly good, instantly bringing a tenderness to his jailbird character.

The standout scene is clearly the scene where the stagecoach gets attacked. Gorgeous, impressive, exhilarating : a template for any action scene. In many ways, watching this film, I felt like I was watching the template for action movies in general, though I'm sure that's exaggerated and many of those conventions were already there.

I don't have anything to say against Stagecoach (aside from the music, which was pretty terrible and overused), and I did like it quite a bit, but I can't say I find it great either. I'm  not sure why, but there it is. Maybe it's the ending, where it becomes entirely John Wayne's movie, which... his character is great, but getting away from the eponymous confined space took some energy away. It feels a bit like an afterthought, though there is a pretty great moment just as the shooters see Wayne when they all walk in rythm. The shootout itself is a bit of a letdown after that.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 26, 2015, 10:15:37 PM
My Darling Clementing (John Ford, 1946)

(https://fanwithamovieyammer.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/my-darling-clementine.jpg?w=450&h=338)

Adam & Sam's Take (http://ec.libsyn.com/p/2/2/0/22076ee9d297a3bf/cinecast100705.mp3?d13a76d516d9dec20c3d276ce028ed5089ab1ce3dae902ea1d06cc8f32d8c858c645&c_id=1303030)

The difficult transition between a wild, lawless world and civilized society : that theme is present in basically every western I've encountered, and there's a reason this isn't titled "Showdown at O.K. Corral" : Clementine, or rather what she represents is what's at stake here. We recognize the names Wyatt Earp and Tombstone, so we know where this is all going, but what makes this the best film of this marathon so far is how patient Ford is. He takes the time to have the town feel lived-in and for the characters to grow past their initial broad characterization.

The characters of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday are key in that they are both somewhere in between the Old West and the New West. Earp is a classic old West character on the surface, in that he's a gunslinger looking for revenge, but he does so within the boundaries of the law, and he always seems intent on defusing every situation. I strongly disagree with the FS guys on Henry Fonda : I think he's very good here at straddling that line. We get the sense that he longs for a quiet life, a more civilized life. The scene where he's swinging on the chair sums this all up rather amusingly, as do the jokes about his perfume. Adam notes that he doesn't think he's being sincere at the end when he tells Clementine he'll come back : I absolutely think he means it.

Doc is a bit of a mirror image to Earp. He is obviously educated, able to finish Hamlet's "To be or not to be" tirade, but he's clearly running away from society, displeased as he is to see Clementine show up, and seemingly making plans to run away to Mexico with his prostitute (I'm guessing) girlfriend. Once again I have to disagree with the FS guys, I thought Victor Mature was great, especially in that first confrontation with Fonda in the saloon. We immediately sense the melancholy of the character, even though he's at first set up as a clear adversary of Earp.

And then we get to O.K. Corral. I love the parallel drawn between Earp and the Clantons : both are seen leaving their quarters blowing on a oil lamp. I'm probably reading too much into it, but added to the rather prominent lamps in the saloon (the place of community), it seemed to me like another sign that the shootout is a thing of the past, something that has to be done one last time but doesn't belong in this new world. The shootout itself is pretty good, relatively tense though... it's hard for me to really love these, as I can't help but compare them to those in Sergio Leone's films. Unfair, I know, but there you have it.

Now, I do have to agree with Adam & Sam with regards to the narrative problems of the film. The conflict between Earp and the Clantons is set up immediately, then forgotten until it becomes necessary to bring it up again to get to the conclusion.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 28, 2015, 09:14:26 PM
Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959)

(https://holypapershit.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/rio-bravo-prison.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (starts at 6:51) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/9/8/e/98e73075897d1db9/cinecast101405.mp3?c_id=1303024&expiration=1448766283&hwt=1f364657ed4694dad2b3eb2996ece24a)

Rio Bravo is the longest of the films featured in this marathon so far, yet it is also the slightest. There's no thematic depth, no exploration of the western town as a place where wilderness and civilization clash, no clear attempt to shed a new light on the human condition... and yet it is my favorite, at this point.

I think the scene pictured above, where our heroes are just talking and singing songs while waiting for the final showdown, is the epitome of what makes the film work. There's a warmth there that makes you wish you were in there with them. It's the western version of a hangout sitcom (like Friends or HIMYM), and I like those. Wayne is very good as the proud sheriff, obviously, but I also liked Dean Martin a lot as the recovering alcoholic "Dude". Dude's relationship with Wayne's Chance is very well done, understated but warm. Ricky Nelson on the other hand, looks a bit out of place, though Hawks wisely keeps his screentime to a minimum.

I'm still trying to figure out that romance between Wayne and Angie Dickinson. She's obviously way too young, but she plays her character with such charisma and confidence that it mostly works... mostly. Clearly Hawks/Wayne must think it unmanly to say "I love you" because the final scene between those two has her practically begging him to say it, and then taking a "I don't want you to expose your legs in public" as an acceptable replacement, which... it really shouldn't be.

I just realized I haven't said anything about the opening scene yet. It's a great silent sequence that serves as an in medias res introduction, very quickly establishes the main characters (and some of their conflicts, such as Dude's alcoholism) and effectively sets off the plot. Up there with the one in Once Upon a Time in the West as far as openers go. Well, maybe not quite that good, but close. Speaking of Leone, Hawks also uses music very well here, with the menacing "El Deguello" theme used by the bad guys.

8/10, would be 8.5 if I did half-rankings.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Dave the Necrobumper on November 29, 2015, 03:21:40 AM
Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959)

(http://www.westernmovies.fr/image/2015/1780/zz22.jpg)

I think the scene pictured above, where our heroes are just talking and singing songs while waiting for the final showdown, is the epitome of what makes the film work.

Teproc, you have been jipped on the image front.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 29, 2015, 03:45:11 AM
Jipped ? Means "cheated" apparently ? I don't follow.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: MartinTeller on November 29, 2015, 10:32:07 AM
You've linked to an image from a site that doesn't allow image linking. You can see the picture because you have it cached, but what we all see is a shot from The Magnificent Seven that says "Visitez WESTERN MOVIES.fr pour voir cette image"
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 29, 2015, 11:59:55 AM
Oh, sorry about that. That's what I get for being lazy and just lifting stuff off Google Images I guess. Better now ?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: MartinTeller on November 29, 2015, 12:43:02 PM
Yep!

I always just load any images into imgur (http://www.imgur.com) because you never know when some other host is going to block hotlinking or remove an image.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 03, 2015, 04:21:01 PM
Per un pugno di dollari (Sergio Leone, 1964)

(http://i.imgur.com/zRQuYPJ.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/d/a/0/da0ff7ae05397c33/cinecast102105.mp3?c_id=1303029&expiration=1449175186&hwt=97897a67817b4ceb6eeaf265d7bd6324)

I really didn't realize before this marathon how big the difference really was between classic and spaghetti westerns. But looking at this film in comparison to the others in the marathon so far, it barely seems to fit in the same genre. This is clear seconds into the movie, with a stylized title sequence, Ennio Morricone's score, and then of course the violence. I had barely noticed how tame those classic westerns were, and really Per un pugno di dollari isn't that violent by today's standards. But watching them chronologically, it sure stands out, particularly in two scenes. One is when Clint Eastwood's unnamed protagonist is tortured by the Rocco Brothers, and then escapes in a sequence that looks more like a horror film than a western, with Eastwood's face beat up and covered in blood. The other one is when the Rocco Brothers attack the Baxters, setting fire to their house and shooting anyone who tries to escape. In that one, the violence in itself isn't that shocking, it's the way Leone's camera stays on the killer's faces, letting us see how much they're enjoying this.

The other big contrast lies with the protagonist. As Adam and Sam noted, where Gary Cooper, John Wayne and Henry Fonda were (at least ostensibly) fighting for justice or law and order, Clint Eastwood is ostensibly only there for the money, and likely for his own enjoyment. There's a sense that he simply enjoys manipulating the two opposing clans, outsmarting everyone in the town. He does have a heroic moment, where he saves Marisol... and that whole plot is one of my very few problems with the film. The whole Marisol business feels out of place and undermines everything else Leone is doing by giving Eastwood's character the moral high ground, so to speak.

Then there's the score. It's great, as expected, and brings the one thing that I have found relatively lacking so far in this marathon : a sense of grandeur. The Searchers did have the epic journey going for it, but didn't capitalize on it formally. Only Rio Bravo came close to what Leone is doing here (and will do even better in his later masterpieces) with the use of the Mexican song. It's not just Morricone's score though, Morricone's style just makes his characters seem larger than nature, and we don't really question it when Eastwood casually shoots four guys before they can even reach their guns : he's a force of nature, you can see it on the screen.

Now, I am aware that the story is directly lifted from the Kurosawa film Yôjinbô (which will be coming up later... much later), and it did have some of the awkwardness you often find in an adapted screenplay, where it seems the plot is going in certain places only because it has to, notably with the Marisol character. I suspect the equivalent of the Baxters must have been more developped, because they are a bit too much in the background for their demise to affect us in any way here. It also feels a bit rushed (with a runtime under 100 minutes), which prevents it from attaining the sheer epicness (is that a word ?) of Leone's later works. Still very good though.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 04, 2015, 05:57:31 AM
I thought there was a silent hero thing going on with Eastwood as he tries to rid the town of the criminals for no reward and does not expect anything from it. It did not seem like it was all about narcissism.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 04, 2015, 06:31:43 AM
I thought there was a silent hero thing going on with Eastwood as he tries to rid the town of the criminals for no reward and does not expect anything from it. It did not seem like it was all about narcissism.

He does get money on the way at the very least. And he kills four guys early on just for being rude to his mule, basically. Maybe I'm misreading it based on my admittedly distant memories of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, in which I'm pretty sure the "good" part is to be taken with a grain of salt (he presents himself like the good guy but in reality he has the same goal as the other two).
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 04, 2015, 09:06:11 AM
Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959)

(https://holypapershit.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/rio-bravo-prison.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (starts at 6:51) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/9/8/e/98e73075897d1db9/cinecast101405.mp3?c_id=1303024&expiration=1448766283&hwt=1f364657ed4694dad2b3eb2996ece24a)

Rio Bravo is the longest of the films features in this marathon so far, yet it is also the slightest. There's no thematic depth, no exploration of the western town as a place where wilderness and civilization clash, no clear attempt to shed a new light on the human condition... and yet it is my favorite, at this point.

I think the scene pictured above, where our heroes are just talking and singing songs while waiting for the final showdown, is the epitome of what makes the film work. There's a warmth there that lakes you wish you were in there with them. It's the western version of a hangout sitcom (like Friends or HIMYM), and I like those. Wayne is very good as the proud sheriff, obviously, but I also liked Dean Martin a lot as the recovering alcoholic "Dude". Dude's relationship with Wayne's Chance is very well done, understated but warm. Ricky Nelson on the other hand, looks a bit out of place, though Hawks wisely keeps his screentime to a minimum.

I'm still trying to figure out that romance between Wayne and Angie Dickinson. She's obviously way too young, but she plays her character with such charisma and confidence that it mostly works... mostly. Clearly Hawks/Wayne must think it unmanly to say "I love you" because the final scene between those two has her practically begging him to say it, and then taking a "I don't want you to expose your legs in public" as an acceptable replacement, which... it really shouldn't be.

I just realized I haven't said anything about the opening scene yet. It's a great silent sequence that serves as an in medias res introduction, very quickly establishes the main characters (and some of their conflicts, such as Dude's alcoholism) and effectively sets off the plot. Up there with the one in Once Upon a Time in the West as far as openers go. Well, maybe not quite that good, but close. Speaking of Leone, Hawks also uses music very well here, with the menacing "El Deguello" theme used by the bad guys.

8/10, would be 8.5 if I did half-rankings.

I like your choice of best scene.

I agree that Angie is too young. I don't know what the thing was back then but I feel that oldie movies have a higher tendency to pair up aging male leads with green female romantic interests.

I forgot to talk about the great silent opening scene in my review. You're right on all accounts. And how the film deals with Dude's alcoholism is pretty great too.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 05, 2015, 08:04:04 AM
Winchester '73 (Anthony Mann, 1950)

(http://i.imgur.com/F2RXvyh.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (starts 12:31) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/d/0/c/d0cc3de51ff6a580/cinecast102805.mp3?c_id=1303039&expiration=1449326445&hwt=45abe6ba764f4b61b4fa8e87457bb917)

Of all the films in this marathon, Winchester '73 conforms the most to what comes to my mind when you say "classic Western". That's not a good thing. The characters are paper-thin, the action is unimaginative and poorly staged (the final confrontation is basically five minutes of James Stewart and Stephen McNally shooting at rocks), the treatment of Indians is problematic, the only female character is only there to be rescued, the music is overbearingly trying to sell you on how fun this is... I just didn't care for it at all.

It's a shame too, because the idea of the Winchester getting passed around like the Ring is interesting/amusing... but I don't feel like Mann really does anything with it : Stewart gets it back at the end, and all is back in order, there's no real indication that we should be doing anything else than cheer for him.

It baffles me that Adam & Sam describe this as being character-driven, because I don't think there's any attempt to be anything other than a fun romp here. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it just didn't succeed for me. I enjoyed the banter between Stewart and his travelling companion, and the shooting competition was fun, but that's about it.

3/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sandy on December 05, 2015, 05:21:33 PM
Didn't do much for me either, Teproc.  Can we say that out loud? It's such a beloved Western.

I kept saying, "Here we go again, and again." I had a much better time wrangling my review into submission. :)

http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=11769.msg725609#msg725609

Nice to know another baffled viewer.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 05, 2015, 06:32:36 PM
Didn't do much for me either, Teproc. Can we say that out loud? It's such a beloved Western.

I suppose it is, though it's the only one I in here I had never even heard of before.

Love that review by the way, though I wouldn't have been able to guess how you felt about the movie from it.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 09, 2015, 02:50:32 PM
The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)

(http://i.imgur.com/31qTdHP.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (starts at 37:49) (http://libsyn.com/media/cinecast/cinecast110205.mp3)

Well, this is certainly a fitting closing film for the western part of this marathon. I can't imagine watching something like High Noon or Rio Bravo right after this, it would simply look silly. What a nihilistic, cynical film. Where Tarantino encourages us to revel in the violence, Peckinpah dares us to, and seems to despise us for it. Indeed he seems to despise humanity in general : if the traditional idea of the Western is that of a world of lawlessness and chaos dying in order for a more civilized and peaceful world to exist, The Wild Bunch argues that there is no escaping the cycle of violence. Homo homini lupus, it's the perpetual war of everyone against everyone else, and civilization is an illusion at best.

There is no denying that the action scenes, particularly the two bookending the film, are striking. The rest... less so. I have no idea why this film is so long (almost two hours and a half), and why it even pretends to have characters for us to empathize with, since all it does is show us how terrible humanity is. We keep seeing characters laugh uproariously, but it's never really clear what's so funny.

This was not a good experience for me. Like Adam, I respect the lengths at which Peckinpah is willing to go to make his points, but I just don't find them that interesting. I suppose it's an inevitable reaction to the bloodless classic westerns I've been watching, but, like a gesture of adolescent rebellion, it looks empty after the fact. It gets its point across, and some of the action setpieces (that first one especially) are going to be imprinted in my memory... and stay there, because I'm never going to rewatch this.

4/10... I guess ?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 09, 2015, 03:53:42 PM
The Dukes (Western Awards)

In the same order as the podcast (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/7/5/c/75c26c8b8e054846/cinecast111105.mp3?c_id=1303048&expiration=1449697649&hwt=2d36fe2733f1a8a3f59f8be07125e96b) (starts at 10:16).

Best Supporting Actor : Dean Martin (Rio Bravo)

(http://i.imgur.com/uGY8Hgc.jpg)

Best Supporting Actress : Katy Jurado (High Noon)

(http://i.imgur.com/8O8la0t.jpg)

Best Screenplay : Samuel G. Engel & Winston Miller (My Darling Clementine)

(http://i.imgur.com/S3gyNVX.jpg)

Best Score/Song : Ennio Morricone (Per un pugno di dollari)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vEVhrK_0AE

Best Director : Howard Hawks (Rio Bravo)

(http://i.imgur.com/4GyMbBH.jpg)

Best Actor : John Wayne (The Searchers)

(http://i.imgur.com/oNMQa5x.jpg)

Best Picture : Rio Bravo

(http://i.imgur.com/55yZFgn.jpg)

Summary/ranking:
 
Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959)
Per un pugno di dollari (Sergio Leone, 1964)
My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)
High Noon (Fred Zinnemann, 1952)
Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939)
The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)
Winchester '73 (Anthony Mann, 1950)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Junior on December 09, 2015, 03:55:12 PM
Not going to argue with you much here. Rio Bravo is a lot of fun.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 09, 2015, 04:00:25 PM
Well, that was fun ! I liked Westerns more than I expected to, overall. Hopefully this bodes well for the next part, Horror, because I am not a Horror fan. Then again, I just haven't seen the classics of the genre, so we'll see.

@Junior : Fun is indeed the word. I guess I did skew towards the more entertaining films here.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Junior on December 09, 2015, 04:10:25 PM
I'll have more to say about those horror movies than I did these westerns, so I look forward to your first experiences with all of those classics. I think you'll find that they have their own kind of fun elements, even if they are kinda twisted versions of such.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: 1SO on December 09, 2015, 04:59:48 PM
Not going to argue with you much here. Rio Bravo is a lot of fun.

Obligatory mention about El Dorado being a more entertaining remake of Rio Bravo.


The obligatory mentions will continue until you watch El Dorado.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sandy on December 09, 2015, 09:35:35 PM
Most excellent choices with your awards, Teproc!
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on December 11, 2015, 06:46:23 AM
Just watched Rio Bravo. It's freaking awesome and I agree with everything Teproc said and Angie Dickinson is freaking smokin'.

El Dorado on the watchlist!
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 12, 2015, 02:46:10 PM
Dawn of the Dead (George A. Romero, 1978)

(http://i.imgur.com/qs3siDn.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/7/5/c/75c26c8b8e054846/cinecast111105.mp3?c_id=1303048&expiration=1449942658&hwt=a3cfec0eecd0d83682528b7ebefd633a)

First, a disclaimer : I'm reasonably certain the only zombie film I've seen is Shaun of the Dead. That's not to say I'm not familiar with the genre : cultural osmosis, a few seasons of The Walking Dead and various boardgames mean that I do have a general idea and set of expectations. That being said, this being my first "real" zombie film probably played an important role here.

I think this is a masterpiece. Not knowing it was a sequel, I was impressed by how confident Romero was in its audience's ability to figure things with an in media res opening where the zombie apocalypse is already well on its way. Even with that knowledge, the first two sequences (first in the TV station then in the building under attack) are gripping introducitons to the situation and our main characters.

In a sense, it's a bit hypocritical for me to praise this after having criticized The Wild Bunch for being an exercise in cynicism. Because really, Romero isn't only attacking consumerism here. Dawn of the Dead reads like a condemnation of humanity in general. I suppose the main difference is that Romero has a sense of fun. Adam & Sam seem to have taken this mostly as satire ; I don't necessarily agree, but there is certainly a lot of humour there, mostly with the mall's musical cues. What makes this so great in my eyes is how effortlessly it juggles these tones. It's horrifying, funny, thrilling and sometimes scary at the same time.

I don't share Adam & Sam's dislike of the performances. I wouldn't give anyone an Oscar here, but I certainly didn't think they were bad : going "big" seems pretty appropriate given the extreme circumstances and the character's gradual slide towards insanity. I wasn't bothered by the effects either : yeah, the zombies are clearly just people with purple make-up but... I don't know, it just works.

10/10

Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: 1SO on December 12, 2015, 10:01:36 PM
Dawn of the Dead is the top of the mountain. A zombie action/adventure where the creatures serve the story rather than the other way around. Having seen it so close to Rio Bravo, did you notice a similarity in the story? A small group of people, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, working hard to face a difficult situation, yet still finding some nice moments of relaxation of palling around.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 13, 2015, 12:41:25 PM
Having seen it so close to Rio Bravo, did you notice a similarity in the story? A small group of people, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, working hard to face a difficult situation, yet still finding some nice moments of relaxation of palling around.

Hah, I didn't make this connection at all, no. I see what you're saying of course, but most scenes where we see the characters enjoying themselves in Dawn of the Dead are underlined with Romero's contempt for their consumerist tendencies. Yes there are moments of camaraderie : Peter calling Stephen "flyboy" gets more affectionate and less mocking as time goes by, but it's telling that the moments when they seem to have the most fun occur when they're accomplishing the most gruesome tasks, or when they're revelling in the mall's riches. The only scene I could really associate with Rio Bravo in that way would be after Roger's death, in the fancy restaurant. And even then, they're reproducing the appearence of civilization, including its less savory aspects (it's the black guy serving the white couple after all).
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Junior on December 13, 2015, 12:52:20 PM
I think Night of the Living Dead is the scarier movie, the one with more to say (and the one that says it less stridently, which gets annoying in Dawn), and the greater artistic achievement. I do like bits and pieces of Dawn, mostly the stuff that is just zombies being menacing, but it goes too high when it tries to make me feel bad for going to malls and stuff. Is anybody surprised that Romero took on the military and rich people in his next two movies in the series? It's like he forgot that he was making a horror movie and not an English 1 essay on the troubles of society.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: 1SO on December 13, 2015, 01:43:18 PM
Night is the more intense film, but as I've always said Dawn is an action/adventure with zombies instead of terrorists. It doesn't make me feel bad about our consumer culture. I see it as a celebration as much as a condemnation. I don't see the film saying you wouldn't want to wait out a zombie Apocalypse inside a shopping mall. It's the perfect spot. You just don't want to be like the biker guys, devouring and discarding the resources. Wasting the golden opportunity. Romero's zombie films are mythic because of these larger ideas, just like Night is also about the breakdown of family and not just a scare machine. They work as horror films, as exploitation splatter fests and on so many other levels worth discussing and disagreeing with.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Junior on December 13, 2015, 01:49:15 PM
Hmm. Maybe. There are a few montages that show the benefits of the mall as a fortress, but I feel like by the end Romero has come down hard on the side of anti-consumerism. He's such a hippie. If you're not on his side you're either being played by The Man or you are The Man. He allows you very little room to disagree with him in all the zombie movies after Night.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 21, 2015, 08:42:15 PM
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974)

(http://i.imgur.com/YDYnVmX.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/a/1/d/a1de9db89024127c/cinecast111805.mp3?c_id=1303051&expiration=1450753067&hwt=7205b7caba36506d4d2588afbcdca9b6)

I'm not sure I have much of value to say here. This is, all things considered, a very effective horror film. The victims are relatable enough for us to care when they meet their fate, the villains are distinctive and each is scary in different ways, the production design of the murder house is horrifying and evocative... yet I can't say I enjoyed it all that much beyond an intellectual appreciation for what Hooper is doing here. There are a few things that bothered me, like the constant leering camera when it comes to Pam and the crazy over-acting of the hitch-hiker, but even then those are just part of the genre's codes. The third act did stand out with the choice to have the final girl constantly scream in horror which, along with some creative editing and the aforementioned production design, does achieve the sensory experience of a nightmare. Basically what I'm saying is it seems like an effective version of a genre I don't particularly care for.

5/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 01, 2016, 03:03:07 PM
Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977)

(http://i.imgur.com/y17kdpV.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/d/4/4/d445b7c0f8aeab3c/cinecast112505.mp3?c_id=1303059&expiration=1451683210&hwt=f26c452c010d94f424b8a66592348428)

Suspiria is definitely the scariest movie of this marathon so far. It feels, sounds and looks like a fever dream/nightmare. The editing, score, directing, and production design all work together to make this a unique, enthralling experience, not to mention Argento's creative use of color. What makes the horror work here is that Argento's not that interested in showing us horrifying things, like Leatherface's family in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He instead creates a slightly unsettling, almost surreal mood (the taxi scene at the very top of the film for example), gradually ramps it up then breaks it by suddenly blasting Goblin's great score to signal that something is very, very wrong and shows up images that evoke horror more than depict it. It leaves a lot to the imagination, careful not to show too much of the perpetrators, because anything we can imagine is inevitably scarier than what he could have shown. Interestingly, the score seems to shift a beat or two before anything actually happens, as if trying to warn the character in peril, or because the events are already set in motion and there is no going back.

Visually, Suspiria is a great achievment and a pretty incredible experience. It's not without flaws though. The acting is generally pretty terrible (the dubbing issue typical to Italian films doesn't help), with the notable exception of Jessica Harper in the main role (for the most part). The storytelling is erratic at best : whatever happened with the mean dancer that brings up the "s names = snakes" at the start for example ? The last third of the film also features some very clumsy exposition to guide us into an inevitable final confrontation that is inevitably slightly underwhelming because we get to see the source of all of this craziness, and it doesn't look that impressive.

Nonetheless, I loved this, for the most part. The first 15 minutes and the dog scene especially are standout moments I'm sure to remember for a long time.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 01, 2016, 03:05:18 PM
By the way, might as well ask now : Evil Dead II is coming up at the end of this marathon, and I haven't seen the first one. Is it absolutely essential or am I fine watching II directly ?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: MartinTeller on January 01, 2016, 03:44:51 PM
You're totally fine.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on January 01, 2016, 05:10:19 PM
Yeah, you won't miss a thing.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 01, 2016, 05:52:51 PM
Good, thanks.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Junior on January 01, 2016, 09:29:50 PM
I'm with you on Suspiria, Teproc. That taxi scene and the one directly after it are super great and I enjoyed the film's willingness to go as crazy as it goes in the end.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 03, 2016, 04:56:12 PM
I'm with you on Suspiria, Teproc. That taxi scene and the one directly after it are super great and I enjoyed the film's willingness to go as crazy as it goes in the end.

Yeah, the final ramp-up is excellent, kind of a creepy - or creepier - Alice in Wonderland vibe, where she unveils the horrors... what she unveils I don't necessary love, but everything leading up to that is pretty great.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 03, 2016, 05:22:14 PM
Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978)

(http://i.imgur.com/2gcLLKT.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (starts at 49:38) (http://libsyn.com/media/cinecast/cinecast120205.mp3)

This got off to a pretty great start, with that long PoV scene : tense, well-executed with a great twist to top it off. I thought I was in good hands.

And then the next hour happened. During that hour, basically every scene follows the same pattern : we have characters doing their things, that iconic music starts playing and we see something that's supposed to be scary : generally the villain just standing around in the background, but sometimes it's a corpse or a car following them. But... it's so on-the-nose, so in your face that it doesn't work at all for me. It's the cinematic equivalent of Carpenter shouting "HE'S GOING TO KILL THEM, SEE ?" for 60 minutes, and... I wasn't scared, I wasn't thrilled, I wasn't even tense, I was just bored and mildly amused at the dull repetition of it. Even the music, which I loved initially, got tiring as it went on. I'm not sure what it is exactly, because theoretically I'm fully on-board : building up a quiet sense of dread seems like the way to do it but... Carpenter either shows too much or not enough of the villain I think. There's no room for me to imagine anything super scary, and what I'm seeing isn't that scary by itself, it's just a guy.

In the middle of all that, we have the good ol' sex=death theme. I'm guessing Halloween is the template for future slasher movies in that regard, but that doesn't make it any better. It manages to be both puritanically patronizing (if you want to live, you should knit, care for children and never have sex because that's a woman's place) and shamelessly exploitative, because how can we enjoy the deaths if they don't see some boobies beforehand ? I say "boobies" because every sex scene appeared to have been written by a 10-year old, adding to the uncomfortableness of the whole sex=death thing.

And then the last 20 minutes or so happened. It wasn't quite enough to fully redeem the movie, but I got then why this movie became a cult classic. Once we get to a character who fights back, and the villain actually chases her rather than just standing creepily behind her 5 times before quickly stabbing/strangling his victim, the movie does get thrilling and suspenseful. The fantastical aspect of the bogeyman who can never die is also an interesting turn, and that series of shots of the different locations just after he disappears, implying that there are no safe places anymore, is chilling and effective. I just wish the film overall had more of that.

4/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 06, 2016, 06:54:05 PM
Re-Animator (Stuart Gordon, 1985)

(http://img15.hostingpics.net/pics/947385Reanimator2.png) (http://www.hostingpics.net/viewer.php?id=947385Reanimator2.png)

Adam & Sam's take (starts at 15:43) (http://libsyn.com/media/cinecast/cinecast120905.mp3)

Re-Animator is a very lean movie in terms of its plot, but one that isn't quite sure what it's trying to be. Or at least I wasn't quite sure, it seems Sam & Adam took this as a comedy through and through, but I'm not sure I agree. The first hour, while campy enough with its fluorescent green liquids and re-animated cats, has some genuinely scary moments, seems to be establishing some interesting characters, including what I thought was a pretty good performance by Jeffrey Combs as a Frankenstein-type mad scientist. It even has a boring romance ! All of which was adding up to a relatively interesting thriller which might even lightly hit some themes regarding the ethics of medicine(graverobbing being a major part of the history of medical science).

Once our bland protagonist gets expelled, the movie enters a phase of transition where it's not quite sure what it is anymore. This is where the villain starts entering the action. He's there before, but somewhere around the 60 minute mark or so, David Gale decides to go full-camp, and that's even before we get into the head/body shenanigans. Then things get completely insane, frequently creepy (we do have a severed head licking a naked woman's breasts, that was ... something) and occasionnally hilarious, before finishing on a bizarre note that presumably was there to set up a sequel.

So yeah, this is a mess. Both halves of the film are pretty good at what they're doing, but I wish Gordon had picked a genre and stuck with it, because as it is, my general reaction to the movie could be summed up by the above screenshot. What saves Re-Animator for me really is Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West. He's the only member of the cast who feels equally at home in both halves of the film, both funny, scary and astonishingly relatable, given that he's playing a typical mad scientist.

Oh, and I did appreciate the remake of Psycho's soundtrack with some 80's touches added in, that was pretty great.

6/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on January 06, 2016, 06:58:54 PM
Re-Animator seemed to try to be a Cronnenberg film, but didn't quite make it.  It wasn't really funny, was a little gross, but not scary.  It didn't have any deep ideas.  It didn't really make much of an impression on me, really.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 06, 2016, 07:02:26 PM
Re-Animator seemed to try to be a Cronnenberg film, but didn't quite make it.  It wasn't really funny, was a little gross, but not scary.  It didn't have any deep ideas.  It didn't really make much of an impression on me, really.

I mostly agree, though I found it did somehow kind of work for me overall. I actually did find some of the stuff in the first half scary : the cat reanimations were pretty effective on me for example.

It does get gross in ways I didn't expect (again, that naked scene was something else).
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: 1SO on January 06, 2016, 07:17:57 PM
Is that image correct? Doesn't remind me of the film at all.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 06, 2016, 07:21:05 PM
Is that image correct? Doesn't remind me of the film at all.

I'll admit it doesn't. It is from the movie though, towards the end. There's the big fight in the morgue and at one point the bad guy's body (headless) is thrown out of the room, and the cop  guarding the morgue sees it.His reaction is to mouth "What the f***" and leave. Since that kind of summed up my reaction to what had been going on in the last 20 minutes, I decided to use it, but yeah it's just a throwaway moment.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 09, 2016, 11:08:56 AM
Evil Dead II (Sam Raimi, 1987)

(http://i.imgur.com/EibrE04.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://libsyn.com/media/cinecast/cinecast121605.mp3)

Evil Dead II doesn't suffer from the schizophrenia that at times plagued Re-Animator : it's a comedy through and through, no question about that. It plays around with expectations, appearing to be a haunted house movie for about a scene and a half, before killing one of the apparent lead characters and getting into the real meat of it. The ensuing 30 minutes or so are pure genius : Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell take the premise of a guy being attacked by various evil things and go completely wild with it, culminating in two great sequences highlighting their talents. First there's the car chase, in which Campbell is trying to escape an unseen monster, first in a car then on foot inside a creepy house/cabin. The whole sequence, shot from the monster's PoV so that, really, Campbell seems to be running away from the audience, is thrilling and funny, hilariously concluding with the camera failing to find him in a room and giving up. And then there's Ash vs The Evil Hand. I don't even know what to say about it, so I'll just say it's great and leave it at that.

Unfortunately, Raimi then decides to introduce other characters into the mix. I don't know if the Bruce Campbell Show would have been sustainable over a whole feature film, but I feel pretty confident it would have been better than this. Adam & Sam mention that the film gets boring whenever he isn't on screen (including the times he turns evil), and I couldn't agree more. The tenuous balance between grotesque horror and meta comedy achieved in the first half-hour is completely gone, except for a few memorable moments here and there ("Groovy."), including that epilogue which made me wish for a crossover with Monty Python's Holy Grail. The other actors don't seem to understand exactly what movie they're in, especially the "final girl" who goes straight Texas Chain Saw Massacre-style constant screaming without any of the necessary distance to make it actually funny.

7/10. Needs more Campbell.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sandy on January 09, 2016, 11:41:41 AM
I've not seen this movie, but your words make me feel as if I have. Thanks Teproc, for your wonderful writing! :)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 09, 2016, 11:43:33 AM
I've not seen this movie, but your words make me feel as if I have. Thanks Teproc, for your wonderful writing! :)

You're too kind, thank you.  :)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 09, 2016, 11:53:54 AM
The Haddonfields (Horror Awards)

In the same order as the podcast (http://ec.libsyn.com/p/c/1/b/c1b1ed0ded94810e/cinecast122305.mp3?d13a76d516d9dec20c3d276ce028ed5089ab1ce3dae902ea1d06cd8534d7ca554a1c&c_id=1303083) (starts at 11:06).

The supporting categories were pretty tough. One of them is a bit of a cheat and the other is just an ok performance because I didn't dare put what's clearly a leading performance in there (Sam had no such qualms, but I have principles).

Best "Supporting" Actor : Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator)

(http://i.imgur.com/4wqzFcw.jpg)

"Best" Supporting Actress : Gaylen Ross (Dawn of the Dead)

(http://i.imgur.com/yUSXhXK.jpg)

Best Actor : Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead II)

(http://i.imgur.com/Nd6wePa.jpg)

Best Actress : Jessica Harper (Suspiria)

(http://i.imgur.com/kYxbHPf.jpg)

Best Director : George A. Romero (Dawn of the Dead)

(http://i.imgur.com/iOKgj1g.jpg)

Best Picture : Dawn of the Dead

(http://i.imgur.com/8nzRvg1.gif)

Summary/ranking

Dawn of the Dead (George A. Romero, 1978)
Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977)
Evil Dead II (Sam Raimi, 1987)
Re-Animator (Stuart Gordon, 1985)
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974)
Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on January 12, 2016, 06:28:12 PM
Great job!
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 13, 2016, 06:33:55 AM
Great job!

Thanks ! Horror was more fun than I expected, probably because the selection didn't have much straight horror (I count 3 out of 6), and I still did like Suspiria a lot, out of those three.

Looking forward to get started on Hitchcock, should get to the 39 Steps in the few coming days. So far I've seen 4 Hitchcock films, two I loved (Rear Window and Psycho), one I was mixed on (Saboteur) and one I didn't care for (The Birds), so... we'll see where those fall.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on January 13, 2016, 04:12:58 PM
Yeah I'm looking forward to the next iteration.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 16, 2016, 04:43:08 PM
The 39 Steps (Alfred Hitchcock, 1935)

(http://i.imgur.com/IqouKY5.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/c/1/b/c1b1ed0ded94810e/cinecast122305.mp3?c_id=1303083&expiration=1452967940&hwt=a21346bbf9bacc5bc1a6f696d32256ae)

Interesting to watch this after having seen Saboteur, which is basically the same film except in America with a much worse lead actor. The 39 Steps is better overall, but still doesn't completely work for me. Sam mentions Hitchcock's ability to go from one tone to the other as a strength, and I couldn't disagree more in the case of this film. It starts out as a paranoid thriller, building up a fairly tense atmosphere despite some plot wonkiness (no idea why he doesn't get killed at the same time "Mrs. Smith" does), with a pretty well-executed action scene on a train. And then it decides it wants to be romantic comedy instead, which... it's not that it doesn't work, but the transition from one to the other and back is pretty jarring and makes the whole film feel disjointed.

Still, the back and forth between Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll is funny and fraught with sexual tension, especially the scene pictured above, easily the highlight of the film as it makes full use of the whole handcuff situation. That last shot, where the two leads' hands touch in a callback to that earlier scene, seems to indicate that the romantic comedy was more important to Hitchcock, which does make it easier to overlook the various problems of the spy plot.

I am starting to pick up on a rather deep distrust for insitutions on Hitchcock's part, I'm wondering if I'll see more of this in the films coming up. It seems like a trend that Hitchcock's characters can only do the right thing by going around or directly against institutions , be it because of corruption or straight-up incompetence. Combine that with a scene here that would be right at home in a political satire (in which the main character makes an impassioned speech about a candidate he doesn't even know the name of), and I think I might be on to something. Can't remember much of that in Psycho or The Birds though, so maybe it's just an early-Hitchcock thing.

6/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 20, 2016, 02:50:07 PM
Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946)

(http://img15.hostingpics.net/pics/5501576a0168ea36d6b2970c017ee704fbca970d800wi.jpg) (http://www.hostingpics.net/viewer.php?id=5501576a0168ea36d6b2970c017ee704fbca970d800wi.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (starts at 49:05) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/5/2/c/52ce66009f52f59b/cinecast123005.mp3?c_id=1303084&expiration=1453321280&hwt=9830c3189935ff6841991dc892781618)

Much like the 39 Steps, Notorious is blend of romantic comedy and spy thriller. This time though, Hitchcock blends the two seamlessly, perhaps because the romantic element is present from the start and is the focus throughout, with the spy story being used as a setting more than anything else. The word "nazi" is never even uttered, and whatever they are planning to do is even more nebulous than the eponymous secret of the previous film in this marathon. You'd think that would have the effect of Notorious feeling low-stakes, but it doesn't really, because what really matters here is Ingrid Bergman's Alicia Huberman's survival and her relationship with the agent who recruits her, and Bergman's performance is pretty phenomenal.

If you listen to that discussion linked above, you'll hear that a lot of Adam & Sam's praise for this movie is adressed at Cary Grant. I... couldn't believe what I was hearing, frankly. It's entirely possible that my complete lack of context for Cary Grant's persona/carreer/whatever is responsible here, but it was simply painful to see Bergman doing her best to make us believe in a relationship with a cardboard cut-out. The only expression he seems to be going for is sometimes mild amusement, and even that doesn't quite come through. Is he supposed to be mysterious ? He's not, he's just bland and completely devoid of any charisma. That automatically puts a certain limit to how much the film can work as a whole, given how central that relationship is. I suppose he's trying to hide his attraction for her, but it's not like he gives us anything else at the end either, so...

It's a shame too, because Hitchcock is doing some interesting stuff here on a formal level. There's Cary Grant's introduction, which is a party scene entirely shot from behind him, seated, marking him immediately as a mysterious man, as well as the above shot, from Bergman's point of view, waking up hungover and disoriented, seeing a rotating Grant walk towards here. Then there's a scene where, immediately after she gets poisoned : she asks for someone close the blinds, which results in her sitting in the shadow, as if marked for death, while the other man remains in the light. This is turning into a "list of scenes I liked", but a last one : Grant and Hepburn covering each other in brief kisses while continuing to talk, implying a pretty intensely passionate relationship... Would have been better if I had felt like two human beings were actually taking part in that, but I guess Bergman counts for more than one already so I'm just being greedy at that point.

A lot to like then, but a single non-performance is enough to keep this one away from greatness (or very good-ness).

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on January 21, 2016, 06:01:49 PM
I agree with you about Cary Grant, for the most part.  The best part of this performance is that he is very much not Cary Grant, but what is he, really?  Just not much.

Still, overall a unique and very good Hitchcock.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on January 21, 2016, 06:39:20 PM
Yeah he's not at his wonderful best.

It's a decent forgettable film.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 22, 2016, 06:58:17 PM
Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940)

(http://i.imgur.com/lU4donz.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/b/c/e/bceefa4ee1537cba/cinecast010606.mp3?c_id=1303086&expiration=1453503157&hwt=58953e5c84f09c5d3e04b47c76aea32c)

Rebecca is another Hitchcock film that seems to be trying a different tone every thirty minutes, except he somehow gets away with it this time. First a romantic drama, then a psychological thriller with slight hints of gothic horror (between this and Suspiria, I'm getting a lot of contextualization for Crimson Peak in this marathon), and finally a twisty murder mystery. I wasn't crazy about the first part, partly because even Laurence Olivier couldn't make up for how much of a despicable character Max was : as Adam & Sam discuss, he asks Joan Fontaine to "never be 35", and he is not joking, not at all... It's a credit to his performance that I didn't constantly want to punch him in the face.

Joan Fontaine's unnamed protagonist, however, was pretty great. She's incredibly charming makes you really feel the loss of innocence by the time it gets to the end and she's covering up murders. The fish out of water narrative of her trying to live up to Rebecca's reputation was so effective because of Fontaine, to the point that I almost forgot we were in a Hitchcock film and there was probably some underlying mystery/darkness. I say almost, because Hitchcock shoots Manderley Manor in such a way (see above) that I was half-expecting this to turn into an actual ghost story. This hour or so is the high point for me out of these three films so far, a pretty tremendous mix of tones carried by Fontaine's enticing performance (despite her character being frustatingly simple at times).

I did enjoy the half-hour denouement as well, with its twists and turns playing out like the final few pages of a Christie novel, though it gets a bit silly and is somewhat harmed by the problematic moralistic undertones of the story : Rebecca is "the devil" because she's an independent woman (granted she also cheats on her husband, but Max deems her diabolical even before that in his telling, though it's always hard to tell since sex is only alluded to, as it must), in contrast to Fontaine's character who is entirely devoted to her husband. Still, if you can get past that, it gets pretty fun, especially once George Sanders shows up as Rebecca's ex-lover trying to first blackmail then expose Max as a murderer. He's having a lot of fun with it, giving a lot of energy to scenes that could otherwise have been too... talky, for lack of a better word.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on January 23, 2016, 09:31:55 AM
Rebecca is one I've loved more the more I considered it.  What a great gothic.  And I don't think I would have really appreciated Crimson Peak without it.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 23, 2016, 11:01:50 PM
Shadow of a Doubt (Alfred Hitchcock, 1943)

(http://i.imgur.com/IJ3eo3i.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/b/c/e/bceefa4ee1537cba/cinecast010606.mp3?c_id=1303086&expiration=1453600225&hwt=86a497eb858c591d38705b86e0d7640e)

I'm a little baffled by this film. The plot makes no sense. We have two FBI agents (or something) who, after clumsily letting a serial killer get away, narrow it down to two suspects, one on each coast. So they go after one of them by... trying to get into his family house by pretending to be there for a survey ? And... sitting on their hands for god knows how long ? Before concluding that he is innocent simply because the other one died ? Well, one of them also asks the killer's niece to marry him, so I guess there's that. She's barely out of highschool at the most, of course. The whole film feels... unfinished, in a sense. At one point, our main character (the niece in question) goes on a date with the guy "taking pictures for a survey". We see them going off, then cut to them on a bench with her saying "You're a detective !?". It's jarring and feels as if there's just a scene missing, and that is how everything that has to do with plot feels here.

And yet, it's pretty fun. I'm starting to repeat myself, but I really liked the female lead, Teresa Wright. Almost as if this Hitchcock guy was good at directing actresses or something. She has a strong monologue early on about being depressed and thirsting for adventure, and then somehow makes you relate to her insane decision not to denounce her uncle whom she discovers to be a serial killer. The less that's said about any scene featuring the romancing detective, the better though. Hitchcock has fun with the small town setting : there is a running joke of the father having lengthy discussions with his neighbor about the most efficient ways in which they could murder each other. It's actually hilarious and a nice nod to the "seemingly wholesome family infiltrated by pure evil" general theme of the film.

Which brings us to the serial killer in question. Joseph Cotten is very good at being menacingly charming, though I didn't find him particularly convincing when he actually started to rant about how those widows are nothing but parasites anyway. That monologue occuring in the middle of a family dinner feels like it should say something about the hypocrisy of the "perfect wholesome family", but as I said, the script is too lacking to convincingly make much of a point there. He also has strong romantic/sexual chemistry with Teresa Wright, which makes their interaction very, very creepy, in ways that I'm not sure are entirely intended but work regardless.

One final aspect that helped save the film for me was the great sequence in which she decides to go to the police, and we get her running in the streets while he follows her, intending to stop her. That sequence brings the tension and menace that was missing from the rest of the film, if only for a few minutes.

6/10

Sidenote : Watching the first 10 minutes or so was a pretty surreal experience as big fan of Waxtailor's album "Hope and Sorrow", which features these two (https://www.google.fr/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwidhryS1cHKAhXB1xoKHYXRCP0Q3ywIIzAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dx8fxvBM8EcM&usg=AFQjCNFbO5dPFeMxw1jOIHEUERBbHeXorw&sig2=WKhv5nwDrq7ZCOWMB0jCBQ) songs (https://www.google.fr/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwj8juSk1cHKAhUCzxoKHZIpDOUQtwIIIjAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DY_seTedboXA&usg=AFQjCNE9zTl8HmmVSqmAiYpbOh40QP-5zA&sig2=xQCKxZ2QOqUNumdj8dgbqw), both sampling lines from the film. Always a strange feeling to discover where a line you've heard countless times originally came from.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on January 24, 2016, 08:47:42 PM
Agree with all of that re Shadow of a Doubt. It feels unfinished. Plenty to like scene by scene but it is less than the sum of its parts. His rant about the old women is not quite the right content or tone. And that detective dating saga is a disgrace.

P.S. Rebecca is great! :)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 28, 2016, 05:51:11 PM
Strangers on a Train (Alfred Hitchcock, 1951)

(http://i.imgur.com/UnHpx2m.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://media.libsyn.com/media/cinecast/cinecast011306.mp3)

Choosing a shot for this one was hard. There are so many of them ! Both of the fairgrounds sequences (with the murder seen through the reflection in the glasses being the highlight), the tennis match, the dog guarding the stairs (Hitchcock sure does love stairs), the opening focusing on the eponymous strangers' shoes... This one, with the murderer looking straight at the camera while the rest of the public follows the tennis ball, is an excellent example of visual characterization : he is in some ways a proto-Norman Bates, and as such must stand out in a crowd, in a pretty disturbing way.

I was just giddy with excitement watching this. A great premise, a great performance by Robert Walker (giving the performance Joseph Cotten wished he had in Shadow of a Doubt), finally a simple, efficient plot with no MacGuffins, and a few amazing sequences : namely the murder itself and the climax. The murder is the typical Hitchcockian meeting of sexuality and violence, perfectly executed. The ending sequence wraps everything perhaps a bit too neatly, but is nonetheless an impressive and visually striking setpiece.

In many ways this feels like an improvement over Shadow of a Doubt like North by Northwest is an improvement over The 39 Steps and Saboteur. Not as directly, but there are a few similar beats, such as Bruno strangling an old lady in the middle of a room full of upper-class socialites, which feels like a much more effective version of that dinner monologue in SoD, combined with some of that gallows humour too. And have I mentioned how great Robert Walker is yet ? Because he is. Farley Granger as the "hero" falls just on the right side of bland, which works pretty well as he then almost works as an audience surrogate (as Adam & Matt observe, there are many shots from his point of view).

Something that occured to me during the tennis match sequence is how much I enjoy Hitchcock's willigness to obfuscate information from his audience. The famous "surprise vs suspense" quote with the ticking bomb under the table seems to indicate the contrary, but he can do both, and this is an excellent example* : we know our protagonist has some sort of a plan but that's it, and it's really not that impressive of a plan but because we don't know exactly where this is going it ends up being thrilling, despite the fact that we are really just watching people play tennis. For a pretty long time, which really sounds like it shouldn't work, but it does.

9/10

I'm not entirely sure why I'm not calling this a masterpiece quite yet... maybe it's just that it gives me an excuse to revisit it later. Definitely gets in my top 100 regardless.

*Another one would be in North by Northwest when the FBI guy gives his instructions to Cary Grant just as a plane is taking off next to them, which basically amounts to Hitchcock coming on screen and winking at us. Loved it, failed to mention in in the top 100 club thread so I'll do it here.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on January 28, 2016, 09:40:31 PM
Alright, I just gotta see this.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 29, 2016, 02:17:40 PM
Alright, I just gotta see this.

Sweet !

About the Elaine May marathon the guys just announced (spoiler), I'm guessing people will follow along in here (as in the forum not this particular thread) ? If so I'll do that too, otherwise, I'll just add it to the queue.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 30, 2016, 12:32:01 PM
What did I say earlier about Hitchcock's love of stairs ? Well, here we go...

Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)

(http://i.imgur.com/GToKXYC.png)

Adam & Sam's take (starts at 30:30) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/0/f/4/0f41fe46a1b06668/cinecast011906a.mp3?c_id=1303088&expiration=1454166333&hwt=3648f4565844d8304e4b0b6a0771d221)

More than anything else in this marathon (and possibly in his whole filmography), Vertigo is a film that sets a very distinctive mood from the get go. From the opening notes of Bernard Herrmann's unsettling score accompanying Saul Bass's dizzying's opening titles, there is the constant feeling that things aren't quite right, which, duh. I say duh but I somehow didn't really see the twist coming, despite having seen Phoenix and knowing the two had been compared... probably because I was completely enthralled in Scottie's obsession for that first hour or so. I'm often annoyed by Hitchcock's love for car scenes because they tend to look very dated, but it was all worth it for the shots of James Stewart almost literally going down the rabbit hole in the streets of San Francisco as he tails Madeleine. Which, I now realise as I see it in front of me, must be a reference to Proust, neat.

As the guys mention, it is really striking to see what Hitchcock does with colour here, after having gone through 5 black-and-white films. The first time we see Madeleine in that green dress, surrounded by people wearing grey in a room so red it looks like something out of Suspiria... we don't even need Stewart to do anything, we got it. He is unsurprisingly great, by the way. Kim Novak... I don't know. I mean she's good, but their relationship always seems one-sided to me, which becomes problematic in the second half. We're told through Hitchcock's direction that this isn't just Stewart's obsession (that amazing 360 shot as they kiss), but I never really got that from her performance.

I do think the film overalll loses a bit in its second half. There are still many great moments : Judy "becoming" Madeleine with that green lighting recalling their aforementioned first meeting, the red collar, the nun's sudden appearance, which has to be one of the scariest thing Hitchcock has done outside of Psycho. In a sense, everything involving Judy feels more intellectualized... not that this is bad thing, the questions of identity it explores are fascinating* (and Novak nails that part), but it also feels like an inevitable crawl towards a sinister denouement. Speaking of which, Hitchcock's endings are starting to bother me a little. They often feel very neat, too convenient. It works here because there is no illusion that this is in any way a happy ending for Scottie, but sparing him from actually having to do the deed feels like a cheat.

All that being said, here I am again nitpicking...but this is a stunning film. Aside from Rear Window, it's certainly Hitchcock's most accomplished visually and ambitious thematically. The soundtrack is iconic for a reason, James Stewart's performance is simply phenomenal, and I didn't even get around to mentioning the "vertigo effect" (or whatever it's called, you know the one).

9/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: verbALs on January 30, 2016, 12:56:46 PM
I'd be interested to hear what you think of people's ratings of his films in the directors thread. With Vertigo at the top it puts some of your other ratings into proportion. Do you think you were leaving yourself room, knowing Vertigo was coming and knowing its reputation?

It's interesting watching someone appraise Hitchcock. Films like 39
steps and Shadow of a Doubt are very difficult to have a proper perspective about for me. The BBC always had a Hitchcock season as part of Christmas tv so we were watching even his darker films as kids. So I sit there thinking "its ok its ok" when say 39 Steps isnt instantly loved. I wouldn't expect anyone to have the same feeling for them without the same context.

Vertigo and Rear Window aren't part of that Christmas season context. They were restored in the 80s and we went to see them at an art cinema on the Kings Road in Chelsea. Perfect context. That more intellectual cineaste setting really suited their profound tone. Most Hitch movies are entertainments. These two movies are works of art.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 30, 2016, 01:25:00 PM
I definitely agree about Rear Window and Vertigo standing apart in Hitchcock's filmography as much more ambitious thematically, more intellectual as you say. That these are the top two choices in the director's thread makes a lot of sense to me : those are the kind of films that tend to cause people to overlook their flaws because of that sense of a greater purpose to the film. It's harder with something like North by Northwest or Psycho : because they are primarly trying to be entertaining, any time you're not entertained (insert Russell Crowe gif here) reflects that much more poorly on the film.

I can't pretend like Vertigo wasn't looming over this part of the marathon : it is, after all, the greatest movie of all time, allegedly. I try very hard not to let that affect my judgment (in this case it wasn't hard as the opening titles immediately grabbed me), and I don't think I was intending to "leave myself room". When I rate movies I mostly compare them to past ratings I've given, so in this case I was mostly thinking of how they stood compared to Psycho and Rear Window at one end, Saboteur and The Birds at the other end, those being the Hitchcock films I had seen. For all I know though, Frenzy might become my favorite film of his (it's the next and last one here). I can't pretend not to be aware of those films' status, though for most of these I had not idea what to expect. It appears that Notorious is one of his most acclaimed outside of the big four, but I had barely heard of it (same for everything else here except Strangers on a Train actually).

Hitchcock season for Christmas sounds pretty great. I suspect I wouldn't have that rapport even if this were a thing in France, as we are not really a movie-watching family. I come from a big family, and I suspect trying to watch a film with up to six kids around wasn't a very appealing idea to my parents. I really don't have any film I can remember watching as a child. I mean I watched some Disney and there are some I still have a certain nostalgic attachment to (The Aristocats for example), but for the most part I don't remember watching anything live-action before I was something like 11 or 12. It probably isn't accurate, I'm sure I watched some classic comedies, but nothing that made a profound impact. Shadow of a Doubt seems like an interesting one to watch as a kid, pretty disturbing stuff, though it's all in the dialogue I suppose.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 05, 2016, 05:57:24 PM
Will finish up Hitchcock tomorrow (Frenzy), but in the meantime, I figured I might as well include this in there :

A New Leaf (Elaine May, 1971)

(http://i.imgur.com/2FxQgp2.jpg)

Adam & Josh's take (+ a Peter Labuza introduction) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/d/8/d/d8d7506abe81780b/filmspot572_020516.mp3?c_id=10860464&expiration=1454723886&hwt=992e378bc29181416daeaf410c24d476)

Jumped into this having no idea what to expect : The only thing I knew about Elaine May was that she was cast in that Woody Allen series recently and people got excited about it. As it turns out, "maybe Woody Allen-ish" wasn't that bad, as this is a romantic comedy of manners that involves premedidated murder. Actually doesn't look that out of place in the middle of all this Hitchcock either, come to think of it.

That genre blend sounds hard to pull off, and it is to May's credit that this film works as well as it does. A lot of it is in Walter Matthau's performance. His character, an indolent aristocrat who plans to marry a rich isolated woman in order to then murder her and get her money, really has no right to be as endearing as Matthau plays him. While he never quite becomes sympathetic, this is what's needed to make the tone of the film work, and man is he funny. His phlegmatic delivery (and general attitude) is perfect, and though May gets her share too (both as an actress and as a director, as in the shot above), Matthau is undoubtedly the MVP here.

I really don't think the ending works though. I get what Adam is saying about him taking to his role, but I don't think I read the evolution of their relationship in the same way. Yes he gets used to her and becomes very good at helping her (the toga scene, the picnic scene), but there's still no warmth there, no affection, not on his part. It doesn't surprise me at all to hear that May had something else in mind originally : I don't know if the film as a whole would have been better (a 3-hour cut certainly doesn't sound like a good idea), but as is there clearly seems to either be something missing (him truly developing affection for her) or something awkwardly tacked on (the ending).

As for the social underpinnings, I did find it interesting that Matthau's character is put in a stereotypically female situation, having to marry to achieve (in his case maintain) a social status, and encouraging a more creative/successful partner. Obviously May's character isn't quite your typical movie scientist, but she is a lot more driven than she is, and her naming the species after him plays like a reversal on what you'd find in a biopic about some "great man" and how great a husband he is. Besides, her primary characteristic is to be socially awkward, in that sense she is also reminiscent of recent biopic leads.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 07, 2016, 06:21:24 PM
Frenzy (Alfred Hitchcock, 1972)

(http://i.imgur.com/fwIEoAR.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://media.libsyn.com/media/cinecast/cinecast012706.mp3)

Wait, I thought post-Psycho/The Birds Hithcock was supposed to be subpar ? I mean, the opening tracking shot alone, in which Hitchcock makes his triumphant return to England by making the camera seemingly go under the Tower Bridge after starting high in the air, makes it worth watching. Well, maybe not, but the rest is about what you'd expect from a Hitchcock film (falsely accused protagonist goes on the run), but witha  few signifcant twists : just like in Strangers on a Train, the focus is as much on the actual killer as it is on the "wrong man". Barry Foster is pretty good as the killer in question, as a variation on "Uncle Charlie" from Shadow of a Doubt and the idea that the better the face looks, the most likely it is to have evil lurking behind it. Not an original idea certainly, but executed well here, as Jon Finch's Richard Blaney is probably the most unsympathetic "wrong man" I've seen from Hitchcock.

One obvious thing that differenciates this from the other films in this marathon is how graphic it is. This is the 70's, so we get nudity and more disturbing images than usual : the first murder is an especially hard scene to watch. I think Hitchcock really gets it right : he establishes the villain with that first murder scene, which features a particularly grisly shot of the victim's face post-mortem, and then shows more restraint. We still see a naked body once or twice, but when a character we know gets killed, Hitchcock has the camera follow the killer up the stairs (of course), and slowly "step back" after they enter the room, sparing us the spectacle (or, as proposed in the podcast, acting as the viewer).

The humour is also pretty great here, between the almost Bunuel-esque dinner scenes between the detective and his wife, and what I can only describe as "the potato corpse scene". It's just as perfect as it sounds.

The one thing that is somewhat new (from what I now of his filmography at least) is what presumably gives the film its title, "Frenzy". This is London, and London with a serial killer means tabloids, Jack the Ripper being mentioned and people being morbidly fascinated.. In a sense this works as it actually uses the city's history to its advantage... but it feels more like a backdrop than anything Hitchcock's interested in actually exploring, which I found somewhat disappointing.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 08, 2016, 12:00:40 PM
The MacGuffins (Hitchcock Awards)

In the same order as the podcast (http://ec.libsyn.com/p/f/9/d/f9de82fe173a5a9a/cinecast020306.mp3?d13a76d516d9dec20c3d276ce028ed5089ab1ce3dae902ea1d06cd833ed4cc5a3cff&c_id=1303107).

The category placements are... debatable as always with these things.

Best Supporting Actor : Robert Walker (Strangers on a Train)

(http://i.imgur.com/P1fkOI2.png)

Best Supporting Actress : Eva Marie Saint (North by Northwest)

(http://i.imgur.com/FnvSZje.jpg)

Best Actress : Ingrid Bergman (Notorious)

(http://i.imgur.com/H4dc7Ru.jpg)

Best Actor : James Stewart (Vertigo)

(http://i.imgur.com/aW9qepX.png)

Best Screenplay : Vertigo (Alec Coppel & Samuel A. Taylor)

(http://i.imgur.com/2siHiEd.jpg)

Best Picture : Strangers on a Train

(http://i.imgur.com/PxyWhb5.gif)

Summary/Ranking :

Strangers on a Train
Vertigo
Frenzy
Rebecca
Notorious
Shadow of a Doubt
The 39 Steps


Next up : Overlooked Auteurs, whatever that means (Fuller, Tarkovsky and Ozu apparently).
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on February 08, 2016, 04:21:42 PM
Nice job on rounding up the Hitchcock portion. There's a reason he's one of the greats. Also love the use of that gif for your final award.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 10, 2016, 03:08:28 AM
Thanks. I like using gifs for Best Picture, and this one is a nice way of showing why I ended up chosing Strangers on a Train over Vertigo : it has a sense of fun that's... well it's not missing from Vertigo because it wouldn't belong, but aside from the interaction between Stewart and his painter friend there's really very little humour, which seems to be the exception for a Hitchcock film. I guess Psycho isn't a barrel of laughs either, but that's the other one I can think of (though obviously there's a ton I still haven't seen).
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on February 10, 2016, 06:32:06 AM
For the very little I'm saying, I'm really enjoying this Teproc. Keep going.  :D
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: JakeIsntFake on February 10, 2016, 07:06:02 PM
For the very little I'm saying, I'm really enjoying this Teproc. Keep going.  :D

Seconded.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sandy on February 11, 2016, 07:12:37 AM
I'm happily reading along too!

And, having Jimmy Stewart as your best actor choice makes me extra happy. :)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 11, 2016, 05:55:53 PM
Thanks :)

On to Overlooked Auteurs !

Shock Corridor (Samuel Fuller, 1963)

(http://i.imgur.com/oSa5vGr.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (starts at 9:53) (http://media.libsyn.com/media/cinecast/cinecast020306.mp3)

Hm. Well, I'm not sure what I'm missing. Let's start by saying where I think this film definitely fails : having a coherent, suspensful narrative. The basic story here - a journalist trying to win the Pulitzer Prize by infiltrating an asylum to solve a murder - sounds exciting, but the murder mystery itself is clearly not what Fuller's interested in : as Sam said, it's basically a MacGuffin. Which is good, because this makes it easier to overlook some of the headscratchers in the plot : mainly why no one thinks to check if the girl who claims her brother is assaulting her is, you know, actually the guy's sister, or why they then let her visit him (and have physical contact) while trying to "cure" him of his incestuous tendencies... but again : clearly not the point here, so let's move on.

If the plot isn't it, then maybe it's the characters, specifically the main one ? The film does open (and close) with a quote from Euripides about madness being the worst punishment God can inflict on man, which does mean we know exactly where this is going... which again, would be fine... except there are two problems here : the first is Peter Breck's performance. It's a love-it or hate-it kind of performance, and I guess I can't blame him for going over-the-top given the subject matter... but we never get a real sense of progression in his madness : he starts out already obsessed by his girlfiriend (having nightmares about her leaving him for other men before even stepping into the asylum), and seems to wander in and out of sanity pretty much at random. The combination of those factors meant that I never really could get a grasp on the character, and was thus pretty removed from his arc.

That leaves us with a more thematic approach then, about 60's America. This is definitely the film's most successful angle, but even then... it's a bit of a mess. Adam mentions that Fuller doesn't give us any answers here because he doesn't know them himself, which I agree with, except I don't find his questions all that interesting. Showing us a black man who, in his madness, wants to found the KKK, is... something ? It certainly seems like it's trying to say something about the civil rights movement and racial politics in America, but what? I don't know, and the more the film went on, with such characters as an ex-nuclear scientist who acts like a 6-year old and a Southern man turned-communist who now thinks he's a Confederate general, the more it all seemed very shallow. Its all in the title really : this is a gallery of weird and crazy people, and the result ends up more on the side of entertainment for shock value than political commentary. Which would also be fine I suppose, if it were actually more entertaining.

One thing that I did appreciate though, is the use as the corridor as this theatrical set, with things always going on in the background to the point that we, just like the main character, become familiar with its inhabitants. This all culminates in the film's best sequence, when the journalist goes definitely mad and imagines the corridor inundated by heavy rain. So there's that, at least ? Curious if there are fans to explain the appeal to me here.

3/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: smirnoff on February 11, 2016, 10:15:03 PM
Hmm, sounds like the glass is only half fuller. :-\

Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 12, 2016, 01:48:09 PM
Hmm, sounds like the glass is only half fuller. :-\

Well, maybe the other half (The Big Red One, next up) will be full... er ?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 14, 2016, 07:56:35 AM
Then again, maybe not...

The Big Red One (Samuel Fuller, 1980)

(http://i.imgur.com/compa79.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://media.libsyn.com/media/cinecast/cinecast021006.mp3)

First, a disclaimer : I watched the theatrical cut of this, not knowing there was any other one.

With that out of the way... The Big Red One is a war film, focusing on a sergeant (Lee Marvin), four of his soldiers and their adventures on various fronts of the European theatre of WWII, in an episodic structure. Aside from that structure, it plays out like the most basic, most clichéd idea you'd have of an American war movie, to the point that I actually paused the film around 40 minutes in to check if it was generally considered to be a parody. It is not ! And to be fair, it does have some unusual elements, especially its tendency to let scenes play out without dialogue... but still.

What we have here is four very loosely defined characters with a typical authority figure working their way through action scenes that range from vaguely tense to completely ridiculous (one of many would be the German ambush where all the soldiers play dead and never proceed to actually ambush anyone). All of which happens in bright sunlight with some cheery music. From the dialogue, it seems Fuller wanted to make an anti-war film, but this does not translate to the screen at all. He makes an interesting choice in focusing on these five characters as if they were pretty much the only people fighting in this war. This is clearly intentional, as there is some talk about other soldiers dying off so fast that they don't bother to learn their names anymore, but it results in most action sequences being impossibly small-scale, which works well enough for small skirmishes in nothern France, not so much for D-Day (or Algeria and Sicily for that matter).

Combine that small scale with the aforementioned sunny landscapes and what you have is a complete lack of immersion. And I haven't even gotten to the language issue yet... suffice is to say, Fuller must have thought subtitles were some kind of devilry that should never ever be used, instead chosing to have French and German soldiers speak English and Italian children speak unsubtitled Italian. This leads to gloriously nonsensical sequences like a civilian, in the middle of a bunch of German soldiers who are conversing in English, calling out the G.I.s in English but apparently not being understood by the German soldiers around her. One of the first scenes also features French soldiers speaking to each other in English, but being spoken to by the American army in French... look, it's not just my general dislike for non-vernacular languages here, the sheer inconsistency and absurdity of it all is a real problem here.

Let's gloss over the pretty terrible acting (except Lee Marvin, who does an ok "nice-but-tough" sergeant) and skip to the final half-hour, which takes place in Czechoslovakia as our heroes enter a concentration camp. This is where the film went from bad to awful for me, becoming so exploitative and manipulative it makes Schindler's List look subtle and restrained. Let's just say it involves a child survivor and a music box. The sergeant then comes across a German soldier who, in a mirror of the film's opening scene (a flashback from WWI), announces (in unsubtitled German) that the war is over, only to be killed by the sergeant. Now, finally I thought the film might be doing something interesting, as it had earlier drawn the distinction between killing and murder, this being a murder because the sergeant is upset after having seen a concentration camp. But no, the other characters tell him the war is over and he immediately goes to save the bleeding German soldier, because... men are good and war doesn't destroy them, it really just allows them to be heroes.

Obviously that's not what Fuller is trying to do, but that's how it comes off, as his attempts to depict war negatively are so basic and half-assed that it seems fundamentally hypocritical. It all culminates in a final montage showing us the good times that were had (again, presumably not the intent), and I'm left wondering what could possibly be in those 50 minutes that could possibly makes this any good. The problem isn't really that Fuller was basically making an adventure war film : that could be fine... if he actually put any time in developing his characters (I seriously could not tell you even one thing about one of the five) or directing suspenseful action sequences. He at least attempts the latter, but does  not succeed as far as I'm concerned.

1/10

This turned out much longer than I intended, sorry about that (really most of the reviews in this thread are longer than I'd like). On to Tarkovsky ! Let's just say I'm glad the guys didn't go for a fuller Samuel-centric marathon (hah).
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on February 18, 2016, 02:19:19 AM
Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940)

Rebecca is another Hitchcock film that seems to be trying a different tone every thirty minutes, except he somehow gets away with it this time. First a romantic drama, then a psychological thriller with slight hints of gothic horror (between this and Suspiria, I'm getting a lot of contextualization for Crimson Peak in this marathon), and finally a twisty murder mystery. I wasn't crazy about the first part, partly because even Laurence Olivier couldn't make up for how much of a despicable character Max was : as Adam & Sam discuss, he asks Joan Fontaine to "never be 35", and he is not joking, not at all... It's a credit to his performance that I didn't constantly want to punch him in the face.

Joan Fontaine's unnamed protagonist, however, was pretty great. She's incredibly charming makes you really feel the loss of innocence by the time it gets to the end and she's covering up murders. The fish out of water narrative of her trying to live up to Rebecca's reputation was so effective because of Fontaine, to the point that I almost forgot we were in a Hitchcock film and there was probably some underlying mystery/darkness. I say almost, because Hitchcock shoots Manderley Manor in such a way (see above) that I was half-expecting this to turn into an actual ghost story. This hour or so is the high point for me out of these three films so far, a pretty tremendous mix of tones carried by Fontaine's enticing performance (despite her character being frustatingly simple at times).

I did enjoy the half-hour denouement as well, with its twists and turns playing out like the final few pages of a Christie novel, though it gets a bit silly and is somewhat harmed by the problematic moralistic undertones of the story : Rebecca is "the devil" because she's an independent woman (granted she also cheats on her husband, but Max deems her diabolical even before that in his telling, though it's always hard to tell since sex is only alluded to, as it must), in contrast to Fontaine's character who is entirely devoted to her husband. Still, if you can get past that, it gets pretty fun, especially once George Sanders shows up as Rebecca's ex-lover trying to first blackmail then expose Max as a murderer. He's having a lot of fun with it, giving a lot of energy to scenes that could otherwise have been too... talky, for lack of a better word.

8/10

Glad you liked this, it's a personal favourite. Your review mentions some things that make me realize I absolutely need to revisit it.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 25, 2016, 11:09:46 PM
Andrey Rublyov (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966)

(http://i.imgur.com/Y69zRm5.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (starts around 15:00) (http://media.libsyn.com/media/cinecast/cinecast022406.mp3)

a.k.a. Tarkovsky's 8½ ?

I'm floored. I'll admit, when it became clear that the last episode was going to be about this guy trying to fake his way through building a church bell, I was a bit skeptical, but man, it really ties the film together (not unlike a certain rug).

But I'm skipping ahead already. This is ostensibly a biopic, but Tarkovsky clearly isn't as interested in Rublyov's life story as he is in bigger ideas (and using Rublyov, among others, as a surrogate for himself). Broadly speaking, you could say the film is about art, religion (or at least spirituality) and human nature... but that kind of amounts to say it's about life, the universe and everything. Which, sure, but it's a bit clearer and more specific than that.

The idea I find most interesting here is that ignorance is not only bliss, but also the path to a more fullfilling life both creatively and spiritually. The idea of ignorance being a blessing is briefly discussed early on (well, probably one hour in) between Rublyov and his mentor, but it really comes through later on, twice. The first time is when we see the deaf/simple girl being mocked by the Tatars. When Rublyov is confronted with humanity's propensity for evil, he falls from grace himself and commits a murder, but what does she do when those horrible men mock her ? She smiles and marvels at their clothes and plays with them, because she doesn't realize what they're doing. In a sense, she forgives them, which... what's more christian that that ? All of it because she's, well, simple. The second time obviously comes with the kid who pretends to know the secret to making church bells, and then proceeds to fake it 'till he makes it, and boy does he make it : he single-handedly restores our main character's faith in humanity and frees him of his decade long vow of silence, which results in that amazing final sequence.

I'm not actually sure what to make of the final sequence, for what it's worth. The switch to color and music makes me think we should be impressed, which I was at first because of the sheer momentum created by those two things but... let's just say I'm not a huge fan of Rublyov's work, and the more it goes on the more it seems like Tarkovsky is undercutting his own apparent optimism by showing the degradation of it all. I don't know, and I definitely have no idea what is up with that final shot of horses (probably connected to that horse falling down the stairs earlier on but I'm not sure what that was about either).

I really can't get over how great the last third is. Not that the first two weren't very good already, but watching a previously unknown character labor his way through crafting a church bell shouldn't be this captivating (and even thrilling by the end), yet Tarkovsky somehow makes it work.

Oh, and the cinematography is unsurprisingly remarkable, did I not mention that ? Well, now I did. That opening sequence where the man flees humanity and briefly gets to see earth as God, before it all literally comes crashing down alone... Oh, and a little bit of staging that I thought was pretty clever : at one point Rublyev talks straight into the camera without actually breaking the fourth wall, simply because the camera and the characters place themselves in a way that Rublyev just happens to find himself facing it while speaking to another character. Breaking the rule without actually breaking it, love it.

10/10

Up next : the first rewatch in this marathon (Solyaris). Loved it the first time around, and now I've got something to compare it to, so that'll be interesting, possibly.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Junior on February 25, 2016, 11:50:55 PM
This sounds great. I should get on it...
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 26, 2016, 06:37:35 PM
This sounds great. I should get on it...

You'll get an excuse for it in April then (my top 100 club month).

I'll do The Heartbreak Kid before Solyaris, since Adam & Josh got to it last episode.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on February 27, 2016, 01:10:46 PM
I was floored when I saw AR.  Tarkovsky impressed me, but he went for long, uneventful scenes.  But AR is perfect: insightful and powerful
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on March 01, 2016, 01:12:39 AM
Onto my watchlist seeing Teproc and I have identical taste.  ;D
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 01, 2016, 04:59:22 AM
Onto my watchlist seeing Teproc and I have identical taste.  ;D

Oh boy, I'm feeling the pressure now. It is 3 hours long, did I mention that ? Still, always glad to see that.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 02, 2016, 12:53:13 PM
The Heartbreak Kid (Elaine May, 1972)

(http://i.imgur.com/x9DNIVV.png)

Adam & Josh's take (http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/traffic.libsyn.com/cinecast/filmspot575_022616.mp3)

a.k.a. Elaine May's The Graduate.

I'll give you an idea of where I'm going by starting with this : I have a lot of respect for what May is doing here. A lot of what I'll say here was covered by Adam & Josh, but the way she takes on gender roles and especially male entitlement/self-delusion as relating to the American Dream (because why not ?) is impressive. And there's no question that she gets her points across very effectively and pointedly. Much more effectively than The Graduate, by the way, but I guess I'll get to that later since it is part of the New Hollywood marathon (it's mostly because the last shot of this fits with the whole film, as opposed to The Graduate's).

But I kinda hated the first two thirds. It's extremely cringey comedy, and I think Adam brings up a very good point when discussing the differences between this and A New Leaf : that was farce and black comedy, this is social satire and it's too real. Watching Lenny make a fool of himself and his wife was like nails on a chalkboard. Initially I thought it was Grodin's performance as opposed to someone like Matthau, but the last third proved me wrong. As soon as the divorce happens, I was able to enjoy the comedy a lot more, because the only person suffering here was Lenny (mostly). So those dinner scenes, and especially the confrontation with the father afterwards work very well : Eddie Alberts's incredulous delivery of "There is no deceit in the cauliflower ?" is absolutely priceless. Like Adam, I'm a little bothered by Kelly's turnaround on Lenny : the attraction I get, but at all times I expected her to randomly drop out, to mirror how he treated his wife. It seems to me like the wedding has to happen for the ending to work (and it does), but May & Simon never quite got Kelly there.

Really though, that first hour was harder to watch for me than the first part of A Clockwork Orange, and I think that is a significant failure : I never found Lenny remotely close to relatable, and might have just not watched all the way through if I hadn't planned to write a review. The last third is good, but not quite enough to completely redeem the whole experience for me.

5/10

P.S. : I thought Jeannie Berlin was Elaine May the whole time. I assumed she looked older in A New Leaf because of makeup or something.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 02, 2016, 12:36:44 PM
Solyaris (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972)

(http://i.imgur.com/dAf2hrH.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/1/4/e/14e29c6b31beb67e/cinecast022406.mp3?c_id=1303128&expiration=1459612518&hwt=4d226c1c78bdab3f899c3366aec27bd8)

You know, I really thought I would understand this better the second time around. It certainly didn't feel that way watching it, in part because I was wondering about the ending all the time... regardless, I still loved it.

Yes, it's slow, and long. Compared to Andrey Rublyov, it's also unfocused. But that feels appropriate : there's a reason the guy we follow in this space station is psychologist, not a physicist. The comparison to 2001 is inevitable, but despite their similarities (sci-fi, highly acclaimed director, late 60's-early 70's, thematically ambitious, extremely deliberate pacing), Solyaris is messy where 2001 is controlled through and through. I saw a review about Solyaris saying it would have you reaching for a razor, and... I guess I can see that but completely disagree. If anything I read it as an invitation to appreciate life in all its aspects, though I also have an "optimistic" reading of 2001, so maybe that's my personal tendencies showing more than anything else.

I can't exactly say I have a reading of Solyaris though. I keep coming back to the word "messy", but that's also because its ambitious : it's about love, grief, existential doubt, identity, truth, and of course the implications of "the Contact", as they call it... and I don't feel anything I can say about it would in any way be as satisfying as the experience of watching the film. Those first 40 minutes, which basically serve as an extended prologue, already feature some stuning imagery (see above) and conclude with a very long series of shots from the point of view of a car in traffic that is the epitome of Tarkovsky's style (from, you know, the grand total of thre films I've seen). It's long, and will seem utterly pointless and endlessly frustrating if you're not exactly on the film's wavelength. It's also my favorite sequence of the whole film, making you look at these banal landscapes as if you were, well, completely alien to it (see also : Under the Skin). There's also something which I took to be a mistake on first viewing, but seems too obvious to be unintentional : the use of sudden rain in what is very clearly a sunny day : almost as disconcerting as the rain inside the house at the end, and again making the familiar seem bizarre.

There's a similar scene much later, though much less extreme, where we are just looking at a painting along with a character (literally, since the camera focuses on one specific part of it at a time), which I might call a vacuous attempt at profundity 9 times out of 10, but here it works. Part of it might be that Tarkovsky is not exactly afraid to have his characters actually talk about those themes, yet another technique that can often backfire pretty spectacularily, but works well here : Snaut's birthday party being the main example, especially the points Snaut makes about humans being more interested in infinitely expanding Earth than actually exploring the universe, something that obviously applies to discrete humans as well.

I guess I'll end with my one petty complaint, which is the sound mixing of dialogue, which is just a step above Italian-style dubbing (better synchronized, but still sounds wrong). It works well enough in the first fourty minutes which are meant to feel "off" anyway I think, but detracts a bit from the "sense of dread" Sam was talking about once on the station, because it prevents the kind of complete immersion needed for that.

9/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on April 02, 2016, 04:13:27 PM
Solyaris:  No matter how great our technology, no matter how far we go into space, no matter what alien races we encounter, in the end it is the space between our ears that creates our environment.

This is why Tarkovsky wanted to answer 2001.  Kubrick and Clarke created a world in which higher life forms and the power of technology and the depth of space changes humanity.  Tarkovsky says no, it is our minds that will change space.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: verbALs on April 02, 2016, 04:24:51 PM
The Space Baby is a creature of the mind.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 02, 2016, 04:34:28 PM
Yeah, I don't think you're being entirely fair to 2001 oldkid, but Solyaris is certainly more interesting in actually exploring the human psyche on a personal level, whereas 2001 stays more theoretical.

Much more succint than I was though, I gotta work on that.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on April 02, 2016, 04:52:57 PM
I think 2001 is a better film than Solyaris, but I think they are intellectually equal.  I am just exploring what I think Tarkovsky was getting at when he said that he felt that 2001 was "cold and sterile" and that he made Solyaris as a response to it.

And the "Space Baby" is the next evolution of humanity, as created by a higher alien life form, according to Clarke who co-wrote the movie.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 02, 2016, 04:58:48 PM
Huh, I didn't know it was a specific response to it. Obviously I figured it was on his mind but that's interesting, given that the big thing in 2001 is humanity's relation to technology, something that isn't really present in Solyaris. I guess that was your (and his) point, now that I think about it.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on April 02, 2016, 05:03:48 PM
And see, now that I"m thinking about it, I want to compare a number of scenes to 2001.  The long driving scene, where we see a bunch of ugly freeways.  Perhaps not very cinematic, but if they are compared to Kubrick's majestic long takes of spacecraft, we are forced to look at reality instead of some science fiction fantasy, dreamed up by a architect, not someone who lives in a real world.  Solyaris is dirty, complex and sometimes gross, while 2001's space is prestine and just too neat.

Again, I prefer 2001's vision and it is certainly more cinematic.  But I wonder if Solyaris says more about human nature.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 02, 2016, 05:10:27 PM
Oh yeah, I forgot to talk about that, but Solyaris feels very much like a stepping stone between 2001 and Star Wars in terms of how the space station looks. It still has that white, pristine aspect to it, but like it's... out of order. Not quite the "used" look Star Wars would impose (unless it's earlier ?), but somewhere in between.

I think they're both extremely cinematic and visually arresting, though in different ways. 2001 is a lot more focused and purposeful, but then it has that second part which really brings it down for me (aside from its very last moments). I'd give the edge to Solyaris overall I think.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on April 02, 2016, 05:14:05 PM
My recently-found love of 2001 probably has something to do with that I finally saw it in 70MM.  What a stunning experience.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: verbALs on April 03, 2016, 05:13:12 AM
And see, now that I"m thinking about it, I want to compare a number of scenes to 2001.  The long driving scene, where we see a bunch of ugly freeways.  Perhaps not very cinematic, but if they are compared to Kubrick's majestic long takes of spacecraft, we are forced to look at reality instead of some science fiction fantasy, dreamed up by a architect, not someone who lives in a real world.  Solyaris is dirty, complex and sometimes gross, while 2001's space is prestine and just too neat.

How do you feel then about the transition from the blood stained bone, a tool used to kill, that becomes the space station. In space, things don't get dusty.  ;D They get a little pitted but not dirty.  ;D

The next move from the absolute pristine nature of technology as represented first by the spacecraft and then HAL, breaks down doesn't it? HAL goes a little malfunction-y. Why? Dunno. Something to do with the monolith and going out to meet it. HAL the great intelligence seems to know something the humans don't. Tries killing them when the try pulling the plug. The former purity of man's tools with HAL as the end of the evolutionary road, which breaks apart in the face of something that appears not to be physical at all. Hence my interjection. We are given tools by the aliens at the start, we progress, the aliens come back at the point we can find their signpost on the Moon, and try to move us on to the next Mental stage of evolution. And a machine tries to stop it because it understands that it is about to become redundant. Beautiful. And scary. Kubrick shows us we are a bunch of monkeys with our strings being pulled by superior beings. I got no strings? Pinnochio? AI? AI as a misstep instead of developing our own thinking systems. Relying on machines to our eventual demise? Film is catching up with Kubrick 40 years later. Repeating his message in less elegant ways. Stanislav Lem similarly looking at a planet that seems to be thinking. Yes I agree. Technology might be a dead end. The alternative isn't so much spiritual but it could be looked at as spiritual. I'm sure you like that answer Steve. Spirituality might simply be an expression of mental capacities we haven't touched properly yet. Brains that are magnetic fields and magnetic fields can influence other fields. Tosh. Nonsense. Maybe.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 06, 2016, 09:18:02 AM
Mikey and Nicky (Elaine May, 1976)

(http://i.imgur.com/PuUWRWb.png)

Adam & Josh's take (starts at 1:14:03) (http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/traffic.libsyn.com/cinecast/filmspot577_031816.mp3)

a.k.a. Elaine May's Mean Streets ?

It's hard for me to define exactly why I didn't like this much, because listening to the podcast... I agree with most of what Adam and Josh are saying. The central relationship here is interesting enough, but ends up showing me that both of those characters are hypocrites who deserve each other and not much else.

If we're going to watch unlikable characters in uncomfortable, something more is needed (at least by me), and there's not much going on visually here, aside from the scene Josh pointed out, which is by far the most notable scene in the film... though it also brings up to a somewhat surprising problem : the female characters in this film are underwritten and seem to hate or love the characters based on whatever the script needs them to think more than anything else.

All that being said... I can't say I really disliked the film either. Peter Falk is great, and Cassavetes is pretty good too, and that relationship is complex and feels lived-in. It is also occasionally funny, though the "incapable hitman" bit isn't particularly cleverly done here.

5/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 11, 2016, 02:14:54 PM
Tôkyô monogatari / Tokyo Story (Yasujirô Ozu, 1953)

(http://i.imgur.com/fKr6coT.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3?http://media.libsyn.com/media/cinecast/cinecast030306.mp3)

(spoilery)

Trying to describe this film, I keep going back to it sounding like a sociological treatise. Which sounds awful, I know. It's not though... not the most entertaining film of all time certainly, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it boring either : it's a slice-of-life family drama. On that level, it has a simple structure : grand-parents are visiting their relatives in the big city (or its suburbs, as they find out), have various interactions with various people, go home and then a death brings everyone together, however shortly.

The way Ozu establishes everyone's relationship with each other is simple, elegant, letting the spectator work things out, for the most part. Everyone is polite, and half of the conversations consist of people apologizing to each other : a clear sign of people who have a strong bond but are a bit uncomfortable with each other nonetheless. That discomfort comes from the very simple (that word again) idea of modernity : as post-war Japan shed its traditional imperial society away, individualism develops and the family unit is shaken by that. See what I meant with the sociological treatise thing ? Maybe this is a sign I should get back to the characters, so let's do that : most characters here are muti-faceted, especially the women... and the strange thing is : you barely notice the character development as its happening. One second they're talking about going in the city, then they're drinking some sake, and without you even noticing it, you feel as if you know these people.

One character stands out though, and that's Noriko (Setsuko Hara). As much as they are complex characters, the grandparents represent traditional, rural Japan, while the middle-aged generation is more or less your diea of what Reconstruction-Era Japanese people living in Tokyo would be like. Noriko can't actually be that much younger than them I suppose (since she was married to the brother), but she feels like she's from another generation entirely, specifically in the way she treats the grandmother. She can understand her in a way her daughter can't because she didn't grow up with her and doesn't have that history behind her... and (as seen above), throughout the film, she has this fake smile plastered on her face. Everyone has it to a degree, but she seems to be smiling to an almost pathological level, which leads up to her (relative) breakdown at the end, where she reveals the crushing guilt she feels. That's why she feels like someone from another generation : it's clear from what the grandfather says in the bar (great, great performance by the way, my favorite in the film, even ahead of Hara) that the older generation's relationship to individualism is troubled in another way : encouraging it but having trouble dealing with its consequences. Noriko lives in that world, but she has a hard time coping with how much that clashes with the simple idea of family.

A last note : having recently lost two of my grandparents (well, in the past two years), everything around the grandmother's death rang very, very true. Everyone coming together and leaving just as quickly as they came, the difficulty of reconciling people who were very close to the deceased with those who lived much farther away, the recalling of funny stories to lighten the mood, it felt all incredibly naturalistic, no small feat for a film thousands of kilometers and half-a-century away.

8/10 (should possibly be more, I'll have to re-evaluate)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 11, 2016, 08:29:28 PM
Nice catch on the sociological perspective. It's a great movie about a transition that is very subtle about that theme. It remains foremost a family story.

First Ozu ?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on April 11, 2016, 11:00:18 PM
Beautiful review, Teproc
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 12, 2016, 01:35:45 AM
Nice catch on the sociological perspective. It's a great movie about a transition that is very subtle about that theme. It remains foremost a family story.

First Ozu ?

Yes. From what I understand they're all more or less in the same vein ? I'm now realising I didn't adress the whole "fixed camera on floor level" thing... because all I can say is it probably helps us get a sense of the houses they live in, we're closer to them because we see their whole bodies maybe ? I'm not sure.

Beautiful review, Teproc

Thanks. :)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 12, 2016, 01:54:19 AM
Nice catch on the sociological perspective. It's a great movie about a transition that is very subtle about that theme. It remains foremost a family story.

First Ozu ?

Yes. From what I understand they're all more or less in the same vein ? I'm now realising I didn't adress the whole "fixed camera on floor level" thing... because all I can say is it probably helps us get a sense of the houses they live in, we're closer to them because we see their whole bodies maybe ? I'm not sure.

He uses that technique in a number of movies. That is one of the reasons why, I am sure. And when they get up, it creates a distance... Much to be said about that camera.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 14, 2016, 04:18:17 PM
Ishtar (Elaine May, 1987)

(http://i.imgur.com/tPWw98K.jpg)

Adam & Josh's take (starts at 1:09:56) (http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/traffic.libsyn.com/cinecast/filmspot580_040816.mp3)

Well, I agree with virtually everything Adam & Josh have to say, so why am I here ? This is very silly, and very funny. Hoffman is great, he and Beatty work very well together, and this is May's most witty film visually : the scene Adam points out where the cop trying to rescue Hoffman is just left dangling there is very funny. Blind Camel ? Funny. Beatty taking offense to the vulture thinking he might be dead and saying "Come on, I'm moving here" ? Hilarious. But most of all, the music here is pretty amazing. It's awful, but not excruciating to listen to, hitting just the right balance so you can actually be amused by it rather than horrified.

The only disagreement I have really is with the idea that the film gets weaker when they get to Morocco. The first 40 minutes are very good at establishing the relationship between the two, but the weird flashback/flashforward structure is, well, weird. Also, to come back to that visual wit I was talking about, the best scene in the film is in Morocco, when Hoffmann tries to follow Beatty in the street and all the people around (on foot or in cars) start following him too... it's a very simple joke, but hey, as long as it's funny right ? Same goes for the whole bit in the bazar with the Arabs dressing as tourists and the KGB dressing up as Arabs, and the guys in the Hawaiian shirts... no, those are just tourists. Charles Grodin is pretty great as the CIA agent here.

Now it does falter a bit once we get in the desert (the translator scene is pretty bad), and it is very silly (the politics are very basic stuff, nothing awful but I wouldn't say it qualifies as satire)... but it's easily May's funniest movie, so who cares ?

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: 1SO on April 14, 2016, 04:33:28 PM
Now it does falter a bit once we get in the desert (the translator scene is pretty bad), and it is very silly (the politics are very basic stuff, nothing awful but I wouldn't say it qualifies as satire)... but it's easily May's funniest movie, so who cares ?

When you say "funniest movie", do you think it's crowd-pleasingly funny or broadly funny in a good way? May's humor is so tied to people squirming that it tends to reduce the amount of out loud laughter, even though that's when she's at her most brilliant. So "funniest movie" could be also seen as a knock saying that it doesn't have the uncomfortable edge of her other films.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 14, 2016, 04:37:10 PM
Now it does falter a bit once we get in the desert (the translator scene is pretty bad), and it is very silly (the politics are very basic stuff, nothing awful but I wouldn't say it qualifies as satire)... but it's easily May's funniest movie, so who cares ?

When you say "funniest movie", do you think it's crowd-pleasingly funny or broadly funny in a good way? May's humor is so tied to people squirming that it tends to reduce the amount of out loud laughter, even though that's when she's at her most brilliant. So "funniest movie" could be also seen as a knock saying that it doesn't have the uncomfortable edge of her other films.

Well there is more broad, slapstick humour here than anywhere else, but the songs are definitely cringeworthy and uncomfortable. It has a much softer edge here though, which is probably why I liked it much more than, say, The Heartbreak Kid which is fully commited to making you squirm in a way that alienated me too much to be able to enjoy. I would say it's hard to call Ishtar "brilliant", it's her slightest effort by far... but that's not necessarily a bad thing, for me at least.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 14, 2016, 05:37:06 PM
The Blind Camels (Elaine May Awards)

Same order as the podcast (http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/traffic.libsyn.com/cinecast/mayawards_041316.mp3).

Best Supporting Performance : Eddie Albert (The Heartbreak Kid)

(http://i.imgur.com/FSHD3gu.jpg)

Best Lead Performance : Walter Matthau (A New Leaf)

(http://i.imgur.com/0viKtp3.jpg)

Best Duo : Chuck and Lyle (Ishtar)

(http://i.imgur.com/fuLZdcK.jpg)

Cringe-worthiest scene : any given scene in The Heartbreak Kid (this one is far from the worst but it was available)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kI5tVrv8FG4

Funniest moment : the aforementioned "tailing" scene in Ishtar (couldn't find a clip)

(http://media.agonybooth.com/images/articles/Ishtar_1987/Part_3/ishtar1987part3.0105.jpg)

Best Picture : Ishtar

(http://i.imgur.com/nNKdK1S.jpg)

Summary/ranking

Ishtar
A New Leaf
The Heartbreak Kid
Mikey and Nicky
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on April 15, 2016, 09:33:55 AM
Good work mate, better luck with the next set.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 16, 2016, 11:20:03 AM
Ukikusa / Floating Weeds (Yasujirô Ozu, 1959)

(http://i.imgur.com/qS3a5xo.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3?http://media.libsyn.com/media/cinecast/cinecast031006.mp3)

Ukikusa, with its plot centered around a troop of kabuki actors coming in a small town, is a much livelier film than Tôkyô monogatari. There's a hidden son and a spurned lover, young romance, and the plays themselves of course. All of which lets Ozu explore various themes : modernity vs tradition (the kabuki actors themselves being part of an already anachronistic institution), generation clashes, but most of all the weight of class society on the individual.

Sounds good, right ? Well... I can't say I found it that engaging, and that's because of the characters. In Tôkyô monogatari, Ozu patiently builds them through small scenes of everyday interaction and let that (character) be the guide to his exploration of modernity in post-war Japan. Here, it's the reverse : the dramatic situations might be more exciting, but they also feel forced, something that clashes with Ozu's style I think. The romance between the two young characters for example : it evolves from simple attraction to " let's run off together" entirely off-screen, simply because that creates the situation necessary for the key scene which brings all of those different streams. Frequently, I felt like I wasn't watching characters interacting, but avatars of the various ideological conflicts running through the film. That can work, but I don't think it does here.

That's not to say it completely fails, as those ideas are interesting enough, and there are a few standout scenes, like the fight between the father/uncle and his lover under the rain. The use of trains, those ultimate symbols of modern life, is also neat : we hear them pass at various points throughout the film, and the end features characters leaving in one, in the night. I just felt distanced from it all though.

5/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 16, 2016, 01:40:39 PM
The Andys (Overlooked Auteurs Awards)

Same order and categories as in the podcast (starts at 17:19) (http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3?http://media.libsyn.com/media/cinecast/cinecast031706.mp3)

Best Screenplay : Andrey Rublyov

(http://i.imgur.com/nusTmUC.png)

Best Cinematography : Andrey Rublyov

(http://i.imgur.com/2UIZLxc.png)

Best Actor : Donatas Banionis (Solyaris)

(http://i.imgur.com/n6a1Q4Z.jpg)

Best Actress : Setsuko Hara (Tôkyô monogatari)

(http://i.imgur.com/tndrIxt.jpg)

Best Ensemble : Tôkyô monogatari

(http://i.imgur.com/n9t2pXD.jpg)

Best Picture : Andrey Rublyov

(http://i.imgur.com/Fb8kfbi.png)

Summary/Ranking :

Andrey Rublyov (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966)
Solyaris (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972)
Tôkyô monogatari (Yasujirô Ozu, 1953)
Ukikusa (Yasujirô Ozu, 1959)
Shock Corridor (Samuel Fuller, 1963)
The Big Red One (Samuel Fuller, 1980)


If only I had liked Tôkyô monogatari a little less, I could have had the full spectrum...
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sandy on April 16, 2016, 02:19:19 PM
Best Actress : Setsuko Hara (Tôkyô monogatari)

Couldn't be awarded to a sweeter soul.

She may be the most lovely, pure presence I've seen on film.


Loving this marathon and your awards, Teproc (You're helping motivate me to get to Andrey Rublyov.).
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 16, 2016, 02:22:24 PM
Best Actress : Setsuko Hara (Tôkyô monogatari)

Couldn't be awarded to a sweeter soul.

She may be the most lovely, pure presence I've seen on film.


Loving this marathon and your awards, Teproc (You're helping motivate me to get to Andrey Rublyov.).

Thanks (and thanks chardy too while I'm at it). Andrey Rublyov is scary but a very rewarding watch.

By the way, coming up next : Musicals ! Should be fun to watch and hard to write about  ;D
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sandy on April 16, 2016, 02:38:45 PM
:)

hurray!
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 16, 2016, 09:04:15 PM
How is Ozu an overlook auteur ? Did they mean overlooked by them ? He is regarded as a major Japanese master. Same thing for Tarkovsky.

Clearly I liked floating Weeds much more than you but don't think I could tell ou why.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: MartinTeller on April 16, 2016, 11:15:22 PM
Yes, I'm pretty sure they meant overlooked by themselves.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 21, 2016, 11:44:58 AM
Yankee Doodle Dandy (Michael Curtiz, 1942)

(http://i.imgur.com/lTfmlHj.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/6/8/8/688e331ca728af15/cinecast031706.mp3?c_id=1303132&expiration=1461239435&hwt=f98e2a5dfae143b5b89a89e821a5e959)

"Oh, I'm an ordinary guy who knows what ordinary guys like to see."

Going into this blind, the film I found myself thinking about a lot watching this was, weirdly enough, Barton Fink. Perhaps more than any other art form, cinema has a strange relationship with its public. It's one of the most popular art forms and, like Barton Fink, it seeks to cultivate that closeness but, well, people making movies are still artists, with all the remove that implies from "ordinary guys". All of which is a long-winded way of saying that a patriotic war-time film about a populist flag-waving entertainer trying to achieve success on Broadway seemed like it would be fertile ground for reflecting on that relationship, and to a degree it is... my favorite scene here is the "Mary" song (as sung by Mary), which clearly adresses some of those issues and is really the only song that stands out in the whole film as being more than just, well, populist entertainment. This particular song is then given by Cohan to an established Broadway actress, and I thought the film (about 45 minutes in I think) was getting to its point, with the conflict boiling up between the need for "honest" roots as well as artistic recognition... and to my surprise, it completely ignores the issue when Mary doesn't mind. "Weird", I thought...

And then it turned out to be a biopic. Ah, that explains it.

I didn't recognize the name "George Cohan", but I sure did know "Over There", a song you wouldn't attribute to a fictional character our of nowehere, and from then it became pretty clear that I was expecting too much from this. We're not meant to feel ambiguous about Cohan : he's an all-American hero, standing for all that's true and beautiful about the home of the brave and land of the free. Patriotism is awesome, don't listen to the snotty high society turning up their nose at populism and please do enlist.

That doesn't mean Yankee Doodle Dandy isn't fun to watch, it very much is. James Cagney, while he clearly cannot sing, is extremely charismatic and watching him tapdance his way into success is certainly enjoyable. The moment (which Adam & Sam also single out) at the end of the film, where he starts dancing in the stairs after being awarded his medal, is a nice summation of his performance : spontaneous and extremely charming. I'm a little disappointed the film didn't turn out to be particularly interested in the tension inherent to a man rising up to fame being called "the Yankee Doodle Boy" ? Yes I am. But, largely thanks to Cagney, it's pretty good at being a straight biopic, so that's alright.

6/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: 1SO on April 21, 2016, 02:09:05 PM
Seems to me there's a yardstick on how to view American patriotism. On one extreme end, there's the Team America approach, only without the irony. On the other is an America full of shame and unhealing conflict for some of the decisions made. (You can start with slavery, but you certainly don't end with it.) From what I read, the film doesn't go all the way to the first extreme, which is an achievement considering the songs and subject. However, you wish it went a little more towards the other side, at least tackling some greater moral conflict.

People like to point out the film started filming on the day Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, so making the film star spangled awesome is a reflection of the needs of the time. I have a different take, which doesn't require backstory. The film gets away with it's proud patriotism because it's just as much a tribute to the American theater, in all its forms. Both low and high art. George M. Cohan was a Captain America of the stage. Not the best or the brightest, but he had a big heart and was always trying to provide what he thought the people needed.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 21, 2016, 05:08:08 PM
Seems to me there's a yardstick on how to view American patriotism. On one extreme end, there's the Team America approach, only without the irony. On the other is an America full of shame and unhealing conflict for some of the decisions made. (You can start with slavery, but you certainly don't end with it.) From what I read, the film doesn't go all the way to the first extreme, which is an achievement considering the songs and subject. However, you wish it went a little more towards the other side, at least tackling some greater moral conflict.

People like to point out the film started filming on the day Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, so making the film star spangled awesome is a reflection of the needs of the time. I have a different take, which doesn't require backstory. The film gets away with it's proud patriotism because it's just as much a tribute to the American theater, in all its forms. Both low and high art. George M. Cohan was a Captain America of the stage. Not the best or the brightest, but he had a big heart and was always trying to provide what he thought the people needed.

I don't really mind that it ends up being a clearly patriotic film : as you point out there's basically no better time in history for that as far as America is concerned. But that scene where Cohan comes home to confess a pretty heavy betrayal to Mary, and she shrugs it off... it's such a wasted opportunity, isn't it ? There's clearly an awareness in the film that this is not the kind of artist that gets celebrated, and it deals with that to an extent, but it stops short about halfway through to segue into hagiography, that's what bothers me, much more than overly patriotic scenes : the last scene, in which Cohan walks among soldiers singing "Over There" works very well for example.

You are right about it being a love letter to theater, especially to itinerant theater, with its portrayal of the Four Cohans. They're lovable but not perfect. Really I feel like the first half of the film has a nuance in its approach to the characters, a nuance it loses in the second half.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: 1SO on April 21, 2016, 05:46:50 PM
I feel like the first half of the film has a nuance in its approach to the characters, a nuance it loses in the second half.
I can see that. It doesn't bother me, but I see it.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 23, 2016, 02:36:17 PM
Swing Time (George Stevens, 1936)

(http://i.imgur.com/jowYa37.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3?http://media.libsyn.com/media/cinecast/cinecast032406.mp3)

So... can a film with (mostly) terrible acting, an incredibly contrived plot, unlikable characters, (mostly) painful attempts at comedy and a typical 1930's romance ("We hate each other ! Oh, wait, now we love each other !") be redeemed by one (and a half) great song-and-dance number ?

No. No it cannot.

Let's get to those exceptions then. Ginger Rogers is great here, and unlike Astaire, she acts as well as she dances. That is to say, she does what she can with what she is given, which is limited to hating or loving him. The first time they dance together, the film suddenly seems to be alive... which, after half an hour of painful, painful comedy, is a relief. Unfortunately, most of the musical numbers here don't manage to recreate that magic before the very last one. For a film called "Swing time", it sure doesn't swing much... 1936 means Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington were around back then right ? The music frankly feels outdated by those standards. Astaire and Rogers... I expected their chemistry to be something else entirely, but Astaire's complete inability to do anything else than smirk (well, that and dancing obviously) makes all of Rogers' efforts utterly wasted. "Never Gonna Dance" is really, really good... but that's just not enough.

I suppose the comedy is where one could potentially enjoy this film, but I don't see what's so funny about putting cuffs on pants that it has to take up what seems like 10 minutes of running time. Oh, and did I mention the blackface ? Not only is there a musical number performed by Astaire in blackface, it's also incredibly long and... just not very good ? Maybe I was just completely out of the film at that point, but then again "Never Gonna Dance" did manage to get me back in for a few minutes at the end.

3/10

Has Ginger Rogers done anything without Astaire ? That sounds like it'd be more watchable.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Junior on April 23, 2016, 02:42:19 PM
Oof, I'm sorry it didn't work for you. To answer some of your questions, yes, I did find most of the humor to be pretty funny. And I thought that the chemistry was there, certainly in the dancers but even beyond that into their interactions the rest of the time. I'll admit to being pretty bored by the rote plot, but the singing and dancing cures many wounds. Even the blackface one, which is superb outside of the whole racism thing.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: 1SO on April 23, 2016, 02:55:49 PM
Has Ginger Rogers done anything without Astaire ? That sounds like it'd be more watchable.

Ginger Rogers has been in 73 features and I've seen 37 of them. These are the best without Astaire...
Stage Door is a beautiful classic with Rogers trading barbs with Katharine Hepburn. A lot of familiar faces from the era fill out the cast.
The Major and the Minor is from Billy Wilder and pairs Rogers with Ray Milland.
Monkey Business is from Howard Hawks and she co-stars with Cary Grant. She lets Grant and Marilyn Monroe run with it for a while before coming in to outshine them both.
Star of Midnight is a Thin Man-esque Detective comedy with William Powell


I've also seen all but 3 of Astaire's features. He's a limited actor - though he gets better by his later films - and it never bothered me because he's very charming and the greatest dancer in all of cinema. (Sorry, Gene Kelly.)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 23, 2016, 04:30:20 PM
Oof, I'm sorry it didn't work for you. To answer some of your questions, yes, I did find most of the humor to be pretty funny. And I thought that the chemistry was there, certainly in the dancers but even beyond that into their interactions the rest of the time. I'll admit to being pretty bored by the rote plot, but the singing and dancing cures many wounds. Even the blackface one, which is superb outside of the whole racism thing.

See, there's my problem : I don't even really find him charismatic. He's a good dancer, sure, but I think I liked Cagney's tapdancing in Yankee Doodle Dandy more. I'm sure Astaire is better, but that blackface number, aside from... you know, that, is typically something where I can see that this is impressive but I don't care for it. It's only when he's in harmony with Rogers that I get into it. In that sense there is chemistry between them of course, just not outside of those specific dancing scenes (even the songs like "A Fine Romance").

@1SO : Monkey Business sounds fun, I'll try and get to that one... at some point.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 28, 2016, 12:58:43 PM
An American in Paris (Vincente Minnelli, 1951)

(http://i.imgur.com/dRjmHJH.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/5/5/d/55d3ca838c9cb539/cinecast040706.mp3?c_id=1303137&expiration=1461861661&hwt=e093f194f56be39a9d52c847b3c4b02c)

Pretty Good.

I'm tempted to leave it at that, but that wouldn't be quite fair to the film, which does strive for greatness at times. Those last 15 minutes of course, but there are other rather inspired scenes : Lisa's introduction, Adam's concert fantasy... actually those are all dream sequences, huh. I don't know, but it just doesn't quite get there though. The concert is an excellent example of this : all the time I was thinking "this is pretty good and a clever concept, if only the music was something on the level of Rhapsody in Blue...", and I was thinking the exact same thing during the final sequence. It's impressive, it's even brilliant at times, but it's so long and just doesn't manage to keep up the level of intensity it need to have in order to work as this grand finale. Maybe I'm being harsh on that sequence, maybe the reason it doesn't quite elevate the film is that it's on a completely different level than the rest of it : it's grand and spectacular, something that the central romance really isn't.

Again, it's not that the romance in question doesn't work : Gene Kelly does his best but Leslie Caron is never more than a pretty face (and great dancer, again her dancing intro is by far her best moment)... something that seems to be intended, but makes it pretty hard to buy into the grandiosity of the final number : it tells the story of an incredible love story, but it's all in Gene Kellys head, and not just because it's a dream sequence.

Gene Kelly... he defies the idea that charm must be effortless, because man does he try hard. Too hard sometimes, but still, that "I got rythm" number early on is so, so delightful. Completely won me over and let me overlook his excessive mugging later on. It also has some spoken French, which... yeah, this film has French characters speaking to each other in English for no discernable reason. Le sigh. Everything involving Georges Guétary is pretty painful : guy despises Broadway but has a musical number with flashing lights (in English no less), except for the Strauss thing, that was fun.

It all sounds like I didn't like it : I really did though ! It's an enjoyable ride, and the musical numbers are all pretty fun, the jokes actually land (Oscar Levant as Adam Cook has pretty great timing) and Gene Kelly really is charming... it just doesn't quite get further than that for me.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on April 28, 2016, 02:18:03 PM
(psst... wanna post this in the Musical Marathon, too?)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Junior on April 28, 2016, 02:28:09 PM
This movie is in my Top 100 because of the last 15 and "I Got Rhythm." The rest worked better for me than for you, but those two sequences are unqualified masterpieces in my estimation. I want to revisit this one this May, so maybe I'll remember to respond to those faults you bring up more clearly.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 28, 2016, 03:58:55 PM
This movie is in my Top 100 because of the last 15 and "I Got Rhythm." The rest worked better for me than for you, but those two sequences are unqualified masterpieces in my estimation. I want to revisit this one this May, so maybe I'll remember to respond to those faults you bring up more clearly.

I'll agree with you on "I Got Rythm". The last 15 minutes... as it started I was thinking "Oh yes, this is what's going to tie it all together and bring this film to another level", but, while it has its moments (mostly when Kelly and Caron dance together and to a lesser extent the Toulouse-Lautrec part), it doesn't quite do it. It's good though, and I definitely get how it could make it something special for you (or anyone).

(psst... wanna post this in the Musical Marathon, too?)

Sure. I'll do it for the next ones too then I suppose, I just didn't want to pollute people's feeds with double posting, but maybe I'm in the minority in browsing this forum through "recent unread topics".
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 28, 2016, 08:32:59 PM
I will read that review when I watch the movie, maybe later in the month.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on May 01, 2016, 06:50:42 AM
West Side Story (Jerome Robbins & Robert Wise, 1961)

(http://i.imgur.com/jJEgpLF.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/7/4/f/74fb67804e84f69f/cinecast041406.mp3?c_id=1303139&expiration=1462051792&hwt=ff455a4f5fb63c370c9c2a812a69c80c)

That's more like it ! Basically agree with Adam on everything here (except on "Gee, Officer Krumpke"). Right from the start, West Side Story distinguishes itself within this marathon. First those overhead shots of New York : a simple idea, but one that still stands out and adds a certain sense of scope, which is appropriate given the story's Shakesperean origins. What follows is a ten-minute opening scene with virtually no dialogue, introducing us to the neighborhood and its two rival gangs.  There is an incredible deftness to it, in the way it uses dance as storytelling, that blows anything in this marathon so far out of the water, likely because of its origins as a Broadway play. The group numbers are uniformly great (though "Cool" seems a bit tacked on and doesn't flow that well in the narrative), especially "America" of course, which adds a wittiness to the technical marvel, and a willingness to somewhat confront the ideals and disillusions of immigration in post-War America.

I've seen here and there that the lead couple is generally considered tobe the weakest part of the show. I can't say I really agree... I won't argue against the greatness of Rita Moreno and George Chakiris as Anita and Bernardo, but Sandy Natalie Wood is at least on the same level. She brings such warmth and playfulness to Mariah, especially in "I Feel Pretty", both of which mesh very well with Richard Beymer's admittedly bland seriousness. The truth is, this is the first romance in this marathon I felt truly on board with : from the great "love at first sight" point of view shots (in which they see each other in the middle of the dancing hall crowd, with everything else on the screen suddenly becoming blurry) to "Somewhere", I was rooting for them all the way and wondering how far the Romeo and Juliet inspiration would take the story.

Not quite all the way as it turns out, though still a bittersweet ending at best, and a very effective one at that, again thanks to Natalie Wood. Her speech there certainly falls on the heavy-handed side of things, but fits both theheightened situation and the ridiculousness of it all as well : the Jets don't seem to be a "gang" as much as group of rowdy kids (see : "Gee, Officer Krumpke", which I think Adam completely misreads as them blaming their upbringing but actually is about them rejecting the excuses adults make for them). As such, Maria's scolding struck me as appropriate : they're kids who have gone wrong, basically.

Yes, it's melodramatic, and yes some characters turn around very quickly at times (Anita deciding to help Tony after he murdered her lover goes by a bit quickly), but it has enough energy, humour and genuine willingness to go somewhat dark at times (Anita's almost-rape by the Jets is... striking to say the least) to make up for it.

9/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sandy on May 02, 2016, 09:53:53 AM
Teproc!

You beautiful, beautiful man. :) Such a lovely tribute. I don't want to detract from your review, so just want to say, yes, all of it! I too was rooting for them all the way!! Natalie Wood convinced me so much, that at the end, I was sobbing (I think it's only happened one other time to that level for Taps. (You can't kill Timothy Hutton, you just can't!).
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on May 12, 2016, 06:11:27 AM
Les parapluies de Cherbourg (Jacques Demy, 1964)

(http://a397.idata.over-blog.com/1/86/00/16/mars-2013/Parapluies3.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://media.libsyn.com/media/cinecast/cinecast042106.mp3)

Jacques Demy's approach to musicals is unique if nothing else : having characters sing at all times, to the point that the film feels (as Sam pointed out) like a continuous song more than a story interspered with numbers. There's really no huge musical hook : the main love theme is recognizable enough as are some of the lyrics sung by Deneuve, but Demy isn't going for anything as big and spectacular as the last 15 minutes of An American in Paris for example. Really his films are sort of an antithesis to American musicals : they go small rather than epic, have characters singing about the most boring and ordinary things in life and are completely melodramatic, with an emphasis on the dramatic. Colorful, yes, but joyful ? Not so much.

And I hate it, so much. All of it. This is my second Demy (first being Une chambre en ville), and almost certainly the last, because... why ? It's theoretically interesting to use musicals in such a counterintuitive manner, juxtaposing the trivial with the lyrical, but in practice I find it excruciatingly, unrelentingly boring. It doesn't help that his characters are as vapid as they can be : yes that's at least partly the point (youthful romance fading in a materialistic world) but that doesn't make it any more engaging to me. The only thing that kept me even vaguely interested here was ses Catherine Deneuve because, well, she's Catherine Deneuve... but her mere presence does not a film make. Her acting is limited by the fact that, you know, she's not actually speaking any lines.

Perhaps it's just that I don't care for the music. The female singers have those shrill voices that were in vogue at he time and I simply can't stand, and the music is dripping with schmaltz... which is appropriate to the story I suppose, but too much for me. I do like the jazzy touches here and there, they almost make the central conceit work : jazz being improvisational in nature, the half-spoken half-sung dialogue is less jarring when accompanied by it.

I'll admit that the very last scene is wonderful. Had I even slightly cared about these characters, it might have been amazing. Even as disinterested as I was, I couldn't help but admire it at the very least.

2/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on May 16, 2016, 04:09:15 PM
Cabaret (Bob Fosse, 1972)

(http://www.alphavillejournal.com/Issue7/Issue7ImagesArticles/7FifeDonaldsonImage1.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (in which we discover which side Sam would have been on in Weimar Germany) (http://ec.libsyn.com/p/2/5/c/25c3db8282f4753c/cinecast042806.mp3?d13a76d516d9dec20c3d276ce028ed5089ab1ce3dae902ea1d06ce8433d2ca5582a2&c_id=1303146)

Cabaret has a pretty unique structure, as far as this marathon goes anyway. It really feels like two films : one is a narrative romantic dramedy, the other is a series of musical performances. Of course they are related : the musical numbers are always commenting on what's happening in the story, but the divide is clear, especially because one half is just on a completely different level. As far as I'm concerned, you could completely cut any scene taking place out of the Kit Kat Club and the film would vastly improve. It's not that the rest is bad, mind you, and perhaps/probably those numbers wouldn't have the same impact without it... but any time the film foregoes the music for too long, it completely loses steam. Everything about the numbers is perfect : the direction, the editing, the performances (Joel Grey deserves that Oscar all the way, who cares about Robert Duvall) and of course the music and lyrics. If I were to judge the film solely on how it opens and closes, I would simply deem it a masterpiece : you could just watch those two scenes and you'd have everything you needed right there, from Liza Minnelli  to the joyful debauchery, all draped in the obviously tragic historical context.

About Minnelli : like Adam, I was initially put off by her. She's undeniably a great performer, but I wasn't sure about her acting... but as the film progresses, her energy turns out to be exactly right for the character, and she's so, so great in the musical numbers that any qualms I might have wouldn't matter too much anyway. "Maybe This Time" and "Cabaret" are enough to justify her Oscar (quickly checking... yep she did get one, good).

About the debauchery in question, I came across this wonderful Pauline Kael quote : "The movie does not exploit decadence; rather, it gives it its due". That's exactly how I feel about it and I think Fosse (unlike Sam, clearly a closet-Nazi) wisely avoids judging it at any time : if anything he celebrates it (see : the title song) but doesn't indulge in it either. He completely nails the historical context : the Nazis are there in the background, threatening but always on the margins, and you can feel the weight of WW1 in subtle ways, something that is absolutely essential to comprehend the reckless abandon of the period. How can you respond to the horror ? By embracing it, mocking it, and throwing everything out of the window : life is a cabaret, old chum.

On the non-musical side of things... it's ok. The story about the Jewish aristocrat feels completely tacked-on, but all the rest is... pretty good, and I don't have much else to say about it really. One scene I do have something to say about is the "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" scene. It should be great, it's that key moment where nazism comes to a boil and signals that all the partying ends at some point... but I'll stand on my usual soapbox here and lament the fact that it's in English. It's supposed to be a German patriotic song, I mean... The scene still works (mainly because of the editing), but not as well as it could have (and the film otherwise deals pretty well with the language thing too). At least I won't annoy everyone with that particular subject with the next few marathons (I'll be alternating between Herzog/Kinski and Nordic cinema as Adam & Josh progress through that).

8/10

Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on May 16, 2016, 05:24:28 PM
The Gingers (Musicals Awards)

In the same order as the podcast (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/e/9/9/e99ff03484b5b8dc/cinecast051006_1.mp3?c_id=1303151&expiration=1463437287&hwt=82fe0767dc16bd531f97255b179e959f).

Best Supporting Actress : Ginger Rogers (Swing Time)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82PazvWQqU0

Best Supporting Actor : Joel Grey (Cabaret)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9XdGS5to8s

Best Actress : Natalie Wood (West Side Story)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ye7PIyIcCro

Best Actor : Gene Kelly (An American in Paris)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zLjF9hlH2k

Best Song : "Mary's a Grand Old Name" (Yankee Doodle Dandy)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jignCqOkZms

Best Performance : "America" (West Side Story)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhSKk-cvblc

Best Director : Bob Fosse (Cabaret)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBlB8RAJEEc

Best Picture : West Side Story


Warning : the following video has an obnoxious intro, especially on headphones.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxoC5Oyf_ss

Best Actress was so stacked compared to Best Actor, it's not even funny. Some of those were too tough, so I went with a clear spread-the-wealth strategy (well, except for that one film). Wise/Robbins should really get Director but I wanted to get more Cabaret in there, and I didn't even get to "Money" or, you know, "Cabaret".

Summary/ranking

West Side Story (Jerome Robbins & Robert Wise, 1961)
Cabaret (Bob Fosse, 1972)
An American in Paris (Vincente Minnelli, 1951)
Yankee Doodle Dandy (Michael Curtiz, 1942)
Swing Time (George Stevens, 1932)
Les parapluies de Cherbourg (Jacques Demy, 1964)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sandy on May 16, 2016, 07:19:21 PM
(http://i64.tinypic.com/2u9jvc7.jpg)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on May 16, 2016, 08:59:02 PM
Nice going. You really put a lot of work into this.

And don't give up on Demy just yet. Cherbourg is not representative of his whole oeuvre.

I'll try to get back to this if I manage to watch WSS soon. And now Cabaret is on my radar.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on May 18, 2016, 06:25:00 PM
Sanger fran andra vaningen / Songs from the second floor (Roy Andersson, 2000)

(http://i.imgur.com/dMBbcXv.jpg)

Adam & Josh's take (starts at 53:22) (http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/traffic.libsyn.com/cinecast/filmspot585_051316.mp3)

Most of what I have to say was pretty much covered by Adam & Josh, but oh well. I'll start with the most obvious and unique thing about this film : the composition and framing. It really cannot be overstated how crucial those elements are, and how unique that is (well, Tati is rightly mentioned on the podcast but this is different). To borrow a formula from a certain YouTube channel : every frame is a painting here, except, you know, things move, just a tiny bit, and it's so wonderful ! Once you're settled in to the film's rythm, you start scanning around the frame as soon as a scene starts, trying to take it all in. For a movie so still (and bleak, though not without humour), the act of viewing it is incredibly active. I think a lot of that is the stillness of the characters : in almost every scene there are many extras just standing around and watching the action : there's something both unnerving and fascinating, as if you were waiting for them to suddenly spring into action.

I don't think I've ever seen the background of scenes being used so well and so consistently, sometimes revealing hidden elements of scenes, sometimes characters slowly moving towards the action, or just doing their own things, like the Bunuel-esque infinite traffic jam. Most of the best instances of this are already discussed in the podcast (my favorite being the dangling Jesus who indeed seems to be having more fun than anyone else around), but I will mention one that hasn't been mentioned (and gets even better once you get to the last scene), in which a character making noise causes rats to suddenly leave their hiding place, right in the center of the screen, fleeing the disturbance.

Which brings me to... what is it that Andersson is trying to say here ? Clearly there's a strong rejection of any form of authority : military, political, economical but especially religious. The recurring religious themes oriented me towards a criticism of one of the core tenets of Lutherianism (the dominant brand of Christianity in Northern Europe), which is that by achieving success in life, you are literally doing God's work. This comes back to what Adam & Josh observe about the distinction of artistic endeavours here : the repeated lamentations of our main character that poems made his son crazy are undermined by the impression that the son in question doesn't seem any crazier than the world at large, and perhaps the only scene of simple beauty features two characters playing a flute, together : human connection through art : an idea that Andersson maybe wants to oppose to that protestant idea of material success being "godly" (not entirely sure this is the best word here but it'll do).

That's just a possible interpretation, and I'm not sure how well it fits into the almost post-apocalyptic feel of the world : to be more precise Andersson films as if it had already happened without anyone really noticing. The idea of purgatory actually didn't occur to me before listening to the podcast, but the paleness of the characters and decors, as well as the presence of ghosts, certainly brings credence to that idea...

In the end though, what matters is not so much what Andersson is trying to say, as how he says it. And on that front, there's no ambiguity : his style is unique, distinctive, beautiful and absurdly funny (meaning funny because it is absurd, not "very funny") all at once (though the comedy is largely frontloaded here, the film becoming more concerned with existential dread than absurdist comedy somewhere around the half-hour mark), and likely benefits from further scrutiny. Definitely a great way to start a marathon.

8/10*

*that was my gut rating after the film was over, though just through the process of writing this I'm feeling like I should change it to a 9, I'll have to reconsider it later.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on May 18, 2016, 09:59:07 PM
This movie is in my Top 100 because of the last 15 and "I Got Rhythm." The rest worked better for me than for you, but those two sequences are unqualified masterpieces in my estimation. I want to revisit this one this May, so maybe I'll remember to respond to those faults you bring up more clearly.

Do you maybe have a full review of it already?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on May 18, 2016, 10:06:00 PM
You have almost convinced me to give Andersson a second try despite having hated Pigeon. Your first two paragraphs are great and totally describe what I saw in that movie. I was much less awed/entertained by it though, and since I saw it in the cinema, I don't think a second try would produce a better result, unless the mood is much different and the construction less episodic.

Martin also loves this one by the way. I think he should like this review.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on May 19, 2016, 01:47:59 AM
You have almost convinced me to give Andersson a second try despite having hated Pigeon. Your first two paragraphs are great and totally describe what I saw in that movie. I was much less awed/entertained by it though, and since I saw it in the cinema, I don't think a second try would produce a better result, unless the mood is much different and the construction less episodic.

Martin also loves this one by the way. I think he should like this review.

While there is a main through line and a character who is more or less the main character, this is also pretty episodic. Having not seen Pigeon I can't say really, but it does sound similar (they are theoretically both ends of a loose trilogy right ?) so I'm not sure this would work better for you. I can certainly see how his style could be alienating if you're just admiring it for a distance rather than being actively engaged by it.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on May 21, 2016, 11:15:57 AM
Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (Werner Herzog, 1972)

(http://i.imgur.com/kaMl8qp.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3?http://media.libsyn.com/media/cinecast/filmspot103_060206.mp3)

Well I know why this is the Herzog AND Kinski marathon now (ok I had heard of the wonderful weirdness that is Klaus Kinski before but it is another thing to see it in action). The man certainly has a... unique presence : those eyes alone... feels like you could go crazy just staring for too long. Any time the camera focuses on him, the film suddenly seems to make sense and function on another level entirely. Which is good because... between the German-speaking Spaniards, the awful dubbing, the very poor production quality and the loose plot, Aguirre is a bit of a mess. The acting is very muttery (as Sam pointed out), which is probably a consequence of poor sound quality and/or awful working conditions. It could work to the film's advantage in the sense, as it certainly has a surreal quality... but I don't think it does, because the whole point is that there's a progressive stripping of civilization as the characters get deeper in the jungle. But the sound design doesn't get better or worse, it's just shoddy throughout.

This is all very unfair to Herzog and the film of course, because it was made on a shoe-string budget (apparently Herzog stole a camera ?) in terrible conditions, on location... but the end result is there nonetheless. The last few shots, rotating around Aguirre, last man standing as the raft is invaded by the monkeys and still going on about Cortez and Mexico, accompanied by that Popol Vuh sountrack (that I wish Herzog had used more), are transcendental in a way I wish the whole film had been (or more of the second half at least). Suddenly the film feels up to the task of this portrayal of humanity in all its greed and delusions of grandeur, facing an indifferent world that always swallows it in the end. I'm fascinated by Herzog's view of humanity's incessant need for great achievments, progress,exploration, and domination over his environment, because I can't decide if he is disgusted, contempful or simply amused. A combination of the three probably, maybe with the slightest hint of grudging respect, just maybe.

In any case I look forward for more from those two (Fitzcarraldo especially seems like Herzog getting the opportunity to revisit some of this on a better footing), and will try to get to that commentary Adam & Sam are raving about, it sounds pretty fascinating.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on May 21, 2016, 01:10:39 PM
It is certainly a mess.  And a bit long.  But the insanity exposed on screen!
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on May 21, 2016, 01:41:18 PM
It's not long at all actually (around 90 minutes), but it feels longer than that... and it's not even that slow on a purely plot level either. It's just... languid. Not a bad thing entirely, it's pretty appropriate : it flows at the river's rythm.

I do feel like a Hearts of Darkness style documentary on this would almost be better (maybe that's what the commentary track can provide).
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on May 23, 2016, 06:19:01 PM
Nosferatu, Phantom der Nacht (Werner Herzog, 1979)

(http://i.imgur.com/DVvi9Tj.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3?http://media.libsyn.com/media/cinecast/filmspot105_060906.mp3)

Herzog's casting method appears to be "Find someone with haunting eyes you'd want to get lost in, and who's not afraid to go big, very big, but can make it work". So far, I approve. Just for the pleasure of hearing Adjani speaking German* (I had no idea !), I like this film already. Kinski is obviously great as Nosferatu, but Adjani gets the prize for "most improved role" compared to the Murnau original**. She imbues her character with an intense passion that makes her sacrifice actually meaningful and costly. Also she's Isabelle Adjani, so Herzog doesn't exactly have to work hard to make the sexual overtones of the whole vampire thing come out when Dracula comes for her, just exposing her legs is more than enough (also some wonderfully creepy noises).

Aside from Adjani, Herzog doesn't stray from the original all that much, he simply does it much, much better. Jonathan's journey through the mountains and subsequent stay at Dracula's castle is absolutely gorgeous throughout, and makes his mentions of feeling like he stepped into another world (in his letter) completely useless. The ship's arrival is also amazing, as are any scenes in which Adjani and Kinski share the screen (including that one where you can't actually see Kinski, because mirrors are fun). The rest... the film more or less grinds to a halt any time the plot actually needs to advance, and Kinski's Dracula actually gets significantly less threatening once he steps out of the boat and awkwardly sneaks around carrying coffins. Seriously, he looks like a kid playing hide and seek, it's just funny.

Herzog does try to imbue the film with his own ideas, but it feels a bit shoehorned-in. Adam & Sam talk about the faith vs science discussion, but that it basically just two scenes between Adjani and Van Helsing, and it doesn't even come close to really adding up to much of anything. Where he does succeed is in making Dracula an avatar of humanity's greed and thirst for something greater : immortality in this case, which of course turns out to be quite disappointing when you're not terrorizing villages with hordes of rats and spending quality time with Isabelle Adjani. It's not the most elegant dialogue, but it makes Dracula into an actual character with motivations, which I do appreciate.

Really though, the visuals are what make this work : the castle, the ship, the rats, but especially Kinski and Adjani... did I mention their eyes ? A match made somewhere between heaven and hell.

*a beautiful language that gets a bad rap because most people first hear it out of the mouth of an angry dictator who even has the poor taste of being Austrian.

** which, for the record, I found mind-numbingly boring and empty despite a few flashes of brilliance here and there.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on May 23, 2016, 08:55:10 PM
I applaud how quickly you are getting through these. I am also quite jealous. I wish I was able to get through my watch list of classics at the same pace.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: verbALs on May 24, 2016, 12:27:05 AM
I thought what Herzog managed to imbue; the connection he made with the German setting (as opposed to Stokers Whitby setting) was the plague that the rats brought with them. There's a lethargy of illness in the characters. The Pied Piper of Hamlien also seems to being invoked. Both touches that changed this from a Dracula clone in Central Europe into a German tale. Those details might be incorrectly remembered since I haven't seen either Nosferatu version in 5 years but whether Herzog is remaking or setting a movie in S Amerca or Africa it is always resolutely a "Herzog movie" and has his (and Kinskis) personality stamped on it. And Herzog is a huge personality on screen. It sounds like you still have Fitzcarraldo to come which is the best example of that statement; basically an exercise in sheer force of will versus nature but even smaller Herzog movies like Cobra Verde say/ shout the same thing.

Thanks for reminding me of why I love Herzog so much through your reviews. 5 years is long enough. I would leave Aguirre. I feel like I've seen it enough and feel I should reevaluate its top 100 position for reasons you gave. But now I really want to see Nosferatu again.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on May 24, 2016, 01:57:41 AM
I did find myself thinking about the Pied Piper of Hameln a lot, you're right. The rats of course, but also the overall atmosphere is very close : small town in Northern Germany during its colonial period invaded by some evil thing. I'm not sure the similarities go further than that though, they're not really connected thematically : the pied piper isn't mainly about the plague, it's about young people leaving German towns for Central and Eastern Europe. Actually... now that I think about it, both Aguirre and Herzog are about Western Europeans going in a wilder, stranger country during a period of colonisation and finding themselves... outclassed. I don't know how much that works though, since the motivation Bruno Ganz' characters have is quite modest : get away to start a new life with his wife, the whole "human hubris" theme being mostly carried by Dracula. I think Herzog is a bit constrained by his admiration for the original here, and couldn't entirely make it his own thematically.

Fitzcarraldo is coming up after Woyzeck, easily the one I'm most excited about here (though the Kinski documentary is intriguing too), Cobra Verde is also in there.

I applaud how quickly you are getting through these. I am also quite jealous. I wish I was able to get through my watch list of classics at the same pace.

Well I still have around 150 to go I think, and they're now adding more ! It's my n°1 priority in movie watching basically, it kind of has to be if I ever want to get to watch a Satyajit Ray film.  ;D
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on May 24, 2016, 04:49:01 AM
Do you have to do them in order ?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on May 24, 2016, 06:43:36 AM
Do you have to do them in order ?

As much as I have to do anyhing. This started because I was listening to older episodes, and when they started talking about the Western marathon, I just wanted to be able to watch the films as I progressed through them. As it stands I'm a little ahead of the episodes I've listened to, but I like following the progression of the podcast.

It's also something that motivates me to keep a relatively steady rythm : I'm not allowed (by myself) to watch most of Bergman or Almodovar before I get to them, so I'd better keep going.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on May 27, 2016, 11:39:54 AM
Woyzeck (Werner Herzog, 1979)

(http://i.imgur.com/ewduhRe.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/9/f/0/9f053cb1591f720a/filmspot107_061606.mp3?c_id=1303164&expiration=1464367547&hwt=9874c6bd12718a9f89ab7579c083abc4)

Filmed right after Nosferatu, Woyzeck is another adaptation : in this case of a incomplete 19th century play that Bertold Brecht was famously fond of. Unlike Nosferatu, it seems at first that this is perfect material for Herzog to pursue his contemplation of human existence, albeit with a more socio-political bent this time. Woyzeck, seemingly a simpleton, is pressed on all sides : the captain scolding him and urging him to be "a good man", the scientist treating him like an animal to be experimented on, his own religious conscience (constantly quoting scripture) and the general awfulness of the world (the officer who sleeps with his wife and humiliates him). Herzog seems to argue that any systemic vision of life, be it political, scientific or religious, leads to dehumanization of others.

But then the story has to kick in. Like in Nosferatu, Herzog just has to come back down to Earth and go on telling whatever story it was that inspired him in the first place, and... it's not great. I'd even say it's pretty terrible : Kinski can certainly play pathetic, but a tragic hero ? I don't know. Maybe Herzog is questioning our own tendency to dehumanize what we don't understand by having Kinski playing a character we should be empathizing with... in that case Werner (years of listening to Paul F. Tompkins makes me feel quite familiar with him) : well done, you won, I'm a horrible human being and I have a hard time feeling bad for a character played by Klaus Kinski. I can feel pity him, at the most.

I just don't think Herzog is very interested in narrative storytelling, and where he made up for it with atmosphere and style in Nosferatu, he... really doesn't here. It's almost incoherent, frankly : Woyzeck seems to identify that his wife is cheating on him and doesn't care, but two scenes later he notices again and it sets him off to the point of murder ? You could argue that what makes him do that is the humiliation he then suffers in the inn/tavern, but his reaction is already different before that : maybe we're supposed to believe he just didn't undersand the first time ? Which brings us to the fact that throughout the first film, Woyzeck seems to be intellectually limited at the very least, but that completely goes away in the latter half.

The pacing is also questionable : this a very short movie (under 80 minutes), but it certainly doesn't feel that way. By the time he gets to the big scene, in which Woyzeck kills his wife, he had completely lost me, and I could see how the choice he makes to slow it down and linger for so long on Kinski's face (which, ok, he does all the time, but those takes are particularly long) could make it pretty powerful, but I could only appreciate it from a distance.

4/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: MartinTeller on May 27, 2016, 12:05:37 PM
I just don't think Herzog is very interested in narrative storytelling

I think that's very true, and Woyzeck is his worst attempt at it. His best narratives -- Aguirre, Fitzcarraldo, Kaspar Hauser, Signs of Life, Nosferatu -- are memorable for their atmosphere and oddball asides. Woyzeck doesn't have much of the former and maybe one or two of the latter. It's mostly just a story and a character that aren't that interesting.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on June 01, 2016, 05:26:28 AM
Mies vailla menneisyyttä / The Man Without a Past (Aki Kaurismäki, 2002)

(http://i.imgur.com/6UDzqu9.jpg)

Adam & Josh's take (starts at 44:04) (http://cdn.panoply.fm/FLM1201923061.mp3)

The premise of this film (a man gets beaten up, wakes up amnesiac, not knowing his name) lends itself to a quest for identity, self-discovery and perhaps the kind of social commentary that good sci-fi always allows. And those elements are all present, but not in the way you'd expect : Markku Peltola's character never seems that interested or concerned by his past, instead focusing on starting a new life however he can.

The mood and setting are what I appreciate the most here. The use of folk and rockabilly music coupled with the maritime industrial setting of people living in abandoned containers* gives the film a sort of hopeful melancholy that really defines the whole film : one might see it as an indictment of modern society as disconnected and neglectful of ones in need, but that is constracted by what I'm taking to be the film's overall point which is the value of community, something that clearly still exists in the most desolate of situations.

I do think the social commentary that Kaurismäki inserts through our main character's interactions with institutions (struggling with the "no name" problem) are somewhat toothless and easy. It feels like he wants to show that, yes, modern society is heartless and cold, but his heart's not really in it and he's a lot more interested in the portrayal of community, where he finds warmth in the most understated moments : the scenes discussed in the podcast with the jukebox are highlights in that regard.

*I now have an idea of why this Finnish director made a film called Le Havre, living in containers is very much a thing there too, though it's more structured than what's depicted here.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on June 04, 2016, 04:45:45 AM
Fitzcarraldo (Werner Herzog, 1982)

(http://i.imgur.com/EXcl4gw.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/d/1/d/d1d35b68ba1507e2/filmspot109_062306.mp3?c_id=1303172&expiration=1465032795&hwt=09d092118bafe993ac3e8f38643a25e2)

I knew it ! Herzog is a closet humanist !

More on that later, but Fitzcarraldo is really everything I hoped it would be, and more. In Aguirre, I felt that Herzog simply didn't have the budget and/or technical mastery to quite accomplish what he was setting out to do. Which... yeah, does that remind you of a certain eponymous character ? More on that later too. In Woyzeck, I questioned Herzog's ability and/or willingness to simply tell a story and Kinski as a likable character we can empathize with on a level beyond "well, he IS human..." : Fitzcarraldo proves me wrong on both counts. I can't believe how warm Kinski's performance is here, how much he made me constantly root for him throughout : a lot of that is in the filmmaking of course, but Kinski's very communicative smile (!!!) does wonders too. So does his witsful staring : it's the first time I really felt like I knew what he was dreaming about. As far as the story goes : the first half-hour of setup is by far the weakest part of the film, but it is very much necessary and gives the film a momentum that Aguirre didn't... not that Aguirre needed it, that film's aimlesness is certainly part of its point, but Fitzcarraldo ends up almost being an adventure film, with Herzog even giving us a few "gathering up a crew" moments, with the ship's captain and cook.

This all means that once we get into the jungle, we care about these characters, even the secondary ones. We want Fitzcarraldo to succeed : because he's endearing, because Claudia Cardinale wants him to, and for the beauty of the gesture. That last one is where I'll get back to my original point : of course Herzog's humanism strikes through in the sense that Fitzcarraldo succeeds. His true goal was never to bring rubber back and become rich : it was to bring the opera to the jungle, and get a steamer over a mountain and build a railroad through the Amazon jungle... it was to accomplish something and to be someone, more than just another insignificant mortal. Fitzcarraldo made me realize that Herzog really, deeply, admires characters like Fitzcarraldo, Aguirre and even John Okello (the revolutionary he borrowed the "Wrath of God" lines from). He might have them soliloquy about the meaningless of life, and surely he does have a good chuckle when they fail because he's conflicted about their grand attempts, but in the end they're right... and Herzog himself is of course exactly like them, something I had somehow not realized until now (even after listening to the Aguirre commentary) : his cinematic enterprises are just as mad as anything they do, by definition in Fitzcarraldo's case.

To get back to the actual film, what makes it stand out is that it is simply a thrilling ride, once the steamer starts its journey. The initial progression with tension mounting up, helped by Popol Vuh dread-inducing score and the knowledge of what silence meant in Aguirre (hearing the first jungle bird made me realize I had really missed them from that film). That the natives this time end up helping out could seem like a cop out, but it is a great turnaround : the film is simply filled with these characters who want to accomplish something more : Herzog is quick to dismiss the idea that the Jivaro would think Fitzcarraldo is a god, but they do want to see if that boat can get through those rapids, and even minor characters like the guy who was waiting for Fitzcarraldo at the train station further serve Herzog's humanistic streak here, as do those loving shots of the steam engine accomplishing the impossible.

Then we get to the business of bringing the boat over the mountain, and I'm very mad that Sam stole my Andrey Rublyov reference, ten years ago. The similarities with that film's last hour were striking to me, with the difference being that I was even more afraid it would fail here, given Herzog's reputation. As the guys mention, every noise it makes while it's getting along is excruciating, and the moment when it enters the water on the other side is as magical as anything I've seen on film. The passage through the rapids is almost too much : just that moment has made the whole thing worthwile already, and they could have died right there that I would have still seen this film as a celebration of the human spirit. But it allows for the wonderful epilogue : Kinski's never looked so happy, and I was right there with him.

9/10 (the first half-hour is painful enough that it does prevent it from getting a perfect score, at least on first viewing)

Sidenote : Aguirre is really growing on me as a film. As I watch more Herzog, I feel like I misunderstood some what he was doing there.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on June 04, 2016, 06:50:13 PM
Herzog is certainly a genius.  As a film, I'd give Fitz about a 3.5 for my own sake. As a symbol of colonial activity, as a depiction of Herzog as a mad genius, I'd give it a 5/5.   A misguided man in all the right ways.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on June 05, 2016, 06:55:24 AM
Herzog is certainly a genius.  As a film, I'd give Fitz about a 3.5 for my own sake. As a symbol of colonial activity, as a depiction of Herzog as a mad genius, I'd give it a 5/5.   A misguided man in all the right ways.

Misguided because of the ethically questionable filming conditions ? It's a bit hard, with Herzog, to separate the film from everything around it. There's a documentary about the making of Fitzcarraldo right ?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on June 05, 2016, 12:17:23 PM
Herzog is certainly a genius.  As a film, I'd give Fitz about a 3.5 for my own sake. As a symbol of colonial activity, as a depiction of Herzog as a mad genius, I'd give it a 5/5.   A misguided man in all the right ways.

Misguided because of the ethically questionable filming conditions ? It's a bit hard, with Herzog, to separate the film from everything around it. There's a documentary about the making of Fitzcarraldo right ?

Yes.  And yes.  And yes:  Burden of Dreams.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on June 15, 2016, 05:27:16 AM
Cobra Verde (Werner Herzog, 1987)

(http://i.imgur.com/ITNOjr8.png)

Adam & Sam's take (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/7/f/c/7fcabf36b6a371c5/filmspot111_063006.mp3?c_id=1303175&expiration=1465944063&hwt=57d3b56912a2d863657a307f7d5854f8)

While Cobra Verde has its moments, I mostly stand with Adam on this one : Herzog's difficulties with narrative storytelling are on display here, as they are in every film in the marathon really, except this time he never really gets to the good stuff. Reflecting on it, I think part of the reason Fitzcarraldo works so much better than Aguirre is its running time : they both start with a clumsy half-hour of setting up, but Aguirre is almost over by the time the mood reall sets in, while Fitzcarraldo still has an hour to go. Cobra Verde, meanwhile, seems to permanently be stuck in that first half-hour : on the surface it follows a similar structure to Fitzcarraldo, in that we meet Kinski's character in a colonial setting, being sent by rich men to do something crazy in "uncivilized" land, and then the film follows him there. The circumstances are different of course, mainly because (as Adam mentioned), Cobra Verde (the character) doesn't have as clear a goal as Fitzcarraldo has : he's going in Africa to restart the slave trade after the king of Dahomey rebels against it, but it seems to be more about personal advancment than anything else. He's closer to Aguirre in a sense, but without the delusions of grandeur.

I suppose Herzog is saying that Fitzcarraldo, had he lived in another time, would have been just as horrible as Cobra Verde is : slavery is a means to and end to him, and morality means very little when faced with human ambition. Herzog, perhaps, argues that bringing a boat over a mountain isn't that different from establishing a slave-based kingdom : both are incredible accomplishments, the second one just happens to be morally reprehensible. That's all interesting theoretically, but it makes Cobra Verde a much tougher watch, and I'm not sure Herzog is really up to the task of tackling slavery as a topic. The way he closes the film feels especially wrong, with Kinski monologuing about how slavery is humanity's worst deed, and Herzog stopping just short of coming on screen himself by having text over the credits saying something that amounts to little more than "Slavery's bad, guys".

Herzog's biting on more than he can chew, and even his usual musical interludes, as joyful and wonderful as they are on face value (literally), are less effective because of it (also the way women are treated in the film in general). Again, one might argue that it's the whole point : Herzog is perhaps saying that we're all hypocrites, celebrating great achievments and humanity as long as we don't have to face the dirty things that were done to get there... True enough, but I don't know that the film is focused enough to drive that home : too much plot, not enough striking imagery : there is some of that (the Sisyphus-like sequence at the end and the confrontations with the King of Dahomey), but it doesn't flow as well as in his Amazon films (get it ?) or Nosferatu.

As for Kinski... I won't go as far as Adam and say he's outright bad here, but there is seomthing to what he observes about Herzog exposing him in a way. This is Kinski at his most unhinged, to the point that it feels like a preview of the "Mein liebster Fiend" documentary : for the first time in this marathon, I found myself thinking about Kinski during the film, instead of his character. This is especially true in the amazon training sequence, which is basically just Kinski screaming and hacking at African women for 15 minutes. Some of it might be diminishing returns as well : his staring isn't enough to establish Cobra Verde's character, so Herzog's decision to almost entirely skip his early life as an escaped miner, turned bandit then plantation overseer, ends up not working as well as it might have a decade earlier.

4/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on June 15, 2016, 12:51:54 PM
Mein liebster Feind - Klaus Kinski (Werner Herzog, 1999)

(http://i.imgur.com/l1EBiyC.png)

Adam & Sam's take (starts at 40:55) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/9/1/0/910baeaf62e15b3d/filmspot112_070506.mp3?c_id=1303176&expiration=1466017515&hwt=b39aea8dd4e7b64c171e467bf1afb364)

A nice end point to their relationship, but not much more. Well, I say "nice", but really Herzog comes off pretty badly here, trying to hide his own self-aggrandizing tendencies while mocking Kinski's.... clearly Kinski was insane in a way that Herzog isn't, but when the former call the latter a megalomaniac and Herzog more or less answers "look who's talking", I can't help but agree with Kinski. Anything Herzog says is to be taken with a grain of salt : it's telling that the more fantastical stories are related to Aguirre, since we have no behind-the-scenes footage for that one. Sam notes that Herzog's myth-making tendencies are his limit, I'd argue they're his greatest strength (and his films suffer most when he fails at reaching that high, c.f. Cobra Verde), but they are somewhat problematic when he's mythifying himself through Kinski, especially because we don't really get the latter's point of view. I suppose it all goes along with the "ecstatic truth" idea, which makes for entertaining storytelling but slightly awkward eulogies.

All that being said, it is quite fun to try and decipher the web of myths Herzog created around the relationship, and the truth that does transpire is that their relationship was a creative boon for both, a maelstrom which destroyed most things around them but gave us some of the most striking images in cinema, including a new one here of Kinski goofing around with a butterfly. We see here how Kinski was "on" all the time, and I think Herzog's amused detachment is just as much of an affection as Kinski's "erotic nature" posing. Speaking of eroticism and Kinski, we learn that he was much nicer to women, as Cardinale and his Woyzeck co-star have mostly nice things to say about him. I'm sure there's something to be said about how anger and general over-the-topness is a primitive way to assert dominance over other males in an almost animalistic way, but Herzog doesn't really go into that. He's very proud of his own calmness and even says the natives in Fitzcarraldo were more scared of him than Kinski because of it, which... yeah, as I said, he just doesn't come off very well.

This documentary also has the monologue (taken from Burden of Dreams I assume) at the source of Herzog's "nature is unstoppable and evil" (paraphrasing here, obviously), which seems to have perdured as a short-hand for his worldview... and I don't think that's as much of a focus in his films as many seem to think. In his Kinski collaborations at least, nature is not really that big of a focus : only in Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo really. And even then, Herzog is much more interested in humanity than anything else, and I think there's been a tendency to reduce him to that speech, given in the middle of an incredibly tough shoot in one of the least hospitable places on Earth, when it really has only been a small part of his films, from what I've seen in this marathon.

6/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: MartinTeller on June 15, 2016, 01:04:26 PM
Speaking of eroticism and Kinski, we learn that he was much nicer to women

no (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jan/10/klaus-kinski-rape-claims-daughter)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on June 15, 2016, 01:08:19 PM
Speaking of eroticism and Kinski, we learn that he was much nicer to women

no (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jan/10/klaus-kinski-rape-claims-daughter)

Oh.

Well I'm glad I didn't know that before watching those films. That's really horrible.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on June 15, 2016, 02:24:15 PM
My Best Fiends (Herzog/Kinski Awards)

I tweaked the categories a bit because I felt some were too restrictive on the podcast (starts at 50:39) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/d/b/f/dbf762e85b537cf2/filmspot113_071206.mp3?c_id=1303178&expiration=1466023232&hwt=b433d9ec3fb91bd5106c26064d301c22)

Also : Fitzcarraldo spoilers.

Best Musical Interlude : Monk Choir (Cobra Verde) (NSFW)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmTHLEX_-3M

Best Use Of A Hostile Environment : Pongo de Mainique (Fitzcarraldo)

(http://i.imgur.com/C839gF3.jpg)

Best Non-Kinski Performance : Isabelle Adjani (Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht)

(http://i.imgur.com/4Udidv2.png)

Best Klaus Kinski Performance : Aguirre (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes)

(http://i.imgur.com/9bdWo2Z.jpg)

Best "Herzog Moment" (whatever that means) : Going over the mountain*

(http://i.imgur.com/FtXIq0T.jpg)

Best Picture: Fitzcarraldo

(http://i.imgur.com/yQvNFZ4.gif)


*Specifically when it enters the water but I couldn't find a screenshot.

Summary/ranking

Fitzcarraldo
Nosferatu, Phantom der Nacht
Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes
Mein liebster Feind - Klaus Kinski
Cobra Verde
Woyzeck


Keep going back and forth between Nosferatu and Aguirre : looking for Isabelle Adjani screenshots was enough to sway me that way this time.

On to Screwball Comedies !


Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: pixote on June 15, 2016, 02:32:24 PM
Really enjoying this marathon, Teproc! And that last gif is amazing.

Please be right about Bringing Up Baby! lmao

pixote
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: MartinTeller on June 15, 2016, 02:42:46 PM
Best Musical Interlude : Monk Choir (Cobra Verde) (NSFW)

I'm glad you highlighted this, even though you didn't like the film as a whole. It's one of my favorite Herzog scenes, just mesmerizing.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on June 15, 2016, 02:54:50 PM
Really enjoying this marathon, Teproc! And that last gif is amazing.

Please be right about Bringing Up Baby! lmao

pixote

Thanks !

I suspect that means liking it ? I'm really looking forward to those, the only screwball comedy I've seen is His Girl Friday, liked it a lot.

Best Musical Interlude : Monk Choir (Cobra Verde) (NSFW)

I'm glad you highlighted this, even though you didn't like the film as a whole. It's one of my favorite Herzog scenes, just mesmerizing.

Yeah, the main singer in particular is incredible. I saw you rated Cobra Verde pretty highly, what gives/what did I miss ?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: MartinTeller on June 15, 2016, 03:08:35 PM
My enthusiasm for it has lessened with more viewings, but it still has enough of that Herzog strangeness to do it for me. My most recent review (https://martinteller.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/cobra-verde-rewatch-2/)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on June 15, 2016, 03:27:47 PM
Right, I forgot about your blog, bookmarked it now.

Popol Vuh's score barely registered with me for this one, but I agree about the snow scene at the start. Mostly it looks like you got that take-off in the second half that I kept waiting for.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on June 17, 2016, 05:51:21 AM
The Thin Man (W.S. Van Dyke, 1934)

(http://i.imgur.com/TbwxlsW.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (starts at 37:48) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/5/6/2/562aa42203f57dd3/filmspot114_072106.mp3?c_id=1303186&expiration=1466158063&hwt=b9fe2cf9fbf6f9a1064c181ba433e3a8)

Delightful. Watching The Thin Man, I was at first puzzled about its inclusion in a Screwball Comedy Marathon, as it seemed to be more of a murder mystery with some comedic elements, quite different from something like His Girl Friday. That's because the film's main draw, the William Powell/Myrna Loy couple, only comes in about 20 minutes in. Their chemistry is incredibly endearing, and pretty much any scene involving both of them is comedy gold, though Powell is also very funny on his own. Any doubt that this was primarily was gone once it got to a dinner party with vaudevillesque rythms, featuring various characters coming in and being shuffled around to various rooms by our investigative power couple.

Where I would disagree with Adam & Sam is on the mystery front : they see it as largely forgettable backdrop, whereas I found myself quite engaged in it. I grew up reading Agatha Christie novels, and this hit a lot of similar notes, except we get a witty, hard-drinking* American as our Poirot. This is most notable in the last sequence of the film, in which he "invites" all the suspects to a dinner and gives a speech about the case to unmask the killer : slightly broader and comedic than Christie's typical denouements perhaps, but not lacking in investigative cleverness either. There even is some visual inventivity going on : in the middle of a typical "newspapers whirling around" montage, there's a shot of a map of the United States with ink/blood bursting out of New York when a new body is discovered.

* And I do mean hard-drinking, as in "makes Don Draper look like a temperance advocate" hard. Alcohol is omnipresent in the film's humour and tone, which is particularly notable given that this must have been one of the last pre-Code films : the thought of Hollywood losing that decadent allure is making me slightly less enthusiastic for the rest of the marathon, but we shall cope.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: verbALs on June 17, 2016, 06:48:08 AM
It's a very quick easy book to read. It's also brilliant. I recommend it if you like the film.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: pixote on June 17, 2016, 12:31:17 PM
From IMDb trivia: "After the film's release, some territories did censor some lines of dialogue, and at least one theatre owner from the South wrote to the PCA to complain of excessive drinking in the picture which his patrons found offensive."

Heh.

pixote
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Junior on June 17, 2016, 01:04:08 PM
Mmm. But did they have any bicarbonate of soda?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on June 23, 2016, 06:39:05 AM
Du levande / You, the living (Roy Andersson, 2007)

(http://i.imgur.com/IFu4BJx.jpg)

Adam & Josh's take (starts at 1:13:20) (http://cdn.panoply.fm/FLM4875978377.mp3)

At first I was worried that Du levande would simply be a retread of Songs from the Second Floor, and that Andersson's style would get stale real quick, and to an extent you could argue that this is the case : I agree with Adam that his compositions aren't as fascinating here as they were in that film. However, I think that's because Andersson is after something else here : where SFTSF was an almost entirely intellectual experience, one of discovery and decipherment, while Du levande works on a more emotional level.

Both films start off with a rather bleak view of the human condition : the first half of this film is filled with people longing to connect, or to express themselves in some way and being put down by others or ignored. A woman repeating no one understands her, a man playing the tuba alone in his apartment, angering the neighbor... and, in the film's funniest moment, a man trying to do "the tablecloth trick", only to be sent to the electric chair after failing. Add to that the recurring leitmotiv of "we have to wake up tomorrow", and you have a deeply depressing depiction of existence, right ?

Not entirely. Andersson expands on the flute scene from SFTSF, consistently depicting music (and possibly artistic expression as a whole by extension) as a way for human connection to be achieved throughout the film. There's the tuba player and his brass band, a style of music perfect for what Andersson's doing here : there is a joyful melancholy to it that fits right in his whole aesthetic. And there's the guitar player and the wedding scene : it is of course notable that the film's most crowd-pleasing scene, the one which most makes existence seem worth living, is part of a dream sequence... but then there's the last few shots of the film, where we see bombers ominously flying over a city... while that brass music starts playing. Is Andersson toying with us, or is he simply undecided ? It seems he can't quite decide if life is worth living or not, so he just lets it up to the viewer to decide... and while that's overall not as effective as the meticulousness of his previous film, it's intriguing and, yes, charming enough to work.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on June 28, 2016, 03:13:27 AM
My Man Godfrey (Gregory La Cava, 1936)

(http://i.imgur.com/QKlKUlT.gif)

Adam & Sam's take (http://filmspotting.net/reviews/show-archive/20-2006/300-filmspotting-116-my-man-godfrey--down-in-the-valley--early-movie-memories-.html)

My Man Godfrey is a very funny film, William Powell is excellent again (wouldn't mind if this was a William Powell marathon really), but it runs into two problems. The first is that it tries to be more than it can chew on : the basic conceit of Powell as a homeless "forgotten man" being picked by rich girls for a scavenger hunt would have been just the right amount of social commentary, but the film doesn't leave it here, and ends with Godfrey putting them down and preaching almost directly to the audience about solidarity and caring for the little man. In a comedy centered on a straight man reacting to zany, over-the-top characters, it feels completely out of place, and drags down the film as a whole.

The other problem is the romance. Carole Lombard is funny, and her childish infatuation with Godfrey is funny... until it's not. They just keep coming back to it way past the point of no return, and end up with an ending that doesn't work at all. Maybe it's ambiguous as Sam implies, but still.

Now, all that being said, I still enjoyed My Man Godfrey a lot. William Powell is great as a straight man here, and his comedic chemistry with Lombard carries the film for the most part, as well as the rest of the family, particularly Alice Brady as Lombard's conniving sister.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on July 04, 2016, 05:30:44 AM
The Awful Truth (Leo McCarey, 1937)

(http://i.imgur.com/HunYRKe.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (starts at 52:23) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/a/9/5/a957fbaa38918531/filmspot117_080206.mp3?c_id=1303187&expiration=1467630066&hwt=906cf82e6e6b7dcd36846093baf542f4)

I'm torn on this one. For a good part of The Awful Truth's running time, I was annoyed by it. One thing I appreciated in The Thin Man (and His Girl Friday) was that the comedy generally came from people being witty and clever (at least the main characters). In The Awful Truth, the main characters are, frankly, idiots. The film keeps having to stretch them to put them in vaudevillesque situations (men hiding behind doors etc.) by having them lie about situations that really don't need to cause so many problems. Yeah yeah, it's a comedy and some stretching is to be expected, but it's constant and feels very forced here, and makes the characters look a bit too incompetent for my taste. Add to that a rather broad sense of humour (Cary Grant's slapstick is not incredibly inspired here, and there is an annoying reliance on animals for cheap laughs) and some particularly cringey scenes (intentionally so, I'm thinking of the singing scene at the club especially), and I'm not a fan.

That being said... I do like Cary Grant, and the central relationship with Irene Dunne is what lights the film up here. She's no Rosalind Russell, but they do have chemistry and their banter is sharp, as you'd expect from a married couple who knows how to push each other's buttons. What finally sold me on the film was how it nailed the obligatory romantic ending. I was worried about it, as these tend to feel, well, obligatory more than anything else (see : My Man Godfrey), but McCarey crafts a wonderful final setpiece for it. Dunn and Grant are in neighbouring rooms, separated only by an old door that keeps opening : simple setup, but executed in a way that both sold me on their inevitable reconciliation and had some very funny moments that come from the characters rather than broad stereotypes (can't agree with Sam on the Oklahoma-bred romantic interest there).

6/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on July 05, 2016, 12:30:21 PM
Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)

(http://i.imgur.com/7U5z7SZ.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (starts at 42:22) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/a/9/5/a957fbaa38918531/filmspot117_080206.mp3?c_id=1303187&expiration=1467740388&hwt=f6cc5e1e7d039076abe333abea1243b8)

Well, that was endless and excruciating (though "agonizing", which is what they went with on the podcast, is a pretty good one too). When I started this marathon, I figured screwball comedies were something I would like, based pretty much solely on His Girl Friday. But my favorite in this marathon so far is The Thin Man, and I'm not sure that's a strict "screwball" comedy as much as a mystery comedy from the 30's that gets lumped in that group. I didn't even really think about what "screwball" meant before, and I'm now realizing that the French name for the genre (comédie loufoque) describes most of what I dislike about this (and to a lesser extent about The Awful Truth). It's just crazy situations escalading for no other reason than "isn't this craaaaaazy ?". And the word I keep coming back to when I try to describe why it doesn't work is "forced". It's all so... laborious. Characters' decisions exist only to get into more ridiculous situations, and I thin that can work, theoretically... and I'm hoping I'll see more succesful executions of it in the next few films, because this was pretty hard to sit through.

Cary Grant seems completely miscast to me, as a bumbling idiot who keeps getting in trouble because he's too nice. "Nice" or "bumbling" is not what Cary Grant is good at (and hey, this is now my 6th Grant film so I'm basically an expert at this point  ::)), and it's not that he's bad exactly, but his character just doesn't work : we need to get something to see why he keeps following Katherine Hepburn, and he doesn't give us anything. Speaking of... I can't say anything bad about Hepburn, really. In isolation, I would probably like her performance quite a bit, in fact I did laugh at her gangster routine towards the end in the jail... but she is exhausting to watch. I get that it's the point, but that doesn't change much.

I keep coming back to His Girl Friday : the characters and the rythm can be a bit exhausting there too, but... I don't know why I love it there and hate it here. Part of it is probably that His Girl Friday's humour is more witty than outrageous, but also there's a relationship at the center of it that I can get behind and possibly root for, which I don't think Hawks even really goes for here. Wait, I know what it is : if a leopard appeared in His Girl Friday, I wouldn't be rooting for it to brutally murder all the characters. That's probably it.

I should stop with that comparison, as tempting as it is with the Hawks/Grant connection... but really I should stop altogether because about 40 minutes in, I completely checked out of this film in a desperate attempt to keep my sanity, and I don't have much else to say about it other than "not for me".

2/10

Please be right about Bringing Up Baby! lmao

pixote

I'm afraid I failed that test.  :-\
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: verbALs on July 05, 2016, 01:40:14 PM
The picture in my head is of Cary Grant standing in the howling gale which is Hepburn. Yes Grant is horribly miscast. nothing wrong at all with the idea of a woman completely overpowering a man. Grant is great in so many films of this period of his career, not the least His Girl Friday. I don't think it's a perjorative to call Hepburn one.speed because that speed is unique, independent, intelligent and life-snorting so you expect her to dominate. It's the man who is in question which is refreshing. Spencer Tracy basically. Perhaps the director as well. There's a tendency to give Hawks a pass on every film but he swapped genre so regularly he is bound to get it wrong occasionally....ie The Big Sleep.

Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Dave the Necrobumper on July 06, 2016, 06:45:07 AM
life-snorting what a great phrase, it brings up multiple images, some of them a little gross, but is oh so evocative.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on July 07, 2016, 05:15:48 AM
Sullivan's Travels (Preston Sturges, 1941)

(http://i.imgur.com/Vso3OgP.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (starts at 42:48) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/e/8/3/e83ff5618cf80d2f/filmspot119_081606.mp3?c_id=1303192&expiration=1467888585&hwt=cc08e666514025484440b63f204d907e)

Sullivan's Travels is an interesting film to consider as part of a screwball marathon. Its title implies a romp but also evokes Gulliver's Travels, so maybe a satire ? It's a hard film to define because of its meta nature : in the opening scene we have a director wanting to make a serious film about the harshness of the world, with his producers arguing they'd prefer comedies, and pleading for at least "a little sex in it". Then we get a film that's about a rich man trying to understand what being poor is like... while having crazy adventures and meeting a pretty ingenue he can banter with. That kind of stuff can feel too clever for its own good, but it works well here, maybe because it truly feels like a progressive reflection, almost as if Sturges himself wasn't really sure which was better and tried to answer the question by just making the movie.

As for the actual content, I'm somewhat mixed. Veronica Lake is wonderful and has good chemistry with Joel McCrea, but the comedy side of the film is a hit-or-miss for me, especially the slapstick : love the car chase early on, but McCrea and Lake struggling for five minutes to get onto a moving train goes on for way too long. There's also the problem of Sullivan's quest lacking stakes early on... that's resolved later, but in the first half it's really just him having fun adventures with Veronica Lake, and it's hard to take his (and by extension the film's) ambitions seriously. When it then gets much more serious about Sullivan's quest, the transition is somewhat jarring. I'm nitpicking though, because the latter part is excellent, with the church scene being a standout (Go Down Moses sure is a powerful song). I do have gripes with the very end though, with McCrea basically explaining what that scene was all about... reminded me of the last scene in Psycho, perhaps not as clumsy, but still a sour note to end on : "show don't tell" might be an overused maxim, but it applies here, the showing being infintely more effective than the telling.

I feel I have to mention the Coens at this point : I haven't seen O Brother Where Art Thou, but I was certainly reminded of Barton Fink a lot early on. Sullivan's quest for authenticity is certainly more honest than Fink's, but his early speech is only missing a reference to "the common man" to be right out of Fink's playbook. In a more general sense, the whole film feels like a template for what the Coens will make their signature : a blend of tones, with particularly silly comedic bits serving a larger point or reflexion on the human condition. I think I'm just more in tune with the Coens's sense of humour than Sturges's.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on July 09, 2016, 03:22:42 AM
The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)

(http://i.imgur.com/fah8TZh.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/9/c/1/9c1078ceb2290bdb/filmspot121_082506.mp3?c_id=1303198&expiration=1468055338&hwt=f77af4566a5ac37a6cb3d26d28972b2d)

Yet again, I'm conflicted (and yet again I'm on Adam's side). The first forty minutes or so are amazing. Stanwyck is radiating wit, charisma, and sensuality : the seduction scene feels like the closest you'd get to porn in the 1940's, the sexuality on display in that scene (and a lot of the film) is making a mockery of the Code, which is always a plus in my book. Stanwyck is so good that I even buy that she's in love with the rich oaf that is Henry Fonda, and the humour is once again more clever than silly : Stanwyck commenting on the ballet caused by Fonda is priceless, especially when she then very easily gets the prize for herself. I guess I just like people being competent and clever, which... pretty much stops here.

Once they step off the boat, the film seems to devolve into everything that annoys me about these screwball comedies : people being dumb for the sake of it, the happy ending being rushed through in five seconds regardless of character, the assumption that a movie star falling down repeatedly is so funny it doesn't need anything else to merit a laugh... it's not that it's terrible, but it's so disappointing after the way the film started. There are some good moments still : the scene with the horse intruding on Fonda's declaration of love for "Eve" is perfect, with Fonda playing the scene completely straight and Sturges literally poking fun at his self-seriousness... that sense of distance with the genre's convention is sorely missing as the film progresses to its inevitable happy ending. Fonda's justification for not recognizing Eve is actually pretty great, but it is still hard to know what to think of his character : he's such an idiot and the film keeps poking fun at him so much (the constant falling down doesn't help) that it's hard to buy Stanwyck coming back to him, especially after the first rejection.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: 1SO on July 09, 2016, 08:45:21 AM
The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)
I'm not disagreeing, but for me the boat section is Perfect and the rest is still funny and entertaining. Another reason for this you don't mention is Charles Coburn, who plays Stanwyck's 'daddy' and is the slyest of foxes. I love the way he tries to fake being bad at cards but also can't help showing off, and when he tries to outwit Stanwyck's deal. That drop is why Ball of Fire is my favorite screwball comedy, but Lady Eve isn't too far behind.

I also don't like Bringing Up Baby, the most overrated Screwball.

I initially loved The Awful Truth, mainly for the cast. The more I watched it and watched other Screwball, it became a more tepid example. (Great review on that one.)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on July 09, 2016, 10:42:59 AM
The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)
I'm not disagreeing, but for me the boat section is Perfect and the rest is still funny and entertaining. Another reason for this you don't mention is Charles Coburn, who plays Stanwyck's 'daddy' and is the slyest of foxes. I love the way he tries to fake being bad at cards but also can't help showing off, and when he tries to outwit Stanwyck's deal. That drop is why Ball of Fire is my favorite screwball comedy, but Lady Eve isn't too far behind.

You're right, I should have mentioned him, the card-playing scenes are pretty delightful and he and Stanwyck work very well together, you get the feeling there could be a film about their adventures before that point.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on July 11, 2016, 04:56:17 AM
Adam's Rib (George Cukor, 1949)

(http://i.imgur.com/wPBEUGt.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (starts at 37:26) (http://ec.libsyn.com/p/b/4/4/b44c01f519406c7f/filmspot122_083006.mp3?d13a76d516d9dec20c3d276ce028ed5089ab1ce3dae902ea1d06ce8f35d2c85c6a6d&c_id=1303200)

I think I like screwball the best when it's tacked on another genre, in this case a courtroom... drama ? Or maybe it's because the romantic part of it is about a married couple, and what a couple... Hepburn and Tracy being a couple offscreen obviously helps, there's never any doubt that they are made for each other. They're both witty, manipulative and frankly dishonest : lawyers, in a word.

The "battle of the sexes" premise had me worried that the film would lean too far one way or the other, but it mostly avoids that : Hepburn is fighting the good fight, but the particular case she chooses and the way she humiliates Tracy and acts as if she couldn't possibly understand what she's done wrong... and then Tracy does his own bit of overreacting himself with the final "showdown". They're both willing to go very far to prove they're right, and the way they argue feels very natural : Hepburn chasing Tracy, wanting to talk more while he's had enough, and she keeps chasing him from room to room... their relationship is simply fascinating and one that's easy to root for, with its simple moments of harmony early on. The bit with Tracy showing that he can cry at will too at the end is a perfect embodiement of their relationship : it's kind of petty and insulting in a way, but exactly right for them.

Their relationship is the film, really. It's them arguing at home, arguing at court, with various levels of tenderness and/or animosity. I love the way Cukor shows how each part of their lives intersect with the others : be it for comedy's sake (Tracy calling Hepburn "Pinkie" in court), drama (the hat), or simply to show their complicity (early on at least) when they communicate in court under the table.

I could do without the singer, obviously in love with Hepburn though she doesn't realize it. It's necessary to the ending, as is her obliviousness to how it looks, but it's the one thing in the film that doesn't ring true.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on July 11, 2016, 10:16:36 AM
The Astas (Screwball Comedies Awards)

In the same order as the podcast (starts at 50:08) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/e/7/6/e76bac9308bc0872/filmspot123_090706.mp3?c_id=1303203&expiration=1468254635&hwt=f24af73a64165140f2a6c4610f83adf3)

Best Supporting Actor: Charles Coburn (The Lady Eve)

(http://i.imgur.com/RIF3wUw.jpg)

Best Supporting Actress : Myrna Loy (The Thin Man)

(http://i.imgur.com/be6HIKD.png)

Best Actress : Barbara Stanwyck (The Lady Eve)

(http://i.imgur.com/BqGRmwh.jpg)

Best Actor : William Powell (My Man Godfrey)

(http://i.imgur.com/3blfq4P.jpg)

Best Duo : Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy (Adam's Rib)

(http://i.imgur.com/IzsRt23.jpg)

Best Comedic Moment : The horse intruding (The Lady Eve)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GLvvQFHST8

Best Director : George Cukor (Adam's Rib)

(http://i.imgur.com/SlMGuGq.jpg)

Best Picture : Adam's Rib

(http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/709071/25107102/1403695634660/AdamsRibLift.gif?token=ADhcbVmCeXAc0OlN8qRxLbphRD4%3D)

Summary/ranking :

Adam's Rib (George Cukor, 1949)
The Thin Man (W.S. Van Dyke, 1934)
Sullivan's Travels (Preston Sturges, 1941)
The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)
My Man Godfrey (Gregory La Cava, 1936)
The Awful Truth (Leo McCarey, 1937)
Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1949)


Weirdly enough I had trouble coming up with a comedic moment. There's the party scene in The Thin Man, but that's pretty long, and then the other standout scenes weren't necessarily that funny : the church scene in Sullivan's Travels, the last scene in The Awful Truth with Grant and Dunn in neighborhood rooms, which is funny but more notable for how much it sells the happy ending... in the end, you can't go wrong with horses, I suppose.

Also would have given a Writing award for Sullivan's Travels had there been that category... as it was it kept coming close but not quite there (Veronica Lake and Sturges specifically).

Anyway, on to Documentaries !
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on July 11, 2016, 10:28:46 AM
I really need to watch Adam's Rib.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sandy on July 11, 2016, 01:27:48 PM
(http://i.imgur.com/RIF3wUw.jpg)

I'm a good card shuffler, but I wish I could do that! :)

Great pics and gif all through your post, Teproc! I've been having fun following along this category. It's not my favorite genre, but there are moments of greatness to be found. And, I too really want to get to Adam's Rib.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: 1SO on July 11, 2016, 02:30:40 PM
Charles Coburn is a gem.
Never thought of Myrna Loy as Supporting, but she would lose to Stanwyck so that's a good way to honor both.
When considering the horse intruding, did you consider Stanwyck watching through her mirror, mocking everyone?

Very choice gif. Love that you went with that.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on July 11, 2016, 04:31:33 PM
Myrna Loy is debatable, but she doesn't have that much screentime actually... also that category is not exactly stacked : I was considering Veronica Lake who is similarly borderline, otherwise I'd have gone with Gail Patrick in My Man Godfrey if going with a stricter definition of "supporting".

The mirror scene is great, and I had it on my mind since I chose it for her screenshot, not sure why I didn't consider it for comedic moment, though I like to spread the wealth, up to an extent.

Glad you guys like the gif, and yes, you should check Adam's Rib out. :)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on July 19, 2016, 06:11:37 AM
Dont Look Back (D.A. Pennebaker, 1967)

(http://i.imgur.com/Gg0TZLx.png)

Adam & Sam's take (starts at 44:23) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/6/2/7/6270965e4f7d1bbf/filmspot124_091306.mp3?c_id=1303210&expiration=1468931120&hwt=ad337b1da122203a455429f209855a53)

Dont Look Back mostly takes place in rooms (of the green or hotel kind), where Bob Dylan and his friends/associates are basically hanging out during a UK tour. There is a constant ballet of people shyly opening the door, risking a look and entering to see the main man. They all seem to be expecting different things from him : some insight on life, an explanation of why his fans love his songs, sometimes even friendship. As Adam and Sam discuss, Dylan doesn't exactly come off all that great from those interactions : arrogant and vapid are words that come mind, especially in that Time interview.

And yet... the film I was reminded of the most when I was thinking about it afterwards was The Last Temptation of Christ, strangely enough. For many at the time, Dylan was basically a prophet, someone to guide them into a new era, to lead a cultural revolution that everybody felt was coming any time now. A journalist describes his songs as sermons early on. He's asked about religion and spirituality, about what his message is, about the youth of the day, and he simply has no answer. There's a reason he's a singer and not a politician : the only way he can find to express himself is through music and songwriting, and once he's off the stage he's barely coherent, generally stand-offish and even petty at times. Like Dafoe in Scorsese's film, he's making it up as he goes along, and can't keep up with what's constantly asked of him (not entirely unfairly I should say, when he opens his concerts with The Times They Are A Changin' ). He's just a man, checking himself in the mirror before going on stage, getting competitive with a British "rival" (Donovan), and marveling at the new guitars they have in Britain in an amusing piece of unintentional foreshadowing.

There's also the question of how much we're getting of the "real" Dylan here. Pennebaker's fly-on-the-wall style is great at making us forget the camera (especially in a surprising scene where we see Albert Grossman negociating bookings for the tour), but there had to have been a certain degree of performance to what Dylan was doing : you can especially feel it in the protracted argument with the annoying young "reporter". I don't know that it detracts from the film though, because I get the feeling he's performing for the other people in the room as much as he is doing it for the camera. To get back to Pennebaker, his style meshes very well with Dylan : unfocused, unkempt, refusing to really tell a story, instead focused on capturing moments. Intimate, wonderful moments such as Dylan and Baez singing a Hank Williams song in a hotel room as well as the more theatrical scenes (anything involving Donovan) and the concerts of course. The editing is sharp, but also leaves much to the imagination, much like Dylan's famously hard to understand lyrics.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on July 21, 2016, 07:08:44 AM
Harlan County U.S.A. (Barbara Kopple, 1976)

(http://ferdyonfilms.com/Harlan%206.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (starts at 41:54) (http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3?http://media.libsyn.com/media/cinecast/filmspot125_092006.mp3)

A familiar story, in its broad strokes : workers can no longer stand their dreadful working conditions, decide to strike, face tremendous adversity as the threat of violence becomes real, but end up garnering nation-wide support to win the fight. I'm on board with Adam (aside from his surprise at how "articulate" people from Kentucky are, what ?) : it's very clear which side Koople is on here, and while that means we don't get as much contextualization as I'd like (especially regarding "scabs" and "gun thugs"), it is appropriate given how clearly righteous the strike is (miners not being unionized in the 70's is insane to me), but I think she lays it on a bit thick with the folk songs, especially early on. In the first 30 minutes especially, it feels a bit like a crutch as she uses them as a score and doesn't let the obvious situation speak for itself, though their use later in the film, where we see people singing them at various points (most notably the old woman talking about the 1930's strikes), is very effective and feels more earned simply because it's diegetic.

What's striking about Harlan County, USA is the way Kopple plunges right into the community : she chooses to focus on women particularly, a choice that emphazises how this is not just a worker vs boss fight, but a whole town, a community deciding to stand up and risk the worst. The gradual escalation of violence is very powerful, especially when the miners are attacked at night and the camera is among them, with Kopple clearly in danger of getting shot at. From there, it seems almost miraculous that things don't escalate further, and in fact Kopple's footage appears to have played a very immediate role in getting the leader of the "gun thugs" arrested, an absolutely key factor as it gives the miners their first win and adds a sense of hope that was thus far absent. The way their cause goes from seemingly hopeless to basically won (with nation-wide support starting to peer in as well) is probably accentuated by the editing, and it's very effective.

Kopple's immersion among the miners also doesn't prevent here from giving some crucial context : the time spent looking at the UMW's recent history (involving a corrupt UMW president casually having a rival assassinated) pays off when she decides to keep her attention on Harlan County past the initial win. This is where the film gets somewhat more into journalism than cinema, ignoring the "cleaner" ending for a much more muddled one, but not losing sight of its overall point : we see an older miner expalin that the situation has basically not gotten all that much better for him, while a younger one seems much more optimistic. Along with the memory of the 1930's strikes, it emphazises the idea of community: that in many ways, the strikers aren't really fighting for themselves, as the damage has already been done (black lung if nothing else), but for their children and successors. In other words, how human solidarity springs up at the most desperate of times. Certainly not as visually striking and groundbreaking as Dont Look Back, but very powerful nonetheless.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on July 23, 2016, 01:32:52 PM
Haevnen / In A Better World (Susanne Bier, 2010)

(http://i.imgur.com/N7ECcL0.jpg)

Adam & Josh's take (starts at 41:19) (http://dcs.megaphone.fm/FLM5911280837.mp3?key=5054c3f7745375cfa0f627b6bf6f69a0)

Life is unfair. It's a simple idea, but not that easy to fully understand and accept, especially for a kid confronted with something as clearly unfair as the death of a parent. In a Better World (or, in its very appropriate "French" title, "Revenge") functions partly as a parable for justice and ethics : most of us, like Christian's father, know and accept that violence, in the vast majority of cases, is not an answer and is the proof of a limited mind/flawed character. That notion is challenged throughout the film, most obviously by Christian, who develops (presumably) a macho attitude of reacting to bullies with an "eye for an eye" approach, giving advice for surviving in school that sounds like a typical "first day in prison" speech, and developing a pretty scary aptitude and tendency for violent acts.

He's wrong, clearly, but the situation with the adult bully does put the father (and, by extension, us) in a delicate situation, for many reasons. First, the way he goes about making his point is just as filled with macho ideas as Christian's views are : note how the father insists on how his non-violence proves that he is superior, that the other guy is an idiot to be scorned. It's clear why he does that though : he knows that, at that age, "losing face" is basically the worst thing that could possibly happen. In a sense, the schoolyard is this...[whatever the opposite of an oasis is] of Hobbes-like wildness and violence (Lord of the Flies is rightly mentioned in the podcast) in the middle of civilised society, and the father knows he can't get away with a simple "violence is bad, you should just turn the other cheek", because even if that can work in adult society (to a certain extent), it absolutely does not fly in school : Elias's initial situation makes that clear if it needed to be. That simple parallel sets up the idea of how fragile the social contract is, since we can't expect it to work for our children, and how violence is always lurking around the corner [insert reference to current political events here].

The other challenge comes in the African scenes. It's much less subtle (and much more problematic for the reasons Adam and Josh have laid out), but it sets up the classic moral dilemma of a doctor having to heal a horrible person. He's just a more extreme version of the bullies encountered in Denmark, which... again, Adam & Josh covered how misguided the whole thing is, but I agree with Josh on the ending : the father doesn't actually break his Hippocratic oath (well it's a bit unclear, but the guy can clearly walk), but he does leave the Big Man in a situation that he can pretty easily guess the outcome of, and does nothing to stop it when it happens. Wether or not that was the right choice, and wether or not something good will come out it is absolutely unclear without drowning in empty ambiguity.

As for what I thought of the film itself, I found it engaging enough thematically to overlook some of its obvious flaws : the African scenes (it really doesn't help that we don't even know where in Africa this is taking place), the sometimes clunky writing, the predicable script... it also helps that it looks great, those shots the fields and seaside landscapes of Denmark contrasted with the African savannah are just gorgeous. The performances are also very strong, particularly from the children, which is rare enough to be noted (loved the kid who plays Elias... hit pretty close to home, actually). It's exactly the kind of film that wins Oscars, in the best and worst ways, but mostly the best.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on August 13, 2016, 01:09:07 PM
Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011)

(http://i.imgur.com/ujFZKaR.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (starts at 53:38) (http://dcs.megaphone.fm/FLM1377837884.mp3?key=7c3b6970a059e02e9772dc7bd9d1c4a7)

Le Havre shares a lot with the previous Kaurismaki film in this marathon, The Man Without a Past. It takes place in a disenfranchised harbour town and features a character who, in times of desperate need, finds help in a small community of people. A key difference is that the protagonist here is not the character in trouble (Idrissa, a Gabonese immigrant), but Marcel, the shoeshiner who takes it upon himself to help him. That sounds like it could be an interesting approach : it's all well and good to say people should be nicer to each other, but what might actually motivate people to do so, but... it's really not that illuminating, and I found myself wishing the film had been from Idrissa's perspective.

A lot of it is the dialogue. This is a French film with French actors speaking French, but nothing anyone says at any points sounds like actual spoken French (only a slight exaggeration). While Kaurismäki is not exactly striving for realism here, it makes it very hard to get involved with the characters as they are : they never feel real, it's just the director/writer making a point through them. This is especially problematic with the wife's illness, which almost feels like it was aded just so he could have the actress in there, and didn't add anything to the film for me. The only characters that escape this are the ones that talk the least : Idrissa, to an extent, but especially Jean-Pierre Darrousin's character, the commissaire. His quiet rigidness meshes very well with Kaurismaki's off-kilter rythm, and then there are some absurd, brilliant touches like the pineapple scene (see above).

I do think the film is very succesful aesthetically, especially in using coldly colourful interiors, but ultimately I felt at a remove from everything in it. Part of it is just his style, and it's also possible that knowing the setting so well (I lived in Le Havre for many years) added an extra layer of weirdness, because it clashes a bit with the fairy tale-ish narrative. I didn'tlove The Man Without a Past, and this just feels like a much less interesting retread.

5/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on August 19, 2016, 05:13:05 PM
Hearts and Minds (Peter Davis, 1974)

(http://i.imgur.com/pjOjca6.jpg)

Adam & Sam's take (http://ia802704.us.archive.org/10/items/FilmspottingFilmspotting_126_Idiocracy_HeartsandMinds/filmspot126_092706.mp3)

Hearts and Minds feels like a film that must have been very important when it came out and the Vietnam war's legacy was still something to be contested and fought over. It clearly intends to be shocking and revelatory... but the word that I think best describes it is "smug". Davis keeps juxtaposing talking heads with horrific images of the war to show the hypocrisy/incompetence/horror/stupidity of what the US did in Vietnam, and it comes off like a political ad more than a film, and one that seems particularly "of its time" (to use the preferred nomenclature) given that everything it's saying isn't exactly controversial or revelatory today. Which I understand is somewhat unfair to Davis in a sense : he made his point come across to an extent, it's just that the manner in which he does it is so blunt and manipulative that it's hard to see Hearts and Minds as anything but outdated.

It doesn't completely fail though. First of all, Davis's blunt use of editing is sometimes effective : Adam singles out the moment in which we hear General Westmoreland explain that the "Orientals don't value life" right after the footage of Vietnamese people desperately wailing in a cemetary, and it really is incredibly effective because of the sheer ridiculousness of it all. But the film lacks the focus to consistently get to that point : Davis comes back a few times to footage of football matches for instance, and it feels both random and out of place : yes there's a connection one can make there, but it feels like Davis just thought that up at some point and put it in without bothering to actually make it work within the narrative. That actually could be said of a lot of what's good about the film too : any time the guit-ridden bomber was on the screen I would pay more attention, simply because that was an interesting guy... but it's just there, there's no real storytelling going on : it's just "Here are many ways in which the Vietnam war was awful, you do the sorting out".

As a documentary aiming to inform and provoke, I suspect Hearts and Minds was very succesful, but as a film it doesn't have the coherence or the deftness of something like Harlan County USA.

3/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on August 26, 2016, 04:29:46 PM
1001 gram (Bent Hamer, 2014)

(http://i.imgur.com/PVIn68z.jpg)

Adam & Josh's takes (starts at 1:08:39) (http://dcs.megaphone.fm/FLM3742425962.mp3?key=5a21cfa0183ae92302584e3fb173d623)

*insert joke relating the film's lack of subtlety and a unit of weight*

Hard to get around how laughably bad the last 30 minutes of this film are. It all started promisingly, with a visual style that I couldn't help but see as a compromise between Andersson and Kaurismäki (almost certainly a vast oversimplifcation solely due to seeing them in the same marathon), with Hamer using a blue palette and orthogonal decors to aliment a detached sense of humour about the inner ridiculousness of people carrying weights around like incredible treasures. I particularly like the small touch of the protagonist's uncle who happens to be working on a renovation of the Eiffel Tower, a monument that is almost exactly the same age as the kilogram prototype at the center of the conference : there's both a wonder in that and a disconnect between the current reality and the 19th century positivist values these are tied to (the metric system is older than that, but positivism is a bit of a continuation of the Enlightenment anyway). And, while I can't say that the first half-hour or so is "subtle", per se, it's just deft enough at developing the metaphor/dramatic irony of the central character losing all her points of reference.

It unfortunately then turns into some kind of French TV movie about embracing nature and life, and keeps pushing on the "weight theme" to such an extent that it becomes intentionally hilarious. It doesn't help that the performances are... uninspired at best. It feels like this could have been a great short, but as a feature it just repeats itself over and over, and doesn't seem to have much to say or do beyond its initial premise.

TL;DR : What Adam & Josh said, more or less.

4/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on August 29, 2016, 08:39:31 AM
Gates of Heaven (Errol Morris, 1978)

(http://i.imgur.com/vv2tv8y.png)

Adam & Sam's takes (starts at 47:53) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/e/5/1/e510dbea44e8383a/filmspot128_100506.mp3?c_id=1303223&expiration=1472483641&hwt=661404b65d018bc64665e51701f1a724)

I don't get it. Listening to the podcast, I'm wondering why I didn't find any of the subjects as fascinating as they did, or even passably interesting. Part of it is surely that I have zero built-in interest in the subject matter : I already don't get people's attachment for pets in life, so to see people wanting to bury them... apparently I was supposed to find that exceptionally strange, but it makes as much sense to me as anything else people do with their pets. There's speculation about Morris' point of view here : at first I was sure he was entirely behind the pet cemetary idea, presenting the "recycling" guy as a clear villain, but then he just focuses on these people and some of them (the trophy guy particularly) are pretty ridiculous but... I just didn't care.

Even assuming you find these people and their delusions and rationalizations interesting... the film itself is dreadfully monotone, droning and repetitive : it's talking head after talking head, of old people talking about their pets. I just... I don't see how that's good filmmaking, and I've frankly rarely been as bored watching a film, despite a pretty short running time. Adam talks about Morris valuing objectivity in his filmmaking, and maybe that's it : I despise objectivity, or rather people attempting to seem objective... because they aren't, and can't be. I don't know, but I can't say I'm looking forward to Morris' next film.

Speaking of objectivity, it is oh-so appropriate that Herzog had to eat his shoe because of this film, because he is the perfect example of why embracing subjectivity is the path to more entertaining/revelatory art/life in general.

2/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: pixote on August 30, 2016, 02:44:52 AM
I despise objectivity, or rather people attempting to seem objective... because they aren't, and can't be. I don't know, but I can't say I'm looking forward to Morris' next film.

I'd like to dig into this whole despising of objectivity thing another time. For now, I'll just say that I wish you had The Thin Blue Line coming up, instead of Vernon, Florida. The former is, I think, an all-time great film, almost at the level of Harlan County, USA and The Times of Harvey Milk.

I'll also be curious to see your reaction to a Frederick Wiseman film, somewhere down the line.

pixote
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on August 30, 2016, 03:20:38 AM
I despise objectivity, or rather people attempting to seem objective... because they aren't, and can't be. I don't know, but I can't say I'm looking forward to Morris' next film.

I'd like to dig into this whole despising of objectivity thing another time. For now, I'll just say that I wish you had The Thin Blue Line coming up, instead of Vernon, Florida. The former is, I think, an all-time great film, almost at the level of Harlan County, USA and The Times of Harvey Milk.

I'll also be curious to see your reaction to a Frederick Wiseman film, somewhere down the line.

pixote

Ah yes, that's the whole problem with my blindspots being bigger than theirs (same situation with Singin' in the Rain not being on the Musicals marathon for example). At least I can look forward to The Times of Harvey Milk. :)

I am curious about Wiseman, but I'll admit the length of his recent films is a bit of a deterrent. "Somewhere down the line", as you say.  ;D
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 01, 2016, 09:50:00 AM
Vernon, Florida (Errol Morris, 1981)

(http://i.imgur.com/dt0GGxv.jpg)

Adam & Sam's takes (starts at 39:53) (http://ec.libsyn.com/p/a/1/5/a15af6c7c83d9241/filmspot131_102506.mp3?d13a76d516d9dec20c3d276ce028ed5089ab1ce3dae902ea1d06cf8530d5ca54b08d&c_id=1303226)

Another Errol Morris documentary, another series of heads talking about their peculiar lives... I agree with Adam & Sam onone thing : I think he has much more admiration than scorn for these people, and presents them as a way to makes us think about our own view on life in whatever way, not for ridicule or mockery. That's not to say I find it much more effective here than in Gates of Heaven. I'm glad Morris (and apparently many people) find the turkey hunter fascinating, but I just don't. And because his approach is just to let people talk and hope you find them as interesting as he does... well there's not much to grab onto besides what's on the surface, or at least not that I could find.

It just all seems so... random. Morris happened to be there because of the insurance thing, he found these people interesting, filmed them, hopes you'll enjoy it. The end. As someone who usually criticizes filmmakes (documentarians especially) for using too much artifice when the raw material would have been enough, I feel like a hypocrite for not connecting with this at all, but there you go : I want some artifice, please. Well, maybe not that, but at least some connective tissue... Sam argues the turkey hunter is that but I just don't see it.

That turtle was cute though.

3/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on September 03, 2016, 06:47:31 PM
Yep, Gates of Heaven is pretty inexcusable both in terms of boring content and uninspiring filmmaking.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 05, 2016, 03:36:59 PM
The Times of Harvey Milk (Rob Epstein, 1984)

(http://i.imgur.com/5zp84aL.jpg)

Adam & Sam's takes (starts at 40:11) (http://ec.libsyn.com/p/f/e/2/fe2f8918419953d8/filmspot133_110206.mp3?d13a76d516d9dec20c3d276ce028ed5089ab1ce3dae902ea1d06cf8436d0c85f4247&c_id=1303230)

The Times of Harvey Milk is a pretty traditional documentary : as Sam points out, the movie it's closest to stylistically in this marathon is Hearts and Minds. They both won the Oscar, and it's easy to see why : they feel "important", which seems to be the quality most valued by the Academy.

What this has that Hearts and Minds sorely missed is both focus and emotional heft. The subject matter here is obviously rather fertile ground, having since then also been adapted into a biopic, but it's not like the Vietnam war isn't an emotionally charged subject. Epstein simply has a much clearer narrative in mind here, and contrary to what I thought at first, isn't only interested in a hagiography of Harvey Milk. There is a fair bit of that of course, but the biggest strength of the film isn't showing you what a great man Harvey Milk was, it's how much he mattered, and how what happened to him deeply affected many people. I'm talking about the spontaneous march that took place immediately after his death, easily the most affecting scene in this whole marathon... perhaps because it reminded of the similar phenomenon that took place in January of last year here, but I suspect it's simply a well-told story, not content with simply being important.

Speaking of current events as they relate to this, it's strange to consider that when Adam & Sam recorded the podcast, the Tea Party (the bad one) hadn't even happened yet, much less Trump as a "serious" presidential candidate, both of which were impossible to forget in the latter half of this film. The verdict is one of those simple, almost innocuous perpetuations of violence as a normalcy : in fact it immediately resultsin a violent response from the gay community, an understandable one perhaps, but which only serves to further the cycle. Again, the way the spirit of the earlier, peaceful vigil is trampled just a few months later (hower righteous the anger might be) is depressingly familiar.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 05, 2016, 04:01:27 PM
The Nanooks (Documentary Awards)

In the same order as the podcast (starts at 41:37) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/4/f/2/4f20fcd579772f8f/filmspot135_111506.mp3?c_id=1303235&expiration=1473113983&hwt=29c7ea070ffe6df7d03d25b9c3ee5761)

Best Editing : Harlan County, U.S.A. (Barbara Kopple)

(http://i.imgur.com/gJ4p7R4.jpg)

Best Performance by an interview subject : Cpt. Randy, former bomber (Hearts and Minds)

(http://i.imgur.com/oZguPNO.jpg)

Best Moment : Vigil for Harvey Milk (The Times of Harvey Milk)

(http://i.imgur.com/5qegxlq.jpg)

Best Picture : Dont Look Back (D.A. Pennebaker)

(http://i.imgur.com/rezGQeK.jpg)

Summary :

Dont Look Back (D.A. Pennebaker, 1967)
The Times of Harvey Milk (Rob Epstein, 1984)
Harlan County U.S.A. (Barbara Kopple, 1976)
Hearts and Minds (Peter Davis, 1978)
Vernon, Florida (Errol Morris, 1981)
Gates of Heaven (Errol Morris, 1978)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 05, 2016, 04:03:49 PM
Next up, animation ! Looking forward to this one, if only because I get an excuse to rewatch Chihiro (Spirited Away). Also Akira looks exciting.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: pixote on September 05, 2016, 04:18:47 PM
Nice review of The Times of Harvey Milk, Teproc. Glad it resonated with you.

pixote
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 08, 2016, 09:27:41 AM
Watership Down (Martin Rosen, 1978)

(http://i.imgur.com/jM9UOf9.jpg)

Adam & Sam's takes (starts at 1:00:54) (http://ec.libsyn.com/p/a/8/f/a8f5db6953975e6a/filmspot136_112206.mp3?d13a76d516d9dec20c3d276ce028ed5089ab1ce3dae902ea1d06cf8434d5c05ca39a&c_id=1303236)

Well, this certainly belongs in a marathon with Grave of the Fireflies. Though it doesn't quite go to the lengths of that movie in narrative terms, it is probably the most gruesome animated film I've ever seen. When you think about the story, it's not even that sad compared to some of Disney's classic films (hi, Bambi's mom), but the simple choice to have the rabbits bleed when they're hurt - sometimes rather profusely - as well as the literal darkness of much of the animation makes it a very distinguishable entity, at least stylistically.

The story and its potential allegoric implications recalls Disney's source material : folklore and moralistic fairy tales... and even mythology, with its prelude where it's explained that rabbits are "diggers, listeners, runners", prey to every other animal because of an original sin commited by their Adam-equivalent.

The most obvious allegory here, which I'm surprised didn't get adressed at all in the podcast, would be the Jewish diaspora : the rabbit's religion has some distinctive abrahamic content, and the way the herd gets chased from one place to the other in the search of a promised land is certainly familiar in that way ... but it also works as an allegory for WW2 Great Britain in its second half, when the conflict with a totalitarian warren becomes the main focus of the fim. They decide to fight despite the odds being against them, suffer terrible losses for it, being attacked in their home. The very distinct British-countryside feeling of the setting certainly helps that reading along, and it could make for a muddled, incoherent narrative, but it only reinforces it I think : the darkness of the animation goes along with a certain maturity and gravity of the content : in other words it's easier to take a rabbit as a terrifying fascist general when the screen isn't filled with flashy colours and the story makes you feel the weight of the character's precarious situation.

All of which is to say : this is just a very good film. The animation is pretty shabby, but at least it's distinctive. The characters aren't all incredibly interesting and some things don't make a whole lot of sense (why are they all males in the first place ?), but the film's thematic ambition mostly makes up for these flaws, and it ends up being a very engaging adventure. It's also not entirely grim, to be clear : there is a bird with a German (I think ?) accent that's absolutely hilarious and ends up being my favourite character, mostly for the way it says "big water".

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on September 08, 2016, 10:43:37 AM
Watership Down is a fantastic adult animation, with a lot to say.  I believe I read the book first, and while there is more detail in the novel, the animation does a great job presenting a memorable set of visuals.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 08, 2016, 10:47:01 AM
Watership Down is a fantastic adult animation, with a lot to say.  I believe I read the book first, and while there is more detail in the novel, the animation does a great job presenting a memorable set of visuals.

I don't know that I'd call it "adult animation" in the way that, say, Anomalisa is. I think it is intended for children, just not oo young, because of how darkn it is... but I think a 9-10 year old (or more) is the intended audience, because there still is a simplicity to it in a way.

In any case it certainly is memorable.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on September 08, 2016, 11:00:21 PM
If any of my kids saw this at 10, they would have had nightmares.  I'd wait till 12, I think.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 09, 2016, 12:14:25 PM
Hrutar / Rams (Grimur Hakonarson, 2015)

(http://i.imgur.com/O1s591c.jpg)

Adam & Josh's takes (starts at 1:14:24) (http://dcs.megaphone.fm/FLM3479803747.mp3?key=cca8fd28f358c2adcae7f7cc8cd6eff5)

Hrm. It's strange to hear such an enthusiastic response from Adam & Josh, because this film left me completely cold. Appropriate, I suppose. The word "deadpan" is mentioned a few times in the conversation, and I think that's one of the qualities that can be found in Kaurismäki and especially Andersson's films (even 1001 gram had some deadpan humour in its first half) but is almost completely missing here. If anything, I would argue the film tkaes itself incredibly seriously, which would be fine if it had any emotional heft, but the central performance here isn't mysterious so much as passive and blank. I'm usually a sucker for character development without dialogue, but here it seemed to me that Hakonarson was confusing slowness for profundity and emptiness for ambiguity.

The cinematography is another point that I disagree with Adam & Josh on. It might be due to the relatively small screen I watched this on, but the film looked like a run-of-the-mill auteur film : it looked fine, but I thought it completely underutilized its setting. The feeling of isolation, the smallness of man in a relatively wild setting : these are things that could be found with such landscapes, but I just didn't feel them getting across. When some characters found themselves in an icestorm, it seemed artificial to me precisely because I felt Hakonarson had taken so little care of actually making the environment feel menacing or even notable in any way... listening to the podcast, they are describing the film I wish I had been watching... maybe I was in a bad mood ? I don't know, but the end result is that I found this fundamentally unengaging.

3/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 15, 2016, 05:04:27 AM
Hotaru no haka / Grave of the Fireflies (Isao Takahata, 1988)

(http://i.imgur.com/PYNT4jd.jpg)

Adam & Sam's takes (starts at 40:24) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/9/5/e/95ef9d296503db68/filmspot138_113006.mp3?c_id=1303239&expiration=1473938679&hwt=b560c69af44e1b3912abcb1b43f4b057)

Yep, still a masterpiece.

Between my previous review (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13471.msg816319#msg816319) and the podcast, I'm not sure I have a lot to add, but I'll try anyway. Grave of the Fireflies is a film that almost gets a bad rap in the way it's praised. Yes, it's incredibly sad. Yes, very few films are more likely to make you cry or well up. But there's so much more to it than that.

There's joy in it. So much joy. The film is practically about childish joy and how wonderful it is, but how irresponsible it is to wallow in it. I've said before that I view this as a companion piece to My Neighbour Totoro, which was done the same year by the same studio, and it struck me even more this time around. That film is joy personified (filmified ?), with tragedy lurking in the background, being ignored until it suddenly comes to the front (even though it happens to be a false alert). In this film, the tragedy is foregrounded : the framing device announces pretty clearly where the story is going, and there are flashes of it during the film, periodically reminding us of it. They both celebrate the joyful innocence of childhood while warning us that one has, at some point, to come back to reality.

The other thing they have in common is that they are children's stories, told from the point of view of children. Grave of the Fireflies might have the best depiction of a 4-year old child ever put to film : the voice acting of course but especially the animation. It's in the little things : the way Setsuko shakes the candy box is different than how Seita does it as Adam points out, and especially the emotional versatility of her going from tears to laughter in an instant. Both film capture how life is as a child : you are shielded (sometimes frustatingly so) from reality, with everything "important" seeming playing in the background until it comes hurrying in bursts... it just comes a lot more violently in Grave of the Fireflies.

It's also about war, solidarity or the lack thereof in a society in crisis, and procrastinatory delusion. I'll repeat myself from a year ago, but that shot early on in which Seita looks at the bombs falling and they look like the titular fireflies... that's the movie in a nutshell : tragedy and beauty going hand in hand.

10/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 16, 2016, 09:28:28 AM
The Sad Tubas (Nordic Marathon Awards)

In the same order as the podcast (http://dcs.megaphone.fm/FLM6254201091.mp3?key=aafc5dc6fd762c5f652ba4b6cbc3a296).

Best Supporting Performance : Jean-Pierre Darroussin (Le Havre)

(http://i.imgur.com/3vFFLbW.jpg)

Best Lead Performance : Markku Peltola (Mies vailla menneisyyttä / The Man Without a Past)

(http://i.imgur.com/jUFIAt6.jpg)

Favorite Deadpan Moment : The tablecloth trick (Du levande / You, the Living)

(http://i.imgur.com/DvhmCGm.jpg)

Favorite Scene : Metro symphony (Sanger fran andra vaningen / Songs from the Second Floor)

(http://i.imgur.com/yiLmwvV.jpg)

Best Picture : Sanger fran andra vaningen / Songs from the Second Floor

(http://i.imgur.com/uuHo5ap.gif)

Summary / ranking

Sanger fran andra vaningen / Songs from the Second Floor (Roy Andersson, 2000)
Du levande / You, the Living (Roy Andersson, 2007)
Mies vailla menneisyttä / The Man Without a Past (Aki Kaurismäki, 2002)
Haevnen / In a Better World (Susanne Bier, 2010)
Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki, 2011)
1001 gram (Bent Hamer, 2014)
Hrutar / Rams (Grimur Hakonarson, 2015)


Could have gone with Elias from Haevnen in supporting and SFTSF's last scene for Favorite Scene, but since both were mentioned on the podcast I rules in favor of the other options. Discovering Roy Andersson alone makes this marathon worth it, and it was fun to see the similarities (or lack thereof) among those films, especially in the particular brand of humour.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 18, 2016, 05:06:03 PM
Akira (Katsuhiro Ôtomo, 1988)

(http://i.imgur.com/qS1ik35.jpg)

Adam & Sam's takes (starts at 34:40) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/a/8/0/a80bf4a23518f13d/filmspot140_121306.mp3?c_id=1303242&expiration=1474231547&hwt=457eab0a6182714da2f73b0bff9063b8)

Quintessential anime. I wasn't familiar with Akira (had heard of it of course), but watching this, it felt familiar. Though I'm not an anime fan by any stretch of the imagination, I used to read a lot of manga and therefore had at least a passing interest in anime, and Akira is an embodiment of what's great about it as well as what's terrible about it.

On the "great" front, it's hard to argue with its stunning, memorable visuals. From the effortlessly cool motorbike chase to Tetsuo's disturbing visions or its nightmare-inducing climax, all of it taking place in a Blade-Runneresque setting; Otomo never fails to impress the eyes. It's remarkable, really, and certainly enough to justify Akira's reputation.

I think I have more appreciation for the narrative than Adam & Sam do : first of all I don't think it's hard to follow or even incoherent... for the most part. I will say that whater that mumbo jumbo was about "pure energy" is probably not the film's strongest point, but the basic story is a pretty basic one, and that the emotional weight of Testuo's relationship with Kaneda is very effective (and doesn't come out of nowhere at all, unlike what Sam implies). The beta/alpha male relationship is not exactly unexplored, but it works here, and gives some grounding to the insanity escalation in the second half.

Part of me thinks that modern blockbusters owe a lot to Akira... in the way they build their third acts, which does not look good for Otomo. It's just constant action that gets bigger and bigger, and while it looks rather impressive, it soon becomes needlessly repetitive and annoying. Again : quintessential anime, which means it also has the typical flaws of it (no crazy insufferable voice acting though).

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 24, 2016, 04:12:59 AM
Kôkaku Kidôtai / Ghost in the Shell (Mamoru Oshii, 1995)

(http://i.imgur.com/4ZHeTlY.jpg)

Adam & Sam's takes (starts at 39:27) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/5/a/6/5a6baeb7b70d58f0/filmspot141_122006.mp3?c_id=1303243&expiration=1474648987&hwt=af09ddae81ecae0b5011b6f859a89095)

Like Akira, Ghost in the Shell takes place in a universe that seems very directly inspired by Blade Runner, but it's much closer to it in tone that Akira was. It belongs to the great tradition of introspective sci-fi, interested in exploring philosophical questions about the nature of humanity and identity while simultaneously telling a... I won't dare to say straight-forward, but in a certain way conventional thriller story.

Let's adress the obvious "flaw" that seems to have put Adam entirely off this film : the plot. It's... convoluted, yes, but I didn't find it hard to follow because it relies on familiar tropes of the anticipation subgenre of sci-fi (taking place in the somewhat near future, dystopic but not necessarily to a full 1984-type extent). The film also clues you in rather early about its central theme of identity with a striking dream sequence, one that even reveals much of where the plot is going, really. Now, it's true that characters in this film, especially its protagonist, spends quite some time monologuing very directly about their existential doubt, but those ideas are complex enough that I wouldn't say it's heavy-handed, not in a bad way at least.

One of my favorite moments in the film is the succession of such a monologue with a somewhat lengthy series of shots in which Oshii simply shows us the world these characters are inhabiting : a drab, metallic world, always in a grey-blue color palette, taking advantage of the simple aesthetic of a coastal megalopolis like Tokyo (which this isn't explicitely I think, but you know). I love that sequence, not only because it's gorgeous but also because it just lets you ruminate for a bit. Those two scenes reminded me of Solyaris, a film that's similarly ambitious, talky and blunt thematically and of course does have several sequences of visual contemplation : the highway scene and the Pieter Bruegel painting for example.

Now, Ghost in the Shell is not quite Solyaris but it has something else going for it, and that's the slick action sequences which so clearly influenced the Wachowskis for The Matrix. There's the climax, which has elements of that film's hallway sequence as Sam points out, but the opening scene which introduces us to Kusanagi, as well as a chase scene early in the film, are both impressive and fun. I'll go back to that first scene to mention the opening credits, which might act as a repellent for some : featuring the protagonist (a cyber-augmented human) naked, going through an update... it certainly can be qualified as leering, a concession to the film's likely main demographic target (the way she's drawn also magnifies that), but I think the character's nakedness throughout the film (not that she's always naked) absolutely work in concert with the film's aesthetic and themes : she clearly doesn't seem to mind it and that marks her as "other", in some way.

In any case, I think Ghost in the Shell deserves its reputation as a landmark for both animation and science-fiction : not without its flaws, but a very interesting and enjoyable watch.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 26, 2016, 11:09:43 AM
Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi / Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)

(http://i.imgur.com/rV7kOGQ.jpg)

Adam & Sam's takes (35:09) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/5/e/2/5e2f14ecefe83a84/filmspot148_021807.mp3?c_id=1303253&expiration=1474903721&hwt=fcc5e01efc14998669f0257570849245)

Well, this is not only one of my favorite films of all time, it's one of those films that is simply part of who I am. I was introduced to Miyazaki as a pre-teen and, while Mononoke was my favourite at the time (imagine that, an 11/12-year old boy likes the one with the most fighting), Spirited Away made a huge impression on me. It probably helped that there was something inherently cool about liking these lesser-known Japanese films as opposed to that mainstream Disney crap (sic), but there was just something about it.

Obviously there's the specificity of Japanese culture, the wonderful animation and the well-written characters, but, above all, what I think makes Miyazaki's work so special is its sincerity. That's one thing that particularly struck me this time around, especially after seeing Kubo and the Two Strings the day before. Now I liked Kubo a lot, but the way it uses humour to call attention to its own absurdities, especially through the McConaughey-voiced character, is typical of Western animation. It's not that it's bad : those jokes can be (and in that case are) quite funny, but it means that when the time inevitably comes for the film to turn sincere and emotional, it feels forced, almost as if the film that hadn't dared to take itself seriously before suddenly changed its mind (and while Kubo is my example here, you can apply this to most animated films).

Contrast with Spirited Away, which certainly can't be accused of being dry of self-serious, and has plenty of funny moments, but never in a way that break the spell, so to speak. The only characters you could consider to be "comic relief" are silent : Yubaba's jumping heads (which I still find delightfully hilarious) and Kamaji's soot creatures... and their moments are either in the background, while some exposition is happening, or very quick. Even in Pixar's best films, there is a certain straining for humour that you don't find in Miyazaki's.

To get back to Spirited Away specifically, it was just an immense joy to rewatch it after not having seen it in quite some time. I just didn't want it to end. There's the fact that even a character like Yubaba's baby is allowed enough complexity to have his own mini-arc, I didn't remember that and it's wonderful. Scenes that stood out to me this time around : the scene in which Chihiro has to take those stairs to go meet Kamaji, which is really the first step for her personal growth and then gets replicated at the end when she takes that almost-leap of faith to go help Haku. The river-god cleansing scene, just great (the way Chihiro and Yubaba physically react to the smell is one of my favorite little moments of animation ever). Chihiro only crying once is not something I remembered either (well, I'm not counting the end), and it was strange to hear Adam & Sam describe Chihiro as almost impossibly strong, I think the film gets her progression exactly right (and her break-down comes right when it should too).

Enough rambling : Spirited Away is a towering achievment, not just of animation but of cinema. And it's not even my favorite Miyazaki !

10/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: verbALs on September 26, 2016, 11:51:53 AM
Given oldkid reaffirmed it as his favourite film, I was hoping for some insight, which you provided; as to whether there is some aspect of the movie that leads some to love it and some (aka me) to dismiss it as a scatty kids film.

You focussed on sincerity. You have to declare your sincerity to be quarantined as you pass through the border on the way into the country. I'll be speeding through nothing to declare on the way back into Kent later this week, sincerely.  ;D. Great Pixar movies didn't stretch to be funny at all. Sincerity is a barrier to jumping back into humour not the other way round, for me. But my interpretation of the word sincere is "taking oneself too seriously" and the film introduces an awful lot of nonsense and expects it to be taken seriously or sincerely.  But I understand that you probably mean "heartfelt" by sincere; and I don't want to press a semantics argument unless I could do it in French as well. .  ;D

You explained liking this as a kid and I understand that. It goes back to my feeling about what are essentially kids movies being lauded in adult terms. Not a fan.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 26, 2016, 12:00:36 PM
You focussed on sincerity. You have to declare your sincerity to be quarantined as you pass through the border on the way into the country. I'll be speeding through nothing to declare on the way back into Kent later this week, sincerely.  ;D. Great Pixar movies didn't stretch to be funny at all. Sincerity is a barrier to jumping back into humour not the other way round, for me. But my interpretation of the word sincere is "taking oneself too seriously" and the film introduces an awful lot of nonsense and expects it to be taken seriously or sincerely.  But I understand that you probably mean "heartfelt" by sincere; and I don't want to press a semantics argument unless I could do it in French as well. .  ;D

Entirely possible that "heartfelt" is more appropriate than "sincere" here, but I don't think I agree with the idea that sincerity/heartfeltness (?) is a barrier to humour... or at least not one that can't be overcome. As far as Pixar goes, I'm curious to know which one you think doesn't. To be clear : I really like Pixar in general and WALL-E specifically is one of my favourite movies ever, but even in WALL-E there are scenes that are, essentially, jokes. There's not one moment I would call a joke, visual or otherwise, in Spirited (or in Miyazaki's two other masterpieces, Totoro and Mononoke), not off the top of my head at least. All of Pixar's (and Disney's) films seem to be conceived as comedies. Not only comedies, but it's always an important part of it. There's nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but I find it often leads to a certain dissonance when the film then tries to be more involving emotionally... now WALL-E is one of the few that doesn't struggle with that too much, but I don't think it's a coincidence that the half of the film most people have a problem with is the one that has the most jokes.

Would you say Spirited Away takes itself to seriously ?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: verbALs on September 26, 2016, 12:19:32 PM
Wall-E might be an example of Pixar attempting a different humour (Chaplinesque?) but I agree it still wants to be a funny film even if Toy Story or Nemo might be better examples of comedies. Both are heartfelt without being mawkish; semantically a word for oversincere. Now if Pixar stepped on these emotional elements with its jokes then I would agree that they would be stretching. If stretching means not every joke works that's fine but a comedy to me really means it allows room for all sorts of humour; slapstick to wit; people falling over (Woody style limbs flailing) to screwball comedy Bon mot. Not every joke in Young Frankenstein works but wow is there goodwill generated as the jokes machine gun in. The film isn't laughing at Peter Boyle at all. He's kinda suave for an abnormal monster.    :D

Really I read you say that Spirited Away was funny and that it handled the humour better by not being jokey about; if I read you right from what you last wrote. I assume that means it has a gemtle humour. Like I say Pixar laughs with its characters not at them so it can be heartfelt not mawkish. I'm at fault if to me sincere means serious and it's an English/ British disease.  I understand that. It helps explain why SA and Monoke completely miss with me.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 26, 2016, 12:29:17 PM
Laughing with the characters rather than at them : that's a big part of the distinction I was making, yeah, forgot about that handy way to put it  ;D. It's not just that though : as you say Pixar can be great at that too, but Miyazaki's humour is more... incidental. It never feels like it's the point, which doesn't necessarily makes it better, it just makes it different in a way I enjoy.

As far as those films being kids movies talked about in an adult way, well... let me put it this way : my favorite Miyazaki is My Neighbor Totoro, and when I first saw that, I was 13 (or something, a bit older than when I saw Spirited Away anyway) and I didn't like it all that much. I only embraced it when rewatching it 5 or 6 years later. Of the Miyazaki I've seen, it's the most kid-friendly : there's no violence, no blood, in fact my niece who is 5 years old has seen it multiple times. But that doesn't mean it's somehow wrong to treat it as a worthy piece of art like any other. It's like The Little Prince (the book) : yes it's a children's book, but it's also just a remarkable piece of literature of its own right, and that's how I see Miyazaki's films.

I guess one might say his particular brand of sincerity/whatever isn't... your cup of tea.

I'll show myself out.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: verbALs on September 26, 2016, 12:38:39 PM
Thanks for taking the time in explaining it so fully. Understanding what doesn't work is as valuable as the opposite. It isn't nice stepping on people's enthusiasm but it has some value.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 26, 2016, 12:41:38 PM
Thanks for taking the time in explaining it so fully. Understanding what doesn't work is as valuable as the opposite. It isn't nice stepping on people's enthusiasm but it has some value.

That's what this forum is for isn't it ? The benefit of being able to talk to one of the ten people in the world who don't like Spirited Away is pretty nice too. ;D
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on September 26, 2016, 06:44:39 PM
Much of the humor in Spirited Away is contextual.  The hopping lamppost in front of Zeniba's house is supposed to be a take off of Pixar's Luxo Jr.   The parents being turned into pigs is both horrific and hilarious, Yababa zipping Chihiro's mouth shut is funny, the huge baby who thinks the outside world will kill him as well.   But all this humor is quiet, smile-worthy, not laugh worthy.  The scene that most often makes me laugh is the radish spirit in the elevator, staring into space while Chihiro is moving around him.  Oh, and the soot creatures dropping their pieces of coal. 

There's a lot of humor there, and I don't find it takes it self too seriously, but I agree with the description "sincere", in that it take the world seriously, and it's seeming insanity is based on strict principles, and those principles don't waver.  This isn't a nonsense wonderland, it's a principled and powerful world-behind-the-world. 
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 28, 2016, 10:11:10 AM
The Iron Giant (Brad Bird, 1999)

(http://i.imgur.com/ZiheJjZ.jpg)

Adam & Sam's takes (starts at 34:56) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/a/b/7/ab7866766d25070c/filmspot149_022307.mp3?c_id=1303258&expiration=1475069115&hwt=ec52db9565cad4ba01820176d1ad0aec)

Miyazaki's a pretty tough act to follow, and like Sam I feel that watching The Iron Giant so close after Spirited Away reduced its impact somehow. I liked it, don't get me wrong, but it does pale in comparison, especially visually. It is perhaps a more emotionally involving film however, playing with Spielbergian tropes in a very distinct 50's America setting, complete with nuclear weapons, cold war paranoia and the word beatnik.

I was wondering why it is that I hate ET (sorry) and like this, and I think it speaks to the power of animation : I find it much easier to tolerate some shortcuts both in the plot and the characters in an animated film because it already comes with a filter separating it from any sort of reality. That really helps when you have a story in which a giant robot that causes a trainwreck goes completely unnoticed by everyone, or when you have a villain that embodies an archetype that particularly annoys me (ridiculously evil bureaucrat) and seemed to be very popular in the 80's and 90's (Ghostbusters comes to mind). All of those things that would kinda be dealbreakers in a live-action film just seem to bother me a lot less here, because this is clearly a pacifist fable, and it establishes itself as that very early on.

The giant itself is what makes the film work of course, the way he's animated makes him easy to love, and don't go too far into making him seem like an animal (or an anthropomorphic being, for that matter) : he's his own thing. The idea of a weapon with a soul is both interesting and powerful, and I won't argue with the film's excellent climax, but... then there's the ending. I guess that's where the film falters for me : the giant's sacrifice is what the whole film is building up to, and it's a very strong moment, but then Bird has to go and completely undercut it. That refusal to accept consequences, to embrace complexity, really holds The Iron Giant back, despite all it has going for it.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 28, 2016, 11:06:07 AM
The Harryhausens (Animation Awards)

In the same order as the podcast (starts at 34:24) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/3/c/d/3cd19ab32dc27a54/filmspot150_030207.mp3?c_id=1303259&expiration=1475081422&hwt=48c8a49a65b897341c665b9a066cb365)

Best Character : Chihiro (Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi / Spirited Away)

(http://i.imgur.com/M2ElS00.jpg)

Best Villain : General Woundwort (Watership Down)

(http://i.imgur.com/cM7l6dg.png)

Best Scene : The Setsuko montage (Hotaru no haka / Grave of the Fireflies)

(http://i.imgur.com/CO7yacQ.jpg)

Most Visually Stunning : Akira

(http://i.imgur.com/fpIiRmE.jpg)

Best Picture : Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi / Spirited Away

(http://i.imgur.com/CtAGyBy.gif)

Summary/ranking

Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi / Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
Hotaru no haka / Grave of the Fireflies (Isao Takahata, 1988)
Kôkaku Kidôtai / Ghost in the Shell (Mamoru Oshii, 1995)
Watership Down (Martin Rosen, 1978)
Akira (Katsuhiro Otomo, 1988)
The Iron Giant (Brad Bird, 1999)


On to... silent movies. I'll admit I'm a litle scared : these are all massively acclaimed and the only non-comedic (ie not Chaplin or Keaton) silent feature I've watched is Murnau's Nosferatu and I did not take to it, not even a little bit. Well, we'll see.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sandy on September 28, 2016, 02:50:39 PM
And you enjoyed the animation films so much!

Hang in there with the next marathon, Teproc. They're all so serious, but I'd start with Sunrise, because it will never bore you, which could make a good transition to the different style.

I'm looking forward to what you discover in these next films!
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 28, 2016, 02:59:32 PM
And you enjoyed the animation films so much!

Hang in there with the next marathon, Teproc. They're all so serious, but I'd start with Sunrise, because it will never bore you, which could make a good transition to the different style.

I'm looking forward to what you discover in these films!

Animation is my cup of tea, and having two of the best Ghiblis was always going to make this part a joy, but the discoveries were quite strong across the board, yes. :)

As for starting with Sunrise, I'm afraid I can't do that... well I can, but my obsessive side wouldn't tolerate not respecting the order of the podcast, so I'll have to struggle through Birth of a Nation first. I am quite looking forward to Metropolis and Passion of Joan of Arc, less confident about the others ones. I'm glad boredom is not something I have to worry about for Sunrise at least. :)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on October 02, 2016, 01:00:22 PM
Un chien andalou (Luis Bunuel, 1929)

(http://i.imgur.com/Ir8cJnc.jpg)

Adam & Josh's takes (starts at 1:17:20) (http://dcs.megaphone.fm/FLM2631394793.mp3?key=aad6f1dd4df8bf013e9f89258918cfec)

That was fun. I don't know if I'm as awed by it as Josh is, I think I enjoy surrealism more in its written form... but there is some very memorable imagery here, and I do agree with Josh on the brilliance of the moon-to-eye cut. And that's about all I have to say, Un chien andalou is certainly distinctive but I find it hard to get anything concrete from it, which is just how Bunuel drew it up.

L'âge d'or (Luis Bunuel, 1930)

(http://i.imgur.com/ZUYYqgQ.png)

Adam & Josh's takes (starts at 1:17:20) (http://dcs.megaphone.fm/FLM2631394793.mp3?key=aad6f1dd4df8bf013e9f89258918cfec)

L'âge d'or retains Un chien andalou's creativity and juxtapositional absurdity, but it actually feels like, you know, a film. Unlike Josh, I don't find that anything is really lost by Bunuel having somewhat clearer intentions here... and it's not like  you could call l'âge d'or didactic : this is a series of vignettes, sometimes connected sometimes not, that points towards a critique of European elites on several levels, but also doesn't shy away from, well, surrealism. I cloud identify essentially two threads connecting things, but I suspect a revisit would bring more to light in a way that I don't think would necessarily happen with Un chien andalou.

The first is the idea, discussed in the podcast and which will likely come up again in his later films, of repressed desire. Repressed by  the church of course, but also by society at large, and even by other humans generally : the couple that starts to embrace in the garden before the man suddenly has to leave for example. No religious authority there, just humans having different needs, and it of course leads to the iconic image of the woman starting to kiss/eat? the statue when the man proves to be unavailable. The nice thing is that the other recurring thing in the film is the elite being completely oblivious about the ravages of the world around them : the child being killed in front of the big party for example. So the bourgeoisie/aristocracy is stuck in this position of repression but nonetheless is obsessed by their desires, which leads them to either ignore or persecute others : cue the Sade reference.

In any case I found L'âge d'or to be a more rewarding watch, and I don't think much of the audacity present in Un chien andalou is actually lost here. By abandoning the pure surrealism of that film, he makes it more accessible, and finds what I find to be a compromise more effective on screen than the more rigorously surrealist approach of "automatic writing".

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on October 05, 2016, 03:14:19 AM
The Birth of a Nation (D.W. Griffith, 1915)

(http://i.imgur.com/6rN0r3g.jpg)

Adam & Sam's takes (starts at 38:59) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/4/7/2/4720bd88ef506df6/filmspot151_030907.mp3?c_id=1303260&expiration=1475656905&hwt=0fb4bcaff6bee261c283e77f4bde7c0b)

Going into the Birth of a Nation, I knew two things about it : that it was a groundbreaking film that changed the face of cinema forever, and that it was racist. I don't think I was quite ready for either aspect however.

It's fitting for a film with such a dual legacy to be divided in two clear parts, and to an extent they somewhat fit with this legacy. As I was taking a few minutes of intermission after the first half, I found myself thinking two things. The first was that this wasn't as racist as I expected... not that it isn't, but it's core focus is on the story of two families and their respective fates during the war. I was impressed by how - to put it bluntly - watchable it was. It has this feeling of cinema viewed as a composite of literature, opera and painting. The way Griffith uses frequent title cards to set up a scene, illustrating what he's written through image and sound, is striking in its relative simplicity and its effectiveness. It makes for a very didactic film, but the storytelling, at least in that first half, is deft enough that it just works. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the film is the score, essential in providing both tone and rythm.

The result is a powerful epic, a tale of a nation devouring itself, mostly dedicated to denouncing war (though it isn't entirely free of Truffaut's aphorism on war films), clearly motivated by pacifist ideals, to an extent. And the fact is : civil war is a terrible, terrible thing : the fact that Griffith puts the blame where he does doesn't prevent that from being true, and the first half of The Birth of a Nation ends up being very effective in that regard.

And then there's the second half. Again, it's not like the first half is exempt of racist overtones, but the second half is where the film changes its focus. I had heard it referred to as basically a recruitment ad for the Ku Klux Klan, but I didn't realise that was to be taken literally. D.W. Griffith's view of the Civil War as presented here seems to be as follows.
1. There was a Civil War, unclear why (I would guess he has a low-key dislike of slavery but it's hard to tell), but that Lincoln sure was a great guy. Anyway war is terrible.
2. After the war, black people - enabled by northern radicals - took control of the South and mercilessly abused white people, preventing them to vote, and just generally being out of place and gross.
3. Thanks to the KKK, we then arrived to some sort of an ideal state (the Nation being birthed), by which I presume he means segregation. The North and the South united in their protection of the Aryan race, something like that.

A fascinating detail is the intertitle coming just after the intermission, explaining that Griffith doesn't mean to cast aspersions on any race in the current (ie 1915) context. I don't know if this was added after the film proved controversial (I should note that the version I watched was over 3 hours long by 15 minutes or so, while Sam mentions it being under 3 hours so I don't know exactly what's going on there), but I find its presence to be illuminating : I took it to mean that now that black people had "learned their place" and been adequately repressed in the South, things were all fine and dandy : he has nothing against black people see, just as long as they don't try to step out of their "natural" social status. To be clear I'm not saying it alleviates anything in the film, it's more that it's an inadvertently scathing critique of 1910's America.

In any case, the second half soured me on the film to an extent. The didactic nature of the storytelling means that you really can't get away from its message, and it makes even the impressive action climax rather uncomfortable to watch in a way taht the first half wasn't, not as much anyway. The hints of Ride in the Valkyrie in the score, and the glorious imagery of the KKK riding to slaughter a black mob... remarkable, but somewhat hard to appreciate.

What I did appreciate was the way the film morphed from a historical epic anchored in a certain sense of reality (a heightened one certainly, but still) to a fantasy story : this is particularly notable with the villainous Silas Lynch (interesting name...). His behaviour in the final act reminded me of a fairytale villain more than anything else, and he's actually a very interesting character, a tragic figure torn by the classic probem of wanting to raise above its status. The way Griffith inteds that to play doesn't prevent it from actually being compelling, and I would say the same idea applies to the ostensible hero. His founding of the KKK is meant to be triumphal, but now it plays like a fall from grace : here is a man who was show before to be decent, heroically saving a Union soldier during a battle (likely a slave owner too I know, but bear with me) and who is now incapable of surviving in a changed society and resorts to hate and violence.

But I'm rambling so I should wrap this up, and while I mention that I should say that I found the second half also lost the relatively crisp rythm of the first, but perhaps that was just because its focus made it inherently uncomfortable. In any case, it's hard for me to decide exactly how I feel about this, and the rating I give it ends up feeling even more arbitrary than they usually do. All I can say is that it's absolutely worth watching, a fascinating film in more ways that I expected it to be, nowhere close to the grind I expected it to be.

6/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 18, 2016, 01:48:18 PM
The Harryhausens (Animation Awards)

Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi / Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
Hotaru no haka / Grave of the Fireflies (Isao Takahata, 1988)
Kôkaku Kidôtai / Ghost in the Shell (Mamoru Oshii, 1995)
Watership Down (Martin Rosen, 1978)
Akira (Katsuhiro Otomo, 1988)
The Iron Giant (Brad Bird, 1999)

Perfect page to jump in ! Apart from how high you rate Ghost, I pretty much agree with this. What Grave scene is it that you chose there ? I never thought of Chihiro as much of a character, I'll have to think about that pick.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on October 18, 2016, 03:54:10 PM
Really ? I suppose you see her as only a way to get the audience in to the spirit world ? I think Spirited Away would be a much lesser film if that were the case, the reason I love it so much is as much her as everyone else, how she adapts and grows stronger as the story progresses : not a groundbreaking narrative certainly, but perfectly executed. I actually restrained myself from going with stuff from that film in every category (Yubaba could definitely be best villain), but that one was indisputable for me.

The Grave of the Fireflies scene is the montage, set to an old Japanese tune, where we see images of Setsuko in and around the bunker while Seita is away... we see her eating "rice balls" made of mud but also just play around... It's the film in a nutshell : playful childish innocence wrapped in heart-wrenching tragedy, and with the music... it's where I break down.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on October 19, 2016, 05:08:49 PM
Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari / The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1920)

(http://i.imgur.com/7L2BRiy.jpg)

Adam & Sam's takes (starts at 41:28) (http://ec.libsyn.com/p/0/3/1/031bd635d623c3fa/filmspot152_031607.mp3?d13a76d516d9dec20c3d276ce028ed5089ab1ce3dae902ea1d06cf813ed0c85f2176&c_id=1303261)

If The Birth of a Nation is cinema approached through a literary lense, Caligari is more closely related to theater (and both have an operatic nature that might just be true for most silents because of the music's centrality to the storytelling). What's most obviously remarkable about the film is its set design, full of the angular anguish characteristic of German expressionism.

It's impossible to forget that this film was made in the immediate aftermath of WW1, a time where Europeans in general and Germans in particular felt at a loss, unable to rely on their traditional values, sensing that the world was going crazy. The sets in question also convey the feeling of a world full of danger : the first murder is described as having been perpetrated with "something sharp", and you'd only need to look at the background to feel like the threat could be coming from anywhere.

I don't think Caligari is a great film : the narrative gets bogged down in heavy exposition pretty late in the game, and it feels repetitive at times despite a short running time (possibly because of the score, which isn't bad but doesn't really go anywhere). It works though, thanks in large part to its impressive visual creativity, but also because of its clever narrative. I had noticed that the framing scene didn't feature the expressionist set design, and figured it was meant to show that the narrator was talking in a time of relative calm and happiness, perhaps an aspirational view of where Germany could go in the 20's... but then there's that twist ending, which I found remarkably effective. I was amost angry at Adam & Sam dismissing it out of hand, especially because they seemed to see it as a cop-out for an happy ending when I think it's the exact reverse : if the film ends without it Caligari is just some evil dude who's been caught and dealt with, no need to worry.  As is though, it's chilling, and makes me want to rewatch it with that in mind.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: pixote on October 19, 2016, 05:16:11 PM
Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari / The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1920)

Which score did you watch it with?

I liked the film slightly more than you (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13381.msg846758#msg846758) on my recent rewatch.

pixote
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on October 20, 2016, 03:23:38 AM
I think we're on the same page for the most part. As to the music, Giuseppe Becce is credited on the back of the DvD so I assume it's the original score.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 20, 2016, 05:04:21 AM
The Grave of the Fireflies scene is the montage, set to an old Japanese tune, where we see images of Setsuko in and around the bunker while Seita is away... we see her eating "rice balls" made of mud but also just play around... It's the film in a nutshell : playful childish innocence wrapped in heart-wrenching tragedy, and with the music... it's where I break down.

Great, now I'm crying too.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on October 24, 2016, 04:44:21 AM
Robinson Crusoe (Luis Bunuel, 1954)

(http://i.imgur.com/fxClOtu.jpg)

Adam & Josh's takes (starts at 1:15:42) (http://dcs.megaphone.fm/FLM5091317378.mp3?key=7da72323467deb4d02fb2930a0051e87)

Robinson Crusoe as adapted by Luis Bunuel ? Sounds crazy right ? As it turns out, it really isn't that crazy or weird, it's just bad. Bunuel is obviously completely uninterested in a story of survival and overcoming one's limitations, which would be fine if he had more to say that "aren't Victorian ideals dumb and hypocritical ?", and I have a hard time seeing anything more in his satire here. Adam & Josh make it sound like Bunuel is being a lot more subtle that it seemed to me : I don't think you could possibly watch this and not realize its subversion of the material, if only because there is nothing of interest here other than Bunuel taking cheap shots at Robinson over and over again. They might be deserved, but because Robinson is never a character here, it's just that : cheap.

Visually, it looks like a badly colorized episode of Gilligan's Island, and that's perhaps its biggest crime. Un chien andalou and L'âge d'or work because they're interesting to look at, and this is only interesting in the sense that it's ridiculously awful. Part of what makes Bunuel's satire feel hollow here is that it lacks that edge, that unsettling feeling. I suppose one could argue that the dismal production values provide another type of surrealism to this film, but that seems like being overly charitable just because it's Bunuel, to me.

Dan O'Herlihy's performance is probably in the running for the worst performance to ever be nominated for Best Actor : even by silent film standards he'd be hamming it up, and everything he does is underlined by one of the most egregiously redundant uses of voice-over narration I've seen. He gets more tolerable once Friday shows up, in part because the voice-over is less present but also because his buffoonery now has something to be played against... but that's also where such "subtle" bits of interaction such as "You, Friday. Me, Master. Friends" come up.

I wish I had found something in Robinson's finding of religion, but again there's the problem of Robinson never being given any character in the first place : perhaps if Bunuel had cared even a little bit about portraying those first days of survival instead of skipping it and just cutting to Robinson having settled in a relatively comfortable lifestyle... the film is only interested in mocking and ridiculing him, which is ineffective because I was never brought to care about him in any way whatsoever. That is probably the core failing of the film, both Bunuel's of O'Herlihy's.

2/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on October 24, 2016, 09:35:00 AM
Yea, I found it pretty unbearable, and I love the book.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on October 24, 2016, 02:28:11 PM
Okay, well that's enough to give me courage to avoid it.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on October 24, 2016, 03:17:33 PM
All the other Bunuel I've seen is more worthy of your time.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: MartinTeller on October 24, 2016, 10:53:52 PM
The entirety of my review from 2004 is: "Adequate adaptation, but nothing to write home about.  Or blog about.  Rating: 6"

I'd completely forgotten it was in color.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on October 25, 2016, 02:21:09 AM
The entirety of my review from 2004 is: "Adequate adaptation, but nothing to write home about.  Or blog about.  Rating: 6"

I'd completely forgotten it was in color.

I saw that and was wondering what you had found adequate about it (maybe you weren't as put off by O'Herlihy as I was), but I'm guessing it's been too long for you to remember specifics.

If anything, the color makes it look cheaper, somehow.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: MartinTeller on October 25, 2016, 08:37:59 AM
Yeah I don't remember much at all.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on October 27, 2016, 03:57:06 PM
Bronenosets Potyomkin / Battleship Potemkin (Sergei M. Eisenstein, 1925)

(http://i.imgur.com/dXwyTWE.jpg)

Adam & Sam's takes (starts at 38:54) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/a/5/8/a589cb7809a93ce1/filmspot155_040607.mp3?c_id=1303267&expiration=1477605670&hwt=fce9c3fdcb4b3024a64b18a2718a3e9c)

I know the major technique that's supposed to make Soviet films of the 20's distinctive and notable is found among their breakthroughs in editing, but what stands out more to me in Battleship Potemkin (compared to the previous two films in this marathon) is the acting and the use of exteriors. Griffith in Birth of a Nation made use of frequent editing to build tension up too, not quite as dynamically and forcefully as Eisenstein here ; certainly the editing is noticeably faster and sharper here... but I'm mostly struck by the attempts at a certain realism here, as opposed to the different degrees of fantasies in the previous two films (which are probably not representative of the whole silent era I know, but it's what I have).

It makes sense for Soviet propaganda to aim at a more grounded look : the idea is that we're watching the real people, the working class standing up and toppling their oppressors. Glorious and iconic yes, but grounded it must be, at least in appearance. No use of tinting to add color, everything is shot outside and the acting is much less theatrical (though it gets big in the Odessa steps sequence, understandably). Of course that doesn't mean it's wholly realistic in a way : this is propaganda, very loosely based on historical events in order to further the Soviet cause.

As Adam & Sam note, that means that the only character that's allowed any individuality and personality is a martyr (even the other named agitator seems to disappear from the proceedings) : the group is what matters, not the individual. And that's where I run into problems with this film. I appreciate why it is that way, but the end result is that aside from a few strong sequences involving massive crowds (the Odessa steps with the baby and the child being trampled of course, but also the population spontaneously gathering for the vigil), I found the film unengaging on anything more than a historical/political level, which is to say that the film is more interesting for where it stands in film history (and history in general) than for its actual content. That's to be expected to a degree, but the lack of characters combined with the film's rather dubious moral stance (no one misses the officers or the doctor that get killed in the mutiny, because they don't quite count as human in the same way that the sailors do) end up leaving me mostly cold.

Those stand-out moments are strong enough to make the film very much worth watching however. The Odessa steps sequence is genuinely chilling, but that's unfortunately not the case for the four other chapters, especially the almost comical happy end.

6/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on October 27, 2016, 04:36:22 PM
The Odessa steps is one of my most memorable scenes in cinema.  But the rest of it is easily forgotten.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on October 27, 2016, 04:43:39 PM
The Odessa steps is one of my most memorable scenes in cinema.  But the rest of it is easily forgotten.

Much pithier than I would dare to put it, but yeah.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on October 27, 2016, 05:29:42 PM
"Beat it, sorcerer!"

I enjoy the whole thing a lot.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 01, 2016, 07:08:40 AM
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (F.W. Murnau, 1927)

(http://i.imgur.com/7JSG1Tb.jpg)

Adam & Sam's takes (starts at 37:28) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/d/2/7/d27b97efe678c33a/filmspot156_041307.mp3?c_id=1303270&expiration=1478002633&hwt=d47f44fbf5ec795b0ed8b09cdf6adfee)

It makes sense that Sunrise won that Oscar for "Unique and Artistic Picture" back in 1929, because it is certainly an ambitious films. It goes from impressionistic horror to almost-slapstick comedy, while at its core being a dramatic romance, and it does it all in 90 minutes. That makes it impressive, but it also means I had a bit of a hard time going along with it in some stretches, particularly that middle part, in which the husband and wife spend a day having fun in the city. It's not that it isn't funny or charming : that is is, but the dissonance with the first half-hour is too strong. Murnau does nail the scene that seels us on Gaynor giving him another chance : first seeing the wedding and then walking on the street amidst the furious activity of the city, superimposed on them. It's the general shift of tone after that which caused me some trouble, perhaps because I had found the first third so interesting.

The film first seems to promise an exploration of modern life, the complex opposition of traditional values with life in the city (seeing both the beauty and the dangers in bout city and country life), and it does that to an extent, but it doesn't entirely follow through on its core premise I think : the mistress ends up dismissed too easily, and the ending doesn'tfully work for me. The title should have given it away, but I found the tragic irony to be much more interesting, and endend up disappointed that it turned out as it did. In the end it feels like Murnau was only interested in the man's story while I wished to get more of both women's stories, especially the "woman of the city".

I should talk about the film's technical prowess : it unsurprisingly feels more odern than the previous films of the marathon. More camera movement, an overall smoother approach to storytelling and some very effective visual flourishes with its use of superimposed imagery... particularly effective is the scene in which we see the mistress appearing as some sort of specter controlling the man and pushing him along in his initial plan. I don't share Adam's misgivings about George O'Brien's acting : he's big but this is a situation that requires it, and I felt the despair and crazed attraction weighing down on him, which is essential for the film to work, as he is sympathetic enough for that turn to work very well on a character level.

My favorite so far, but I couldn't quite follow it everywhere it went tonally and thus have a hard time seeing it for the masterpiece most seem to think it is. Definitely one I'll need to rewatch somewhere down the line though.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 04, 2016, 07:24:49 AM
Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927)

(http://i.imgur.com/ho4SwUu.jpg)

Adam & Sam's takes (starts at 36:37) (http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3?http://media.libsyn.com/media/cinecast/filmspot158_042707.mp3)

Unaware of the different existing versions, I watched the one that my library had, which is to say the 2002 restoration that is missing around 20-30 minutes of the film, explained in intertitles instead. Had I known there was a more recent, complete version I'd have probably seeked it out, but the upside is that I watched the same version Adam & Sam did, I suppose. Also it'll give me an excuse to revisit it, which is nice.

Metropolis is undoubtedly a towering achievment in film, and it's easy to see how influential it was, not only on future works of science-fiction, but also on modern blockbusters as well as a certain Chaplin film, but what impressed me the most about it was how entertaining it was. This is mostly true of the second half, but I wasn't bored by the first half like Sam was, partly because of its incredible visuals and set design of course, but also because of the story.

Yes, it's broadly allegorical and rather blunt in its message... so what ? That's what sci-fi is, or at least the kind of sci-fi this belongs to. It simplifies current issues by illustrating them to the extreme : here we see Lang struggling with rejecting both heartless (get it ?) capitalism and violent, revolutionary communism : the whole film sees him arguing that a third way is possible, inspired by the Christian (not only Christian, but here it clearly is) idea of society working like a body : in order to reconnect the elites with the working masses, there needs to be some sort a savior-figure to make them work with each other instead of against each other. Naive, maybe, and even dangerous to a point (it's impossible not to be reminded of how Hitler was seen exactly as this third way by many Germans at the time), but I still like that better than Potemkin : Lang is just struggling with the issues of his time, not giving a specific solution but rather dreaming of one and hoping to inspire a similar sentiment through visual storytelling. The ending is somewhat rushed and sudden, but I think it works in that sense.

Visually, it's simply amazing of course. There's the art-deco set design, the special effects that are effective even now : there's a shot early on of the cities railways and cars going in every direction with a few planes also thrown in there which is just as memorable as anything in Blade Runner. The early shots of workers going in and out of their stations, the rightly iconic Moloch sequence and the flooding of the undercity are all impressive and thrilling in a way that none of the other films in this marathon have been.

And then there's Hel/Maria/the Menschmaschine. Probably not cinema's first evil robot, but possibly my favorite, ever. Say what you will about silent era acting, but Brigitte Helm in this film is giving an incredible performance, one that the second half of the film largely relies on to work at all. She's as mesmerizing and scary a villain as I've seen. Those dance scenes alone*... I can see how one might find them silly, and question the fact that all those men forget everything (including their children) because of her, or how they couldn't realize that this isn't Maria given her robotic attitudes, but she sells it completely for me, in both performances. Above all, it's fun to watch her... which can't really by said about Gustav Fröhlich's protagonist. He's bland and hammy at the same time, which is not a winning combination.

Of course the missing scenes are somewhat of a problem, breaking the film's rythm pretty significantly, in the middle part especially... but I guess that's all solved now. In the meantime, this falls just short of being a masterpiece for me, but not by much, and I hope the full version gets it there whenever I get around to it.

8/10

* Between this and Ex Machina, I think it's clear that dance scenes is what's missing from most science-fiction films.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 05, 2016, 11:30:02 AM
La passion de Jeanne d'Arc / The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928)

(http://i.imgur.com/TvxQf4X.png)

Adam & Sam's takes (starts at 33:17) (http://ec.libsyn.com/p/7/7/7/77706a55163c1901/filmspot159_050307.mp3?d13a76d516d9dec20c3d276ce028ed5089ab1ce3dae902ea1d06cf8f34d7cd5be492&c_id=1303279)

As a French history student, I'm very familiar with Jeanne d'Arc, in fact I'm somewhat fed up with her. She's the most prominent of a handful of symbols propped up by Michelet in the 19th century that have come to embody France in various ways, and her legacy is still now being feasted on by the far right. Even recently with Brexit you could hear people jokingly use a turn of phrase specifically associated with her* and is present here. But I'll admit I had never really considered her as a human being before watching this, since she has mostly been used as a symbol in the past two centuries... an interesting one but just that : a symbol.

*"bouter les Anglais hors de France", literally "push the English out of France", with "bouter" being a word you would never see outside of that context or a reference to this specific sentence.

Dreyer, by chosing to look at the last few days of her life in isolation, strips most of the iconic imagery associated with her off, and instead looks at her as a tragic character, a defiantly pious woman who persisted in her faith until the end. By doing so, in a sense he replaces a symbol with another, that of the martyr, whose faith is purer than that of the corrupt Church who judges her... and this is where the obligatory praise of Falconetti's performance comes in, because it's Falconetti who allows her to be more than just yet another Christ figure. It is now easy to dismiss Jeanne as insane (hearing voices is generally not a sign of great mental health), and Falconetti's performance starts somewhere in that realm, but it quickly goes to a much more complex, and interesting place.

The use of close-ups and minimalist set design imbue the film with a sense of claustrophobia that reflects Jeanne's predicament of course, but also the idea (however erroneous) that we have of the time she lived in : a time where turning to a higher being and considering one's life on earth to be not much more than a test... doesn't seem so crazy. That austerity combined with Falconetti's expressiveness, her constant oscillation between extreme vulnerability and formidable strengh (mostly the former, but the latter is almost always there), they combine to put us in a position where we can understand her : we don't just empathize with her plight, we feel it. The simple idea of filming the judges from below helps with that as well : they look as monstrous and devilish as the influences they accuse Jeanne of being under.

Part of me is bothered by that, and I'm somewhat resistant to the film as pure, literal hagiography, which it sometimes feels like, especially with that Richard Einhorn score... again, I have to come back to Falconetti's performance, who grounds Jeanne enough that she's, at once, more human than icon, despite what seem like Dreyer's best efforts at times.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 06, 2016, 06:26:12 PM
The Chaneys (Silent Awards)

Same order as the podcast (starts at 37:28) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/7/6/8/7689822379063f66/filmspot160_051107.mp3?c_id=1303278&expiration=1478481613&hwt=d725525cf922816b944bc660aaa4b056)

Best Actor : George O'Brien (Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans)

(http://i.imgur.com/XU9eNCP.jpg)

Best Actress : Maria Falconetti (La passion de Jeanne d'Arc)

(http://i.imgur.com/ysry8uH.jpg)

Most Visually Stunning : Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari

(http://i.imgur.com/OKE3x9y.jpg)

Favorite Scene or Moment : Metropolis dance scene

(http://i.imgur.com/8fEQUHB.gif)

Best Picture : Metropolis

(http://i.imgur.com/qMo1HhH.gif)

Summary / ranking

Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927)
La passion de Jeanne d'Arc / The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928)
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (F.W. Murnau, 1927)
Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari / The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1920)
The Birth of a Nation (D.W. Griffith, 1915)
Bronenosets Potyomkin / Battleship Potemkin (Sergei M. Eisenstein, 1925)


Part of me wanted to give Actress to Brigitte Helm, but it's hard to deny Falconetti.

The Odessa steps are cool and all, but those dance scenes are just that good.

Bonus Metropolis gifs because you deserve it :

(http://i.imgur.com/xXZ1C7y.gif)

(http://i.imgur.com/T669OiO.gif)

(http://i.imgur.com/Km74pmi.gif)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Junior on November 06, 2016, 07:08:28 PM
I always enjoy Metropolis gifs. I'm glad you got some good ones here, if only the original marathon had Lucky Star or Seventh Heaven on it, then you'd get some real artistry  8).
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on November 06, 2016, 08:51:39 PM
Seventh Heaven is great, but Metropolis cannot be denied-- it is the great film of its decade.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 07, 2016, 01:35:02 AM
Well yeah, this was basically Silent Film 101, which was ideal for me. Will keep Seventh Heaven in mind, I've seen that it is held in very high regard in the yearly polls.

Meanwhile, on to Film Noir ! With a little Bunuel detour first to be up to date.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 10, 2016, 02:05:03 PM
La mort en ce jardin / Death in the Garden (Luis Bunuel, 1956)

(http://i.imgur.com/0wSvpSg.jpg)

Adam & Josh's takes (starts at 1:08:28) (http://dcs.megaphone.fm/FLM9762632096.mp3?key=977d339afcbd5f121004c91f16e3baf0)

Well, after listening to that I'm a bit worried that Bunuel is simply not for me. Aside from his visual inventiveness, which there are some flashes of here (the ant-filled snake being the most notable one), he just doesn't connect with me.

This is the second film in a row which is ostensibly an adventure... but Bunuel seems so disinterested in depicting that in an exciting or entertaining way that I wonder why he bothers at all. I fail to see anything of value in the first half : theoretically I suppose the characters that are going to be stuck with each other in the jungle are being developed and set-up but Bunuel is as uninterested in characters as he is in traditional storytelling. Or maybe he's just bad at it, I don't know, but all of these "characters" aren't recognizably human, they're just there to symbolise different aspects of human society : the hypocritical priest, the heartless and greedy prostitute, the violent outlaw, the persecuted honest worker and his innocent mute daughter... that all sounds like an interesting group, but if you read that sentence you'd know as much about the characters as if you'd watched the film.

One key point that might explain why I reacted so differently to this than Adam & Josh is the acting. I think it's pretty uniformly terrible, especially Simone Signoret who's just doing a bad Arletty impression throughout. I'm probably "wrong", because those are relatively big names (Signoret and Piccoli). Maybe it's the awful dubbing, but I've enjoyed Italian films that had even worse dubbing than this, so I don't think so. Maybe it's the fact that this is presumably Mexico and everyone speaks French, but given the circumstances I don't ever mind that much, Bunuel is clearly not after any kind of realism here.

Then the film's value must be in its allegory, right ? I guess... it starts with a revolt against an authoritarian state, but beyond that it's so vague... Francoist Spain comes to mind because it's Bunuel, but it feels very surface-level. I can see the ways in which the story and characters have a connection to that, but I don't see anything actually interesting or thoughtful about it. It's just kinda there.

Part of me feels like those two movies are just cash-grabs, with their ostensibly action/adventure-y hooks, that Bunuel absent-mindedly filled with his usual themes without really exerting himself.

3/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 11, 2016, 05:09:22 PM
Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)

(http://i.imgur.com/S4Go2in.png)

Adam & Sam's takes (starts at 37:38) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/4/1/8/41869988dc5edb77/filmspot161_051807.mp3?c_id=1303283&expiration=1478902935&hwt=06695551d9f657a791840e6728235edb)

This time, I'm on Sam's side (even though I know Sam himself isn't on this side anymore at this point). Double Indemnity should be a great movie, and for the most part it is. But there is a huge void at the center of it, a black hole of charisma named Fred MacMurray, who is in virtually every frame and, as our noir protagonist, also has to handle voice-over narration. It's not that he's horrible, he's just irremediably bland and stiff. His initial scenes with Stanwyck fell so flat, I was starting to wonder where the Stanwyck from The Lady Eve had gone, but it turns out she's still great : it's just hard to be that sexy when you're playing against a cardboard cutout, I guess.

It's a shame, really, because I can see why this film is so revered, and I would love to join the ranks and see it as a masterpiece. The story is classic noir, with a turn that -while predictable for the genre - is perfectly executed and carried by Stanwyck, who plays a more vulnerable version of the femme fatale than I expected. It's pretty thrilling at times (the scene with Stanwyck hiding behind the door for example), and the climax has a stunning beauty that I found somewhat missing from the rest of the film -emphasis on the "somewhat", I'm by no means arguing against the cinematography overall - perhaps my expectations got the better of me there.

The supporting cast is also not that great, aside from Edward G Robinson. That's a significant exception of course, as his character is particularly enjoyable to watch and one can only imagine that the relationship with Neff would have lead the ending to be even more effective had he been portrayed by a better actor, but oh well. Past Robinson though... not a fan of Jean Heather (Lola) in particular, or Byron Barr (Zacchetti) to a lesser extent.

All in all though, McMurray is the main reason this doesn't quite live up to its lofty reputation for me, but Stanwyck, Robinson and Wilder's assured direction make this a strong film nonetheless, just not quite a great one.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: smirnoff on November 11, 2016, 05:39:03 PM
Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)

This time, I'm on Sam's side (even though I know Sam himself isn't on this side anymore at this point). Double Indemnity should be a great movie, and for the most part it is. But there is a huge void at the center of it, a black hole of charisma named Fred MacMurray, who is in virtually every frame and, as our noir protagonist, also has to handle voice-over narration. It's not that he's horrible, he's just irremediably bland and stiff. His initial scenes with Stanwyck fell so flat, I was starting to wonder where the Stanwyck from The Lady Eve had gone, but it turns out she's still great : it's just hard to be that sexy when you're playing against a cardboard cutout, I guess.

7/10

:))

Your knock on Freddie Mac caught my eye. It's not that I count myself a fan really, I just happened to have seen him in some westerns from the 50's and thought he suited the parts. Somehow his stiff, blandness read as stoicism, and the hardened nerves of a ex-gunslinger. Could be that he was 15 years older and looking considerably more weathered.

I enjoyed reading your reaction though... it surprised me. I've not seen Double Indemnity, but of course I am aware of it being a highly regarded film. I didn't know there was a "black hole of charisma" at the center of it. :)) I wonder, is MacMurray's blandness a reaction you've encountered elsewhere in regards to the film? What is he, like a poor man's Bogie?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: 1SO on November 11, 2016, 07:46:46 PM
I wonder, is MacMurray's blandness a reaction you've encountered elsewhere in regards to the film? What is he, like a poor man's Bogie?

George Raft is the poor man's Bogie. MacMurray is an age appropriate character delivery device. I like him just fine, but I never think he's the best choice for any part. At his best, a director will cast him to be a guy's guy who believes he has it all figured out only to learn by the end of the film that he's a sucker or a fool. It's like Will Ferrell played straight.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on November 11, 2016, 08:14:15 PM
MacMurray is also what kept me distant from the film.  I thought it was because I'd only seen him in his later comedic roles and it was hard to imagine him being this nihilistic.  Now you make me wonder if the weakness is in the performance.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 12, 2016, 01:28:32 AM
:))

Your knock on Freddie Mac caught my eye. It's not that I count myself a fan really, I just happened to have seen him in some westerns from the 50's and thought he suited the parts. Somehow his stiff, blandness read as stoicism, and the hardened nerves of a ex-gunslinger. Could be that he was 15 years older and looking considerably more weathered.

I enjoyed reading your reaction though... it surprised me. I've not seen Double Indemnity, but of course I am aware of it being a highly regarded film. I didn't know there was a "black hole of charisma" at the center of it. :)) I wonder, is MacMurray's blandness a reaction you've encountered elsewhere in regards to the film? What is he, like a poor man's Bogie?

Well, Sam agreed with me in 2007, for one. From what I've seen in reviews, people must not mind his performance as much as I did, but he's rarely called out as being particularly good either, with the focus generally being on Stanwyck and Robinson, rightly so. I think part of my reaction is also tied with expectations, a bit : I know I should love this and I can see what gives the film its reputation, so I'm perhaps more critical of McMurray than I would be in a lesser film. But also, this is a film that asks a lot of its lead character, and McMurray not being up to it hurts it all the more for that reason.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 12, 2016, 02:59:27 AM
Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)

7/10

I could not relate to Junior and Martin's love of this movie, in part because of that central performance. If your main character is in every scene of the movie, he should not be the distant third best performer in it. I also have a couple of problems with the script and plot, which stem from pacing and character development, but I suspect solving that acting issue might have allowed me to overlook them.

MacMurray is an age appropriate character delivery device.

(http://i67.tinypic.com/ea4o7c.gif)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 12, 2016, 03:13:07 AM
Poor Laura Linney. She deserves better.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: smirnoff on November 13, 2016, 12:53:52 AM
Oh course we're all in agreement Double Jeopardy is the better film, right?

Guys?

Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 15, 2016, 09:48:07 AM
I've watched The Killers and will review it later today (spoiler : I liked it better than Double Indemnity) but I noticed that I started this thing exactly one year ago. Well, technically the first review (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13566.msg821669#msg821669) went up a day after that, but you get the point.

When I started, I listed 30 marathons comprised of 177 films, but with the addition of the three 2016 marathons Josh & Adam did (Elaine May, Contemporary Nordic Cinema and Luis Bunuel), the count is up to 195. Of those, I've finished 12 marathons (with Bunuel and Noir ongoing) and watched 81 films, which amounts to 6.75 films a month. Which means that, if I stay on that rythm, I'll be done in about a year and five months. That doesn't account for any new marathons that might pop up in the meantime though, so realistically I'll be done in about two years at the most... which is pretty long, but hey, I knew that going in. Anyway, time for pointless stats, because numbers are fun.

81 films (including rewatches)
33 Black and white / 48 Colours

Median/average year : 1966/1964
Oldest/Most recent : The Birth of a Nation (1915) / 1001 gram (2014)
1 film from the 1910's
6 from the 1920's
8 from the 1930's
10 from the 1940's
11 from the 1950's
7 from the 1960's
18 from the 1970's
10 from the 1980's
3 from the 1990's
4 from the 2000's
3 from the 2010's

Median/average length : 101/106
Shortest/Longest : Un chien andalou (16 minutes) / Andrey Rublyov (205 minutes)
2 under 60 minutes
3 between 60 and 80 minutes
9 between 80 and 90 minutes
25 between 90 and 100 minutes
24 between 100 and 120 minutes
12 between 120 and 150 minutes
5 between 150 and 180 minutes
1 over 180 minutes

Median/average rating : 7/6,41
1/10 : 1
2/10 : 4
3/10 : 7
4/10 : 6
5/10 : 5
6/10 : 9
7/10 : 20
8/10 : 19
9/10 : 6
10/10 : 4

Five favourite discoveries, celebrated in gif form of course :

Andrey Rublyov (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966)

(http://i.imgur.com/lAWdf7j.gif)

Dawn of the Dead (George A. Romero, 1978)

(http://i.imgur.com/fTHudBJ.gif)

Strangers on a Train (Alfred Hitchcock, 1951)

(http://i.imgur.com/sNzbiUr.gif)

Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)

(http://i.imgur.com/iexUCP7.gif)

Fitzcarraldo (Werner Herzog, 1982)

(http://i.imgur.com/czKuZck.gif)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 15, 2016, 02:47:45 PM
smirnoff would condone your method of celebrating your five picks. 

I applaud your commitment to this. I know I would never last more than a couple of months at a similar rhythm, and I doubt any force on Earth could make me watch four (or however many it was) Tarkovskys in one month. There are a few other marathons I would have trouble with. So kudos to you.

(http://i65.tinypic.com/23wv4lk.gif)

(What marathon was Romero from ? And thanks for the extra nudge to rewatch Strangers by the way.)

Now for the important part:

STATS!

*does a little stats dance*

1. You've watched 15 new movies made before 1940 with this project. Is that a significant increase on your knowledge of that period ?
2. Did you detect a trend in your preferences regarding black and white or coloured movies with this selection ?
3. Did you dread those 18 movies that were over two hours long at all ?
4. Considering those average and median, do you still believe this to be a worthwhile endeavour ?
5. Is this too many questions ?
6. What are the other 9/10s ?
7. What were your favourite and least favourite marathons ?

Now good luck and solider on!

(http://i68.tinypic.com/n5og43.gif)

NB: You may want to post a link to that post on your index post.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 15, 2016, 03:17:49 PM
Have you had bad experiences with Tarkovsky DH ? There wasn't a whole Tarkovsky marathon in this case, they did an "Overlooked Auteurs" thing early on that had 2 Fuller, 2 Tarkovsky and 2 Ozu, so the super-long super-slow Soviet masterpieces were kept to a minimum. Coincidentally (unless my subconscious was trying to do something), quite some time passed between films at that particular point in my marathon because I was focusing on rewatches in anticipation for my top 100 Club month.

Dawn of the Dead was in the Horror marathon. Since you're doing your own version of Noir-vember it seems, you should definitely watch Strangers, since that's apparently considered Noir. Regardless, it's very good and Robert Walker is fun.

1. Very significant. Like, hugely, which is part of the reason I got into this. The vast majority of pre-1940's film I've seen are from this marathon, still.

2. I didn't really think about that. I don't see them as being substantially different... or at least I don't have a clear preference. I might look at the numbers to see if there's a noticeable difference, but I doubt it.

3. Well... To a degree, yes. I certainly dreaded Andrey Rublyov, even though I had loved Solyaris, and especially Birth of a Nation because that had a combination of factors working against it (which made it a relatively pleasant surprise, racism notwithstanding). The other I remember being weary of was West Side Story, and I loved that too, so I guess I just like long movies. Except The Wild Bunch, that was just unpleasant.

4. Absolutely. Looking at my ratings curve on Letterbox'd, 7 is my median overall... I guess I expected the average to be higher than this, but I think the bad ones are easier to get through because I know I'm watching them for a specific purpose (and can look forward to hearing whether or not Adam & Sam/Josh shared my experience).

5. There's no such thing as too many questions.

6. Solyaris (rewatch), West Side Story and Songs from the Second Floor.

7. Hmmm. Well if I look strictly based on ratings my favorite would be Animation, but... I knew I liked Animation already, and had already seen two of them. I think Hitchcock ends up being my favourite, because it's the one where I had the easiest time drawing connections between the films : I remember noticing early on that almost all the films featured stairs in prominent and interesting scenes, and then I got to Vertigo and went "well, duh".
As far as my least favorite... overlooked Auteurs, probably. It had my favourite and my least favourite films so far (Andrey Rublyov and The Big Red One), but mostly it just didn't have the benefits of a marathon, which is contextualisation.

Thanks, and will do.  :)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 15, 2016, 04:10:45 PM
Aaand back on track.

The Killers (Robert Siodmak, 1946)

(http://i.imgur.com/DlpDnD5.png)

Adam & Sam's takes (starts at 34:46) (http://www.filmspotting.net/images/podcast_logo1.gif)

From my perspective, which is that of a Noir Philistine*, The Killers looks and feels more like the idea I have of noir than anything I've seen so far. I don't exactly know what it is... actually I think I do, and it's Ava Gardner. Not only her of course, but her first scene is exactly what I picture when I think "femme fatale", and Burt Lancaster's reaction of stunned infatuation seems like the most natural thing in the world. I struggled a bit with Lancaster here (as Adam & Sam did), but ultimately I think he's excellent. Yeah he plays his character like a dummy which feels counterintuitive for a Noir protagonist... they're supposed to be clever men who get in trouble because of a woman, not dummies from the start, right ? In thise case I think it works because of the story's structure.

The structure in question is more reminiscent of Citizen Kane than Double Indemnity, and I'm left wondering if that film could have worked better with us following Robinson's character as he uncovered various aspects of the plot... but let's stay on target. This is why I think Lancaster's performance works well : he's a tragic character from the start, and his relative stupidity is made up by the fact that we're following a more satistfyingly clever investigator in Edmond O'Brien's Jim Reardon. Now the plot is... wonky, tying itself into knots that lead to necessary contrivances, and that's certainly a problem, but one that I ultimately got over, because...

It just looks great. There's the opening, of course, and I wasn't that surprised to discover that the first five minutes were all that Hemingway wrote, because the dialogue in particular seemed to be on a higher-level there... but I think it'd be unfair to reduce the film to a disappointment after that scene. Partly because of Ava Gardner, who might not give as good a performance as Stanwyck, but just oozes sensuality and danger. The direction is simply masterful : there's that shot of Lancaster's girlfriend looking at him looking at Gardner, the heist and the final in the restaurant... but yes, the best scene comes right at the start. I don't know if Hemingway invented the kind of patter we now associate with pairs of wiseguys on the job (this has got to be one of Tarantino's numerous sources of inspiration), but it feels iconic regardless. Charles McGraw and especially William Conrad are perfect, and the whole scene just completely pulls you in. What follows might not be quite on that level, but it's close enough for me.

8/10

*Apparently the right translation for "béotien", ie someone who is ignorant in a particular domain ? I guess we think Greeks are dumb but you guys are all about those Palestinians, huh ? Let's not think about that too much.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 15, 2016, 04:11:40 PM
I don't have a Tarkosvky problem. I have a long movie problem that has led me to not watch the Solyaris that has been on my filmshelf for two years.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 15, 2016, 04:15:02 PM
I don't have a Tarkosvky problem. I have a long movie problem that has led me to not watch the Solyaris that has been on my filmshelf for two years.

I see. Well, if you like slow, beautiful and sometimes/often confounding sci-fi reflections on the human condition, you should pull the trigger. But you know that already.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 15, 2016, 04:43:35 PM
Yeah well, I am still going to wait until I am out of noir.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: smirnoff on November 15, 2016, 10:05:30 PM
smirnoff would condone your method of celebrating your five picks.

(http://i.imgur.com/BTTkG2B.gif)



the bad ones are easier to get through because I know I'm watching them for a specific purpose (and can look forward to hearing whether or not Adam & Sam/Josh shared my experience).

That does seem like a fun consolation prize. :)

I may watch along when you get to the 70's Sci-fi marathon. I haven't seen a single one of those films.

I haven't seen a great many of the classics from these marathons but the ones I have I find you tend to come down in the same ballpark.  When it's all said and done maybe I'll just watch everything you rated 9's and 10's. :)) I trust your ratings.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: verbALs on November 16, 2016, 12:08:17 AM
The Killers (Robert Siodmak, 1946)

From my perspective, which is that of a Noir Philistine*, The Killers looks and feels more like the idea I have of noir than anything I've seen so far. I don't exactly know what it is... actually I think I do, and it's Ava Gardner. Not only her of course, but her first scene is exactly what I picture when I think "femme fatale", and Burt Lancaster's reaction of stunned infatuation seems like the most natural thing in the world. I struggled a bit with Lancaster here (as Adam & Sam did), but ultimately I think he's excellent. Yeah he plays his character like a dummy which feels counterintuitive for a Noir protagonist... they're supposed to be clever men who get in trouble because of a woman, not dummies from the start, right ?

When I saw you were watching this film I thought it might give you that comparison between MacMurray as weak man and the ever heroic Lancaster in a weak role; and you explained the differences in emphasis beautifully. Neff is central while the man in the bedroom waiting to die is a stop on the road. So two differences; the utter brilliance of the writing of Wilder/Chandler/Cain of a terminally unsympathetic character (which starts to predominate on rewatches in my experience). The other difference is that Stanwyck acts the role of femme but Gardner IS the role. I think of Gardner when I think of femme fatale. Double Indemnity was a background noir for me for a long time until the writing came through so powerfully the last time. It's a prime example of no bad characters just bad writing.

Also shadows. It might feel more noirish for that reason. The standout moment in this film is the camera movement during the heist scene. I don't go looking for these technical moment in films; they have to serve the film and then I'll see how effectively they convey the story or emotion. In this case; Siodmak cases the joint for us with a crane movement. Sheer joy!

You mentioned Conrads presence over McGraw but he's an actor in noir who jumps out of the screen because of his work in other noir like Narrow Margin. Again, less acting more sheer presence. There's a visceral emotion that comes through in noir that people are part animal. Zola called it acting on your senses not on your character. People like Marie Windsor or William Talman or the greats like Widmark and Ryan who are exuding pheromones almost more than they are acting.  ;D
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 16, 2016, 02:16:32 AM
I may watch along when you get to the 70's Sci-fi marathon. I haven't seen a single one of those films.

That 70's Sci-Fi Marathon, squarely between Ingmar Bergman and Pedro Almodovar... will be an interesting change of pace, would be very interested to see you follow along. I guess that'll be in January, probably. That and Blaxploitation are the most intriguing marathons to me, no idea how they'll go.

I haven't seen a great many of the classics from these marathons but the ones I have I find you tend to come down in the same ballpark.  When it's all said and done maybe I'll just watch everything you rated 9's and 10's. :)) I trust your ratings.

Feeling the pressure now ! I'll think about that the next time I rate a 3-hour extravaganza. ;D

The other difference is that Stanwyck acts the role of femme but Gardner IS the role.

That's an excellent way to put it.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on November 16, 2016, 09:06:00 PM
When in doubt, stats!

Keep it up Teproc. I'm going to watch Strangers on a Train for the first time now.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 18, 2016, 04:50:51 PM
Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947)

(http://i.imgur.com/womPsit.jpg)

Adam & Sam's takes (starts at 42:18) (http://ec.libsyn.com/p/4/8/e/48eed8dad5808460/filmspot164_061507.mp3?d13a76d516d9dec20c3d276ce028ed5089ab1ce3dae902ea1d06cf8e32d0cb5a0518&c_id=1303291)

If I've learned one thing from this marathon, it's that running a gas station in small-town America is not a good way to escape dangerous people you've double-crossed. It's pretty obvious, really : sooner a later some mook will happen to drive by that town and recognize you, so don't do it !

With that out of the way... I'm with Sam again, though I think I liked this more than he did. It's... good. It's just a well-done noir, anchored by a reasonably strong performance by Mitchum... actually let's talk about Mitchum. Sam talks about his lack of charm, and I agree but I don't think it's a problem, really : his character is a cynical sadsack, he's not supposed to be particularly dashing. While I wouldn't call it an incredible performance, I'd say he's very solid and Tourneur makes good use of Mitchum's unique physicality/look. Kirk Douglas is having a lot of fun as the villain, and Jane Greer is very good too, though...

I think Sam expressed some of the problems I had with her character in a way I wasn't quite able to put into words : she's more of a "nightmare woman" as he says, than she's a character. She's almost a caricature of the manipulative side of the femme fatale, passing for a damsel in distress but then revealing that she's the most cynical character in the film, and I have nothing against that trope per se, but it seems to be pushed to a certain extreme here. The ending tries to be somewhat ambivalent here, and part of me feels like Tourneur* never really decided if she truly did care about anyone or not. Again, it's not a problem really, it makes her character fascinating in a way, culminating with the "You're no good and neither am I. That's why we deserve each other." scene... but it also feels lazy at times, especially the end.

Maybe that's just me resisting the genre and its inherent nihilism, which is always close to veering into lazy cynicism. I'm not saying Out of the Past does, but I'm wondering if that's maybe the reason I can't fully embrace it the way Adam does. Ultimately it might also be that it's visually less striking than either of the two preceding movies, possibly because a lot of it takes place in less typically-noir locations (sunny Mexico and the forested mountains near lake Tahoe), though it has some good shots here and there, like Mitchum lighting his cigarette in Greer's room as she sleeps.

7/10

*For the record, I'm aware that directors weren't necessarily calling all the shots in in these types of movies, I'm just using it as a shortcut (well, a metonymy to be precise) for "whoever was in charge".
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: pixote on November 18, 2016, 05:00:11 PM
I really need to watch Out of the Past again. I think I've seen it twice, but I don't really remember it, aside from generally liking it (maybe not as much as I was 'supposed' to) and thinking Dickie Moore's character was the best thing about it.

pixote
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on November 18, 2016, 06:20:25 PM
Confession: I find it hard to remember noirs. Beyond the big ones they all run together for me. Like I know I've seen The Big Combo, but I couldn't tell you a specific thing that happened.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: smirnoff on November 18, 2016, 10:04:57 PM
Do you find that with any other genres? Westerns maybe?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: MartinTeller on November 18, 2016, 11:10:13 PM
Confession: I find it hard to remember noirs. Beyond the big ones they all run together for me. Like I know I've seen The Big Combo, but I couldn't tell you a specific thing that happened.

It's the titles. They're so vague and interchangeable, and often have little or nothing to do with the content of the film. Off the top of my head, I couldn't tell you what happens in The Big Combo either. And it's in my top 100 noirs!
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on November 18, 2016, 11:37:29 PM
No, I think it's the only genre where I have this problem. Fortunately, the great ones stick with me. It's just odd how many of them I can't remember anything specific about. I know I enjoyed them, though.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 19, 2016, 01:33:53 AM
Maybe I should do plot summaries but I kinda hate them and for noir it's especially annoying to do because the plots aren't exactly straightforward. The most memorable thing in the film would probably be Kirk Douglas as some kind of a high-class mob boss, I'm guessing he hasn't played that part all that often ?

It does make sense for noir in particular to blend together, because I feel it has even more codes and tropes than even something like a Western.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: smirnoff on November 19, 2016, 01:53:25 AM
Maybe I should do plot summaries

Nooooo! :))
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: verbALs on November 19, 2016, 01:55:51 AM
Please don't. It's embarrassing if someone gets the plot wrong.  ;)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 19, 2016, 02:43:40 AM
Maybe I should do plot summaries

Nooooo! :))

I always skip the summaries around here. Either I know the movie or I don't want to know the plot beforehand.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 19, 2016, 02:47:48 AM
Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947)

7/10

It's nice to see a review of a movie I just watched. I think I agree with most of what you wrote though I was less concerned with the performances than with the plot.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 19, 2016, 02:52:50 AM
Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947)

7/10

It's nice to see a review of a movie I just watched. I think I agree with most of what you wrote though I was less concerned with the performances than with the plot.

I didn't mention it, but I do think the plot has problems in the latter part of the film, with a double-cross happening every five minutes and the tax papers being the center of everything. I'm not sure I'd call it incoherent, but it gets to feel pretty artificial at a certain point. I don't have a problem with Mitchum and Greer falling in love though : from his side she's a gorgeous damsel in distress that he can be the protector of, as for her... well my take on it is that she's purely self-interested the whole time and whatever attraction she might feel for Mitchum is secondary to just trying to get by.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: verbALs on November 19, 2016, 03:03:19 AM
The first time I saw it I found Greer so terminally dull I couldn't buy anyone getting into trouble over her. The second time I ignored her presence and put a femme fatale placeholder over her part; written as so gorgeous men will die for her but they cast Greer instead. The films very good when you ignore Greer. She's equally terrible in The Big Steal.

So that's the third film where doing stupid things because of a woman is sold on ones personal reaction to that woman. It's a lot like life; as the song goes.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: MartinTeller on November 19, 2016, 10:58:46 AM
It's a lot like life; as the song goes.

Master and Servant?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: verbALs on November 19, 2016, 12:32:09 PM
 ;D spot on.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on November 19, 2016, 04:44:09 PM
LOL.




Now I'll have that stuck in my head for the rest of the day.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 21, 2016, 04:58:00 PM
Deadly Is the Female a.k.a. Gun Crazy (Joseph H. Lewis, 1950)

(http://i.imgur.com/D9x7LgX.jpg)

Adam & Sam's takes (starts at 37:45) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/c/b/d/cbd7ac173a462b09/filmspot166_062907.mp3?c_id=1303301&expiration=1479770848&hwt=9716ab7e20cb90a66babb37d7b7c7ae8)

So this is a film with no good performances, a shoddy script, an overbearing score and none of the gorgeous cinematography that I associate with noir. And yet, I kinda liked it ! Not by much, but I did, and all of that is because of Joseph H. Lewis's assured, inventive directing and sense of pace.

I think this is the first instance of the "bank robbery where we stay in the back seat scene" (most recently seen, by me at least, in Sebastian Schipper's Victoria), which I always enjoy, and the second bank heist which simply follows our hero in and back out in a way that's absolutely thrilling. It's not just those standout sequences though, it's also the little things, like the composition during the last car chase, with the characters being off-center as they come under increasingly high pressure. Despite being thrown off by the film's many problems, I couldn't help but be thrown back in every time something like that happened, and the pace and short running time ere crucial in that regard.

As Adam and Sam observe though, this is a B-movie, with a B-level script : I can picture Trumbo churning it out in his frenzied "must churn out scripts to stay alive" phase under the Blacklist, and especially B-level acting. Peggy Cummins is so incredibly mannered while John Dall is completely dull, and that's not a recipe for success. To be fair to them though, Trumbo didn't give them much to work with : to say they're archetypes would be charitable. One-dimensional (unless you count "I love guns !" as extra-depth) cardboard cutouts is more like it, which is especially disappointing considering the complexity that should be present in a Bonnie and Clyde-inspired story (which we'll get to, at some point).

So there you go : B-Movie, not very good but fun enough (and short enough) to mostly work regardless.

6/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 22, 2016, 03:34:36 AM
I find her much more interesting than that - and him. Her thrill seeking goes far beyond guns, she craves danger, possibly to the point of having a subconscious death wish. The power dynamic between the two of them and how it evolves is pretty interesting to observe too. I have been wanting to watch Bonnie & Clyde since watching this, so I may join you when you do.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 22, 2016, 03:48:49 AM
I find her much more interesting than that - and him. Her thrill seeking goes far beyond guns, she craves danger, possibly to the point of having a subconscious death wish. The power dynamic between the two of them and how it evolves is pretty interesting to observe too. I have been wanting to watch Bonnie & Clyde since watching this, so I may join you when you do.

I just didn't buy her performance for a second. I wish I had seen what you describe (and hope to see it in Bonnie and Clyde), but the combination of her mannerisms and his stiffnes did not add up to all that unfortunately.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 25, 2016, 12:04:03 PM
The Asphalt Jungle (John Huston, 1950)

(http://i.imgur.com/kjbZ2Ww.jpg)

Adam & Sam's takes (starts at 45:19) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/c/0/9/c09a678c0f81a197/filmspot168_071307.mp3?c_id=1303304&expiration=1480092747&hwt=4306e0eeb5a270e3cb78c6a3142cd6c2)

Were I not in the middle of a noir marathon, I wouldn't question The Asphalt Jungle as a noir : it has a bleak worldview, the action takes place in a non-descript big city's underworld, and has characters constantly trying to double-cross each other out of greed... and in truth I'm not really questioning it, but it does stand out a bit from the other films in this marathon. No femme fatale (maybe Monroe but you're really stretching at that point), no voice-over narration or flashback structure, no weak-willed protagonist... in fact no protagonist at all. Maybe that's what feels most different about it. As the name indicates, this film is less about a story than an environment : the dark, corrupt City and its sorry denizens, desperately trying to survive.

Perhaps that's because it's a John Huston film more than a noir, and this is where my ignorance of The Maltese Falcon is showing, because I don't know how close this is to that but it certainly feels like a thematic follow-up to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre... another film that evokes a genre.

Huston's view of humanity works its way seamlessly into a noir environment of course, but what makes Asphalt Jungle distinct from both Sierra Madre and the other films in this marathon is its wide array of characters. My personal favorite is Sam Jaffe's German in exile, probably the smartest of them all, and one the most honest, both with himself and with others. Him and Sterling Hayden's determined "hooligan" (the closest the film has to a real protagonist) both offer admirable qualities amongst a cast of cynical and/or despicable characters. I was a bit wary of Hayden's performance at first, but his bullish strongman ends up much more compelling than I'd have expected, turning out to be a misfit who longs to leave this awful place, and does end up getting his wish, though only briefly.

A big part of what also makes the film work is its structure, apparently (one of) the first to center on a single heist, in which we follow the characters as they assemble a team, execute the heist and scramble after it goes somewhat awry. The heist itself is perhaps the only disappointing scene here, not quite as thrilling as they can be in the best of these movies, but it works well enough. It all comes back to the deep bench of memorable characters : a lawyer who's ruined but has to keep appearances and his naive mistress, a reliable bartender turned driver and a cowardly bookie... they all have just enough going on that the whole film feels very lived-in. It doesn't hurt that it's just a very well-written film, both in structure and dialogue.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: verbALs on November 25, 2016, 12:20:04 PM
I agree the heist movie can stand on its own two feet as a genre; perfect plans going wrong. Maltese Falcon is in the detective movie genre. Other sub strains that can be seen as noirish ....or not are films about murderous infidelity or media manipulation so whilst Ace in the Hole and Sweet Smell of Success have noir at their core it's not essential to view them as part of one genre or another. I read enough noir before I ever thought of it that way.

That's why the French appreciation of American pulp and its existential mood, which I can now trace to Zola now, is apt. If it FEELS noir to the viewer that's what it is. Touchez pas au grisbi, Bob le flambeur, Lift to the Scaffold and Shoot the piano player have an effortless noir feel that has nothing to do with shadows and trenchcoats, it's all in the ineffable tone.

If you start thinking of noir in these terms then "detective noir" transcends the classic noir constriction and films like Brick or Winters Bone or Inherent Vice start to connect to the Falcon or The Glass Key. Films where the detective takes a physical beating to find out vital information; even Jennifer Lawrence.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 25, 2016, 12:27:58 PM
Are Le samouraï and L'armée des ombres/Army of Shadows considered noir ? They'd have to right ? Or is that neo-noir ?

It seems to me that you can define noir along three axises (that can't be the right pluralization can it ?) :
- style, be it visual or narrative (black and white heavily constracted, voice-over narration and flashbacks)
- characters/plot (femme fatales, easily duped men who think themselves more clever than they are, scams and double crosses)
- themes (bleak view of the world, greed as a primary motivator for man, deception all around)

Maybe I shouldn't put characters and plot together, because this has some of the plot elements without the archetypes. It doesn't really have the style, but it does have the themes... I'm sure this has already been debated to death here by the likes of Martin and 1SO though.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: verbALs on November 25, 2016, 12:34:10 PM
I was gonna list some heist movies and Le cercle rouge would be in there with;

Riffifi
The Hot Rock
Heist
The Killing
Robbery (which appears to be Peter Yates Bullitt audition, car chases wise)
Inside Man
Hell or High Water
Point Break!

And you watched a noir that is a heist movie that's been inverted The Killers.

Army of Shadows seem to be entering the noir picture. Any talk of that movie is welcome, it's a masterpiece. Le doulos is closer to noir. I love Melville. I actually find Le Sam too clinical like JPM was doing a thought exercise; how precise and emotionless can I make a film? Bob Le flambeur is the opposite joyfully messy.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 26, 2016, 03:34:14 PM
Kiss Me Deadly (Robet Aldrich, 1955)

(http://i.imgur.com/S3m0vpo.jpg)

Adam & Sam's takes (starts at 46:51) (http://ec.libsyn.com/p/2/a/f/2af5be28da836a4d/filmspot171_080307.mp3?d13a76d516d9dec20c3d276ce028ed5089ab1ce3dae902ea1d06c08736d8cf5ececa&c_id=1303311)

Kiss Me Deadly starts well and ends really interestingly... but it's a complete mess for most of its running time. It all starts, as is becoming usual for me, with the protagonist. I'm baffled by Adam characterizing him as "fascinating" because he just seemed like another blank audience-surrogate to me, and I can't say Ralph Meeker finds any way to elevate that. He describes him as a badass, and they discuss his brutality but I'd say the character barely registered with me... as did most of the film before it turned from detective noir to paranoid thriller. Maybe I've become so desensitized to violence in film that I missed it, as for his misogyny... well the whole genre is so imbued with that, and the wome here behave in a way that made me think there might be some brainwashing going on, so... I don't know, nothing really stuck outto me as far as the characters themselves were concerned. I just found it mostly unengaging with some of the writing bordering on campy, and not in a good way.

That being said... there's a lot to like here, or at least to be intrigued by. There's those first few scenes, which hint that the film might go further than the usual nihilism of noir into something even creepier, and the villain kept hidden by focusing on his shoes, a strategy borrowed from Strangers on a Train, so I can't really resist that. While it looked like the film would never live up to that promise for a long, long while, it does get there towards the end. It seems to get away from its noir roots to dip into something else : again paranoid thriller is what I'd call it but I suppose that's a 70's term... the last 20 minutes feel closer to something like Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the original) than anything in this marathon, and all of a sudden it gets distinctive and interesting, starting with the introduction of that mysterious box that clearly inspired the Pulp Fiction briefcase, except with more 50's nuclear panic.

It culminates in an unforgettable final scene that almost makes me want to reconsider the whole film... almost. As it stands I don't know that a handful of senes make up for an otherwise uninspired film, it almost seems schizophrenic in a way. Certainly a perplexing outlier here.

5/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: verbALs on November 26, 2016, 03:51:08 PM
Carl Evello: "What's it worth to you, to turn your considerable talents back to the gutter you crawled out of?"

Hammer: "I set my fee according to the case. The longer I look at this one, the higher it gets."

Evello: "It's too late to set a fee Mr Hammer. Suddenly, it's too late"
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 26, 2016, 04:02:33 PM
I take it you're a fan ? I guess those lines look cool on (digital) paper, so maybe it's the acting that didn't connect. I suppose the problems I have with the writing have more to do with the overall story : it never feels like an investigation or an uncovering of deep, hidden truths so much as a random succession of scenes where information is given without any need for any cleverness or effort on anyone's part. The bad guys are supposed to be terrifying, but they never felt like a real threat to me. Maybe it's that first attempt on his life : it's so clumsy it's more laughable than anything else.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: verbALs on November 26, 2016, 04:43:45 PM
It's a complete piece of trash.  :D
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 26, 2016, 04:44:41 PM
The Marlowes (Film Noir Awards)

In the same order as the podcast (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/a/b/1/ab1e37b044727830/filmspot172_081007.mp3?c_id=1303312&expiration=1480201176&hwt=51d062f56b9221c6301f64fb2c4fabe0) (starts at 35:18).

Best Scene / Moment : Opening scene (The Killers)

(http://i.imgur.com/kwiIaJX.jpg)

Best Cinematography : The Killers

(http://i.imgur.com/DlpDnD5.png)

Best Femme Fatale : Ava Gardner (The Killers)

(http://i.imgur.com/fDVivhJ.gif)

Best Protagonist : Robert Mitchum (Out of the Past)

(http://i.imgur.com/WUs8cwu.jpg)

Best Picture : The Asphalt Jungle

(http://i.imgur.com/V7gF7gw.gif)

Summary/ranking :

The Asphalt Jungle (John Huston, 1950)
The Killers (Robert Siodmak, 1946)
Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)
Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947)
Deadly Is the Female a.k.a. Gun Crazy (Joseph H. Lewis, 1950)
Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 1955)


Up next : Ingmar Bergman. That'll be... fun ?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: 1SO on November 27, 2016, 06:07:13 PM
Teproc, you reminded me that even though I had seen The Killers years before I knee Film Noir was a genre, Mrs. 1SO hadn't seen it, so we watched it today. I like the discussion you had because there is an interesting split focus in the screenplay where Lancaster is the star, but he's not the typical Noir lead in a lot of ways. Edmond O'Brien is the lead, but he doesn't fall into the Noir trap typical of the genre.

Agree "Ava Gardner, who might not give as good a performance as Stanwyck, but just oozes sensuality and danger." Reminds me of Kim Novak in Pushover who is a Femme Fatale except she's an innocent party to the destruction, unaware how much she's the cause of it.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 29, 2016, 10:47:56 AM
Glad you enjoyed your revisiting of The Killers 1SO, I might want to check out Pushover... at some point.  ::)

On to Bergman, which marks the end of the Adam & Sam era, now it's this Matty guy. I hear he's funny, we'll see.

Sommarnattens leende / Smiles of a Summer Night (Ingmar Bergman, 1955)

(http://i.imgur.com/QJm7bov.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 37:47) (http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3?http://media.libsyn.com/media/cinecast/filmspot179_092807.mp3)

Up next : Ingmar Bergman. That'll be... fun ?

Indeed it was, to my great surprise ! I was weary of Bergman (this was my first exposure), and really I still am a bit because I understand this is somewhat of an outlier in his filmography, but I couldn't have asked for a smoother introduction. This is a farce (Matty even calls it a sex comedy which I believe is anachronistic but relatively accurate), reminiscent of La règle du jeu in two ways : it features high-class people spending time all together in a rural estate, and it's great.

The film is pretty clearly divided in two parts, with the first part introducing the characters and their various entanglements before gathering them all in that familiar setting, and of course hijinks ensue. It's a good sign that I'm not sure which half I like more. The first one focuses mostly on Fredrik Egeman (Gunnar Björnstrand), a cynical lawyer and his family... and his mistress Desiree, played by the delightful Eva Dahlbeck. I'm not familiar with the name so I don't know if she'll be coming back in this marathon, but I'd love to see more of here because she just pops off the screen here. Part of me wishes the whole film was about her adventures as a touring theater actress and her adventures with various lovers... but then the other characters prove to be more than worth it.

Perhaps the funniest is the military man who, as Desiree explains in the play, is the typical example of a man who can be manipulated through his sense of pride and honor. The joke Adam points out, which has him claim that he's fine with his mistress being approached but he becomes a tiger (great delivery on that) when it comes to his wife, after having claimed the exact contary earlier, is the kind of classic comedy that's simple but works great when it's done well, as is the case here. I'm a little worried that the rest of this marathon will focus more on characters like the son (who might be a Bergman stand-in ?), brooding and righteous, but in small doses it's fine, and his arc does lead up to another obvious punchline that is nonetheless very effective.

I could go on but you get the idea : this is not particularly original but the execution is basically flawless, up to the titular saying that frames the final act. There are hints of what I assume will be more present in the next films, notably in a scene that sees the countess confess her conflicted feelings towards her husband (and men in general) while almost, not quite looking directly at the camera while another character is looking at her. Adam mentions this as being a typical Bergman shot, and it does feel very distinctive and promising.

8/10

Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: 1SO on November 29, 2016, 11:13:24 AM
While I love nudging people towards Pushover, it stars Fred MacMurray, so...
Maybe when you're ready to re-evaluate his talent.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 29, 2016, 11:18:23 AM
While I love nudging people towards Pushover, it stars Fred MacMurray, so...
Maybe when you're ready to re-evaluate his talent.

From the title he sounds well-cast at least. :P
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: MartinTeller on November 29, 2016, 11:43:40 AM
and his mistress Desiree, played by the delightful Ulla Jacobson.

Point of clarification: Jacobson plays Frederick's young wife. It's her only appearance in a Bergman film. Desiree is played by Eva Dahlbeck, who is a shining star in Bergman's comedies. You won't be seeing any more of her in this marathon, sad to say. The ones to keep your eyes out for are Gunnar Bjornstrand and Harriet Andersson, two of Bergman's best and most commonly used performers. Jarl Kulle (the "military man") will also pop up again for a memorable role in Fanny & Alexander.

I guess it's safe to say that many Bergman characters are "brooding", but they're usually not as pouty and petulant as young Henrik.

Most people are surprised by Bergman's humor, and you'll be seeing more of it. Although it must be said that two of the films in this marathon are utterly without laughs.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Corndog on November 29, 2016, 11:55:51 AM
Smiles of a Summer Night is one I remember liking a great deal, but to be honest I haven't seen it in so long I can't recall much about it.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 29, 2016, 01:05:45 PM
and his mistress Desiree, played by the delightful Ulla Jacobson.

Point of clarification: Jacobson plays Frederick's young wife. It's her only appearance in a Bergman film. Desiree is played by Eva Dahlbeck, who is a shining star in Bergman's comedies. You won't be seeing any more of her in this marathon, sad to say. The ones to keep your eyes out for are Gunnar Bjornstrand and Harriet Andersson, two of Bergman's best and most commonly used performers. Jarl Kulle (the "military man") will also pop up again for a memorable role in Fanny & Alexander.

I guess it's safe to say that many Bergman characters are "brooding", but they're usually not as pouty and petulant as young Henrik.

Most people are surprised by Bergman's humor, and you'll be seeing more of it. Although it must be said that two of the films in this marathon are utterly without laughs.

Corrected, thanks. Bjornstrand and Andersson were both excellent as well, so that's good to hear at least. And Bergman has other comedies then, good to know.

Petulant is the right word, because I really don't mind brooding all that much... I mean I like Tarkovsky, and there is certainly some brooding there too.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Junior on November 29, 2016, 01:09:45 PM
I need to branch out into the comedies from Bergman. I've liked his humor in things like The Seventh Seal and, of course, Fanny and Alexander.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 29, 2016, 01:21:26 PM
You're already done with the noir marathon and onto another one ? Bloody hell.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 29, 2016, 01:40:23 PM
You're already done with the noir marathon and onto another one ? Bloody hell.

It helps that the Bunuel marathon is stalling on the Adam & Josh front.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on November 30, 2016, 08:58:36 PM
Most people are surprised by Bergman's humor, and you'll be seeing more of it. Although it must be said that two of the films in this marathon are utterly without laughs.

Winter Light, as good as it is, could ruin the greatest day.

It's a shame you won't see Harriet Andersson in Through a Glass Darkly.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: valmz on November 30, 2016, 10:24:43 PM
Most people are surprised by Bergman's humor, and you'll be seeing more of it. Although it must be said that two of the films in this marathon are utterly without laughs.

Winter Light, as good as it is, could ruin the greatest day.

It's a shame you won't see Harriet Andersson in Through a Glass Darkly.
For me, the shame is in missing Harriet Andersson in Cries and Whispers. That's the one for me!
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Junior on November 30, 2016, 10:34:58 PM
The important thing is that you watch the TV cut of Fanny and Alexander. They didn't, and I think it hurt their experience with the film. It's also the cut that Martin thinks of for his Top 100 list (and me, too), so there's that.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: smirnoff on November 30, 2016, 11:19:01 PM
Forum approved!
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 01, 2016, 01:16:22 AM
I haven't decided yet, but I must say I'm leaning towards the shorter version. I understand the TV cut is supposed to be better, but... it's a TV mini-series, and this is a movie forum isn't it ? Also it makes sense to me to be watching what Adam & Matty did... and I generally tend to prefer watching the shorter version of anything first, then I can see if I like it enough to watch the longer cut. Ultimately it will depend on which version is available at my library, I haven't checked that yet.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on December 01, 2016, 07:24:37 AM
I haven't decided yet, but I must say I'm leaning towards the shorter version. I understand the TV cut is supposed to be better, but... it's a TV mini-series, and this is a movie forum isn't it ? Also it makes sense to me to be watching what Adam & Matty did... and I generally tend to prefer watching the shorter version of anything first, then I can see if I like it enough to watch the longer cut. Ultimately it will depend on which version is available at my library, I haven't checked that yet.

I've only seen the shorter one and loved it. But I do feel like I've sold myself short (from all the chat on the forum) and will be looking to watch the long one when I get the chance.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 01, 2016, 07:27:39 AM
I don't feel hypocritical at all in recommending you watch that six hour cut.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on December 01, 2016, 07:53:14 AM
I don't feel hypocritical at all in recommending you watch that six hour cut.

You should have signed that off "pretentiously yours..."  ;D
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 01, 2016, 08:10:24 AM
That is always an implied stamp.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 01, 2016, 08:18:28 AM
I haven't decided yet, but I must say I'm leaning towards the shorter version. I understand the TV cut is supposed to be better, but... it's a TV mini-series, and this is a movie forum isn't it ? Also it makes sense to me to be watching what Adam & Matty did... and I generally tend to prefer watching the shorter version of anything first, then I can see if I like it enough to watch the longer cut. Ultimately it will depend on which version is available at my library, I haven't checked that yet.

I've only seen the shorter one and loved it. But I do feel like I've sold myself short (from all the chat on the forum) and will be looking to watch the long one when I get the chance.

I did remember that, and my hope is to be in the same situation, in the same way that I'm fine having watched the less complete version of Metropolis because I'll still get to enjoy the full one at a later point.  :)

I don't feel hypocritical at all in recommending you watch that six hour cut.

How's that Solyaris dictation coming along ?  ::)

In case I do end up going with the full version (it seems my library has both) : should it be watched in one stretch (as much as possible that is) or broken down into episodes ?

In the meantime, let's talk about Bergman's most well-known film...

Det sjunde inseglet / The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)

(http://i.imgur.com/0drrHMh.png)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 35:27) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/1/9/d/19ded79d7bf82fdd/filmspot184_110207.mp3?c_id=1303363&expiration=1480596481&hwt=bc511a8f5cbc253348734e592630f7ca)

Once again, this isn't quite what I expected. Knowing about the "playing chess against Death" conceit, I still did not foresee that Bergman's version of Death would not be so far from Terry Pratchett's. I'm starting to wonder if the image of Bergman as a dour, pensive and depressing filmmaker is accurate at all... but maybe we'll see more of that. Not that this film isn't contemplative, but depressing ? Granted, anything taking place in 15th century Europe is bound to be somewhat grim, what with the Black Plague and all, but there's hope to be found too, to the point that I'd say it's more hopeful than not.

The Seventh Seal is the cinematic equivalent of a danse macabre*, those medieval frescoes representing Death dancing with the living, one of which is shown in the film. They are the result of a period riddled with diseases and war which lead many medieval Europeans believing they were living the last days, a sentiment that has surfaced many times throughout history, but might never have been as justified as in that particular time period. Then again, once you take a look at the first half of the 20th Century, a period which will probably be seen in a similar way by future generations, it's no wonder that a European filmmaker from the 50's would be interested in similar themes.

The danse macabre genre associates a cold realization about the inevitability and omnipresence of death with a ridiculing of the consequently inconsequential societal norms by having nobles, merchants, bandits and peasants all dancing together, all equal when facing the Grim Reaper. That juxtaposition is certainly present here, and I ended up finding the parts focusing on life more compelling than the Max von Sydow/Bengt Ekerot scenes. Gunnar Björnstrand shines again here as Jöns, the hedonistic but steadfast squire, as well as the couple of actors, who truly are the heart of the film. The picnic (for lack of a less anachronistic word) scene is exactly my kind of humanistic, quiet celebration of life, and not something I expected to find here.

And yet I don't quite love this film. Part of me wishes Max von Sydow wasn't in it at all... not that he's bad at all, I understand Adam & Matty's admiration for his confession scene but... maybe it's just the whole "playing chess against Death" thing that I don't like in the end. Ekerot's Death is certainly a striking image, but I think I'd have preferred a simpler film, less blunt maybe. Then again, when that last shot of the characters literally doing a live-action danse macabre came, I found myself thinking about the last scene in 8½ (which was likely inspired by this one) and how much better I liked that : perhaps it's just that putting music to it is inherently more to my taste than the soliloquy we get instead.

So I'm not sure what I wanted from this film that it didn't give me. And I should stress that I did like it, I just felt that it didn't entirely live up to its potential, despite some great scenes like the sunset picnic (that just sounds wrong) or the flagellant's intermission (now that's more like it).

7/10

*Wikipedia assures me that the French term is also used in English, so I'm going with that though it seems to also be referred to as "dance of death".


Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 01, 2016, 08:31:09 AM
18 months later and I still don't know what to make about that one...
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on December 01, 2016, 10:43:03 AM
I need to re-watch Seventh Seal, hoping that I'd like it more with more knowledge of Bergman and a familiarity with the work.

I also recommend the longer version of Fanny and Alexander.  I disliked the theatrical version twice (why did I watch it again?) but at Junior's encouragement I watched the miniseries this year and loved it (such powers of persuasion Junior has!)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on December 01, 2016, 11:50:09 AM
I've seen it several times and like it well enough. Think Winter Light and Scenes from a Marriage are better films, though.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 02, 2016, 03:58:36 PM
Smultronstället / Wild Strawberries (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)

(http://i.imgur.com/l1sNzE4.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 38:49) (http://ec.libsyn.com/p/e/e/2/ee2c5ae7959fdf06/filmspot186_111607.mp3?d13a76d516d9dec20c3d276ce028ed5089ab1ce3dae902ea1d06c08731d8cd59b50b&c_id=1303364)

As I go through these films, what's perhaps most impressive to me is the quality of the acting. Part of it is Bergman's talent as a director probably, but it is so consistently great across the board that I'm starting to wonder about what the Swedes were eating in the 50's*... anyway, this is more to my speed than The Seventh Seal was. That film is About Something, it's Important and talks about Humanity. Not that those are bad things, that can be very appealing as well, but it might not be the most appropriate style for Bergman's strengths. This is just about one man and his life, which requires a very strong performance to work, but as I've alluded to, getting great performances does not seem to be a problem for Bergman, and Sjöström does more than confirm the streak here.

It's not that Wild Strawberries actually is less ambitious thematically, but that focus makes all the difference to me, it's so much easier for me to grasp on to a film like this one, which starts small and only grows the more you think about it. Essentially a road movie, the basic idea of a character reminiscing about his life and his various faults (with the eponymous fruit serving as his Proustian madeleine) as he's about to be the recipient of a prestigious award lends itself to self-reflection on the viewer's part, as Adam observes. It appears Borg, throughout his life, grew more self-interested and closed off as people around him disappointed him, thereby continuing an eternal vicious cycle we see repeated in his son, and an idea I sadly relate to a little too much.

The black-and white cinematography seems crisper here than it did in The Seventh Seal. This is otherwise less inventive visually, with the notable exception of that early dream sequence which reminded me of silent horror films... I was thinking of the German ones, but it occurs to me now that maybe, just maybe the small fact that Sjöström directed silent horror classics might have something to do with that, duh. Anyway that dream sequence is excellent, in large part thanks to its, well, dream-like sound design. It quietly sets the stage for the film's tone and style, with the flashbacks having the not-unusual but still surreal touch of Sjöström sometimes interacting with his memories.

8/10

*I have a long-standing theory that Sweden (and possibly all of Scandinavia) is populated by overachieving aliens, but let's not go off-topic too much. Can't say that Bergman's actors (especially the female kind) are disproving me though.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on December 02, 2016, 07:11:07 PM
+1 for focus. And he is really really really old so no time for rubbish. Thematically unequivocal.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: smirnoff on December 03, 2016, 12:58:16 AM
(http://i.imgur.com/l1sNzE4.jpg)

Tim's Vermeer! No wait...
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on December 03, 2016, 11:28:45 AM
Wild Strawberries was the fourth Bergman film I watched, and it was the first one I appreciated.  I saw the same benefit of this film over The Seventh Seal, which seemed like light philosophy.  This film really did go deep and we see real humanity here.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 06, 2016, 12:10:07 PM
Nattvardsgästerna / Winter Light (Ingmar Bergman, 1963)

(http://i.imgur.com/yMWMA0L.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 32:51) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/7/5/c/75c52884cffa508c/filmspot196_020108.mp3?c_id=1303396&expiration=1481037958&hwt=b4a00481146e139a0518d095ce3841dc)

That's more like it. As in, more like what I expected and partly dreaded... and it's not that I don't like Winter Light, because I do. Gunnar Björnstrand continues to be the MVP of this marathon, here in the lead role, just as good if not better as a disillusioned widowed pastor than he was as Max von Sydow's squire or as a cynical lawyer. Von Sydow's here too as well as Ingrid Thulin, and I won't belabor it : the acting in these films continues to be impressive, particularly in what must be the most cruel scene so far in this marathon between Björnstrand and Thulin.

I have respect for this film but very little love for it. I was thinking about Tarkovsky (whom Bergman was very laudatory about) and how his films, which are often struggling with similar issues, seem to have an elevated quality to them, as if Tarkovsky's faith/spirituality transpired through... maybe that's why Bergman loved them : when you're watching a Tarkovsky film the question of God's silence seems to be resolved: here he is, whatever he might be. That sounds hyperbolic and this is also not a review of a Tarkovsky film so I'll move on, but my point is that Bergman's films, by contrast, are very much at the human level. He deals with religious and spiritual questions, but his filmmaking is down-to-earth, for lack of a better term. Take the mass this film opens with : it's almost humorously mundane, and the only elevated thing about it is the sense of community, as reduced and desperate as it may be.

What's hard with this particular film is how unlikable the main character is. It's to Björnstrand's credit that I didn't hate him, because he is so self-centered that he can't bring himself to even try and give a suicidal man any kind of hope. Maybe that's Bergman's point, an indictment of himself in a way, of people so self-absorbed that they'd rather wallow in existential doubt than care about the people around them... and I suppose this is where Ingrid Thulin comes in, but that's where I have a problem with the film : I just don't get her. From the start she seems to understand that he doesn't love her, and yet she persists, which makes her delusional at best. At worst... well he says it all in that scene, and it's cruel but doesn't sound undeserved.

Cold is perhaps the word that describes this film best. Both figuratively and literally : maybe it's because, you know, it's December so it was pretty cold outside as I watched it, but I could feel the cold watching the film, particularly in the churches, maybe because being cold in a church during winter encompasses most of my experience with churches. I think I need either some warmth (which is present in Bergman's other films) or some visual elevation (bringing it back to Tarkovsky), and this has neither. It's still very solid, if only for the performances, just not as engaging as something like Wild Strawberries.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 08, 2016, 04:05:20 PM
Skammen / Shame (Ingmar Bergman, 1968)

(http://i.imgur.com/jQa6Whi.png)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 34:54) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/0/b/d/0bda0cdfd7e2008d/filmspot197_020808a.mp3?c_id=1303404&expiration=1481237873&hwt=c13b92f5f476e51ad199ea0d8ad26c37)

Shame feels like a departure for Bergman, for more than one reason. The obvious one is that it almost qualifies as sci-fi, being set in a non-descript country (which one might of course assume to be Sweden because of the language, but that could easily be taken as an abstraction) as it is being invaded by a foreign power of some sort. Or maybe it's a civil war, come to think of it, though the term "liberated" is used and... whatever, it doesn't really matter : a conflict of some sort come to the main characters doors and their somewhat idyllic lifestyle is utterly destroyed, and their hypocrisies are revealed. Or something.

Maybe it's because the film is more driven by narrative than the others, but I just don't find these characters as engaging : their relationship seemed strained from the start and I didn't really care all that much about them... Ullman and von Sydow are good, of course, but there's something missing there. Maybe I needed more time before the attack : during the lunch scene in the garden I was starting to get a real feel for their relationship, and then the sound of planes is heard and everything unravels... but the film is predicated on a feeling of loss that I can't fully get behind because there wasn't that much to lose. The film then starts to feel contrived to me, with certain developments coming out of nowhere in a frustrating manner, including character-based developments which don't really jive with what was going on in the first half-hour.

Now this sounds very negative and to a degree that's right, in that it's my least favorite Bergman so far, but it's still very watchable. Aside from the central couple, Marathon MVP Gunnar Björnstrand shows up and steals the show : it now occurs to me that I'd much rather have watched a film about his character. The war is deliberately abstracted, presumably because Bergman wants to make a universal point about war (he's not a fan), but it detracts from the film as a whole : I would generally say that character-based dramas thrive on specificity, and this is still very much that.

By the end some moments would probably have affected me a lot had I been more into the film, some of the visual touches I thought were missing in Winter Light, and I did appreciate them (the last scene in the boat particularly), but the impact was reduced by my overall mixed reaction to the film.

6/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 10, 2016, 01:01:43 PM
Fanny och Alexander / Fanny & Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 1982)

(http://i.imgur.com/d8mI5DO.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 36:32) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/8/c/e/8cef3d93263c9f10/filmspot199_022208.mp3?c_id=1303405&expiration=1481398887&hwt=b53278f342490cf27797f0339d5fd95c)

Based on this relatively small sample, Fanny och Alexander feels like the culmination of Bergman's career, encompassing everything there is to like about his previous films, and more. What's most striking about it in this context is its warmth : obviously it's going to stand out from the previous films simply because it's in colour (insert obligatory mention of cinematographer Sven Nykvist here), but the content of the film itself calls back to the hopeful humanism present in Smiles of a Summer Night and (though in a different manner) The Seventh Seal more than the harsh coldness of Winter Light and Shame.

Though Gunnar Björnstrand is sadly absent except for a brief cameo (would have loved to see him as the bishop, but I suppose he was too old at that point), the acting is top-notch as ever. Gunn Walgren and Jarl Kulle are my favorites here, respectively playing the benevolent matriarch and the jovial uncle, the latter particularly shining in a speech that could have felt too didactic and forced, but completely works and is probably my favorite scene in the whole film, thanks to his warm (that word again) performance. Those two are my favorites, but every performance is spot-on, except perhaps for the female half of the eponymous siblings... but I guess 50% is a pretty good rate for children actors (and it's not like she's that bad either).

Halfway through this, as things were taking a turn to the Dickensian, I started wondering if this might be an adaptation, as it feels verymuch like a 19th century novel, the kind of sprawling narratives that could hop from genre to genre without skipping a beat. Nope, it's all Bergman, and that seamless evolution from family dramedy to gothic horror with a little bit of Bildungsroman/coming-of-age thrown in for good measure. During the first half I was slightly worried that this was all vert nice but it didn't seem to exactly add up to much, but it gets there, beautifully.

Some developments feel slightly rushed, specifically with Emilie's relationship to the bishop, so I guess I'll have that to look forward to when I get to the TV version. As a 3-hour film though, it's wonderful enough.

9/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Junior on December 10, 2016, 01:22:20 PM
I'm so glad that even the inferior version has this great effect on you. It's really the best. Yes, the warmth, yes the slow build to something grand, yes all Bergman. It's actually his own story with embellishments, and that's why it works so well, I think. The longer version has more of the Father character, more mood and mystery, so don't forget to get to it down the line!
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 10, 2016, 02:27:14 PM
The Svens (Ingmar Bergman Awards)

In the same order as the podcast (starts at 20:05) (http://ec.libsyn.com/p/8/3/6/836b141609d96f83/filmspot200_022908a.mp3?d13a76d516d9dec20c3d276ce028ed5089ab1ce3dae902ea1d06c08633d1cc5a507f&c_id=1303407)

Best Actress : Gunn Walgren (Fanny och Alexander)

(http://i.imgur.com/Gf8st3r.jpg)

Best Actor : Victor Sjöström (Smultronstället)

(http://i.imgur.com/zDkdtlS.jpg)

Best Performance by Gunnar Björnstrand : Tomas Ericsson in Nattvardsgästerna

(http://i.imgur.com/3ildB3s.jpg)

Best Performance by Max von Sydow : Antonius Block in Det sjunde inseglet

(http://i.imgur.com/DB72etv.jpg)

Most Haunting Scene : The fire (Fanny och Alexander)

(http://i.imgur.com/EVxX27f.jpg)

Best Picture : Fanny och Alexander

(http://i.imgur.com/u51nP0w.gif)

Summary/ranking

Fanny och Alexander / Fanny & Alexander
Smultronstället / Wild Strawberries
Sommarnattens leende / Smiles of a Summer Night
Nattvardsgästerna / Winter Light
Det sjunde inseglet / The Seventh Seal
Skammen / Shame


Up next, Almodovar !
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 10, 2016, 02:30:32 PM
I'm so glad that even the inferior version has this great effect on you. It's really the best. Yes, the warmth, yes the slow build to something grand, yes all Bergman. It's actually his own story with embellishments, and that's why it works so well, I think. The longer version has more of the Father character, more mood and mystery, so don't forget to get to it down the line!

I will absolutely get to it. Makes sense that we get more of the father, since I was actually confused for a moment there, thinking there were only two brothers initially instead of three. Is it supposed to be seen in episodes, or one sitting ?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Junior on December 10, 2016, 03:51:05 PM
I think it was aired one episode a night originally. I watched it all in one sitting initially. Either way works.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sandy on December 10, 2016, 06:26:13 PM
Great reviews and awards, Teproc!

There's a few here I still need to see.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on December 10, 2016, 06:33:00 PM
Jarl Kulle my favourite too.

Almadovar, to me, has always been more than the sum of his (films) parts. Might help your enjoyment - it seems you took this high level approach with Bergman - I guess one of the joys of a marathon!
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: pixote on December 10, 2016, 10:16:01 PM
Just chiming in to say how great this marathon continues to be.

pixote
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: smirnoff on December 10, 2016, 11:17:33 PM
From Bergman to Almodovor. Why not! :)

In case you want to practice your "Almodovar" pronounciation. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ju5WOGXMNso#no)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: MartinTeller on December 11, 2016, 01:04:36 AM
The longer version of F&A fleshes many things out and is really a far superior film. I saw the theatrical version first (actually in the theater) and I really really liked it, but I didn't fall in love with it until I saw the complete version. So glad you had a positive experience. Gunn Wallgren really is something special.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 11, 2016, 02:55:36 AM
Jarl Kulle my favourite too.

Almadovar, to me, has always been more than the sum of his (films) parts. Might help your enjoyment - it seems you took this high level approach with Bergman - I guess one of the joys of a marathon!

I'm not sure what to expect from Almodovar. I've only seen Julieta and liked it, but I get the feeling his earlier films might be much weirder than that ? We'll see.

Just chiming in to say how great this marathon continues to be.

pixote

That means a lot, thanks.  :)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 11, 2016, 05:52:50 AM
Teproc, about Soliaris: You mentioned you had watched it twice. Were both times part of the marathon or had you watched it once already some time before ?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 11, 2016, 05:55:15 AM
Teproc, about Soliaris: You mentioned you had watched it twice. Were both times part of the marathon or had you watched it once already some time before ?

I had watched it before. I think I understood it (well, a very specific part of it anyway) less the second time around. Why ?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 11, 2016, 06:49:49 AM
I was wondering if you had watched it twice in a short span of time, which would have indicated remarkable endurance.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 14, 2016, 10:50:59 AM
La flor de mi secreto / The Flower of My Secret (Pedro Almodovar, 1995)

(http://i.imgur.com/smYSbZV.jpg)

Adam & Sam's takes (starts at 39:37) (http://ec.libsyn.com/p/a/a/e/aae0350189b164cc/filmspot201_031408.mp3?d13a76d516d9dec20c3d276ce028ed5089ab1ce3dae902ea1d06c08631d5c05f3519&c_id=1303409)

I'm having a hard time finding things to say about this film. Not because it lacks in substance, if anything it's overflowing. There is a meta quality to it : we have a writer who hates herself for writing popular melodramatic novels and feels a need to go dark : I'm obviously not familiar enough with Almodovar to know how much this applies to him, but melodrama is certainly a part of what he does, and the film plays at times like a defense of melodrama as a valid form of artistic expression.

If that's what he's going for, he certainly leads by example. For melodrama to work, what you really need is strong characters, and The Flower of my Secret certainly has that. It's squarely focused on Leo (Marisa Paredes), but many of the supporting players make a strong impression, especially Rossy de Palma (probably not the last time I'll single her out in this marathon I'd wager) who is the highlight of the family side of the narrative as Leo's sister, and Carme Elias as her best friend/rival.

It's also a pretty funny film, in some obvious ways (anything involving Rossy de Palma) and less-obvious ones : Leo's behavior can go from hilariously ridiculous to actually tragic and poignant  in about thirty seconds. If anything is missing it's more of a sense of the relationship between Leo and Paco, which comes off as completely one-sided but is probably supposed to have been passionate on both sides at some point. It's a quibble, as is the simple fact that the film has too much going on for my taste at times. The subplot with Leo's maid has an excellent pay-off for example, but the whole thing ends up feeling somewhat overstuffed, like a huge meal where everything is good (and looks great) but you'd rather have eaten it in more than one sitting.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 17, 2016, 05:43:38 AM
Carne trémula / Live Flesh (Pedro Almodovar, 1997)

(http://i.imgur.com/KCMIVHm.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 39:38) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/f/6/2/f62cc02208d44c63/filmspot202_032108.mp3?c_id=1303413&expiration=1481979841&hwt=846ec61ad9c9f262e4bc920d2750f33b)

If The Flower of My Secret was supposed to be a case for melodrama as a valid form of artistic expression, this is a prime example of how mediocre it can be. It starts out promisingly enough, with Penelope Cruz giving birth in a an empty in the middle of the night in Franco-ruled Spain... nice shot, interesting setting, great actress : I'm in ! Except that's the last we see of Cruz as we jump forward 20 years to see the dumb child in question get himself in a preposterous situation... and then we jump a few years again. Ok... we're 30 minutes in and we'redone with the table-setting, great.

I don't like to complain about plot, but that's all there is to this film. The performances range from good (Bardem) to mediocre (Liberto Rabal in the main role), but the characters never get any room to breathe. They all get paired up in basically every possible heterosexual combination, undergo massive changes... for what ?

I'm really not sure. The bookends of the film suggest that Almodovar has a point to make about Spain after Francoism... Well I say suggest but the ending outright says it, but I have no idea what it is. It feels tacked on, as if Almodovar felt he had to make it "important" in order to be relevant. I suppose I can understand why, because the characters here are so busy making strange, dramatic decisions without taking the time to having us care.

Now it's not a terrible film by any stretch, but it's just a mess. A pretty watchable one, but a mess nonetheless.

5/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 19, 2016, 05:40:12 PM
Todo sobre mi madre / All About My Mother (Pedro Almodovar, 1999)

(http://i.imgur.com/tVx2el2.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 31:43) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/b/f/2/bf23c765d1ab82ca/filmspot203_032808.mp3?c_id=1303411&expiration=1482192642&hwt=d4f3b60d4bfa30370f2845ecd521a4dd)

Trying to write this review, I was wondering why this is so much better than Live Flesh : after all it is just as messy if not more. I suppose there's a reason Almodovar writes mostly about women, that's just what he's best at. There's a warmth here that was entirely missing in Live Flesh, and that he might not see at all in men, at least not between them.

Obviously this film is supposed to be about motherhood but friendship is what I mostly take away from it. People keep entering or re-entering each other's lives abruptly, and develop or rekindle these strong relationships in the blink of an eye. I suppose that's inherently more my thing than people cheating and trying to kill each other. Relying on the kindness of strangers indeed... I do feel at a disadvantage not having read or seen Streetcar here, as the few scenes we got of it didn't fully illuminate its relevance to me, aside from the recurring motif of a pregnant woman leaving everything.

It doesn't matter too much though, because I loved this film. The performances range from very good to amazing, with my favorite being Penelope Cruz. Cecilia Roth anchors the film and deserves all the praise she gets of course, but Cruz has a presence that makes everything twice as interesting to me every time she appears on screen. I don't think it would work in the hands of many actresses actually, because she's an almost nonsensical character on the page, and we never really explore how she got there, but she makes it work.

The scene towards the end with most of the main characters gathered in the apartment is the epitome of what makes the film work : these characters are just fun to be around. There's probably going to be some major drama, but they'll be fine. Manuela in particular seems like an unstoppable force : vulnerable only for a moment before getting back up again. The kind of characters,  that are real enough to grasp and feel for, but entertainingly larger-than-life... like Bette Davis in All About Eve. It now occurs to me that Almodovar's films could probably all be introduced by Davis going "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night."

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 20, 2016, 05:43:29 AM
Ugh, Cruz may be a good actress but I loathe her character. I was annoyed every time she was on screen and was annoyed about how sympathetic the movie was towards her. Now that I think of it, Almodóvar is always sympathetic towards all his women, whatever they do. That can be a problem.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 20, 2016, 06:35:56 AM
What do you find loathsome about her ?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 20, 2016, 06:41:30 AM
Several things, but most of all, she is a gigantic hypocrite.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 20, 2016, 06:45:52 AM
Several things, but most of all, she is a gigantic hypocrite.

Had she been lecturing people early on I'd agree, but I don't see it. She seems to be a saint, then it turns out she isn't, but that doesn't make her a hypocrite. This is what I mean when I single out Cruz's performance : she imbues the character with a sense of warmth and kindness that means she never comes off as hypocritical to me.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 20, 2016, 06:51:00 AM
It is not about preaching. As a nun, she represents and embodies Catholic mores and doctrine. That she continues to wear the shroud of virginity (or technically, abstinence) given whilst pregnant is what is hypocritical about her. Not to mention the transgression of her own moral values while remaining protected the moral high stance the Church always takes and its particular standing in Spain.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on December 20, 2016, 07:23:01 AM
How is the church protecting her? People are protecting her, just as she protected people.

It's up to the individual if they judge morality on a personal level - Almadovar often considers that a pertinent discussion.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 20, 2016, 07:35:54 AM
By being part o the institution she automatically enjoys the explicit and implicit boons that come with it, like the respect and the moral authority that come with it. In really catholic countries people think twice and twice more before accusing a member of the clergy of anything because the community is very protective of them and the idea that a clergy person might have committed a bad act is going to be seen as an insult upon the entire institution.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on December 20, 2016, 07:48:05 AM
By being part o the institution she automatically enjoys the explicit and implicit boons that come with it, like the respect and the moral authority that come with it. In really catholic countries people think twice and twice more before accusing a member of the clergy of anything because the community is very protective of them and the idea that a clergy person might have committed a bad act is going to be seen as an insult upon the entire institution.

I don't see her enjoying anything "extra." Sure, generally Catholic roles in society get you the extra but that's a different film. Judging her for morality inherent or implied or whatever in her role as a nun misses the point. It's their ability to see past the "roles" (job, genders (past and present), sexuality (past and present), etc.) and see each other as individuals - flawed ones at that - and still promote understanding, empathy and acceptance.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 20, 2016, 08:07:04 AM
It's not about whether or not people are bowing to her in the street. She betrayed the rules of an institution that heavily condemns what she did and continues to be part of it, with whatever boons may come with it or not. She keeps on pretending to embody virginity and the importance of marriage.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 20, 2016, 10:12:08 AM
Interesting. I see what you mean, though I don't know if it's as clear as that. She makes a decision not to pursue what she was doing before (going to Salvador), who knows where she goes after that ?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: MartinTeller on December 20, 2016, 11:28:45 AM
I don't know what to make of this argument. She's a nun that lapsed into sin. And with a transvestite, even. Isn't that at least interesting to you? Are you actually offended that she continues to wear nun's garb? Isn't the Church supposed to be about forgiveness?

AAMM is frequently about authenticity, being true to yourself. Rosa feels devoted to her faith, despite her lapse. She's going around helping the unfortunate and downtrodden, she's not riding around the Vatican in limousines or whatever these so-called "boons" are. If she is doing the work of God, what difference does it really make if she's pregnant? This feels like a weird version of slut-shaming.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 20, 2016, 12:16:52 PM
It's not interesting because they never explain why she lapsed. What attracted her to him ? Was it difficult for her to break her vows ? Was it her first time ? Had she been longing for sex ? She might as well have been a sexually active non-nun actively trying to get pregnant for all the examination of her very, very unusual case the movie goes into.

I am not offended by what people wear, or anything else for that matter. As far as I am concerned she could forget about her volunteer work and start picking up guys at sleazy bars every night. Actually, I would probably like her the more for it. What annoys me is the hypocrisy of continuing to associate with an institution that forbids what she did, and often denounces sexual liberalism, while probably continuing to preach at least parts of its doctrine.

And accusing me of slut-shaming is just absurd.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: MartinTeller on December 20, 2016, 12:28:48 PM
It's still a very strange complaint to me. People are complex. Almost everyone is a hypocrite in one way or another. That's just how people are. Do all instances of hypocrisy make you loathe a character? As far as hypocrisies go, Rosa's feels pretty innocuous to me. Who is she hurting?

I mean, come on... Iron Man pretends to care about the people but the way he conducts his little fights in the street is obscenely reckless, clearly dangerous to innocent bystanders. Talk about hypocrites.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 20, 2016, 01:13:42 PM
Religious hypocrisy is more annoying to me than regular hypocrisy because religions and the clergy are intrinsically moralising and judgemental (in that the application of their moral systems necessarily classify some people as bad, evil or sinful).
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: pixote on December 20, 2016, 01:28:26 PM
This would all make more sense to me if Almodóvar was an agent of the Church. But I guess it's just a pet peeve thing for you.

pixote
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 20, 2016, 01:34:06 PM
The best kind of pet.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: MartinTeller on December 20, 2016, 01:38:59 PM
Religious hypocrisy is more annoying to me than regular hypocrisy because religions and the clergy are intrinsically moralising and judgemental (in that the application of their moral systems necessarily classify some people as bad, evil or sinful).

But Rosa doesn't do that. At all. She certainly doesn't judge anyone on their sexual practices. I could see the claims of hypocrisy if she was wagging her finger at everyone and calling them sinners, but she isn't. She's giving assistance to sex workers and the queer community. I can't think of a single moralizing or judgmental thing she says or does. She isn't hiding behind the Church.

You appear to be someone who has disdain for the Catholic Church (as do I, btw). Considering how Rosa is defying the Church by continuing to live as a nun despite having violated their rules, I would think you'd be on her side. She's basically giving a finger to the Church and saying "f you, I'll practice religion in my own way, by my own rules".
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 20, 2016, 01:46:39 PM
But she continues on being Catholic and wearing a Catholic nun's garb. She is basically endorsing the religion and the institution by doing that. You cannot support non-heteronormative people on one hand and on the other display a belonging to an organisation and belief system that is bigoted against them. If she is trying to rebel she is terrible at it because she is representing that thing she is rebelling against in a positive way.

I never accused Rosa of being contemptuous or moralising, it's her, at least seeming, allegiance to something that does while acting in a contradictory fashion that bothers me.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: MartinTeller on December 20, 2016, 02:05:14 PM
I kind of get where you're coming from in theory, but it seems like a rather nebulous reason to loathe a character. The reality of Rosa is that she -- no matter what her nun's grab embodies or represents -- is nothing but kind, open-minded, and caring. She's really the embodiment of what a nun should be. What harm is she doing? None of the people she's helping seem to be bothered about she "represents" or "endorses".

Any chance you'd watch the movie again for a fresh perspective? Or are you pretty entrenched in this position?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 20, 2016, 02:26:46 PM
I might watch the movie again someday but I am going to need more of a reason than revising my opinion of a character. Also, I watched it six months ago, so it is a bit early. I rarely rewatch movies at all ; when I do, it is generally years since the last time.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on December 20, 2016, 04:44:22 PM
As far as I am concerned she could forget about her volunteer work and start picking up guys at sleazy bars every night. Actually, I would probably like her the more for it.

This is consistent with your position but remains inconceivable to me. Saying she is better off not doing a good thing.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 21, 2016, 03:50:44 AM
As far as I am concerned she could forget about her volunteer work and start picking up guys at sleazy bars every night. Actually, I would probably like her the more for it.

This is consistent with your position but remains inconceivable to me. Saying she is better off not doing a good thing.

You're always better off not doing a thing for others from a practical point of view. It's time not spent on you. Morally, it depends on how you conceive of "good things".
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 21, 2016, 03:52:14 AM
Wait, you think selflessness is a character flaw ?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 21, 2016, 03:55:25 AM
I am saying it is not practical.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on December 21, 2016, 06:26:43 AM
You're not getting away with this.

You've called out her character as loathsome, for reasons of being a Catholic hypocrite, have parlayed that into saying you shouldn't do good things, for things you deem to be "morally" good or bad, for reasons of practicality. Practicality! We started at nun! It's rubbish.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 21, 2016, 01:01:00 PM
They're two completely unrelated questions, and your summary is inaccurate. What she does with her time is irrelevant to the original conversation. My comment about doing a "good thing" or not was not a condemnation, as Teproc interpreted it. It was a statement of fact that selflessness does not help you directly. I chose to characterise that as unpractical and never linked that comment to morality, which I clearly stated to be a separate judgement.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 22, 2016, 03:36:02 PM
Hable con ella / Talk to Her (Pedro Almodovar, 2002)

(http://i.imgur.com/avCIb6K.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 37:48) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/b/3/3/b33291974dcff942/filmspot204_040408.mp3?c_id=1303414&expiration=1482446850&hwt=ff90e4ea87c61569fbe899f5f576919d)

I hypothesized earlier that Almodovar's male-centered films might not be for me... I don't know if it's quite accurate to call this "male-centered", but the two main characters are men, and I did not care for this much, so I guess I'm on to something. This feels like an important film for Almodovar : cerebral death, organ donors and the link between body and soul has been present at the margins of every past movie in this marathon, but now he really gets into it... and it turns out he doesn't really have much to say on those issues ? He'd rather focus on the two men, which would be fine if one of them wasn't a despicable human being.

Therein lies the core problem of the film : Almodovar wants to make him sympathetic, and it seems that this works for many people (including Adam & Matty), but... not me. The thing he does is vile, and it's also rather clear that this is where his character is going from the start... so Almodovar wants there to be conflict there : you like him a lot and then learn he did this terrible thing so now you're conflicted, but that doesn't work for me because the first step was skipped : in making sure the "reveal" was consistent with the character, he forgot to make him likable in the first place.

Maybe this isn't what he's after at all and there's something else going on, but I have no idea what. The central idea of these two women being in a coma seems to be almost dropped : one of the women just disappears from the narrative, which is a shame because she happened to be the most interesting character in the film. The amount of acclaim here makes me film I'm just missing something obvious, but more likely it's just a question of not embracing the characters. The toreador's boyfriend is good, but then he gets mired with this other character, and again I think Almodovar completely whiffs with him.

It's not a horrible film : it looks great, the performances aren't bad, and I enjoyed the first thirty minutes or so before we get to the main idea... but then it just falls apart.

4/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 22, 2016, 03:47:03 PM
It's pretty much two different movies in one, with one of them never going anywhere. The nurse's arc is what the film is really about and I agree with you he is a sad excuse of a person. Apart from the memorable rape scene there is little I can commend here.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 26, 2016, 12:14:50 PM
La mala educacion / Bad Education (Pedro Almodovar, 2004)

(http://i.imgur.com/uOQyPRd.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 37:48) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/9/2/2/922faf42a2736456/filmspot205_041108.mp3?c_id=1303420&expiration=1482762039&hwt=1920b0b2541767f14268f98f995b8d28)

Is Almodovar a misandrist ? I kid, I kid... but really, it's striking how different his films end up being when men are the main characters : the warmth that overwhelms films like All About My Mother is replaced with violence and deception in Live Flesh and this. It mostly works, thanks in large part to Gael Garcia Bernal, but I agree with Matty that it gradually loses steam as it gets away from its meta-narrative (complete with aspect ratio shifting) to morph into a thriller.

Bad Education if one of those films I enjoyed watching, but was left somewhat empty after it finished. I don't mean to imply that there's nothing going on there, maybe there's too much in fact. This is true to all the films in this marathon to an extent, and maybe it's just my preference for tighter, more focused films that shows, but it works in his female-driven films because of that warmth that I found to be sorely missing here.

It does look great, and it's mostly well-acted (except for Javier Camara's short, cringe-worthy appearence), but I ultimately found it somewhat hollow.

6/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: pixote on December 26, 2016, 05:44:50 PM
I haven't seen Bad Education in a very long time, but everything you wrote about it rings true for me.

I also haven't explored most of Almodovar's filmography. I'm curious what people consider to be his best male-centered film; or his most likeable male protagonist.

pixote
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 28, 2016, 07:07:42 AM
I haven't seen Bad Education in a very long time, but everything you wrote about it rings true for me.

I also haven't explored most of Almodovar's filmography. I'm curious what people consider to be his best male-centered film; or his most likeable male protagonist.

pixote

I'd say this one (Bad Education), but it seems The Skin I Live In might be a popular answer ? From the poster I'm assuming the main character is a man.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 28, 2016, 11:38:00 AM
The Matadors (Pedro Almodovar Awards)

In the same order as the podcast (starts at 37:45) (http://ec.libsyn.com/p/8/9/4/894b09044cc52b9f/filmspot206_041808.mp3?d13a76d516d9dec20c3d276ce028ed5089ab1ce3dae902ea1d06c0853ed4c85eb67a&c_id=1303419).

Best Actress: Penelope Cruz (All About My Mother)

(http://i.imgur.com/vaOi9t0.jpg)

Best Actor: Gael Garcia Bernal (Bad Education)

(http://i.imgur.com/88A506z.jpg)

Best Transgendered Performance: Antonia San Juan (All About My Mother)

(http://i.imgur.com/XSAiBX9.jpg)

Best Cinematography: Bad Education

(http://i.imgur.com/m433y74.jpg)

Best Almodovar Moment: Couch scene (All About My Mother)

(http://i.imgur.com/p6OAHhr.jpg)

Best Picture: All About My Mother

(http://i.imgur.com/xtajEWU.gif)

Summary / Ranking:

Todo sobre mi madre / All About My Mother
La flor de mi secreto / The Flower of my Secret
La mala educacion / Bad Education
Carne trémula / Live Flesh
Hable con ella / Talk to Her


I usually try to spread the wealth, but... All About My Mother really towers above all of these other films, even though I like Flower of my Secret quite a bit. And yes, Cruz is only supporting and Cecilia Roth is great and more essential to the film, but Cruz's performance is the one that touched me the most.

Next up, 70's Sci-Fi ! In a few weeks, though.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on December 28, 2016, 02:56:38 PM
I'm not sure how much of Aldovera you've seen, but in my opinion, Volver and The Skin I Live In are two of his best films (along with AAMM), but released after this marathon was done.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 28, 2016, 02:58:33 PM
I had only seen Julieta prior to this. Definitely interested in those two as well as some of hisearlier stuff.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: 1SO on December 29, 2016, 09:05:25 PM
La mala educacion / Bad Education (Pedro Almodovar, 2004)

I agree with Matty that it gradually loses steam as it gets away from its meta-narrative (complete with aspect ratio shifting) to morph into a thriller.

Bad Education if one of those films I enjoyed watching, but was left somewhat empty after it finished. I don't mean to imply that there's nothing going on there, maybe there's too much in fact.

Just watched Bad Education for the first time and I agree with all of this. I wanted to spend more time living with the characters and less time watching them move around like pieces on a board while another character tells the story.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on January 03, 2017, 08:32:10 AM
Volver is definitely at All About My Mother levels.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 23, 2017, 08:10:57 AM
The Omega Man (Boris Sagal, 1971)

(http://i.imgur.com/scX5Axc.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 35:06) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/9/d/2/9d2801a8f5900da1/filmspot208_050208.mp3?c_id=1303417&expiration=1485184207&hwt=ad83b3bf2b3af4f366a8fcb08b8c9a35)

Having not seen or read any version of I Am Legend, so I can't really judge the merits of this film in that regard... I have, however, seen Planet of the Apes, and I'm not sure why it is that Charlton Heston works so well there but not here. Aside from that famous scene of him watching Woodstock and mouthing along, I found his performance... let's say lazy. It seems like self-parody more than anything else, except the film plays it completely straight.

There is generall a sense of self-seriousness to the film : it means to be relevant and important, to say something about modern society... if it could only figure out what. Calling the Luddite religious group "The Family" is a particularly low attempt at relevance, evoking the Manson Family without actually having anything to do with it. They're people who reject all forms of technology after the wheel (except they don't, but that's another matter), what does that have to do with the Manson Family ? Nothing really, but anything that makes it seem like there's something deeper going on is worth trying, I suppose.

Another example of the film's vacuousness would be Mathias' definition of a scientist : "a man who understood nothing until there was nothing left to understand"... that doesn't even make sense. It sounds like it says something about science causing the apocalypse, but what ? Nothing, it's just there to make the film - and by extension its viewer - seem smart.

This would be less bothersome if this was a more entertaining film. It's not entirely without its cheesy charms, but even those are hurt by one of the worst film scores I've ever heard, constantly going against the rythm and/or tone of what's going on. Once I got to the ending, which - in typical fashion - can't chose between cynicism and hope and tries to wrap it all up with Christic imagery, I was just glad that it was over. Again, there might be some fun to be had there with Charlton Heston gleefully shooting at albinos and whatnot, but it's not enough to make a film work.

3/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 27, 2017, 08:13:51 AM
The Andromeda Strain (Robert Wise, 1971)

(http://i.imgur.com/zJUXJoi.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 33:53) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/4/f/9/4f91c6d069f6d171/filmspot209_050908.mp3?c_id=1303418&expiration=1485459771&hwt=c9407087c697264c40addb282788d518)

This is more my speed, which is to say that it's delightfully slow, unapologetically intellectual and more interested in process than anything else. All things I love. Where The Omega Man takes its cues from Planet of the Apes (Heston obviously, but the whole aesthetic of the film, pulpy and nihilistic) this is more in the vein of that other 1968 sci-fi landmark. Now, the Andromeda Strain doesn't have the ambition of 2001, and is more focsed on being a thriller, with concerns of humanity's failings in the background rather than being the whole point, but I don't think it could get away with its hard sci-fi approach without 2001 as a cultural touchstone to refer to.

I don't know what I find so fascinating in just watching people do their jobs and do them well, methodically. Even more satisfying when it's scientists, coldly taking stock of the situation and trying to assess the best course of action, trying their hardest to understand what the hell is happening. Just that is enough to make me giddy in a Jesse Pinkman kind of way.

(http://i.imgur.com/qJQdTEb.gif)

Adam & Matty mention that the film fails in its thriller aspect, failing to be scary or worrying at any point. I'd very much disagree : that image of the thing on the screen suddenly growing and changing color worked very well on me, especially with the classic - but well executed - beat happening just as the person watching the screen looks away. The script is admittedly wonky in places, and the ending is very rushed, but the atmosphere set up by that long process of decontamination makes it all work for me. Even something like Kate Reid's epilepsy, which I would probably roll my eyes at 90% of the time, just works because of that mood. It also makes some sense for her not to disclose it, even if it's a relatively cheap trick for the film to use it in the way it does.

This is quite simply a very efficient film, just as methodical as its characters. Take the final sequence where one of the scientists has to disarm the self-destruction mechanism for example : set up very heavily early on, clear stakes, clear objectives, we know exactly what's going to happen but it's served by Wise's handle on pacing and tension and works perfectly as a climax.

I don't care much for the ending, which is guilty of the same false ambiguity than The Omega Man : unsure if he wants it to be happy or not, Wise just throws his hands in the air and gives you both. It makes for a memorable final image, but is really pretty cheap. Not nearly enough to sour me on the film though.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on January 27, 2017, 10:52:58 PM
A science procedural that is like a precursor to movies like The Martian.   
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 28, 2017, 04:01:45 AM
A science procedural that is like a precursor to movies like The Martian.

Didn't think of that lineage, as The Andromeda Strain is so steeped in 70's paranoia and very serious, but there is something to that there, in the "watching smart people do some science".
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 28, 2017, 08:47:58 AM
Silent Running (Douglas Trumbull, 1972)

(http://i.imgur.com/eK4AWnb.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 38:47) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/3/6/8/368c6cff0c5b9903/filmspot210_051608.mp3?c_id=1303425&expiration=1485612949&hwt=cf07c841e9108aecdd6910f8420786fb)

2001 once again looms large, since this film was made by Douglas Trumbull, the visionary special effects supervisor who worked on Kubrick's film... and should clearly have stuck to what he knew best. Not that the visual effects are that great here, but they're pretty good, and by far the best thing about Silent Running.

*SPOILERS*

The worst thing about this film... well let's just say there's a lot of competition, but I'd have to give it to Bruce Dern. His performance is simultaneously hammy and bland, which is somewhat of a problem considering all the other human characters in the film die about 20 minutes in. While I don't share Matty's level of enthusiasm for the cute little robots, they are rather enjoyable and I'd say they easily outshine Bruce Dern in the acting department. If I'm being completely honest, I have to admit that I was rooting for them to brutally murder him as soon as they were alone together... alas, it was not to be, as this is a hippie-dippy take on science-fiction. Saving the trees, and all that, which could qualify as ahead-of-its-time if it wasn't so dreadfully stupid throughout.

This is a film in which a scientist dedicated to preserving trees and plants doesn't understand that they need light to live. Let that sink in for a while.

The production design and costumes are pretty cheesy, but worst of all is the use of Joan Baez songs in the soundtrack, which only underline the film's awkward mix of easy, very 70's social critique and 60's wide-eyed naivete. The sequence in which Dern's ship goes astray is pretty well-done, making good use of Trumbull's talent for visual effects, but that's about all I have to recommend about this film.

2/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: pixote on January 28, 2017, 11:49:33 AM
"...but worst of all is the use of Joan Baez songs in the soundtrack, which only underline the film's mix of ..."

I can't rest until I learn how this sentence ends!

Is the film close to "so bad its good" territory? Can I make a drinking game out of it and have a good time?

pixote
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 28, 2017, 11:55:34 AM
"...but worst of all is the use of Joan Baez songs in the soundtrack, which only underline the film's mix of ..."

I can't rest until I learn how this sentence ends!

Is the film close to "so bad its good" territory? Can I make a drinking game out of it and have a good time?

pixote

Fixed, thanks.

It is pretty short, so there's that... maybe ? I'm not sure, I think it doesn't have enough going on to really work on that level, but I'm not a big "so bad it's good" guy, so I'm not sure exactly what works for that. I suspect it might be too boring to watch the Bruce Dern & plants show for an hour and a half.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on January 28, 2017, 04:22:39 PM
This marathon sounds like a disaster so far. Don't do this to yourself...
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on January 28, 2017, 04:23:44 PM
"...but worst of all is the use of Joan Baez songs in the soundtrack, which only underline the film's mix of ..."

I can't rest until I learn how this sentence ends!

Is the film close to "so bad its good" territory? Can I make a drinking game out of it and have a good time?

pixote

Is there a so bad it's good thread somewhere?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: 1SO on January 28, 2017, 04:36:49 PM
This marathon sounds like a disaster so far. Don't do this to yourself...

You usually post this in my Marathons at some point.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 28, 2017, 04:40:06 PM
This marathon sounds like a disaster so far. Don't do this to yourself...

Well that's the nice thing about this marathon : it's broken down into mini-marathons, so even if I end up hating a particular marathon, it's not too hard to get through. Also, I loved The Andromeda Strain, so it's already a win.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on January 28, 2017, 04:42:28 PM
This marathon sounds like a disaster so far. Don't do this to yourself...

You usually post this in my Marathons at some point.

Well, stop watching so many movies you don't like, you noodle.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 29, 2017, 06:27:34 AM
Soylent Green (Richard Fleischer, 1973)

(http://i.imgur.com/OsMm4BX.png)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 30:30) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/5/e/c/5ec18dd95ae398f5/filmspot211_052208.mp3?c_id=1303428&expiration=1485694754&hwt=45f7f0be9a77dbee6c0d708761936e0c)

Soylent Green is the first film in this marathon to accomplish what is often thought of as a hallmark of science-fiction : worldbuilding. Starting from the premise of an overpopulated Earth (or at least NYC) ravaged by global warming, it doesn't stop there and casually drops concepts that hint at a full-realized, seemingly well-though out world : prositutes dismissingly referred to as "furniture" because they are tied to the apartment they live, paper having become so sparse that police must rely on human "books" to accumulate and use knowledge... it all plays towards a simple, but powerful idea : in an overpopulated world, humans become no more than objects. Perhaps the strongest illustration for this (aside from what gives the film its name) is the scene in which a food riot breaks out, only to be broken by excavators literally picking up dozens of people and handling them the same way they would if they were cleaning up trash.

This also has the strongest acting of the marathon so far. Charlton Heston is much more restrained here than in The Omega Man, and while I still wouldn't call his performance here great (or as good as in Planet of the Apes), he generally works and has a couple standout moments. But the real heart of the film is Edward G. Robinson (whom, like Adam, I didn't recognize before the credits came), and it's not wonder that the best scene of the film is centered on him, though it's also one of those aforementioned moments for Heston.

All that being said, I don't quite love this film : I don't think the investigative thriller aspect of it works all that well before the last 15 minutes or so. I was more interested in what Heston's attitude said about the status of policement in this society (clearly working class but able to impose their will on rich people quite easily) than in the intrigue, though once Robinson understands what's going on, it picks up some steam. The film also devotes some time to an obligatory romance that should require more examination, but seems to be nothing more than "well, Charlton Heston's contract says his character has to have sex with a 20-year old, so there you go". I'm left wanting to read the book this is based on more than rewatching this, even though I'm unlikely to forget a couple of great scenes.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Dave the Necrobumper on January 29, 2017, 01:36:06 PM
Silent Running (Douglas Trumbull, 1972)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 38:47) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/3/6/8/368c6cff0c5b9903/filmspot210_051608.mp3?c_id=1303425&expiration=1485612949&hwt=cf07c841e9108aecdd6910f8420786fb)

2/10

As soon as I saw that this was going to be your next review, I braced for a low score. Good thing I did, although I was not expecting this low a score.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 29, 2017, 01:38:15 PM
Silent Running (Douglas Trumbull, 1972)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 38:47) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/3/6/8/368c6cff0c5b9903/filmspot210_051608.mp3?c_id=1303425&expiration=1485612949&hwt=cf07c841e9108aecdd6910f8420786fb)

2/10

As soon as I saw that this was going to be your next review, I braced for a low score. Good thing I did, although I was not expecting this low a score.

Was going to give it a 3, but writing the review convinced me to go lower, though at that level the difference between grades is probably highly mood-based.

Were you bracing because you like it ? Is it the cute robots (like Matty) or something else ?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Dave the Necrobumper on January 29, 2017, 02:13:04 PM
Yes I was bracing because I like it (quite a bit). I like it for the robots and Dern and the scenes and the message. I saw it when all those things clicked for me and it was on the big screen, which is a plus for Silent Running (and for a lot of Sci Fi).

I know what you mean about mood-based rating, I go back and look at some of the ratings I have given in the last couple of months and scratch my head about some of them (my recent rating of Assassins Creed would be a case in point)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 01, 2017, 06:31:50 AM
Logan's Run (Michael Anderson, 1976)

(http://i.imgur.com/yVBjmzm.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 44:09) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/f/7/5/f759c99e3c571399/filmspot212_053008.mp3?c_id=1304250&expiration=1485954151&hwt=eb63d5a07a50f2f6d63f837b73369f32)

*Spoiler-y*

See, this I like. It's cheesy, and the special effects vary from kitschy and fun to laughably bad, but it has a style which it sticks to, and I went along with it. Along with the colourful design, the key here is Jerry Goldsmith's trippy score, which really brings the whole aesthetic together for me. It's immersive... somehow, to the point that when the film takes us out of its sterile, pristine, plastic environment to an ice cave and a Planet of the Apes-style vision of iconic American monuments, I found it very effective, and felt the discovery along with these characters steeping out of Plato's Cave (which, as I think I mentioned already, is a concept I love to see explored in fiction).

The biggest problem with the film is the acting, especially from Michael York as the eponymous lead. His arc is emotionally complex, though typical for protagonists in sci-fi dystopias (Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 come to mind), and he really does nothing with it. Jenny Agutter is adequate, but most everyone else is pretty bad... with the very notable exception of Peter Ustinov. Adam & Matty seem to view his performance as that of someone who feels superior to the film he's in, but I couldn't disagree more... I don't think there's a hint of irony there, he plays his character as he should : an ermit who's been living with no other company than a few cats for decades and decades... of course he'd be a little weird. If anything, he underplays it. Whatever the case may be, his scenes (and the preceding views of overgrown DC monuments) were my favorite part of the film, as they provide a very strong emotional core, a real stake for the ending, which would otherwise be anticlimactic.

Also, there's a cool robot, and his name is Box, and I love that scene. It serves no other purpose than an intermediate between the dome and the outside (and also tie some loose plot ends), but it's creepy in a fun way.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on February 01, 2017, 11:51:41 AM
I think we look for diametrically opposite things in sci-fi.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 01, 2017, 11:54:52 AM
I think we look for diametrically opposite things in sci-fi.

Possible, but could you elaborate ?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on February 01, 2017, 11:59:02 AM
You've mentioned preferring the sort of ponderous movies where they take their time to establish mood and draw the ideas along. In this latest review you compliment the cheesiness of the movie. I loathe cheesiness as a rule and have been known to come down hard on things « delightfully slow, unapologetically intellectual and more interested in process than anything else ».
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 01, 2017, 12:02:53 PM
You've mentioned preferring the sort of ponderous movies where they take their time to establish mood and draw the ideas along. In this latest review you compliment the cheesiness of the movie. I loathe cheesiness as a rule and have been known to come down hard on things « delightfully slow, unapologetically intellectual and more interested in process than anything else ».

I'm generally not in favor of cheesiness either. I think this film works in spite of it to an extent... well the cheesiness is linked to the commitment to a certain design, an aesthetic, which I do think ends up working.

The slow, ponderous type of sci-fi is another issue, we clearly differ there (Under the Skin, Solyaris), yeah.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 03, 2017, 04:27:12 AM
The Man Who Fell to Earth (Nicolas Roeg, 1976)

(http://i.imgur.com/ro9tgD8.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 38:12) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/5/a/d/5ad7ef49f9c8f7b9/filmspot213_060608.mp3?c_id=1304252&expiration=1486120936&hwt=959ad60a3c118f6f1a879ddc8ee03748)

Let me attempt to sum this film up. "Bowie is an alien someting something sex something something violence something something water something something alcohol something something alienation, get it ? something something loneliness something something sex something something capitalism something something sex something something.

Not very pleasant to read, huh ? Well, let's just say the cinematic equivalent of "something something" is not particularly enjoyable to watch either. I really tried with this film, I did. I stopped watching it twice because I figured I just wasn't in the right mood, and started it up again later, but I'm not convinced there is a mood where I could enjoy this. It's weirdness for weirdness's sake... the film's main purpose seems to be to alienatethe viewer, which, yeah, I get that, but there is a way to do that and still have something there that I can engage with. Bowie would be it, I suppose but... well I don't care about Bowie. Never have, and maybe this is a film that only speaks to people who deeply care about him ? He's just... standing there, being weird, and that's just not enough for me.

This film is not interested in plot, which would be fine... but it still has a lot of it. When Matty summed it up in the podcast, I started to wonder if I had watched an alternative cut, because I never got that he was supposed to bring water back to his home planet. That makes sense, it tracks... but I'm not sure when this is made clear in the film at all. I suppose this is because it's an adaptation : Roeg had to include all of that stuff with the lawyers and the patent, but he clearly wasn't interested in it, and guess what ? Me neither, because when a director doesn't care, it's hard for it to be engaging.

What Roeg cares about is the amalgamation of themes I alluded to above, and ok, those are interesting things... but not like this. I like films that trust my intelligence, but this is just Roeg and Bowie being as weird as possible because they really don't have that much to say. Being different from anyone else is hard, and it's sad. I would care more about that if you didn't chose to communicate that with impromptu sex scenes and Candy Clark shrieking while Bowie stares in the distance.

2/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 03, 2017, 12:46:08 PM
The Damn Dirty Apes (70's Sci-Fi Awards)

In the same order as the podcast (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/d/2/a/d2a5b2e6fc3894ac/filmspot215_062008.mp3?c_id=1304254&expiration=1486152144&hwt=4448cb4bd01abf2c09f902aa36ade539) (starts at 37:49), though I did remove the "Dystopia you'd rather live in", because only two of these films qualify as dystopias (Logan's Run and Soylent Green).

Best Special Effects: Silent Running

(http://i.imgur.com/NY5PA16.jpg)

Best Actress: Jenny Agutter (Logan's Run)

(http://i.imgur.com/LEqhQAW.jpg)

Best Actor: Charlton Heston (Soylent Green)

(http://i.imgur.com/qwvor0m.jpg)

Best Supporting Performance: Edward G. Robinson (Soylent Green)

(http://i.imgur.com/G1eyqq1.jpg)

Best Moment/Scene : Woodstock (The Omega Man)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nye0Q-XSJGM

Best Picture : The Andromeda Strain

(http://i.imgur.com/8vOZfVL.jpg)

Summary/Ranking:

The Andromeda Strain (Robert Wise, 1971)
Soylent Green (Richard Fleischer, 1973)
Logan's Run (Michael Anderson, 1976)
The Omega Man (Boris Sagal, 1971)
Silent Running (Douglas Trumbull, 1972)
The Man Who Fell to Earth (Nicolas Roeg, 1976)


A mixed bag, but an interesting marathon nonetheless. Next up, Classic Heist ! With some Bunuel sprinkled in.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: pixote on February 03, 2017, 12:49:58 PM
The Man Who Fell to Earth (Nicolas Roeg, 1976)

2/10

I gave the film (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=1028.msg383004#msg383004) a C-, or 3/10, myself. Walter Tevis' novel (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=4769.msg249558#msg249558) is a nice read, though.

pixote
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: 1SO on February 03, 2017, 12:52:17 PM
Here is my full review (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=9079.msg839484#msg839484) where I say...

Unlike Ken Russell, who is often weird for weirdness sake, Roeg casts a dreamlike spell with his imagery. Much of the film is of a type you wouldn't connect to my tastes. Scenes exist to leave an impression rather than make a point. The story is epic, but it develops so indirectly there are times you may feel it's slipping into incomprehension. However, that allows events to unfold like many small boxes filled with surprises. There's no telling which way things will go next.

So, this is a film that will evoke the reaction you had to it, and that's fine. It's the type of film where if I was on your side, I'd probably return to it every few years hoping to unlock it and get inside because inside is the place to be. You went at it three times before even posting, and your review is one of bafflement and not condemnation, which is good. Gives me the feeling you understand there's something special about it, but you just were not able to penetrate it.

It's actually quite similar to Under the Skin.

a lot of the first half is spent trying to understand what she's doing and why... and at the same time we get her point of view, seeing Earth as this strange, other-worldly place, which it literally is for her. I don't know if you're thinking too hard about it, but it sounds like you couldn't grasp onto anything, be it the narrative or the experience of it all. Weirdly I didn't take it to be about sex directly, more about the social interactions resulting of it : how it can turn everyone into a potential predator and how it serves to make existence, well, alienating.


The Man Who Fell to Earth is #438 on my List of Essentials
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 03, 2017, 01:18:52 PM
Here is my full review (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=9079.msg839484#msg839484) where I say...

Unlike Ken Russell, who is often weird for weirdness sake, Roeg casts a dreamlike spell with his imagery. Much of the film is of a type you wouldn't connect to my tastes. Scenes exist to leave an impression rather than make a point. The story is epic, but it develops so indirectly there are times you may feel it's slipping into incomprehension. However, that allows events to unfold like many small boxes filled with surprises. There's no telling which way things will go next.

So, this is a film that will evoke the reaction you had to it, and that's fine. It's the type of film where if I was on your side, I'd probably return to it every few years hoping to unlock it and get inside because inside is the place to be. You went at it three times before even posting, and your review is one of bafflement and not condemnation, which is good. Gives me the feeling you understand there's something special about it, but you just were not able to penetrate it.

It's actually quite similar to Under the Skin.

It is quite similar to Under the Skin, and I did spend some time thinking about why that works for me but this doesn't. Part of it is that Under the Skin actually has a plot, but the plot-less parts are my favorite, so... I'm going to go with Scarlett Johansson being a much more interesting screen presence (to me) than David Bowie. I think there's also a key difference between Glazer's and Roeg's approaches : Glazer communicates the idea of alienation, whereas Roeg just actively seeks to alienate you, the viewer... or at least that's how it feels like to me.

I should say that my rating system is purely based on enjoyment, because I don't feel qualified to say if a film is "good" or "bad". It's not that surprising that this marathon ends up having very polarized scores : the best sci-fi just goes for it, and either you're along for the ride or you're not... it's more likely to be unwatchable, but also more likely to be transcendent because of that. I can see myself being curious enough to revisit this somewhere down the line, yes... most likely if I have a positive experience with other Roeg films.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: 1SO on February 03, 2017, 03:55:27 PM
"Glazer communicates the idea of alienation, whereas Roeg just actively seeks to alienate you, the viewer." That makes the most sense.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Knocked Out Loaded on February 04, 2017, 11:13:52 AM
The Man Who Fell To Earth ended up on the Top 100 list I made two years ago. I have no good arguments for that, really, but i guess that the film’s lack of clear direction appeals to me in some strange way. There is a fair amount of development criticism in here but it is subtle and never written on  your nose. It is more like when the air slowly leaks out of a ballon. I kind of like that.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 09, 2017, 08:54:58 AM
Le journal d'une femme de chambre / Diary of a Chambermaid (Luis Bunuel, 1964)

(http://i.imgur.com/Of7iYBm.png)

Adam & Josh's takes (starts at 1:25:58) (http://dcs.megaphone.fm/FLM6705582895.mp3?key=18cdb9b69b169ed6236b409fafe63359)

The first thing to note about this film is its crisp B&W cinematography, which stands out in this marathon, after Bunuel's rather unsucessful forays into colour. In general, this is a less brazen film, ostensibly a historical drama that turns into a murder mystery halfway through. It's not particularly adventurous formally, which I was frankly relieved by : this is Bunuel going for a slightly more subtle approach, and mostly succeeding.

The key to what makes the film work is Jeanne Moreau in the titular role. She has her work cut out forher, as every male character in the story becomes obsessed with her the moment they encounter her, but she absolutely sells it. She has a presence (a je-ne-sais-quoi, if you will), and while I wouldn't go so far as to say (as Josh does) that she ends up ruling the household, she's certainly in full control of the film. She even makes you forget that she's playing a non-character, who can only be charitably qualified as "mysterious" because of Moreau's performance.

The film seems to be mainly intended as an indictment of the Action Française, a nationalist (fascistic, xenophobic, antisemitic, you name it) movement that rose to prominence in the 30s in France. But this is a film made in the 60s, after WWII and Vichy happened... it's all a bit too easy, and frankly the same could be said of his obsessive satire of the bourgeoisie, which is repetitive to the point of toothlessness. Here we have Piccoli embodying sexual repression in the bourgeoisie again, and it's just... it's not half as interesting as L'âge d'or was, as if Bunuel was stuck repeating himself, but without the visual audacity of his early days.

Now the film could be made more interesting if you considered the murder mystery to be, well, an actual mystery, as was discussed by Adam & Josh. I agree it would give the film an edge it otherwise lacks, but I see nothing to support it in the actual film, as the sequence leading to the murder would just be a gigantic "CINECAST! you" to the audience otherwise. Put like that, I suppose it would be Bunuel going back to his roots, but I need more than "wouldn't that be interesting" to give him credit for that. As is, it's a mediocre film carried by an excellent central performance.

6/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: MartinTeller on February 09, 2017, 10:32:07 AM
Agreed, it's a relatively weak entry in Bunuel's oeuvre.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: goodguy on February 09, 2017, 11:01:17 AM
Le journal d'une femme de chambre / Diary of a Chambermaid (Luis Bunuel, 1964)

I've been meaning to watch this ever since I saw Benoît Jacquot's film (with Léa Seydoux), but I've been also meaning to revisit Buñuel since forever and haven't gotten very far. I wonder if maybe the source material is to blame, since I found the Jacquot pretty middling as well.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 09, 2017, 04:20:32 PM
Le journal d'une femme de chambre / Diary of a Chambermaid (Luis Bunuel, 1964)

I've been meaning to watch this ever since I saw Benoît Jacquot's film (with Léa Seydoux), but I've been also meaning to revisit Buñuel since forever and haven't gotten very far. I wonder if maybe the source material is to blame, since I found the Jacquot pretty middling as well.

Yeah I haven't heard great things about it. I'm curious, how is Seydoux in it ? Given that Moreau is what makes the Bunuel worth watching, I'm guessing Seydoux couldn't quite pull that off. I'm not sure about the source material, I think it could work if it were more of a thriller.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on February 09, 2017, 06:14:00 PM
Adam and Josh really sold it to me, and you guys are making me doubt them.  Well, I'll put it in my queue and someday I'll have time to catch up with it.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: goodguy on February 10, 2017, 05:59:15 AM
Yeah I haven't heard great things about it. I'm curious, how is Seydoux in it ?

Hmm, my memory of it is already pretty foggy. Seydoux was pretty captivating, though, and an interesting counterpoint to her character in that other period film she made with Jacquot, Les adieux à la reine.

Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 10, 2017, 01:20:18 PM
The Lavender Hill Mob (Charles Crichton, 1951)

(http://i.imgur.com/S3oxwKd.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 36:01) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/d/a/e/daea9f91738d32a7/filmspot216_062708.mp3?c_id=1304255&expiration=1486758825&hwt=c0be2a2d3a65853b54447dd6339e24be)

An interesting start to this marathon, as this is more comedy than thriller, which I suppose make sense for the genre : the first heist film that would come to mind to most people at this point would probably be Soderbergh's Ocean's Eleven, which doesn't take itself particularly seriously either... somehow I have a feeling this won't be the case for some of the movies that are coming up (I see a Peckinpah in there) though.

I'm stalling here because I don't have much to say about this film. Quite simply, I didn't find it funny, and there's just not a lot more I can say about that. In those cases, what should be silly becomes dumb, and what should be a hilarious escalation - like the scene in which Guinness and Holloway have to go through customs - becomes a painfully exasperating exercise in frustration. The plot here is just irredeemably stupid, and I get that this should not be a big concern, but it's hard to overlook when the film misses on its basic objective.

Alec Guinness's performance is also pretty disappointing to me... he seems to randomly go from "fussy" to "sadistically grinning" without it ever feeling like a full character as much as two ideas of a character performed by the same actor, leaving the audience to connect the dots.

It's not terrible either, and I did enjoy some of its more absurdist touches (going down the Eiffel Tower and the chase in the police museum), but ultimately, an unfunny comedy is never an enjoyable experience.

4/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: pixote on February 10, 2017, 01:35:24 PM
Did you spot Audrey Hepburn?

pixote
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 10, 2017, 01:52:04 PM
Did you spot Audrey Hepburn?

pixote

Of course, how did I fail to mention that ! I assumed she was just a lookalike actually, but then saw it was really her, presumably before whatever her breakout performance was (Tiffany's ?).
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: pixote on February 10, 2017, 01:54:24 PM
...presumably before whatever her breakout performance was (Tiffany's ?).

Her Oscar-winning starring debut in Roman Holiday!

pixote
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 14, 2017, 01:51:46 PM
Tristana (Luis Bunuel, 1970)

(http://i.imgur.com/VcfsUHA.jpg)

Adam & Josh's takes (starts at 1:20:19) (http://dcs.megaphone.fm/FLM2782759733.mp3?key=551a27c2f3031c3b5ac78359dad3bae1)

First, a disclaimer : I unfortunately watched the French dub for this... about 15 minutes in I checked to see if Spanish was an option (since Deneuve was clearly the only member of the cast not being dubbed), but nope, that was all my DvD had.

This probably didn't help the film, as I had some trouble really engaging with it (especially early on) and I suspect I might have liked it a lot more had I watched it with the correct audio, because Bunuel, now towards the end of his life, is finally allowing for some subtelty in his main characters*. Fernando Rey is not repressed sexually, quite the contrary, and the relationship between him and Deneuve is remarkably complex and interesting... now there's no doubt that our sympathy lies with Deneuve, but as she grows from the avatar of pure innocence into a resentful and vengeful woman, he grows sweeter and more understanding, which allows for an ambiguity that I found lacking in Bunuel's non-silent work until now.

Part of it is also due to Deneuve. I was unsure about her performance in the first half, maybe because "innocent girl" isn't all that interesting a character, but once she starts taking action, first by appropriating Rey's libertine lifestyle for herself, then by becoming a horror movie monster (only slightly exagerating, those scenes of her pacing back and forth in the night are disturbing), Deneuve gets to do some acting and she really commits to it.

Ultimately I still struggled with the film, in large part because of the dubbing (unfair, but it is what it is) but also the film's weird pace. This is an adaptation, and the story takes place over several decades, with multiple time jumps... but Bunuel never does anything to indicate them other than dialogue. Just because it's Bunuel you might say it's a "surrealist touch", but I don't see what purpose it has, other than being disconcerting.

6/10

*I say this having not seen a lot of his greatest films, so maybe The Exterminating Angel and Belle de Jour are filled with subtlety... I'm just basing this on the films in this marathon + Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on February 14, 2017, 04:54:04 PM
There are no Audrey Hepburn lookalikes. To even mention such a thing is unconscionable.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 17, 2017, 12:20:27 PM
The Killing (Stanley Kubrick, 1956)

(http://i.imgur.com/GPoOHLA.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 40:55) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/5/3/7/537198d074062960/filmspot217_070408.mp3?c_id=1304256&expiration=1487359540&hwt=804125446810dd6d8580453933b79aa0)

This is really just a well-executed noir thriller, a film that moves at a crisp pace with a very solid performance by Sterling Hayden at its center, but is ultimately unremarkable. A genre exercise well-done and generally a good time, with some pretty bad acting, especially from the would-be femme fatale Marie Windsor... but it works, it takes the time to introduce the players and the stakes, and then unravels satisfyingly, with things of course not quite going as planned.

Aside from the long takes Adam mentions, Kubrick as we know him only manifests himself with the ending,. I suppose it's a fairly typical noir ending, but there's something about it that feels very Kubrick, the light touch of humour perhaps. I think Kubrick's comedic tendency is generally overlooked : of course there's Strangelove, but really all his films have this relatively bleak view of humanity... and you can feel Kubrick quietly laughing at the absurdity of it all. That shot in the airport holds for just long enough, and the situation is just absurd enough that it hits in that way, darkly funny.

As a whole though, it's a somewhat underwhelming film. It's good, but not as satisfying a genre exercise as something like The Asphalt Jungle, and certainly not as interesting as Kubrick's later work.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on February 18, 2017, 06:14:08 AM
I read the first paragraph and wonder « Well, what more do you need ? ». The movie is one of my favourite Kubricks, even if there is little to no subtext and substance to it. It's just so well done.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 18, 2017, 01:34:11 PM
I read the first paragraph and wonder « Well, what more do you need ? ». The movie is one of my favourite Kubricks, even if there is little to no subtext and substance to it. It's just so well done.

Du rififi chez les hommes / Rififi (Jules Dassin)

(http://i.imgur.com/dgqaojb.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 37:05) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/a/b/c/abce3ae8bcdd5c50/filmspot218_071108.mp3?c_id=1304261&expiration=1487448969&hwt=b9235b0ad4f72e061ba016e0ca2ca50f)

This time I get to share Adam & Matty's enthusiasm. First of all, there is little that I enjoy more in cinema than watching competent people do a good job in a tense situation (see also : The Martian, High and Low, Le trou), and boy does this deliver on that. I also tend to enjoy long scenes eschewing dialogue and letting the action play out, so yeah, the heist scene itself was basically catnip to me. I think iot also works so well because the setup is very minimal : we see them discussing how the alarm works, and how to ultimately disable it, but we only discover the details as they happen : it reinforces the thrill of discovery and the satisfaction of a job well done.

That sequence is obviously the highlight of the film, but there's a lot more to love. The eponymous song (performed by the wonderful Magali Noël, I didn't know she even acted but it looks like she had quite the career in film) is such a great embodiment of the noir aesthetic, that seductive appeal of danger, even though everyone knows where it leads in the end. What makes the best noirs work is mood and Dassin nails that, in part through an excellent use of Montmartre as a setting. This must have been a strong influence on Godard for A bout de souffle, what with the American genre trappings and the great use of Paris exteriors (some reminding me of Sweet Smell of Success's uses of New York), especially during the denouement.

Jean Servais is pretty great as the main character... I'm not entirely sure what the movie wants us to think of him and the heinous act he commits early on. I have a suspicion the film is rather ambivalent about that when it probably shouldn't, but the characters around him are very likable (especially the Italian safe-breaker, played by Dassin himself) and the antagonists (including a young, unrecognizable Robert Hossein) are mean enough that I can root for them as a unit without having to like him, and then that ambivalence works very well in the second half of the film, in which everyone pays for his sins and he can only try to redeem himself in his final act.

To get back to what you were asking DH, this is what I mean when ask for more of The Killing. The heist there is good, but I've already forgotten it, and the ending is memorable but doesn't have the same tragic weight that this does.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 21, 2017, 06:44:35 AM
The Italian Job (Peter Collinson, 1969)

(http://i.imgur.com/fz2yAKG.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 39:45) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/8/b/3/8b3cdce0e2cde428/filmspot221_080108.mp3?c_id=1304262&expiration=1487680335&hwt=cfbc84e7b6cf2a24ed11893d1ac2d67d)

This is a dumb movie. I understand it's a comedy, but still, it's very dumb. For most of the running time, I was sitting there, dumbfounded that this would be in any way worth remembering or celebrating : Michael Caine is giving a nothing performance, the film is pretty seriously misogynistic throughout, and jingoistic in a way I'm not convinced is supposed to be ironic. The only thing there is to save in that first hour is Noel Coward as a patriotic, distinguished mob boss sitting in prison, there is a pretty funny contrast here, especially when he's put in contact with Caine who's just an incompetent sleazeball. Watching incompetent people can be funny... but not here, especially since Caine is so unlikable in a way that I don't think the film is aware of.

Of course, the reason this film is famous, even beloved perhaps, is the Mini Cooper chase scene. And yeah, it's pretty fun, it has some genuinely funny moments (like the three cars hiding in plain sight) and some relatively impressive stunts, as well a a song that's pretty fun the first time around (less so the other three)... but it's not that great. We're, what, a year before The French Connection here ? It all feels pretty weightless compared to that, relying a lot on editing to work... and it's certainly not enough to save the shapeless movie around it. Along with the clever ending, it makes it "mediocre/poor" as opposed to "awful", which is certainly a notable improvement, but let's not go crazy and forget the lack of anything worthwile outside of those two moments if you're not some sort of Michael Caine (or - God forbid - Benny Hill) fetishist.

4/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on February 28, 2017, 02:36:01 PM
Le cercle rouge (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1970)

(http://www.dvdclassik.com/upload/images/critique-le-cercle-rouge-melville5.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 41:10) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/a/c/b/acb79697b0a82516/filmspot222_080808.mp3?c_id=1304264&expiration=1488317201&hwt=93791624957ba78508cf8b823c3a1e0d)

**Spoilery I suppose**

Melville is a filmmaker I want to love but can't quite, and this film is a perfect representation of why. I love the mood, the blue-grey colour palette, the attention to process... but he's so, so cold. I don't mind some deatchment, but Melville makes Kubrick feel as warm as Almodovar or something, that's how cold he is, and as a result I admire his films more than I love them. L'armée des ombres gets around that problem because, though it's very similar in style, its subject matter lends it some emotional attachment : Melville might think life is pointless, but the characters in that film don't.

Back to Le cercle rouge though, it is a deeply nihilistic film, through and through. Delon, more or less reprising his role from Le Samouraï, seems like a great fit for Melville, if only because his eyes are just the right colour, but to me it's like putting salt on codfish : it's overkill. When you have, say, a Lino Ventura, he gives you some humanity to grasp onto, not so much with Delon who is basically a living statue. Bourvil comes closest to that here, but he gets sidelined too much for that.

This all makes it sound like I'm down on this film, but I'm really not. I really do enjoy the style overall, and though the long, wordless heist here feels a bit like a replay of the one in Rififi, that doesn't make it any less fun or effective. More importantly, the ending is very strong : it might sound weird to say that when I criticize Melville for being too cold and nihilistic, but my problem isn't really with the nihilism, it's with the characters. I don't mind existential despair, but it works better when it happens to people I care about... but the ending is one of those moments that is grand enough to make me feel for humanity in general. I'm not sure why, to be honest, because there's nothing that special about it. Maybe the not caring is what makes it work : if I don't care, then maybe no one does, and that is a powerful thing for a film to communicate.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on March 01, 2017, 03:01:06 AM
I wish I had more to comment besides - yeah, hard to care. Hard to remember too but I feel you've been kind. It was a lot less captivating than Army of Shadows.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 01, 2017, 03:16:52 AM
I wish I had more to comment besides - yeah, hard to care. Hard to remember too but I feel you've been kind. It was a lot less captivating than Army of Shadows.

I think you found it completely unengaging (judging by your rating on LB), which was certainly not the case for me, hence the kindness. I found it distancing, but still enjoyed it a lot.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: chardy999 on March 01, 2017, 03:38:31 AM
I wish I had more to comment besides - yeah, hard to care. Hard to remember too but I feel you've been kind. It was a lot less captivating than Army of Shadows.

I think you found it completely unengaging (judging by your rating on LB), which was certainly not the case for me, hence the kindness. I found it distancing, but still enjoyed it a lot.

Ha, you must be right. That ain't a good score.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 08, 2017, 06:49:37 AM
Cet obscur objet du désir / That Obscure Object of Desire (Luis Bunuel, 1977)

(http://i.imgur.com/IZX3DXM.jpg)

Adam & Josh's takes (https://player.fm/series/filmspotting/fs-fix-bunuel-6-that-obscure-object-of-desire-bunuel-awards)

Bunuel's last film is a bit of a best-of album: you've got Fernando Rey being sexually repressed in some way and somewhat villainous but also sympathetic (especially without the sym- part), surrealist touches everywhere, socio-political instability and some awkward dubbing. There's even a call back to L'âge d'or, and probably others I missed. Ticking all the boxes, but resulting in what I found to be his most interesting film so far (bearing in mind that, outside of this marathon, I have only seen Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie).

While sex has been a dominant theme in the marathon, I don't think any of his other films are anywhere near as articulate when it comes to sex being an instrument of power. I think Adam & Josh gloss over how awful Conchita's character is, and that's a pretty important point. In Tristana, Deneuve is innocent and then corrupted by Rey, but here we have a man who is fascinated by this woman and wants to possess her, but she's not innocent at all. She is no better than him, similarly using sex to control him, by continually denying it to him but still stringing him along. Part of is out of material interest certainly, but I think it's more importantly an exact mirror (which there are a lot of in this film) of Rey's character : she's just better at it than him.

That's my reading anyway... the film is relatively ambiguous throughout, but I'm going to go ahead and count the whole Swan Lake thing as indicative of that. I spent a lot of the movie thinking about what Bunuel was doing with the two actresses playing the same character (complete with a winking nod to Swan Lake), and I was having a lot of trouble with it, because there's really no discernable pattern : the Madonna/Whore dichotomy doesn't really apply here, it's just tempting because the actresses look the respective parts. I think Bunuel might just mean it more generally as "there is more to this woman than appears", or at least that's all I can find.

I have no such reading for the terrorist angle. Adam & Josh suggest it's meant to be an indictment of Rey's character completely ignoring it because he's so obsessed... which I would then extend to her as well, but I guess in that case I don't find that particularly interesting, and it felt like a needless sprinkling of politics there to make the film seem more relevant, which seems completely unnecessary to me. Maybe Bunuel felt guilty for making all these films about sex instead of directly working against the Franco regime (though it's worth noting was in the process of imploding after the main man's death while this film was made). Maybe he's a mastermind and I don't get it, too.

Needless to say, I found this film to be very engaging, more than any of his other post 30's films so far... but I can't say I enjoyed it all that much either. I just think there's an inherent limit for me with Bunuel, I just find his style... unpleasant. He gets these great actors/actresses and they're generally giving very strong performances (certainly the case here for both Bouquet and Molina), but the supporting roles are generally pretty terrible, as is the case here with all the train passengers in the framing device... oh did I not mention the framing device ? Yeah, this film is a bit overstuffed. Nonetheless, it certainly feels like a culmination for his career, an astonishingly vital note to go out on.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 08, 2017, 02:16:56 PM
The Obscure Objects of Desire (Luis Bunuel Awards)

Same order as the podcast (https://player.fm/series/filmspotting/fs-fix-bunuel-6-that-obscure-object-of-desire-bunuel-awards).

Supporting Performance: Carole Bouquet (Cet obscur objet du désir / That Obscure Object of Desire)

(http://i.imgur.com/pICwQf5.jpg)

Lead Performance : Jeanne Moreau (Le journal d'une femme de chambre / Diary of a Chambermaid)

(http://i.imgur.com/GlNSeRi.jpg)

Most Bunuelian Moment: Kissing the statue (L'âge d'or)

(http://i.imgur.com/COiqU9s.png)

Best Scene: Eye/Moon cut (Un chien andalou)

(http://i.imgur.com/Zmg1lRZ.gif)

Best Picture: Cet obscur objet du désir

(http://i.imgur.com/E3VUXBM.gif)

Summary/ranking

Cet obscur objet du désir / That Obscure Object of Desire (Luis Bunuel, 1977)
L'âge d'or (Luis Bunuel, 1930)
Tristana (Luis Bunuel, 1953)
Un chien andalou (Luis Bunuel, 1929)
Le journal d'une femme de chambre / Diary of a Chambermaid (Luis Bunuel, 1964)
La mort en ce jardin / Death in the Garden (Luis Bunuel, 1956)
Robinson Crusoe (Luis Bunuel, 1954)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Knocked Out Loaded on March 08, 2017, 03:05:24 PM
C'était impec, Teproc!

On second thought, however, I might have gone with the bucket of water scene at the train station in That Obscure Object Of Desire.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 08, 2017, 03:07:37 PM
C'était impec, Teproc!

On second thought, however, I might have gone with the bucket of water scene at the train station in That Obscure Object Of Desire.

Merci ! If you mean for the Best Picture gif, I thought about it but couldn't find it anywhere (in fact there is a dearth of SFW gifs for that movie online), and I'm not crafty enough to make gifs.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Knocked Out Loaded on March 08, 2017, 03:19:45 PM
No, I thought of the best scene category (or in this particular case maybe funniest) actually. On the other hand, to have a best picture gif of it would be killing two birds with one stone!
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 08, 2017, 03:24:35 PM
No, I thought of the best scene category (or in this particular case maybe funniest) actually. On the other hand, to have a best picture gif of it would be killing two birds with one stone!

See, this maybe the key to my lack of love for Bunuel: I just don't find him funny most of the time, and I often don't even pick up on things that are supposed to be funny. It's weird because I like absurdist humour in writing (or in dialogue), but maybe less when played straight as Rey does it there.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Knocked Out Loaded on March 08, 2017, 03:44:34 PM
Coming from a Catholic context would put you in a perfect position to appreciate his criticism of the church? I too at times find Buñuel indigestible, but up here we can hide behind the fact that we are Lutherans!
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 10, 2017, 04:44:04 AM
Coming from a Catholic context would put you in a perfect position to appreciate his criticism of the church? I too at times find Buñuel indigestible, but up here we can hide behind the fact that we are Lutherans!

Quite the contrary. While I was brought up catholic (went to Church on sundays, was even an altar boy), it was a very humanistic brand of it: when I think of catholicism, the first words that come to my mind are tolerance and charity, not - I don't know - guilt and repression. This has always made me rather annoyed by criticism against what I see as being a very small part of what catholicism is today, at least in France. Bunuel is attacking the Church as an institution more than catholicism itself, and as you know the Church hasn't been much of a political power in France for about a century. Spain is another matter of course, and I think you can see that in his films: his early films attack the Church, but as he is then exiled he focuses more and more on the specific issue of sexual repression, which is present in all forms of christianity.

I guess Bunuel's attacks on the Church kind of became outdated with Vatican II, which means I see them as a historical document more than anything else.

In general I'm often irked by the way catholicism is depicted, especially in American movies. The emphasis on guilt always seemed very foreign to me: it doesn't seem to me that catholicism emphasizes guilt any more than any other brand of christianity... the core difference between protestantism and catholicism is more about individualism than anything else at this point (especially since Vatican II). Scorsese's catholicism - for example - really has little to do with the one I was brought up in, which is funny since - theoretically - catholicism is supposed to be monolithic and unified as opposed to the grand old mess that protestantism is.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 12, 2017, 03:58:26 PM
The Getaway (Sam Peckinpah, 1972)

(http://i.imgur.com/nQm2OVD.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 39:17) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/f/4/f/f4f94c94bd7dfc84/filmspot223_081508.mp3?c_id=1304268&expiration=1489266906&hwt=b830c798b6048a9690ec61efc88a2c19)

*SPOILERS*

My second Peckinpah, and my reaction to this one is very much in line with the previous, which was The Wild Bunch, all the way back at the start of this marathon. I'm always skeptical of nihilism, but Peckinpah's brand of it really bores me, as opposed to something like Le cercle rouge which I can still appreciate. This lacks the impressive action setpieces of The Wild Bunch, but we do get cool opening credits and Steve McQueen's charisma in exchange... and yes Matty, he does look great handling a shotgun. The other significant difference is that Peckinpah undercuts his trademark Hobbesian worldview (apparently under McQueen's influence) for a happy ending that could work if I had cared at all about the central relationship.

The problem here is mostly McGraw, who is indeed (agreeing with Matty again) giving a very wooden performance. Even without the deep misanthropy on display - especially in the particularly disgusting subplot around Al Lettieri - and with a better performance, there doesn't seem to be any attempt to reconcile the main couple after they fight : they just do. The explanation that McQueen forced the ending on a drunk Peckinpah makes sense then, because the whole film is otherwise arguing for a world in which no one has any reason to live. Men know only violence, women are seeling their bodies, no one is worth saving... Peckinpah would have made for a perfect director for a DC comic book movie, come to think of it : slightly more mature than a Zack Snyder perhaps (and certainly much better at directing action), but no more interesting to me.

4/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 13, 2017, 05:26:26 AM
The Stéphanois (Classic Heist Awards)

In the same order as the podcast (starts at 38:27) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/1/6/5/165244d3a5e7da5e/filmspot225_082908.mp3?c_id=1303438&expiration=1489404766&hwt=ef2648b5f4381bb948363a69b97bac83).

Best Actor: Sterling Hayden (The Killing)

(http://i.imgur.com/XLIAiDC.png)

Best Actress: Marie Sabouret (Du rififi chez les hommes)

(http://i.imgur.com/cjwSkeL.jpg)

Best Supporting Performance: André Bourvil (Le cercle rouge)

(http://i.imgur.com/P0m3dYf.jpg)

Best Heist Sequence: Du rififi chez les hommes

(http://i.imgur.com/d4HdzDK.jpg)

Best Non-Heist Scene: Le Rififi (Du rififi chez les hommes)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Fq-tmRGEOI

Best Picture: Du rififi chez les hommes

(http://i.imgur.com/2YhuoTJ.jpg)

Summary/ranking:

Du rififi chez les hommes / Rififi (Jules Dassin, 1955)
Le cercle rouge (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1970)
The Killing (Stanley Kubrick, 1956)
The Lavender Hill Mob (Charles Crichton, 1951)
The Italian Job (Peter Collinson, 1969)
The Getaway (Sam Peckinpah, 1972)


A bit of a sweep for Rififi, in part because Actress was a wasteland of a category, and the two scenes were undeniable for me. The performances in general don't stand out: I like a lot of them but I wouldn't call any of them great.

Next up: Angry Young Men... not incredibly enthusiastic about that one, but we'll see. Also, some Varda sprinkled in.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 15, 2017, 03:12:05 PM
La Pointe-Courte (Agnès Varda, 1955)

(http://i.imgur.com/Q57fKDr.jpg)

Adam & Josh's takes (starts at 1:23:50) (http://dcs.megaphone.fm/FLM5559255881.mp3?key=8ecc6c978b0b29d53a53153d04264f0f)

Two films for the price of one ! One half proto-Hiroshima mon amour, filled with long speeches about the nature of love and symbolic framing, the other half a naturalistic portrayal of fishermen in Varda's hometown, Sète.

Let's start with the latter, which I found to be a complete bore. The main problem here is the acting - or lack thereof - because Varda used non-professional actors... and it shows. I understand the rationale behind that choice of course, but these people never seem comfortable on camera, they always sound like they're reading lines and just never act natural, which is, you know, the whole point of this exercise. So while I can appreciate some of what Varda is doing here, contrasting both the harshness and the warmth of these people's simple lives with the high-minded intellectual masturbation going on in the other half of the film, summed up in that "They talk too much to be happy" line, and best illustrated with the nautical jousts at the end of the film... it doesn't really work as is.

As for the other half, I was initially very wary of it. Hiroshima mon amour works because it has a lot of emotional weight (thanks to its layered historical context), and this really doesn't. It's hard not to dismiss Noiret and Monfort as spoiled and full of themselves at first because their problems are so pedestrian and don't seem to warrant the logorrhea on display. Here again the acting bothers me, though I recognize it is a stylistic choice, but that over-enunciating solemnity really gets in the way of character.

It rallies in the end though, partly because what Varda has to say about love and relationships is interesting and well-observed, but mostly because of the cinematography. The scene Noiret and Monfort share in the abandoned shell of a boat is particularly striking, and combines form and content very effectively. The look of the film helps make it slightly more than the sum of its parts, but I still end up rather mixed on it. It strikes me as a very innovative film, feeling like a full-fledged New Wave film 4 or 5 years too early, and it's a promising start in principle, but the execution is still rather lacking.

5/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 20, 2017, 02:31:41 PM
Look Back in Anger (Tony Richardson, 1959)

(http://i.imgur.com/o6BYpdS.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 36:16) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/8/8/a/88abb43000340b07/filmspot242_012309.mp3?c_id=1303621&expiration=1489951498&hwt=6e3f4913ed905c8b2031473855a74c1c)

In their discussion, Adam & Matty wonder what current actor could give a performance on the level of Richard Burton's today... 9 years later, I don't really need to worry about that, since the similarities between this and Fences were hard to ignore, having seen it pretty recently. Both set in the 50s, featuring a working class man who is frustrated at the lack of opportunities for him, and expresses that anger in a very eloquent and charismatic matter... while also making everyone around him miserable. Now, this is the « Angry Young Men » marathon, but I assumed Burton's character to be in his mid-thirties... apparently not in the play, but – even without taking Burton's age in consideration – the character makes so much more sense to me as a 35 year-old anyway, since his anger has a definite jadedness to it.

Adam & Matty make the film sound like a painful experience, and I guess I can see why, but I don't agree. Burton might be unbelievably cruel, but he's nonetheless fascinating to watch, and the film – unlike Fences – has a mood I enjoy a lot : the crisp B&W cinematography of course, but mostly the music. Now I'm not saying the film is fun, but there is a melancholy to it : again the idea that this character is supposed to be in his 20s makes less and less sense the more I think about it, as the film as a whole oozes with frustration and sorrow, more than youthful, energetic anger. Burton speaks fast and loud, but he looks tired of it all, and that comes through in the music he plays.

So we have an amazing central performance, great cinematography, plenty of thematic richness in dealing with how it felt like to be British while the country had to transition from world Empire to small industrial country (which... let's just say this film has not lost its resonance), it's a masterpiece right ? Well... no, because the film just doesn't really have anywhere to go from there, and the supporting characters only exist as props for Burton to yell at. I can see intellectually why his wife would put up with him, but it doesn't really come through in her performance, and the direction the film takes with the Elena character... it just doesn't work at all for me, on either side of the equation. It feels like Richardson identified a feeling worth depicting on stage/screen, and did that quite well, but didn't necessarily had anything else in mind than that. It's a fine endeavour still, and carried by Burton's performance, but leaves a little to be desired in the end.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 22, 2017, 03:08:51 PM
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Karel Reisz, 1960)

(http://i.imgur.com/jDrxRDp.png)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 34:10) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/6/7/c/67cabe0b63165377/filmspot243_013009.mp3?c_id=1303632&expiration=1490211595&hwt=f88dd5f2029cbad1ccf6e1a34ab3b4b2)

Much like Look Back in Anger, this film relies heavily on its lead's performance. Unlike Matty though, I wasn't all that impressed by Finney here... in fact I'd say his theatrical acting style clashes pretty heavily with the film's neorealist aesthetic : it's not that he's bad, he just overdoes it a bit. That worked for Richard Burton because he was playing a larger-than-life character, but this guy is supposed to be an incarnation of the young British working class, and it doesn't quite work on that level.

The first 20 minutes, in which we follow Finney as he spends his week-end partying and fooling around with a married woman... with the titular sunday morning being both a brief moment of bliss and the threat of consequences when he has to leave in a hurry before the husband comes back. The film then doesn't really follow up on this idea : we see Finney behave recklessly, lie to everyone and it seems that the film is about the self-destruction of the working class... but then it still wants to end on a hopeful note that sounds pretty false. Adam sees it as a tragic ending because settling down doesn't seem to suit Finney... but I guess I see him as less of a free spirit and more of an asshole ? He might be less abrasive than Burton in Look Back in Anger, but he's constantly lying and generally doesn't seem to care about anyone or anything, really... so when he gets the promise of domestic life, it seems like a pretty good deal in the circumstances.

In reality, this guy, what with his line about laws being meant to be broken by guys like him, would end up in prison, now there you'd have an ending more fitting with the type of film this is, and that would be a lot more meaningful in its depiction of a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. As is though, it's not bad by any means, I broadly enjoyed it : as Matty mentions it is very well shot, but I suppose I wanted more out of it.

6/10


I will catch up on Varda later, as I'm currently waiting for the "Tout(e) Varda" set to be available at the library.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 30, 2017, 05:16:17 PM
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Tony Richardson, 1962)

(http://i.imgur.com/dfWdA4F.png)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 30:24) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/4/3/f/43f0876df97946ec/filmspot244_020609.mp3?c_id=1303639&expiration=1490901644&hwt=d8a3f6599327e9691c1098a517093bd2)

I don't know why I'm not quite connecting with these films. They're interesting, both in what they have to say about class and their status as the British equivalent to the Nouvelle Vague (with this one having a car scene notably influenced by A bout de souffle)... but when all is said and done, what I mostly got out of this was that I probably should read the noveL.

As with the two preceding films, the central performance is key. Tom Courtney almost plays Smith like a psychopath, constantly on the defensive and barely containing an always simmering, intense rage. It makes him slightly hard to relate to, for me at least : saying he wants to "give it" to all the bankers etc. because that's what they want to do to people like him is an understandable sentiment, but not one I particularly care for. It's also that he's so inwardly focused, to the point that he comes off as a bit of a self-centered prick more than a tragic figure. Overall I'd say it has the typical problem of literary adaptations, which is that the complex emotions that are probably described in the book can't fully appear on screen, especially with a character that internalizes a lot.

The way Richardson tries to get around that is through flashbacks, which works fine when it comes to showing us another facet on him with that trip to the beach, but doesn't really work for the climax. We get to this decision that Smith makes, and again I kept thinking (this must have been a great chapter", but I found the quick succession of images from the films to be too big a break in style with the rest of the film, foregoing naturalism for a much more affected style that felt manipulative too me, and also didn't entirely sell me on the decision in question. It's still a powerful moment, but it sums my reaction to the film quite well, in that the context of the film ends up being more interesting to me than the film itself.

6/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on March 31, 2017, 05:17:31 AM
What's this marathon actually about? I haven't listened to those early episodes and I know nothing about these movies so I don't know what they mean by Angry Young Men.

I also wonder sometimes if you ever rethink this entire project. Do you ever reconsider using this as your watchlist instead of focusing on things you are more likely to like?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 31, 2017, 05:24:19 AM
What's this marathon actually about? I haven't listened to those early episodes and I know nothing about these movies so I don't know what they mean by Angry Young Men.

I also wonder sometimes if you ever rethink this entire project. Do you ever reconsider using this as your watchlist instead of focusing on things you are more likely to like?

Angry Young Men is the name that was given to a group of young British playwrights initially, that made plays (Look Back in Anger being the posterchild for this) about... angry young men. But it's then also tied to a whole new generation of artists, including novelists and filmmakers, most notably Tony Richardson who adapted Look Back in Anger and then this novel, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, and Lindsay Anderson who I'll get to later. The cinematic part of that is also called the British New Wave, because it has a lot in common with the Nouvelle Vague and also every film movement specific to a country has to be called the Something New Wave.

As for the second part, you've mentioned this a few times already, and I really don't. The goal here is mostly to educate myself : enjoying the films is better of course, but it's not the primary objective. I don't really know how to write more academic reviews (nor do I really want to put that much time into it) so I still focus on my personal reaction to the film... also, a 6/10 ain't bad. It means I liked it with reservations.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on March 31, 2017, 05:48:42 AM
But in a nigh infinite ocean of movies, most of which you haven't seen, isn't there a way to continue to educate yourself and discover new things while picking only those that sound like they will work for you?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 31, 2017, 05:55:03 AM
But in a nigh infinite ocean of movies, most of which you haven't seen, isn't there a way to continue to educate yourself and discover new things while picking only those that sound like they will work for you?

Well, first of all I started this because I was listening to the Filmspotting archive, so there's also that aspect to it : I'm enjoying progressing through the history of the podcast too.

But more importantly, I guess I don't have that strong a handle on my taste. I didn't expect to love Dawn of the Dead, or Andrei Rublev. If I limited myself to only stuff I think I'll like, I'd be missing a lot... there's also a pleasure to be had in exploring, even if you don't enjoy the specific films you're seeing, and you can't very well explore if you only watch stuff you think you'll like.

Also I'm bad at choosing among that nigh infinite ocean, so having a list I can just follow works well for me.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 08, 2017, 04:56:57 AM
Les créatures / The Creatures (Agnès Varda, 1966)

(http://i.imgur.com/BkjKqIJ.jpg)

Adam & Josh's takes (starts at 2:00:31) (http://dcs.megaphone.fm/FLM7573165183.mp3?key=d9d60327c8f1b00a16c6d925b5b12f0a)

I can safely say that I did not expect anything like... this to show up in this marathon, and certainly not this early. Only knowing her from reputation, I didn't think of Varda as particularly avant-garde, but she is certainly experimenting here, in a rather bold fashion. As it often goes with these things, some of it is infuriatingly mannered (the score, which seems to scream "HEY ISN'T THIS QUITE SOMETHING !" at all times), but there is a sense of fun, a playfulness that especially comes through in the second half of the film, once the sci-fi aspect comes into play. One early example of that would be the scene in which Piccoli starts conversing with a horse : it's absurd and funny, and helps you along the path of reality merging with fiction, to the point that I started assuming that everything after the initial incident was all a figment of the main character's imagination. I don't think that's really the case, but it helps to take things with a certain detachment, because the film can be quite frustrating before the "game of life" is introduced.

I'm really not quite sure what to say about the content of it. Obviously there's the idea of the artist "playing God", possibly of life (and especially love) being heavily influenced by luck and randomness... and then theres the central relationship. I'm going to go ahead and guess that Adam & Josh are not aware that Varda was married to Jacques Demy, and that this film is specifically dedicated to him, because I'm guessing one can read the film as a deconstruction of their relationship (of which I should say I know nothing about other than that they were married until Demy's death) : surely the casting of Castelnuovo and Deneuve, the stars of Demy's then-recent hit Les parapluies de Cherbourg, cannot be innocent there, especially when considering the themes of a creator artificially toying with romance and drama... come to think of it, it's perhaps less about their relationship than Varda just taking similar elements and saying "Well, here's what I would have done with those", I don't know.

That's really the most I can say about the film : I don't know... but it's pretty fun trying to decipher it. Oh, and speaking of casting choices and filmmaking influences, Persona seemed to be all over this movie... until I realized they came out the same year, so it's just a happy coincidence that a Bergman actress (Eva Dahlbeck) is present here I suppose ? Though there is a bit of The Seventh Seal going on too, so maybe not. Well, this is not so much a review as a discombobulated assemblage of random thoughts, but somehow it feels appropriate for this.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: smirnoff on April 09, 2017, 12:56:14 AM
But in a nigh infinite ocean of movies, most of which you haven't seen, isn't there a way to continue to educate yourself and discover new things while picking only those that sound like they will work for you?

Well, first of all I started this because I was listening to the Filmspotting archive, so there's also that aspect to it : I'm enjoying progressing through the history of the podcast too.

But more importantly, I guess I don't have that strong a handle on my taste. I didn't expect to love Dawn of the Dead, or Andrei Rublev. If I limited myself to only stuff I think I'll like, I'd be missing a lot... there's also a pleasure to be had in exploring, even if you don't enjoy the specific films you're seeing, and you can't very well explore if you only watch stuff you think you'll like.

Also I'm bad at choosing among that nigh infinite ocean, so having a list I can just follow works well for me.

And I imagine whatever your experience with the film, that promise of "feedback" in the form of Adam & ____ sharing the experience with you is something you look forward to. It seems like it would provide a nice additional motivation. :)

Do you ever find yourself in the middle of some of these films thinking "oh, I don't think Adam/Sam/Matty/Josh  is going to enjoy this"? You've probably got a pretty good handle on their tastes, if not your own. :)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 09, 2017, 03:38:35 AM
And I imagine whatever your experience with the film, that promise of "feedback" in the form of Adam & ____ sharing the experience with you is something you look forward to. It seems like it would provide a nice additional motivation. :)

Do you ever find yourself in the middle of some of these films thinking "oh, I don't think Adam/Sam/Matty/Josh  is going to enjoy this"? You've probably got a pretty good handle on their tastes, if not your own. :)

Yes, exactly.

I certainly figured that they would both (Josh particularly) care for La Pointe-Courte more than I did... in general, I think Adam has more reverence for these films than I do, especially nowadays. The tone of the show has changed quite a bit, so Adam & Sam/Matty can sometimes trash a film (Sam on Suspiria was a pretty fun one), but I don't think it's happened at all with Adam & Josh. (speaking only of marathons here). Not that they love them all, but I think when they don't care for a film, they tend to try and find things that are interesting to talk about regardless, rather than having a "fight". I'm not sure which approach I like better: the analytic approach is generally more fruitful, but certainly less memorable.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Knocked Out Loaded on April 09, 2017, 02:13:19 PM
[....] Sam on Suspiria was a pretty fun one [....]
That is one of the funniest moments ever in the Filmspotting history! ;D
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 11, 2017, 06:15:09 AM
L'une chante, l'autre pas / One Sings, the Other Doesn't (Agnès Varda, 1977)

(http://i.imgur.com/owZ8USs.jpg)

Adam & Josh's takes (starts at 1:25:47) (http://dcs.megaphone.fm/FLM5031248041.mp3?key=aefce1e9cfa835bad6c0720fb3fd9c60)

a.k.a. Second-Wave Feminism: The Movie

I was surprised to hear Josh downplay the political aspects of this film, because that's really how this film played for me : a cinematic manifesto under the guise of a drama... and a pretty effective one. The issue with this kind of film can be that the characters seem to only exist to prove a point or represent some aspect of society, but Varda, Liotard and Mairesse don't let that happen to the two main characters. Mairesse in particular has a tough job, because her character could so easily be a walking-talking cliché, but she never does... except perhaps when she sings. Even then, I didn't find it as distractingly laughable as Adam did, but it works best in small doses, and the last 20 minutes or so have a lot of singing.

The whole ending also suffers a bit from the nature of this film as a political statement, and you can feel Varda struggling a little with how to give resolution to these characters without making it seem like where they end up is where women should end up: this is even directly adressed by Pauline at one point when she's criticized for a song celebrating pregnancy. I think this is the reason we end with this very awkward ending, which could work well if Varda didn't feel obligated to intrude with her narration, which had appeared a few times already and always made me roll my eyes : it's egregiously didactic in a way that just isn't needed.

That all being said... I really liked it. It's a bit jarring to see Varda take such a formally simple approach after the first two films in this marathon, but - aside from the above gripes - it works very well. Mairesse really anchors the film, and the central relationship between her and Liotard is deeply felt : the postcards thing could feel cutesy as Josh mentions, but it doesn't. It conveys this idea of these two women living their parallel lives in a changing world, staying connected in a very meaningful but simple way. It's a bit messy, but I'm surprised by how obscure it is, with Mairesse still being relatively famous here and its time-capsule...ness.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 13, 2017, 02:39:19 PM
Sans toit ni loi / Vagabond (Agnès Varda, 1985)

(http://i.imgur.com/Es6BI4a.jpg)

Adam & Josh's takes (starts at 53:20) (http://dcs.megaphone.fm/FLM7009022696.mp3?key=c98afa764125a423d1fa9780e02a712f)

Aside from "unwaveringly humanistic", there's really no telling what a Varda film will be like when sitting down to watch it. I suppose this might be where she settles on a style that straddles the line between documentary and fiction - we'll see with the next two - but even then, it's not like this is a Dardenne film either. We have Yolande Moreau (delightful as always) adressing the camera directly, and one gets the sense that realism isn't Varda's concern so much as conveying a certain idea of France, and more specifically the margins of it. Well, I say the margins but this is what we'd refer to as "la France profonde" (ie "deep France"), so quite the contrary to the margins I suppose... except for our main character of course. She is very much a marginal, and - from the first time a radio is turned on - I kept expecting the anthem of 80s marginals to turn up (that would be Les Rita Mitsouko's Marcia Baïla - perhaps not incidentally about a woman who died prematurely) and Varda did not let me down.

I didn't think of the Citizen Kane comparison when it comes to the plot, but I suppose it's there, in that we ostensibly spend the film trying to understand Sandrine Bonnaire's character, and what led her to end up in that ditch. I really like the point Adam makes about that first interaction we see with the truck driver: I took her comment about "the ride not being free" as referring to the possibility of a sexual exchange, but his reading of it seems much more in line with the film as a whole, which presents Mona as someone who has quite simply chosen to opt out of the social contract. Where the Kane comparison fails though, is that the film is only half-character study : just as interesting are other people's reaction to her.

Like Josh, the one that I found most fascinating was the philosophy-graduate turned sheepherder. It should be noted that this is a very well-known phenomenon that happened in the 70s, specifially in the Larzac region, which is close enough to Varda's usual hunting grounds that one can reasonably assume it to be where this occurs. Varda's relationship to '68 - which the preceding film notably avoided, jumping from early 60s to early 70s - seems like particularly fertile ground to me, and I really enjoy trying to figure out where Varda stands  here... it gets to this interesting dynamic in that the leftist movements entangled with that generation generally still envisioned a society based on work, which Mona can't abide: he really formulates what could be seen as the thesis for the movie when he talks about wanting to be absolutely free leading you to be completely alone. One can respect Mona's quest to be free of all attachments, a kind of wandering asceticism that has a pureness to it, but also an expiration date.

Aside from all these questions the film raises, what ultimately makes it so good is how it refuses to be depressing. As a baseline it is, because we know from the first scene how this story ends, but we're not watching a train-wreck here. This is how she chose to spend her time here, it probably wasn't optimal, but - ha - she did it her way. My personal highlight (aside from Marcia Baïla) here was also mentioned on the podcast, and that's the scene with the old lady. It's pure joy, watching Mona loosen up and laugh, but more importantly connect, perhaps not the only time she does in the film, but it feels like the most significant one. Perhaps because - as I think Adam mentions - there is no contract here other than two people enjoying each other's company and a glass of Cognac, which sounds like Mona's idea of an ideal world.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on April 17, 2017, 02:28:55 AM
Good thoughts on this film, my second favorite by Varda.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 19, 2017, 04:46:52 AM
This Sporting Life (Lindsay Anderson, 1963)

(http://i.imgur.com/lpQ7xkC.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 31:03) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/7/d/3/7d3384c5b326a807/filmspot245_021309.mp3?c_id=1303654&expiration=1492593177&hwt=879cb8a19983db748999a8f40442ddb1)

Listening to Adam & Matty talk about this film helped clarify why it didn't really work for me: rise-and-fall narratives just aren't my thing. Raging Bull and Scarface are mentioned as films that were probably influenced by This Sporting Life, and that makes sense to me, because they all have a similar hollowness, a sense of predetermined fate that makes them feel like a bit of a pointless exercise to me.

What you're then left with is the artistry, which I wasn't particularly impressed by here: the rugby scenes weren't all that kinetic or compelling for example, and the cinematography is certainly fine, but nothing special within the context of this marathon certainly. The same goes for Richard Harris in the main role: he's good, certainly, but I didn't find him nearly as fascinating a figure as Adam did, perhaps because I couldn't help but see him as a bit of a retread of Albert Finney's character in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. He's still a compelling figure, but not all that revelatory... and then there's the fact that this film is a good 30 minutes longer than the previous ones in this marathon, a length that doesn't really justify itself in my eyes.

Part of it is probably that the central relationship doesn't really work. It seems entirely doomed from the start (which I suppose is what I find hard to deal with in these rise-and-fall narratives), and it doesn't help that it starts with a sex scene that's half-consensual at best, something that I'm not sure was exactly intended ? Regardless, it distracts from the more interesting aspect of the film, which is how a working man's body gets appropriated by the upper class, both by Harris's patron and his wife: that certainly resonnates, especially in the context of professional sports, and I wish the film had solely been about that really. As it went further down the melodrama route, it seemed more rote and lost the specificity that made it somewhat interesting.

5/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on July 07, 2017, 02:43:38 AM
Ahem. Well, life has been hectic recently and I haven't had as much time to watch movies, much less review them (related: I'm now officially done with being a student, yay !)... but I did watch the next film in the list, Billy Liar. That was in May though. I'm not watching it again, so I'll do a brief review of it based on what I remember and try to star this thing back up in the days to come.

Billy Liar (John Schlesinger, 1963)

(http://i.imgur.com/m6tV7TO.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 33:53) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/6/2/e/62e902c1c91be4e4/filmspot247_022709.mp3?c_id=1303685&expiration=1499417834&hwt=4519bea35a3399e6103524624585f292)

The first half of this film was a bit of a struggle for me, because this starts out as some kind of Tom Courtenay one-man show... and I'm not a huge fan of Tom Courtenay, I guess, or at least not his young self. The fantasy stuff, which is really the central conceit, doesn't work as well as it sounds like it would, and the character is just so insuferable at all times that it just gets hard to watch. That he's stringing two girls along doesn't help... and then Julie Christie appears.

Not only does he (the character) get better in her presence the whole film does. From silly, over-the-top comedy in love with its own high concept, it turns into a little melancholy dramedy about small town people, perpetually torn between the allure of getting away and the security of staying there. Billy, with his grand declarations and literal fantasies, is the guy who will never leave and deep down he knows it, but he can't admit that openly. She is... I want to say a realist, who indulges him in his big romantic gestures because she just understands that she has to get away. The scene they share overlooking the city is simply great, and I was amazed by how much she managed to change my perspective on him for a moment, from annoyance to pity. The end is then beautiful, and finally makes all the fantasy stuff worth it.

The problem of course, is that first half. Maybe it'd be less of a chore to get through knowing where it goes, but as it was, it significantly dampens my enthusiasm for the very strong second half. Mostly I'm hoping to see more of young Julie Christie now.

6/10

P.S.: I do remember that there is a stand-up comedian (presumably fictional) named Dany Boon in this film. Funny how that worked out.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on August 09, 2017, 08:12:15 AM
Let's truly get this started again.

If... (Lindsay Anderson, 1968)

(http://i.imgur.com/9MWBWIq.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 45:44) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/1/6/c/16c2d8d15e01c72d/filmspot248_030609.mp3?c_id=1303689&expiration=1502281177&hwt=86c1b85a7582aaa4b9915784f51b578a)

Adam mentions this film feeling like a culmination of the "Angry Young Men" genre, and I have to agree, though I'd say it's more that it transcends the genre by using it as springboard for bigger, bolder things. It probably helps that it was made right when the generational divide thata caracterized the 60s - and gave its birth to this whole movement - was coming to a boil... it's shockingly easy to make an analogy between the earlier films in this marathon, which generally ended in resignation and fatalism even when tinged with a touch of hope, and this one, which.... um, does not.

I thought the ending was very well-known (I certainly knew about it going in), but I suppose Adam and Matty didn't... I'm jealous, but knowing about it also gave me an idea of what the film would be like, and gave it the opportunity to really mess with my expectations. Because what I expected was some kind of manifesto of facile rejection of authority... and while that is certainly present, and certain scenes are heavy-handed in the way that I feared (the general's speech in the church), those still work because the film is both more grounded and more weird than that.

It takes the time to grounds itself in coming of age/angry young men genre (the first hour is basically Harry Potter without the magic) to then veer into allegorical satire... but without losing sight of McDowell's Mick as an actual character. It seems crazy to think of McDowell as "grounding" a film, but he really does... I wouldn't call his performance naturalistic exactly, but he's not mannered either, unlike in Clockwork Orange... in a way, he's like an Alex that hasn't quite gone mad yet.

It's certainly the boldest film of the marathon stylistically, as well. There are the seemingly-random B&W sections (presumably to save money or something, I'd say they're more distracting than anything else) and the use of music, which layers the film with a quietly growing sense of menace, and makes the trip to the town work really well, regardless of what's supposed to be real or not there.

In the end it's a film that leaves me with more questions than answers, which puts it in sharp contrast with the previous 5 in this marathon, and - as far as I'm concerned - a cut above.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on August 09, 2017, 09:52:27 AM
The Kitchen Sinks (Angry Young Men Awards)

In the same order as the podcast (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/1/3/2/132051f5c37f27b9/filmspot249_031309.mp3?c_id=1303701&expiration=1502290856&hwt=566f19b1756b5a2630c2c0631b8a6fdb), except I skipped "Best Kitchen Sink Scene" as I couldn't think of one.

Best Supporting Performer: Peter Jeffrey (If...)

(http://i.imgur.com/mje6ri6.jpg)

Best Actress: Julie Christie (Billy Liar)

(http://i.imgur.com/CQx04xI.png)

Best Actor: Richard Burton (Look Back in Anger)

(http://i.imgur.com/e6f2Q8B.jpg)

Best Scene/Moment : Tom Courtenay/Julie Christie heart-to-heart (Billy Liar)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wn3XxZTcrE0

Best Screenplay: Look Back in Anger (Nigel Kneale & John Osborne)

(http://i.imgur.com/MpX13kc.jpg)

Best Director: Lindsay Anderson (If...)

(http://i.imgur.com/o0i2G59.jpg)

Best Picture: If...

(http://i.imgur.com/jIT2BmJ.jpg)

Summary/ranking:

If... (Lindsay Anderson, 1968)
Look Back in Anger (Tony Richardson, 1958)
Billy Liar (John Schlesinger, 1963)
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Karel Reisz, 1960)
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Tony Richardson, 1962)
This Sporting Life (Lindsay Anderson, 1963)


Next up, New Hollywood (with Jules et Jim as an appetizer). But first I need to finish up Varda.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on August 10, 2017, 07:01:20 AM
Les glaneurs et la glaneuse / The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000)

(http://i.imgur.com/ucqv7Hs.jpg)

Adam & Josh's takes (https://www.filmspotting.net/episodes-archive/2017/4/26/varda-marathon-5-the-gleaners-and-i)

Is is possible for a 80 minute film to be too long ? I guess it is, because I really felt that Varda had crafted a perfect 40-minute film, culminating with the scene in which she tries to "grab" the trucks on the road, an image which I think encapsulates her playfulness in the face of the profound societal problems she's exploring... but then we get 40 minutes or so of repetition and random asides. It's not like the film goes off a cliff or anything, it's still a pleasant watch, and I certainly can't quibble with the very end of it, but it simply didn't add anything.

This superfluousness is particularly evident with the return to the initial gleaners after the "moving pictures" detour. it doesn't seem like many reviewers had this problem with the film (certainly not Adam & Josh), but that return seemed egregiously circular to me, with nothing really new being added there, other than the random charm that Varda is always able to find or add herself.

That all being said, I'm only talking about this because I was truly impressed by that first half, and how she was able to connect the gleaners (and how the practice connects to some of our society's biggest problems and challenges) to not only herself and her artistic expression, but a general outlook on life, one that has been developping through the last 50 years or so, of rethinking our approach to our environment but building on older customs... and during it all, Varda never seems like she's judging anyone, or presenting any thesis, it all just derives naturally from what she chose to film. Add in the layer of Varda's own mortality, and it's remarkable really... I just wish that the film as a whole had stayed this effortless.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on August 10, 2017, 04:50:24 PM
Well, I can't tell you that you're wrong, only that I found the entire film to be full of charm and the asides just added to the theme of gleaning.  It doesn't all hold together, but it doesn't matter because it's all Varda.  Watching the visual ramblings of such an engaging subject is bliss, like spending time with my favorite grandmother.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on August 14, 2017, 06:32:29 AM
Well, I can't tell you that you're wrong, only that I found the entire film to be full of charm and the asides just added to the theme of gleaning.  It doesn't all hold together, but it doesn't matter because it's all Varda.  Watching the visual ramblings of such an engaging subject is bliss, like spending time with my favorite grandmother.

Well, the trouble is that she aims for so much more than that, and I think gets there in that first half, but then it becomes what you're describing, which I certainly find pleasant, amusing and interesting, but not quite up to what it could have been.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on August 17, 2017, 03:23:02 PM
Les plages d'Agnès (Agnès Varda, 2008)

(http://i.imgur.com/aHuM4Ma.jpg)

Adam & Josh's takes (https://www.filmspotting.net/episodes-archive/2017/5/11/varda-marathon-6-the-beaches-of-agns)

After the autoportrait, here comes the autobiography. I don't know that I fully agree with Josh's argument that this entirely avoids feeling like a vanity project... but Varda's personality is so endearing that it doesn't really matter. This is really what shines through her post-2000s work: Varda, as a person, is both fascinating and incredibly likable. I come away, though, appreciating her more than her work, and this doesn't really have the ambition present in Les glaneurs et la glaneuse, except for that first "mirrors on the beach scene" perhaps. I wouldn't dare call it conventional, and there are still nice images there, but some of them are more like art installations she happened to put in the film, like the house made of film from Les créatures.

In a sense what I mostly get out from this (as well as her latest, currently in theaters here) is that part of what makes her such a remarkable filmmaker is that she started out as a photographer, and kept expressing herself through other means than cinema throughout her career. It's strange because I get the sense that those who really love this film insist on it being a love letter to cinema, but to me it plays more like an incitation to look beyond cinema. As such, I don't feel that this film is all that remarkable, though it is, much like Visages, Villages, both interesting and pleasant.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on August 17, 2017, 03:55:42 PM
The Cléos (Agnès Varda Awards)

In the same order as the podcast (https://www.filmspotting.net/episodes-archive/2017/5/11/varda-marathon-6-the-beaches-of-agns).

Best Supporting Performance: Yolande Moreau (Sans toit ni loi / Vagabond)

(http://i.imgur.com/NjvVzf6.jpg)

Best Lead Performance: Sandrine Bonnaire (Sans toit ni loi / Vagabond)

(http://i.imgur.com/AoiuxiO.jpg)

Favorite Fact-Meets-Fiction Moment: All of Les Créatures / The Creatures, as related to Demy's Les parapluies de Cherbourg

(http://i.imgur.com/aWS5FXr.jpg)

Best Scene/Moment: Catching trucks (Les glaneurs et la glaneuse / The Gleaners & I)

(http://i.imgur.com/ucqv7Hs.jpg)

Best Picture: Sans toit ni loi / Vagabond

(http://i.imgur.com/VNR7FqR.gif)

Summary/ranking:

Sans toit ni loi / Vagabond
Les glaneurs et la glaneuse / The Gleaners and I
Les plages d'Agnès / The Beaches of Agnes
L'une chante, l'autre pas / One Sings, the Other Doesn't
Les créatures / The Creatures
La Pointe-Courte


Yeah, having not seen Cléo or Le Bonheur (which, yes, I really should), Sans toit ni loi really feels like her greatest cinematic achievment. Could have spread the wealth by giving Lead to Valérie Mairesse in L'une chante, l'autre pas, but Bonnaire's performance is just impossible to deny.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on August 18, 2017, 02:49:23 PM
Historias extraordinarias / Extraordinary Stories (Mariano Llinas, 2008)

(http://i.imgur.com/W5pZiBq.jpg)

(not great quality I know, but it's hard to find good screenshots of this, presumably because of the low availabilty)

Adam & Josh's takes (https://player.fm/series/filmspotting/new-argentine-cinema-1-extraordinary-stories)

When sitting down to watch a four-hour film you know very little about, getting hooked immediately is, shall we say, helpful. Thankfully, this film delivers on that front, with an immediately intriguing opening scene that really establishes the film's aesthetic and its central themes very well. This is a film about storytelling, one that is not shy about that, quite blunt in fact, since it jumps between three seemingly-unrelated stories that are narrated throughout by an omniscient narrator, who often descibes things before they happen, or gives us detailed insight into what the characters are thinking. As Adam & Josh observe, the visuals are almost secondary to the narration, and it often feels like reading a short story (well, three) as much as watching a film, especially when you're not a Spanish speaker and have to rely on subtitles... which sounds like a criticism, but it really isn't. It's not that the film isn't interesting to look at either, one of the stories - taking place on a river - has some gorgeous images and there are some interesting aesthetic departures when the film goes into a flashback as one of its many, many tangents, but the focus really is on the narration in every way.

I hesitate to call it a meta film, because I've grown to associate "meta" with a certain smugness that's totally absent here: it's playful at times, yes, with the omniscient narrator sometimes reminding me of Terry Pratchett's annotations and his love for narrative causality, but it's never flippant and always serves a greater purpose, a thorough exploration on the power that stories have on humans, especially the ones we tell ourselves, of course. It's hard to say it's subtle because, well, in many ways it really isn't, but the way that theme imbues the whole film is rather impressive and engaging.

I won't lie and say it doesn't feel long (though it being divided in three roughly equal parts with two intermissions helps the viewing experience considerably), but it mostly stays engaging, enthralling even, throughout. Some of the tangents admittedly feel less purposeful than others, but the overall structure helps there, since we never spend more than 20-25 minutes in one of the three main narratives I think. It goes through genres seamlessly, starting out (in all three stories really) as a sort of true crime thriller with hints of conspiracies and evolves from there, mostly into a road movie with detours into melodrama and even some WWII, and it all feels coherent, for the most part. A key factor here is Gabriel Chwojnik's score, which evolves a lot throughout and really holds the film together. Also, it goes all Ennio Morricone on you at one point, and I'm never going to dislike that.

A rather impressive start to the marathon then, though the few weaknesses of certain tangents hold it back enough that it's pretty likely to be beaten by Relatos salvajes/Wild Tales in my book... but then again that's in my top 100, so it's quite the high bar to pass.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: 1SO on August 18, 2017, 02:56:57 PM
It's on YouTube right now in 3 parts. Planning to watch next week.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on August 18, 2017, 03:12:12 PM
It's on YouTube right now in 3 parts. Planning to watch next week.

It's how I watched it, I don't think I can get Mubi here without a VPN. It looks pretty good, the subtitles are ok though there's one or two weird spots (Notre Dame being translated as the Chartres Cathedral was a weird if inconsequential moment).
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on August 22, 2017, 05:57:13 AM
Jules et Jim / Jules and Jim (François Truffaut, 1962)

(http://i.imgur.com/kSYp7sy.png)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 39:16) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/3/b/8/3b8a3002cfd4d7eb/filmspot252_040309.mp3?c_id=1303941&expiration=1503395403&hwt=04e4db91ca63ec90f8a75a04fc03cd85)

*spoiler-y*

There it is, a monument of French cinema and I don't know what to make of it. It reminds me (appropriately enough for this marathon) of Taxi Driver, in that it's a film that often feels like a masterpiece but bothers me so much in other ways, especially (in both cases) with its ending.

I was surprised to discover that there was much more to the film than the almost-titular ménage à trois... specifically I had no idea it was a period piece, and that about 5 minutes were devoted to archival footage of WWI. As with many things here, I'm not entirely sure what to make of it, but it suggests an allegorical reading of the film I can't really find, especially with Jules and Jim being on both sides of the front, the three watching images of the Nazi autodafé and their names being out of sync with their nationality... but again, it doesn't really add up to me.

What the film has to say about marriage and free love (an anachronistic term but that is what's at play here) is similarly confusing to me, in that by the end the film almost feels conservative and/or misogynistic... I'm guessing that can't be right, but that ending really messes the film up for me... I can't help but see it as either a condemnation or a fatalistic conclusion that attempting to reinvent norms just doesn't work out or - perhaps more likely - a romantic embrace of death as a determistic outcome of a free life. Even more likely is that Truffaut means for it to be ambiguous, but the ending really seems to preclude that for me. It's so stark that I can't overlook it, and I can't really find a way to embrace it.

Formally, I'm much less conflicted. This is a bold, bold film, playful in ways that I enjoy immensely (the freeze frames when Catherine describes the faces she makes, "Pas celle-là Jim!", the way Truffaut plays around with time and handles the epistolary part of the narrative), but somehow precise and controlled at the same time. Truffaut exudes confidence in his direction and it makes the film's mood swings work... mostly (again, the ending). Even the literary aspect of it (in that it very much feels like a literary adaptation), something that annoys me quite a lot in current French cinema*, just works, again in large part thanks to that confidence. I can't say I was as impressed by Jeanne Moreau as I think I was supposed to be : she's good, but not as magnetic as in Diary of a Chambermaid, a film in which she similarly bends men to her will effortlessly and I never questioned it... not that I questioned it here exactly, but she wasn't irresistible to me either.

What really, really makes me wish I liked the whole thing more is Georges Delerue's marvelous score. "Le Tourbillon" is a standout of course, but it goes far beyond that. Tonally, the film wouldn't work without it: Delerue, more than the actors, is really the one who sells you on the emotional core of the story.

So there you are: I'm conflicted. Whatever its faults though, this is a fascinating film that I'm curious to rewatch and see what I think of in a few years, one of those cinematic landmarks where one immediately understands why it was so impactful.

7/10

*thanks to Truffaut we have to suffer through the likes of Desplechin, which I know many love but I can't stand his dialogue, which is literary to a fault.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on August 22, 2017, 06:33:32 AM
That's the one Truffaut I still want to want. Not enough to actively look for it though.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: MartinTeller on August 22, 2017, 08:50:25 AM
I think it's set in WWI just so Jules and Jim can fight on opposing sides of a war without one of them having to be a Nazi.

It is a bit conservative, but really... trying to have an open marriage is a phenomenally stupid idea, one that is bound to end in some kind of disaster. Probably not THIS disastrous in most cases, but that's art for you. You gotta love a grand gesture. I do struggle with the apparent misogyny, but my wife loved the movie and she's a pretty hardcore feminist. Catherine isn't luring men to their doom, she never tries to hide who she is. She lives on her own terms.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on August 22, 2017, 10:52:01 AM
I think it's set in WWI just so Jules and Jim can fight on opposing sides of a war without one of them having to be a Nazi.

It is a bit conservative, but really... trying to have an open marriage is a phenomenally stupid idea, one that is bound to end in some kind of disaster. Probably not THIS disastrous in most cases, but that's art for you. You gotta love a grand gesture. I do struggle with the apparent misogyny, but my wife loved the movie and she's a pretty hardcore feminist. Catherine isn't luring men to their doom, she never tries to hide who she is. She lives on her own terms.

I'd be 100% with you if she didn't become a murderer. Makes it hard to see her as anything else than a villain in the end... which is where WWI can come in, in a "death doesn't matter, gotta live free" vibe, the one that we still associate with the "Roaring" 20s. It's not all there either, which is where I struggle.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on August 22, 2017, 11:26:42 AM
trying to have an open marriage is a phenomenally stupid idea, one that is bound to end in some kind of disaster.

I am just going to sit here and wait for Bondo to say something.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on August 24, 2017, 09:08:28 AM
Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, 1967)

(http://i.imgur.com/AMh8lxR.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 43:12) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/f/0/8/f08c0e51589a1d3c/filmspot253_041009.mp3?c_id=1303944&expiration=1503575941&hwt=280196ce955462098372095b531d52b0)

This is one of the times where I'm not sure I watched the same film Adam & Matty did. They talk about this film as a counter-cultural phenomenon that broke the studio system, and I understand it has this place in the culture... but it doesn't really transpire in the film, for me. The violence is the only thing that feels radical, and even then this is the year of The Wild Bunch, so... it seems to me that the film cristallized a movement that was happening all over Hollywood, but isn't necessarily that... special. And I don't see that much of the French New Wave in it either, aside from the editing at certain points.

What I mainly see it as is a deconstruction of the gangster mythos: as glamourous as Beatty and especially Dunaway are, the overwhelming feeling I got towards them was one of pity. They are literally pathetic, people who are desperate to matter in some way, any way. They're essentially a hillbilly and a waitress with a sense of style. And that's what Penn also zeroes in on: it's the power of imagery that makes Bonnie & Clyde legends. The robberies we see are all small-time, the deaths are not spectacular, there's no romanticism to the actual crime component of it, that aspect only comes from the theatricality brought by both the actors (Dunaway is big) and the characters: stuff like the Walker Texas Ranger photo-op ends up being much more important than any killing.

Except Bonnie and Clyde's that it. I feel like that ending is what gives the film its countercultural cachet, because it is quite striking and, even more than the killing itself, the way the camera lingers for a while on the faces of the policemen (and the aforementioned ranger): you see the realization on their faces that the people they killed really weren't quite what they imagined they would be. While it is memorable, there's again no romanticism there: even Bonnie's "The Trail's End" (which gave us that great Gainsbourg/Bardot song) has her painting them as tragic figures, and while they are that here to an extent, there's quickly this feeling that they're just in over their heads, people shaped by their circumstances more than by what they actually were, much like Budd's wife ends up being part of the gang for no other reason than happening to be there at the wrong time.

I don't love the film as a whole, as it drags a bit in the second hour, and Estelle Parsons turns in quite the insuferable performance as Blanche, but it is interesting enough, and that ending is deserving of its reputation.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on August 24, 2017, 01:26:25 PM
If anyone has any idea how to watch Castro (2009), given that Mubi is not an option for me... I'd be interested. Right now it looks like I'll have to skip it, and the completionist in me really, really hates that.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 14, 2017, 08:22:42 AM
The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967)

(https://i.imgur.com/JGsZKBo.png)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 39:11) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/5/e/0/5e09416d0805036e/filmspot254_041709.mp3?c_id=1303942&expiration=1505399726&hwt=088c6cf765aa41891175593ab603a56c)

One of the few films in the whole project I've already seen, and actually reviewed (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=12547.msg816413#msg816413) (and there were some interesting responses from people here too). This time, I went in assuming that the film knew fully that Benjamin Braddock was a self-involved prick, which I think does bear out in the choices Nichols made and makes the whole thing less confounding... but I still don't care for it.

Mike Nichols was in his mid-30s when he made this, and this time it seemed to me like a film about a clash of generations where Nichols wants to show that both generations are awful. Benjamin and Elaine are self-involved to the point of parody, and the older generation is hypocritical, envious of their children's youth but nonetheless trying to control it as much as possible. In a sense, it's about the almost institutional cycle of false rebellion against elders that inevitably leads to the same results, and you can see how Ben and Elaine would likely become mirrors of the Robinsons. Well, in reality they'd probably get a divorce because, you know, the world actually does change, but this is a nihilistic film so it probably didn't in that world.

Nihilistic is perhaps the wrong word: the one I keep coming back to is misanthropic. I dislike everyone in this film. Everyone. And I think I see now how it serves the film's greater purpose, but, well, that makes it somewhat painful to watch. Adam & Matty mention the more overt comedy bits as being the film's weakest point, and I don't know that I fully agree, but I will say that Dustin Hoffman's clumsy routine is hit-and-miss.

Now, I do think the film is excellent from a formal standpoint. The way Nichols portrays Ben's aimless drifting is rather unsubtle (I mean, he literally says it) but nonetheless very effective, as is the editing during the Ben/Mrs. Robinson romance, which underlines the mechanical, pointless nature of it. And then there's Simon and Garfunkel. It's a great score, perhaps slightly too... enthusiastic for the subject matter as I perceive it, but there's plenty of melancholy there as well, and any time the film devotes itself to it, I'm in. Partly because I don't have to listen to the characters in those moments, but still.

5/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on September 14, 2017, 08:37:36 AM
So now you are also watching movies you've already watched? And didn't like, to boot? You like punishment as much as 1SO does.

I still don't like the movie but I do like Mrs. Robinson. There's your one good character.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 14, 2017, 08:39:50 AM
So now you are also watching movies you've already watched? And didn't like, to boot? You like punishment as much as 1SO does.

I still don't like the movie but I do like Mrs. Robinson. There's your one good character.

Well, I did like it a little better this time around. Also, it was on the big screen, so there was that.

I liked Mrs. Robinson the first time, but she really is a hypocrit in the end. She's the most sympathetic character in the film, but I wouldn't say I like her.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Corndog on September 14, 2017, 09:04:59 AM
I haven't watched it since this (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=7491.msg431295#msg431295). But I don't think my position has changed. Would be an interesting revisit for me.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on September 14, 2017, 09:24:21 AM
About your hopes, Corndog: They 100% have a miserable relationship that was doomed from the start and probably part ways at some point.

BY the way, between you and Teproc, we almost have a full Hoffman (or perhaps Hoffboy, graduates are young, aren't they?).
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Corndog on September 14, 2017, 09:31:29 AM
Yea, I was young and naive back then.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on September 14, 2017, 09:49:50 AM
Was your handle Cornpuppy?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 02, 2017, 10:02:53 AM
Getting back into this. Since I can't get Castro, I'm putting the modern marathons part of this on hold, in the hopes that by the time I get all the way around to it, it gets easier to find. Back to New Hollywood then.

In the Heat of the Night (Norman Jewison, 1967)

(https://i.imgur.com/Ux42oAp.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 34:14) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/e/9/9/e99a13cef22c2657/filmspot256_050809.mp3?c_id=1303949&expiration=1509636060&hwt=3a92fc4bef112fdf367482f6c8327645)

I'm going to use an expression I generally hate when applied to art here: In the Heat of the Night has not aged well. Out of the three 1967 films of this marathon, it makes all the sense in the world that this would win Best Picture, and not in a good way. Though I enjoyed it more than The Graduate, it never seemed to belong in a marathon about films that changed Hollywood forever. Stylistically, there some New Wave-y sequences I suppose, notably the chase ending on the bridge early on, and it's a good looking film overall, but it hardly feels revolutionary. Which is fine, and probably intentional because what's supposed to be shocking about the film is the subject matter.

There too, though, it's like the most consensual film you could make about racism in the Southern U.S. in the 60s... if you made it at the time, that is. Well, it probably isn't in truth, but that's how it feels now, which is why "did not age well" applies I think, for once. The "Slap Heard Round the World" encapsulates this perfectly: the film underplays it stylistically because Jewison understood that just having it there was enough to shock people at the time... but now, it falls completely flat. I can understand why it would be a big deal in this context, but it just doesn't feel like it, partly because of Poitier's character I think. Adam & Matty compare it favorably to his role in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner: having not seen that, it still felt like Poitier and the writers were working very hard to make Tibbs as agreeable as possible to a white audience, and forgot to make him a believable character in that process. He's not quite perfect, but he is still impossibly calm and collected during the whole film, especially for someone who isn't actually from there and shouldn't be used to this kind of treatment.

That being said, I did have a good time with it. Rod Steiger gives a pretty layered performance - not subtle mind you, but layered - and I always do enjoy watching competent people do their job and do it well.

6/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: pixote on November 02, 2017, 01:41:32 PM
Glad to see renewed activity here! I was missing this thread just the other day, when people were saying (http://forum.filmspotting.net/index.php?topic=14595.0) they'd never heard of Historias Extraordinarias. In the Heat of the Night is a film I need to revisit, but I suspect it's aged better with me than with you. Some of the behind-the-scenes details I read in Pictures at a Revolution would probably enhance my next viewing as well. Rod Steiger is a genius if only for the chewing gum.

pixote
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 05, 2017, 04:18:08 PM
Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, 1969)

(https://i.imgur.com/p2m6keZ.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (stars at 40:25) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/a/8/b/a8b91f8a24992808/filmspot257_051509.mp3?c_id=1303955&expiration=1509716905&hwt=47ca4b825f47aceb7fef85b7bb87ce7c)

After complaining earlier that films like Bonnie and Clyde and In the Heat of the Night didn't feel all that revolutionary for the time period... well, here we go. Easy Rider actually looks and feels like what its reputation suggests: a self-portrait of the counterculture. However, much like Adam & Matty, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's not a blind celebration of it.

Hopper certainly revels in the freedom that the open road represents, and the musically augmented driving (riding ?) scenes fit that Beat Generation-influenced iconography, and work very well in that regard. It helps that the musical choices are, for the most part, pretty inspired and haven't lost a bit of their iconic quality. Well, maybe I shouldn't say "Hopper", because whatever his intentions were aren't all that important to me, what matters is what the film actually ends up being, and that is, again, a self-portrait, but a sorrowful one.

There's the ending of course, but that plays more as a reversal of the menace people looking like Hopper and Fonda inspired at the time - the film came out within weeks of the Manson murders - and an indictment of mainstream America as the actually violent and dangerous ones. That all works fine, but it's somewhat expected of a film like this, coming at the tail-end of the 60s. What's much more interesting is Fonda's "We blew it", which comes much before that. 

It's not entirely clear where and how they blew it, exactly, whether it be in Fonda's mind or in ours. Should they have stayed at that commune, which actually was trying to put the ideals into concrete action, but also looked like a terrible place to live in ? Was it when they entered that diner ? Or was it back when the film started - or before that, rather - when they decided to get a big "score". Regardless of how it played at the time, I'd have a hard time seeing this film as being that enthusiastic about drugs: the first song that plays, after all, is basically calling for a war on "the pusher man", and... maybe it's just viewing it through my lens, but it didn't seem like it romanticized drug usage all that much either. Well, maybe weed, but other than that, there's a seediness to it all the way through: what's celebrated is the freedom of the open road more than anything else. But even then... well, there's the feeling that the freedom was always going to be short-lived, that it was perhaps doomed for the start.

That's what makes the film fascinating still: you can see Hopper & Co realizing that the revolution is probably not happening, not in the way they expected it to anyway, but there's no easy explanation of why: that's just the way it is, and it's not clear where it all went wrong.

P.S. : Nicholson is great in this, might be my favorite performance of his.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 08, 2017, 04:17:20 PM
Midnight Cowboy (John Schlesinger, 1969)

(https://i.imgur.com/fIQxejX.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 35.56) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/2/b/c/2bccda6adf9149ab/filmspot258_052209.mp3?c_id=1303871&expiration=1510164526&hwt=19eaaaf3b7aa6ceb36216aaf0cc08a2a)

The second Best Picture winner in this marathon, and the difference between this and In the Heat of the Night is rather striking. It feels like a 70s film, which, well, it almost is, and also that's kinda the whole point of New Hollywood as a concept, I suppose. There was a radical shift in the way films were made in Hollywood, in all aspects really, and it really shows when looking at these films. The way Schlesinger films New York, it seems like it must have been an inspiration for Scorsese later, especially when Voight arrives into town and is randomly walking around hoping to stumble onto a "hustle". The main character even talks to himself in a mirror ! What a hack, that Scorsese, all he had to do was replacing Harry Nilsson with Bernard Herrman, et voilà ! Ok not really, but still, I thought about Taxi Driver a lot watching this, which is another way in which it feels like a much clearer harbinger for the future of American cinema than the previous films in the marathon.

The other way in which it feels like a radical change to have this get Best Picture is the subject matter of course: marginalized people desperate to get a taste of the American dream and failing hard, with the quintessentially American imagery of the cowboy being confronted to the grime of (almost) 70s New York. It milks that for all it's worth, especially with that Harry Nilsson song, which is a bit much for me... but Voight's performance really grounds the film. It's a really tough character to pull off, naive but a "hustler", vain but generous and improbably likable. It would be so easy for the film to mock him, but Schlesinger and Voight never lose sight of the character. The way Schlesinger approaches his backstory through impressionistic and ambiguous flashbacks is pretty interesting: he's almost a blank page with hints here and there of how he got to this point.

Dustin Hoffman's performance took me aback at first. I'm still not entirely sold on it, and I think it works much better when the film goes full pathos with his character. Some of it might be slightly unfair: I had to check if "I'm walking here !" was a thing before, because that seemed like a parody of a New Yorker more than anything else. Since it turns out that's where it comes from, it's possible that the performance as a whole was so influential that it seems overdone now. And again, when Hoffman re-enters the film and plays Ratso as more desperate than weasely, it works really well.

It's one I'd be curious to rewatch: the tragic emotional core of those two characters is what I'm left with, but it takes quite some time to get there, and doesn't feel fully focused to me, but maybe I'd feel differently knowing where it goes.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: pixote on November 08, 2017, 05:19:44 PM
Midnight Cowboy is a film that I'm equally excited and nervous to revisit. I think odds are very good that I won't like it as much as I once did — especially since, when I think of it now, I think of the more awkward moments, like with the john who turns out to be a religious zealot or whatever — but maybe there are still enough moments of greatness (that song!) to balance it all out.

Ratso stole the "I'm walking!" thing from Lieutenant Dan. Don't let linear time tell you differently.

pixote
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 09, 2017, 04:05:33 AM
Time is a flat circle.

It's not a john who turns out to be a religious zealot exactly, but yeah that's not a great scene anyway. A lot of build-up to it for not much. I suppose it's another "traditional American values dirtied", but not as clever as it thinks it is.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 16, 2017, 08:12:21 AM
The Long Goodbye (Robert Altman, 1973)

(https://i.imgur.com/8GpLaxw.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 39:46) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/0/4/7/047d1b2bb67e3a9b/filmspot260_060509.mp3?c_id=1303839&expiration=1510845591&hwt=cf5dee33de5a1392522b823a1eddbec8)

This is actually my first encounter with Philip Marlowe, having not seen The Big Sleep (or any other film featuring him) or read any of the novels. As such, I can't really comment on how much of a departure Gould's portrayal of him may or may not compare to Bogart's or Chandler's original version. Adam seems to find him surprisingly pathetic, but I suspect that's only in comparison to Bogart specifically, because Marlowe here plays like a pretty typical Noir protagonist to me. He's being fooled and strung along of course, but Gould plays him with a certain detachment (his "Okay with me" mantra emphasizing it) which prevents him from looking too dumb or gullible, even when Altman goes out his way to mock him.

Because of course, this being a 70s noir, it's all about deconstructing the genre, its archetypes and its tropes. The John Williams score, which is the musical equivalent of Queneau's Exercices de style (which is to say it's one theme played in various styles depending on the scene, but always recognizably the same melody), encapsulates this beautifully: it's always the same song, and it's always the same story of a world-weary man being misled by a woman who's not as innocent as she looks. The white knight theme is laid on particularly thick here*, with my favorite scene being the one in which we follow Gould literally running after his femme fatale for a good three minutes, being completely ignored. It's playful, and if ther's one thing I love in my movies, it's playfulness.

It could all be a bit too smug (see also: The Player), but I think Gould's performance grounds it: because he has this veneer of indifference to everything around him, he still feels in sync with the film even as he gets ridiculed. While he is a man out of time in some senses (fashion, to start with), he doesn't entirely feel like a simple 50s transplant into the 70s: there's a countercultural tone to how he treats cops, and he genuinely seems to get along pretty well with his hippie neighbours. I was glad to have them in the film because they were a nice counterpoint to the obligatory cynicism (not that Altman would have it any other way) of everything else in the film: it's possible they're intended to seem like ridiculous caricatures, but they didn't come across that way to me, they almost came across as the heart of the film, the people who might have figured it out by completely ignoring the rest of the world and just doing their thing.

Also, Sterling Hayden is wonderful.

8/10

*it only now occurs to me that there's a bit of that noir tradition in Ex Machina too, even though there's nothing noir about that film stylistically.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on November 16, 2017, 06:22:03 PM
It's been a few years since I saw The Long Goodbye and I'm still not sure what I think of it.  It was plodding and meandering, but there is a casual charm that kept me with it.  It was so unlike what I expected of Marlow that I think I should watch it again so I can reduce my expectations.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: pixote on November 16, 2017, 07:17:04 PM
I'll be revisiting it at the end of this Noirvember, if I stick to my schedule. Looking forward to returning to this review then.

pixote
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Knocked Out Loaded on November 17, 2017, 06:34:44 AM
The Long Goodbye sits in my Top 100, much because of the sort of absent-minded nature of the movie. I love the title song and also the cat feeding scene, which must be a creative theft fom Frank Tuttle's 1942 film This Gun For Hire?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 21, 2017, 12:13:06 PM
I guess it is meandering, though it didn't strike me that way exactly, because Marlowe is always investigating: he just gets interrupted a lot, but all of it is relevant to the case. It does have a hangout feeling that I'm told is common in Altman's films, I like that.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 21, 2017, 07:01:06 PM
Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973)

(https://i.imgur.com/CN0eNyD.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 41:47) (http://media.libsyn.com/media/cinecast/filmspot261_061209.mp3)

One of the rare films in this whole endeavor that I've already seen, and I think I stand by my assesment of it as Scorsese's best film, of the 9 I've seen anyway. Even if one prefers Goodfellas or Raging Bull or whatever, Mean Streets seems like the ultimate Scorsese film. Aside from some technical imperfections (the sound mixing is generally not great), he's fully-formed here, with his obsessions in full display: the catholicism and the guilt that goes along with this particular brand of it, New York and more specifically Little Italy and the mafia culture. This is also true stylistically, particularly in his use of contemporary music to score the action.

I suppose this is generally a common thread of New Hollywood that I haven't adressed much, but it's been quite noticeable in this marathon. There's the obvious: The Graduate and its iconic Simon & Garfunkel score, Easy Rider and it succession of music videos in the first half, and this, which has an average amount of music-dominated sequences for Scorsese, which is to say a lot. But Midnight Cowboy has the recurring Harry Nilsson song, The Long Goodbye has its variations on the eponymous song, and even Jules et Jim has Le tourbillon de la vie. I don't remember music in Bonnie and Clyde I suppose ? In any case, my point is that the use of music is clearly one of the many stylistical innovations from New Hollywood, and Mean Streets feels like a culmination of that trend. Along with the home-footage opening credits and the way Scorsese writes these characters and shoots New York, it creates this incredibly strong sense of time and place, in a way that I don't think that even a Goodfellas doesn't, perhaps because Scorsese is looking in the past there, whereas this is entirely of-the-moment.

On that point, the musical choices are particularly on-point in that there's a healthy mix of very current needledrops (Scorses's beloved Rolling Stones getting the most iconic one with Jumpin' Jack Flash) along with canzone and 50s stuff like The Chantels's I Love You So which opens the film. It's specific, and personal. Of course the performances, especially by Keitel and De Niro, also play a huge part. It's been quite the pleasure seeing people like Nicholson and De Niro in their breakout roles throughout this marathon, though the performance I'm most impressed by here is Keitel's. The film is not subtle about his inner demons (hah, because he spends all this time in hell-ish looking places, get it ?), but his performance is. You can feel the pain in realizing that he understands that in order to get where he wants to be, he has to both compromise himself and abandon someone like Johnny Boy, but he can't quite do it because he knows it's not right. But is it ? The conflict between his cultural values and his religious values is constantly playing out right there on his face, and it's deeply tragic. Here gain I think of Goodfellas and how little I care for anyone in that film: aside from Michael (and even him I don't hate half as much as Henry Hill), they're all endearing in some way. They're not quite lost yet, and therein lies the tragedy.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 22, 2017, 05:10:57 AM
I hate that film. It challenges Silence for the spot of the most unendurable Scorsese movie. DeNiro's character is a repugnant mess who makes every scene he's in an ordeal, and Keitel's unending moral constipation is nothing short of ridiculous. My eyes were rolling too fast to notice anything much about the style.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 22, 2017, 02:06:21 PM
I hate that film. It challenges Silence for the spot of the most unendurable Scorsese movie. DeNiro's character is a repugnant mess who makes every scene he's in an ordeal, and Keitel's unending moral constipation is nothing short of ridiculous. My eyes were rolling too fast to notice anything much about the style.

I get De Niro being annoying I guess (though I find him charming), but Keitel ? He might be my favorite Scorsese character overall. I think of him and Gabriel Byrne in Miller's Crossing as different versions of a similar character, struggling with the necessity to compromise their morals to achieve their ambitious goals. Charlie is less ambitious, but in the end he wants to conform, even if it'll eat him up inside, and he'll either become a sociopath (like Byrne) or a failure.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 23, 2017, 08:57:45 AM
Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973)

(https://i.imgur.com/ATv4AVT.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 40:04) (http://media.libsyn.com/media/cinecast/filmspot262_061909.mp3)

Badlands is one of those films that it feels a bit pointless to write about, because of how sensory an experience it is. I suppose that's true of most Malick films, though my experience with him is still very limited (I've only seen his post-Tree of Life work, so not exactly the most acclaimed part of his oeuvre). It's a gorgeous film, and not just the time spent outside of civilization either: one of the most striking moment in the film is Sheen and Spacek's first scene together: there's something momentous and unique about the moment that you can think back to every time you might be wondering what motivates these characters.

Adam & Matty overplay the mystery of these motivations here I think: they see each other as a way to escape from their boring (for her) and depressing (for him) world. Kit is the driving force of course because the reality he's escaping is much bleaker simply by virtue of him being older (and possibly affected by time spent at war - I kept thinking Vietnam before realizing it was set too early for that, maybe Korea?), and she goes along because she's fascinated by him. It goes rather far yes, but I never found myself questioning their motives: they want to be with each other, and they'll do anything for or at least Kit will, and Holly is fine going along with it for a while. It's kind of a reverse Summer with Monica. With more murder.

Though it is very different stylistically from the other films in the marathon (obvious connections with Bonnie and Clyde notwithstanding), it is connected to them in many ways. There's the rejection of mainstream society and there's the way it plays with the medium, with Martin Sheen doing his best James Dean impression and getting called out on it (well, not so much called out as complimented). It's pretty striking, and from there it follows almost too easily that he's a rebel who found a cause in Holly.

I suppose what differenciates it from latter-day Malick (again, bearing my limited experience with him in mind) is that the cinematography is a supporting player rather than the stars: Spacek's face is what sticks with me more than the landscapes. There are two fascinating performances here that anchor the film: again this is a tragedy, and those only work if you care about the characters. Great score (and soundtrack), too.

8/10

*which is why The Killing of a Sacred Deer doesn't work for me, come to think of it.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 23, 2017, 09:06:28 AM
Any Malick review that does not mention wheat porn is automatically invalidated.

No rating?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 23, 2017, 09:42:15 AM
Any Malick review that does not mention wheat porn is automatically invalidated.

No rating?

Rating added. I don't think this has much (any ?) wheat porn. I suspect it comes into play more with Days of Heaven. There is a sense of admiration for nature, but it didn't seem to be the main focus to me.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 23, 2017, 09:53:09 AM
There are a few wheat-like shots of the plains once they run away, as I remember.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 23, 2017, 09:57:16 AM
There are a few wheat-like shots of the plains once they run away, as I remember.

Yes, but I guess when you say "wheat-porn" I think more of the "running your hands through wheat fields" variety.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 23, 2017, 10:07:54 AM
I said wheat porn, not wheat masturbation.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 23, 2017, 10:11:39 AM
I said wheat porn, not wheat masturbation.

I lost.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 23, 2017, 10:15:45 AM
I just realised I missed an alteration. I should have said wheat wanking.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on November 23, 2017, 10:44:46 AM
The Plastics (New Hollywood Awards)

In the same order as the podcast (starts at 49:10) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/f/0/a/f0af12d292a61135/filmspot263_070309.mp3?c_id=1303798&expiration=1511456208&hwt=5fc2c91444cd58ed963f1a65e4051534).

Best Supporting Actress: Anne Bancroft (The Graduate)

(https://i.imgur.com/oW6kXfk.jpg)

Best Supporting Actor: Sterling Hayden (The Long Goodbye)

(https://i.imgur.com/fxbxyqG.jpg)

Best Actress: Sissy Spacek (Badlands)

(https://i.imgur.com/pyASDhG.jpg)

Best Actor: Harvey Keitel (Mean Streets)

(https://i.imgur.com/JGbnx8Z.jpg)

Best Screenplay: The Long Goodbye (Leigh Brackett)

(https://i.imgur.com/vVkjGLQ.jpg)

Best Cinematography: Badlands (Tak Fujimoto, Stevan Larner & Brian Probyn)

(https://i.imgur.com/LjRuDMA.jpg)

Best Anti-Hero: Philip Marlowe (The Long Goodbye)

(https://i.imgur.com/DUlC3lk.jpg)

Best Scene or Moment: Jumpin' Jack Flash (Mean Streets)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZ7UwnfQ2nA

Best Picture: Mean Streets

(https://i.imgur.com/ZQ5KZDs.gif)

Among the shut-outs, Easy Rider was close in Supporting Actor and Anti-Hero, and Midnight Cowboy in Actor (also Jules et Jim in whichever Actress category Moreau should go in, but it felt a little wrong to have a French film get a "New Hollywood" award). Also, I guess Anne Bancroft as Supporting is questionable, but I see Hoffman as the only lead in that film.

Also, the screenshot for Actress is dedicated to DH. Not quite wheat, but close (also there were some wheat-y options indeed for Cinematography).

Summary/ranking:

Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973)
The Long Goodbye (Robert Altman, 1973)
Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973)
Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, 1969)
Midnight Cowboy (John Schlesinger, 1969)
Jules et Jim (François Truffaut, 1962)
Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, 1967)
The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967)


On to Kurosawa (after I fullfill my FEB and Top 100 Club duties). Two masterpieces I'm anxious to revisit, and then a bunch of new Kurosawa I've been holding off on, so I'm excited!
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 23, 2017, 10:59:25 AM
Kurosawa! Now there's a marathon I could see myself sign up for.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on November 26, 2017, 08:13:07 AM
Badlands is sublime.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 26, 2017, 06:49:34 PM
You wheat people...
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on November 26, 2017, 07:51:28 PM
*can't actually eat wheat*
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 27, 2017, 07:03:27 AM
*sips beer in awkward silence, takes a bite from sandwich*
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 05, 2017, 11:23:56 AM
Rashômon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)

(https://i.imgur.com/oxihkKv.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 46:31) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/9/3/6/93697b3e831f6617/filmspot264_071009.mp3?c_id=1303773&expiration=1512497468&hwt=2b059da0c3b1e201421b81c6e04c9ac3)

Rashômon is an important film for me. I remember seeing it on YouTube, solely based on having heard it described on Filmspotting (in a later episode) and thinking that it sounded so good that if any film was to sold me on delving into classic cinema, that was it. And well, here we are. I was extremely impressed, and I still am... well, I'll confess something: this rewatch was somewhat of a disappointment, but just thinking about the film makes me fall in love with all over again. Appropriate that the actual experience of watching the film seems to change in my mind afterwards. Something something relative nature of truth. Maybe I should have to watch it four times to make sure I have a full picture of it every time, and record a response to it in between sessions ?

In any case, let's start with the little things that bothered me this time. Chief among them, and most surprising to me, was Takashi Shimura's performance as the woodcutter. He's just not very good, and that really puzzles me, because I've loved him in the other films I've seen him in, but here he's... I hesitate to say overplaying because, well, we'll get to Mifune, but I don't really feel that he's as despaired by the whole situation as he says he is. Now, it's possible that this is meant to be intentional as the character is, after all, performing, and might be shocked by his own moral failings as much as anything else... and there I go, talking myself into it again. Even with that rationalization though, his performance takes me out of the film: I remembered his character as being the grounding presence through the first hour or so, but no I found that the other traveler (the more cynical one) played that role. Maybe i'm just more cynical than I used to be, I suppose, or maybe that's simply a result of knowing where Shimura's character goes.

Then there's the score, which is mostly a great riff on Ravel's Boléro (the repetitive nature of it is obviously on point narratively, but also the way it leads you into it and escalates as the plot thickens), but the way it's used when the woodcutter discovers the murder scene (not the lead up to it which is brilliant, I'm talking about the finding of the various clues and such) is... kinda silly ? To the point of being unintentionally funny, almost. Again, one could argue that it's foreshadowing about the woodcutter, but if so it detracts too much from the initial drive of the film, for me. It's also possible that it's entirely intentional: there is, after all, a lot of laughing in the film. There's Mifune of course, but what I didn't remember was Machiko Kyô (the woman) also joining in later. But that strikes me more as a reaction to the absurdity of the world and the destruction of the values she believes in (well, more like singular value since it's all about honor here), as opposed to the more silly side of absurdity.

But enough rambling about the things that bothered me that may or may not be actual flaws, because there is so much greatness here. The cinematography is stunning, from the rain-soaked opening revealing the eponymous gate to the recurring shots of the sun piercing through the forest as if trying and failing to expose the truth, and then there's Mifune. He's like Kinski (except he has other gears than this as we'll see later on in the marathon): the camera loves him and so does he. Those PoV shots of him fighting... I don't know that any other actor could make the character work. He's way over-the-top of course, but something about his performance lets you know that this is, well, a performance. He projects himself as this crazy man who does what he wants and takes what he wants, and the laughter is part of that: he's not going to act normal just because you'd want him too... and that's all gone in the woodcutter's telling, which I'm taking as the closest to the truth here, though certainly one could interpret the film in other ways. Machiko Kyô and Masayuki Mori are good as well (in very different styles), but it's all about Mifune.

My favorite scene, however, does not involve him. It's the medium scene, which is stunning and so simple : a woman with long hair, some makeup, some wind, and dialogue recorder in what sounds like a toilet ? Except the scene is so striking that it doesn't sound like that at all, it sounds like it's coming straight from hell, and Noriko Honma (apparently a Kurosawa regular but only in small roles) sells it as the medium. I could try and articulate how masterfully Kurosawa's camera draws you in to the mystery of it all, and how it illuminates the character dynamics through clever framing (and movement) but I probably wouldn't come close to describing it eloquently, and this review is way too long already. He is quite good at this whole directing thing.

9/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 08, 2017, 05:38:18 PM
Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa, 1952)

(https://i.imgur.com/XW3gkY4.png)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 39:45) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/c/7/d/c7dfe6953bfd23c5/filmspot267_073109.mp3?c_id=1303795&expiration=1512738382&hwt=32591b07ffe84e9d4c81a2c3719655e0)

Presumably Leslie Knope's favorite film of all time.

This one worried me a little at the start. The overbearing and condescending voice-over, Shimura reprising his Rashomon role of "man so sad his eyes are perpetually open as wide as humanly possible", a montage of bureaucratic absurdity that goes on way too long... and all of it is going to be a story of a man who learns he's going to die, so of course he'll have some kind of epiphany and such (the film opens with the women making their request for a park to be built, so we know that'll have to happen eventually), and it's, what, 2 hours 20 minutes long ?

The first half (or so) of the film is more or less that, but Shimura's performance ended up mostly working for me (if only because I could attribute some of it to the character's gastric pains), and it didn't go exactly where I expected it to. It is didactic, in that we see him try different versions of "living your life to the fullest": first he just gets drunk, then he meets someone to get drunk with, then he actually helps someone and tries to connect with her. There's a progression there, and the latter segment is very interesting in the ways it does not go well. You can't just rely on finding some Amélie Poulain type to make your life meaningful: people have other shit to do than help you self-actualize, no matter how obviously desperate for human connection you are. So she humors him for a while because she finds him interesting and somewhat endearing, but that's it.

Both of those segments culminate in stand-out scenes that are essentially pure pathos, but done well: Watanabe singing the "Life is Brief" song at the club, and him sadly walking down the stairs of the restaurant after being rejected by his ex-coworker, while a bunch of young women sing "Happy Birthday". The way Kurosawa shoots that, with him coming down as the birthday girl comes into the screen going up, is a simple illustration of why this can't work, and it could feel heavy-handed in another director's hands, but Kurosawa handles it perfectly. The contrast between Kurosawa and Ozu comes to mind for this film especially because the subject matter is probably the closest Kurosawa got to Ozu, but what he excells at is movement, which is as antithetic to Ozu's style as it gets, and even here those are the moments that shine through: that stairs shot, the pan on Watanabe on his swing which starts behind some obstacle thingie, and the shots closing in on Watanabe's picture at his wake later on.

Still, I was feeling conflicted about the film. Well, not conflicted exactly: it was clearly solid, but I wasn't enamored either. But then, Kurosawa skips Watanabe figuring things out, cutting right from him seeing the initial request for a park on his desk to his funeral. A bold decision that pays off in spades, both because it enables a sort of reversed It's a Wonderful Life scenario of his coworkers coming to an understanding through discussing his behavior in the last six months, and because it escapes the familial issue entirely. By leaving that unresolved, Kurosawa adds a bit of an edge to the uplift.  We still see enough of the process to get that satisfaction from it, but really all that is needed to close Watanabe's semi-redemption arc is that swing-under-the-snow scene. The ending could feel somewhat cynical, but the fact that he managed to have a somewhat lasting impact on one of his coworkers is exactly the right amount of optimism for me.

I love that the second part plays as sort of an ode to rudeness. In Rashômon, he attacked the way honor was the ultimate value in traditional Japanese society (up to WW2 really), and here he gets at the idea that this has been replaced in modern Japan by politeness: all Watanabe does is annoy people into submission. Well, that and look so pathetic doing it (another dig at honor as a cardinal value) that they feel compelled to help him, if only to make him go away, which is best illustrated in the scene in which he simply sits quietly next to some section chief, and Kurosawa spends a good three minutes on the chief trying to go about his business and not being about to do it simply because Watanabe is sitting there, nothing more. That doesn't sound that rude of disruptive, but it feels like it, and obviously it works.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 09, 2017, 10:56:08 AM
Presumably Leslie Knope's favorite film of all time.

 ;D

I chuckled. I thought about Parks & Rec when I watched the movie too.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 10, 2017, 09:28:24 AM
Presumably Leslie Knope's favorite film of all time.

 ;D

I chuckled. I thought about Parks & Rec when I watched the movie too.

Even it would count as a relatively obscure reference, I'm surprised it never came up in the show, because it seems relatively likely at least one of the writers saw it. Maybe it did and I just don't remember it, and I guess it'd be more of a Community thing to allude to it anyway. But the whole story of the second half is basically the first season of Parks & Rec, which amuses me. It's not a great season either, maybe people should just watch Ikiru instead and jump to the second season.  ;D
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: MartinTeller on December 10, 2017, 09:42:47 AM
Even if a writer knew about it, they wouldn't expect the audience to. The Simpsons did a Rashomon gag once, but in general a Kurosawa reference in a primetime sitcom is likely going to fall flat with the general public.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 10, 2017, 09:53:26 AM
Even if a writer knew about it, they wouldn't expect the audience to. The Simpsons did a Rashomon gag once, but in general a Kurosawa reference in a primetime sitcom is likely going to fall flat with the general public.

Sure, I wouldn't expect a whole gag about it for that reason. Community would do it, but Community is weird like that. But maybe Leslie could have a poster of Ikiru in her office at some point or something. Maybe she does, for all I know.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 10, 2017, 10:48:47 AM
Kumonosu-jô / Throne of Blood (Akira Kurosawa, 1957)

(https://i.imgur.com/UAkO65k.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 40:29) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/a/d/7/ad7850f0887428c1/filmspot270_082109.mp3?c_id=1303901&expiration=1512922450&hwt=41302f9ded66359f92639b3b8c943d83)

Kurosawa does Macbeth with Mifune. It goes basically the way one would expect.

I struggle a bit with what to say about it because, well... it's Macbeth. Yeah there are differences, and in a way it's surprising that it feels so close to the original material given the lack of Shakesperean dialogue (and some plot differences), but it's about what Macbeth is always about. Ambition, or more to the point: the futility of it. I guess I'm back to Mifune-as-Kinski, except Kurosawa here finds men's quest for glory sad and pointless, as opposed to Herzog who sees it as ugly but somewhat admirable and, though still pointless, somehow necessary. Mifune's performance isn't as big as I expected it to be, which I suppose is appropriate: Macbeth/Washizu is a character who leaves his destiny in the hands of fate : he's pure passivity. Mifune is almost miscast, and has to reign it in... and in the end he's very solid (especially in his interactions with Banquo/Miki), but doesn't really bring much new to the character.

I suppose the main difference with the original is how hopeless and grim the ending is. It's probably not a coincidence that the ending is the best thing about the film: there's nothing recomforting about seeing him brought down, no sense that MacDuff/Noriyasu (hi Takashi Shimura, didn't recognize you there) will be any better... I get the sense that Kurosawa is like the forest spirit, but instead of laughing about men's folly, he shakes his head in dismay. There is a bit of Hirohito in Washizu: what was the purpose of Japanese imperialism really, other than glory and a sense that that's what powerful countries are supposed to do ? Makes sense to tackle it in a Western-play too, since there was a distinctly Western influence in the way Japanese imperialism developped after the Meiji restoration.

I don't think Kurosawa sees men as actually being slaves of their destinies either, if anything I see the forest spirit's laugh as an indication that this is just his way of screwing with those humans: give them a prophecy, make it believeable with a savvy prediction to start with (it's not like you'd need special powers to guess that military leaders who just won an important battle would get promoted) and they'll bend over backwards trying to realize it.

Obviously what makes the film work beyond the simple adaptation part of it are those stand-out visual touches: Washizu and Miki wandering in the fog (looking for a purpose, about to get one dropped on them) for a good five minutes, the eeriness of the forest spirit scene, and everything in the last 10 minutes. Kurosawa's take on "Birnam Wood" is enough to justify the whole endeavor, and Mifune's death is quite something. See, when Sean Bean stands after taking three arrows it looks silly, but when Mifune does it after 50 , it's tragic and haunting. It probably helps that he's wearing armor, but I'll attribute it to Kurosawa's handling of tone all the same.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 11, 2017, 07:46:06 PM
Kakushi-toride no san-akunin / The Hidden Fortress (Akira Kurosawa, 1958)

(https://i.imgur.com/DVfWEkw.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 48:45) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/0/2/9/02939c3f4d526a12/filmspot272_090409.mp3?c_id=1304006&expiration=1513045453&hwt=12133c6288958f2531bcf9358c34d674)

TOHOSCOPE!

Kurosawa in widescreen. Need I say more ? Apparently I do, since this seems to be considered a minor work of his. Adam mentions it possibly being Kurosawa's way to pay back Toho for something, which I don't really want to believe (he says it's apocryphal and some brief googling didn't bring a definitive answer) because it fits too neatly into a deeply elitist brand of auterism I strongly dislike, and feels particularly inappropriate for Kurosawa, who's not exactly known for inacessible esoterism in the first place. However, it is (of what I've seen, which is to say 11 features so far) clearly Kurosawa's most populist work, in ways both good and bad. Mostly good though.

Much has been made of George Lucas drawing inspiration from this film, to the point that I expected the basic plot to be very similar to Star Wars and to have characters directly corresponding. There is some of that, but their main commonality is in how timeless they feel: their stories are so mythical and simple in nature (insert Joseph Campbell reference here) that it seems they've always been there. I grew up reading heroic fantasy and adventure books, and that's the feeling I got from this film. It's even got a map ! A pretty basic one, but still, gotta love that. Had I seen this at that time (I guess I would have either needed to be Japanese or have cinephile parents), it would now be one of those nostalgia-fueled favorites that you're always scared won't hold up when you revisit them, but always do.

As is, it's just a very good film, and a damn good time. That Mifune manages to be so charismatic while running around in his underwear for most of the film is a testament to his movie star quality (as Adam & Matty briefly discuss, he's more Kirk Douglas than Laurence Olivier, more movie star than thespian), and that lance fight is awesome, in the bro-y sense of the word. It's so awesome in fact that I thought it would be a random interlude justifying itself by being that, so I was delighted and impressed that it turned out to be the moral fulcrum* of the film (the emotional one being the somewhat-too-short but very nice-looking fire festival), though one could argue that really that lies with the two peasants.

Let's talk about the peasants (should that be in quotes ? They're really just scavengers, might originally be peasants I suppose), because they're probably the most controversial aspect of this film. First, that's the only direct cribbing Lucas did : tell a classic heroic tale, but starting it from the perspective of two minor characters.Kurosawa also uses that opening to give us a reason to care about all the heroics to come: we see the brutality of the invasion (with a gorgeous use of the widescreen in a stairs scene that I assume to be a nod to Eisenstein) and the ways it affects regular people.

They also serve to constantly remind us of how pathetic and greedy humanity generally is, which both heightens and undercuts the heroic side of things. They also serve as comic relief, which is probably the biggest stumbling block for a modern viewer, both because it's quite broad (though effective for me, especially the running gag of "let's be friends forever") and because they end up coming off as goody, lovable would-be rapists. That's... unfortunate, let's just say, but it is somewhat alleviated by the fact that the princess never has to be rescued (hi George) and by Misa Uehara's performance. She hits her notes of defiance and strong-headedness a little too strongly, but that fits the tone of the story: we're looking for icons more than actual characters, and she does well on that front, looking like she absolutely belongs on screen with Mifune. Words that would apply to Carrie Fisher in Star Wars as well, now that I think of it.

Stylistically, the only thing Lucas seems to have taken from Kurosawa are those famous wipes, which work much better here than they did in Ikiru or Throne of Blood, probably because Kurosawa got rid of the actual black line (I believe that's the technical term for it. I'm very smart and knowledgeable about these things) in favor of a more seamless effect. If only he'd gotten Kurosawa to direct a fight scene for him somewow... at least he let Kershner take care of it in ESB, thank God for that.

This deserves to be remembered as more than the inspiration for the other thing (I guess me talking a lot about it doesn't help). For being Kurosawa's most accessible film (at least at the time, I guess Ran is more accessible simply because it's in colour), and as well-rounded and entertaining a straightforward heroic tale can be.

8/10

*Am I using that right ?

Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 14, 2017, 06:53:55 AM
Yôjinbô / Yojimbo (Akira Kurosawa, 1961)

(https://i.imgur.com/BgFrSrS.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 41:03) (http://media.libsyn.com/media/cinecast/filmspot273_091109.mp3)

Watching Yôjinbô reminded me of something I had read about what Les Cahiers wrote about Kurosawa in the late 60s: that he was too "western" as opposed to Ozu who was more authentically Japanese to their taste. It's a preposterous claim to make on a number of levels, but with this particular film, I found myself thinking along similar lines, much to my chagrin.

It's hard to say what influence having watched the Leone version first had on me here, but I think the ways in which Kurosawa is mixing the western genre with an Edo-era setting don't fully work. It feels like a put-on at times, from the score - which is very modern and bombastic compared to what he's used so far - to the general situation: it's kind of unclear to me what the rivalry between the gangs is actually about. It's about power, sure, but specifically ? There's the idea that they run gambling halls but... their war has to be having a rather negative impact on their income, right ? And why exactly does no one tell the inspector that they need help ? I guess this is nitpicking, but I guess I only found myself thinking about this type of stuff because the film never really clicked with me. The whole thing felt artificial, just an excuse to get Mifune's Sanjuro in this situation.

Now to be clear, I did enjoy it. There are some great shots, from the opening tracking Sanjuro over his shoulder as he walks along the road, to the gangs facing each other in the streets while Sanjuro watches, amused, from on high, or him first entering the town. As usual, Kurosawa gives you a sense of space, of how the different places in the story relate to each other. Mifune himself... well I do prefer Clint Eastwood in the role if I'm being entirely honest, but I'm certainly not going to quibble with Mifune either, he's very good here.

I think my problem is that this is inherently a very pulpy story, and I think Kurosawa is too earnest for it. When Sanjuro actually fought people, I found myself expecting gushes of blood, just because it feels like an exploitation film (and I can only assume Yôjinbô was a massive inspiration for Japanese exploitation in the next decade... speaking of exploitation and future influence, it's nice that I get the reference to this in Kill Bill now), but no, it's just Mifune waving his sword quickly, barely touching people and they fall to ground. It's both too violent and not violent enough, in a sense. It gets back to the juxtaposition of Kurosawa's earnest souflulness with the pulpy material: it feels wrong to me. It's the uncanny valley of violence: there's something that feels too real for the package it's put in, and that combination makes me uncomfortable.

Maybe it's my expectations getting the better of me, because when I watched that amazing lance fight in The Hidden Fortress, I was hoping Yojinbo would be an excuse for more of that, but, well, it's a Western. And the way the fights go fit with that, quick and efficient rather than drawn-out and grueling. It's all about the tension building up and... well it's hard to do better than Leone in that department. Which is all very unfair, since Leone is the one who ripped off Kurosawa, but there you go.

I think I'll need to rewatch this one later on with adjusted expectations, I think. And again, though it probably doesn't come through from this review, I did like it, if only because it's hard to dislike anything as expertly-crafted as this. Also, a wild Tatsuya Nakadai appeared, which was a nice surprise to spice up the usual Kurosawa troup. I didn't realize he was this much younger than Mifune.

6/10

P.S.: I took a look at my A Fistful of Dollars review after writing this, which I close by mentioning Yôjinbô which "will be coming later... much later"... two years and some change, to be precise.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 16, 2017, 04:54:29 PM
Tengoku to jigoku / High and Low (Akira Kurosawa, 1963)

(https://i.imgur.com/5W1pnwu.png)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 31:36) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/9/0/f/90f0f575b46a4afd/filmspot278_102309.mp3?c_id=1303998&expiration=1513465546&hwt=64fd968bb9e998cca1481dc7e60f6d1d)

This is a rewatch I approached with some trepidation. I first watched High and Low on the big screen, and after being ever-so-slightly disappointed (very relatively, but still) with Rashômon the second time around. About 30 minutes in, I felt reassured: still a masterpiece, and now pretty clearly my favorite Kurosawa, pending a Seven Samurai rewatch (or something I haven't yet seen like Stray Dog or Kagemusha).

I remember being so surprised discovering after the fact that Mifune was in the main role here, having only seen him in the aforementioned period films. Even now, it's striking how different he looks from Yôjinbô, only two years before. This performance is the one that really makes the case for Mifune as a great actor as well as a movie star: it might not be as iconic as either his Rashômon/Seven Samurai wild antics or his Yôjinbô/Sanjûrô stoic coolness, but it's much more layered, and absolutely essential for the film to work at all.

The divide between the two halves isn't as stark as I remembered it to be, and I love the way Kurosawa does it: in the first half, we have no idea what the policemen might be thinking at all, they only exist as a matter of their function, letting the family/employees dynamics play out without interevening... and in the second half, it's Mifune's turn: we see him, and we get touches of character here and there: probably the most significant line he has in only related to us (him saying to his gardner that they only have time to spend now), much like the first steps of the police's investigation take place entirely off-screen in the first half. There are two scenes of transition there: the one in the train (where we get the inspector sharing his changing opinion of Mifune's character) and immediately after that in what I think is the last scene taking place in the room the entire first hour is set in. After that, we end the transition with a quick scene of the policemen in their car, going down from paradise to hell, which I believe is what the film's title translates as.

Whole books could probably be written about the way characters are positioned in relation with each other in that first half: sitting down, standing up, going to the window, facing away from each other, sitting or standing apart from everyone else, crouching, etc. I think Adam mentions it feeling like a ballet, and there is something to that. If you looked at the script here, you'd think the first part of the film would basically amount to filmed theater, but Kurosawa makes it as dynamic as it could possibly be, and he does it in a way that is very meaningful and... well maybe not subtle exactly, but not too flashy either.

The more I write about it, the more I feel like anything I can say about it only diminishes and trivializes what the film accomplishes. I can say that the second half, as well as being a captivating and enthralling detail-oriented police procedural, is the most gorgeous hour of his whole B&W filmography (a stipulation I have to include because Ran exists), at least from what I've seen. At one point he seems to casually invent the zombie genre five years early, with heroin addicts that are just as unsettling as Romero's living dead. The whole thing feels like a culmination of his career (maybe it's just being at the end of the marathon that makes me feel that way, I remember thinking the same thing about Bergman and Fanny & Alexander): the only thing missing is a swordfight really, even Takashi Shimura shows up for a brief cameo.

The handling of Mifune's character is the key I think. In a way Kurosawa stacks the deck in his favor, by having him be a self-made man who truly came from the bottom and worked his way to the top, and eventually proves to be willing to do it all over again. His resistance to the greedy executives early on, the choice he ultimately makes regarding the ransom and everything he does after that, all of those point to him being an impossibly great man. But that'd be forgetting that his first decision is to refuse to pay, even after sleeping on it. He only does the right thing after being betrayed by his underling, at which point he arguably has lost everything already. It doesn't diminish it exactly: it's still a tough choice because it means accepting that he's lost everything right then and now, but that's enough to make him nuanced, and to make the hero worship in the second half feel appropriately uncomfortable. His righteousness is his luxury: yes he is righteous, and yes the kidnapper is despicable, but the praise he gets (and the way the whole police department seems to dedicate itself to his cause and nothing else) is somehow indecent.

The confrontation between the two ends the film as it should: with him silent and stoic and the other desperate and frantic. There's something that feels subversive in the way Kurosawa makes the policemen so eager to please Mifune's character, to avenge him, in the second half: they're from the lower class, but they are instruments of the higher class: they're the ones doing the dirty work, he's the one who gets to be magnanimous and to get the praise.

10/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Junior on December 16, 2017, 05:07:48 PM
I love this review. I think you're right about this and F+A being culminations of a sort. They feel both new and full of stuff from their predecessors.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 16, 2017, 05:36:11 PM
The Ronins (Akira Kurosawa Awards)

In the same order as the podcast (http://archive.filmspotting.net/reviews/show-archive/34-after-hours/455-fs-after-hours-12-part-i-ace-in-the-hole-kurosawa-marathon-awards-.html).

Best Supporting Performance: Miki Odagiri in Ikiru

(https://i.imgur.com/4Ug07Y0.jpg)

Best Toshirô Mifune Performance: Gondo in Tengoku to jigoku/High and Low

(https://i.imgur.com/4snx0Ez.jpg)

Best Non-Toshirô Mifune Performance: Noriko Honma in Rashômon

(https://i.imgur.com/vhGOyCE.png)

Best Scene/Moment: Ending of Kumonosu-jô/Throne of Blood

(https://i.imgur.com/LdegxVB.png)

Best Picture: Tengoku to jigoku/High and Low


(https://i.imgur.com/9KYR37i.gif)

Since I'm not 100% on board with Shimura in Ikiru, and once you exclude him "Supporting" and "Non-Mifune" are the same thing, I used the second one as a way to have two "best scene" categories essentially, though her performance certainly is a big part of why that works.

Summary/ranking

Tengoku to jigoku / High and Low (Akira Kurosawa, 1963)
Rashômon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)
Kakushi-toride no san-akunin / The Hidden Fortress (Akira Kurosawa, 1958)
Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa, 1952)
Kumonosu-jô / Throne of Blood (Akira Kurosawa, 1957)
Yôjinbô (Akira Kurosawa, 1961)


Next up (in January probably): a random assortment of Palme d'Or winners !
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 16, 2017, 05:37:40 PM
I love this review. I think you're right about this and F+A being culminations of a sort. They feel both new and full of stuff from their predecessors.

Thank you very much ! That reminds me I should really get to that full TV version of Fanny & Alexander. Christmas is coming up too, hmmm...
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 09, 2018, 05:08:40 AM
Otac na sluzbenom putu / When Father Was Away on Business (Emir Kusturica, 1985)

(https://i.imgur.com/3xTLiPq.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 39:57) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/a/c/8/ac87129f9f10e48c/filmspot280_110609.mp3?c_id=1303982&expiration=1520594914&hwt=c0c0b1cc9054728b56859f4386ac031c)

Watching films like this one, which won the Palme d'Or but haven't quite lived up as towering achievments (I'd say this is, what, Kusturica's fourth most acclaimed film ?), and try and figure out why the jury felt that this was the film to elevate can be quite interesting. Most often, it's politics: Cannes is similar to the Oscars in that way, and the key element a film generally needs to win the Palme is a sense of historical relevance, of importance. Just looking at recent years, you have Dheepan and I, Daniel Blake as examples of that logic applying.

In this case, Kusturica tries to balance the political with the personal in what I assume to be a semi-autobiographical story, and makes the choice of centering the film on a child, constantly forgoing him as if to ask "well how is that going to affect him ?" and - by extension - getting us to wonder about the future of Yugoslavia and other countries under similar regimes. He manages that balance quite well, and imbues the whole film with a certain sense of bittersweet melancholy, which is best represented in the music, starting with that opening scene.

There's also that sarcastic but resigned brand of humour: again the opening scene, with its cheery Mexican song because "these days it's safer"* to sing Mexican songs (Mexico notably being the place where the most famous of Stalin's enemies tried to hide, unsuccesfully I might add)... but there is something missing to the film as a whole for me. It never quite adds up to more than the sum of its parts, and its musical moments never elevate the story in the way that one might expect them to for Kusturica. It's also quite drab visually... it all very much feels like a first film (though it's his second), with all the elements there but not the whole package yet.

6/10

*this may not be an actual quote, but that's the idea

P.S. : I knew she looked familiar somehow, but I certainly wouldn't have put together that the brother's wife was Danielle Rousseau from Lost. Neat.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 10, 2018, 05:23:21 AM
Ba wang bie ji / Farewell My Concubine (Chen Kaige, 1993)

(https://i.imgur.com/vwqf1QX.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 22:52) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/e/4/f/e4f68ecb7e2468a1/filmspot281_111309.mp3?c_id=1303986&expiration=1520685049&hwt=7886d1bf04b0ec807895646845909561)

This is a big film. In its length, its acting, its production values, and its overall scope, its ambition. But I can't agree with Matty when he describes it as the most epic thing he's ever seen, because the story it tells is very focused on three characters... and really even three is a stretch as Gong Li's character is a supporting one through and through is, even though she feels like more than that because, well she's played by Gong Li. This focus is, to be clear, a good thing: films that aim to tell a country's history generally fail by losing sight of their characters. It never feels epic to me, but I don't think it's meant to either.

As it moves through eras though, Farewell My Concubine never moves away from its central conflict, which comes in about 40 minutes in as we jump ahead to our main characters as adults. It's an interesting enough dynamic even before it gets complicated by the political situation, and the parallels between the actors (within the film that is) and their characters are not exactly subtle but compelling nonetheless... it does gets to be a bit repetitive after a while though. It's like episodes of a TV Show where the main dynamic can't really change too much or there wouldn't be a show anymore, so the interest lies in what's happening in the background. I suppose there's something to be said about their relationship being stuck on repeat in the same way that the opera they play is always the same, and again: there is enough going on there that its repetitiveness never crosses over into being boring.

And there's Gong Li, and she is magnificient. The performances are strong across the board, but she has a charisma, a presence that's undeniable and made me wish the film was about her: she initially seems like she's going to be your typical Yoko Ono type - or, more appropriately to this context, a Pan Jinlian type, apparently the archetype of the treacherous femme fatale in Chinese folklore - but she ends up being the most sympathetic of the trio by a mile I'd say. Only knowing here from Raise the Red Lantern (and, sigh, Miami Vice), this got me looking at her filmography, which is sadly rather sparse for an actress of her caliber, but at least there are those Zhang Yimou collaborations to look forward to for me.

Back to the film, it does fit the pattern of Palme d'Or winners having political relevance... interestingly though, it seems the ban against it in China had at least as much if not more to do with its depiction of homosexuality as with its portrayal of the Cultural Revolution. Which... let's just say this it would not score many political points in that regard today: the gay character is heavily implied to be that way because of abuse in his childhood, and what relationship there is only leads to betrayal and tragedy for everyone involved. This might be a bit unfair though, as Chen never feels like he's judging his characters, and the ending feels as bittersweet as much as tragic.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: valmz on March 10, 2018, 11:58:02 PM
Otac na sluzbenom putu / When Father Was Away on Business (Emir Kusturica, 1985)
Watching films like this one, which won the Palme d'Or but haven't quite lived up as towering achievments (I'd say this is, what, Kusturica's fourth most acclaimed film ?), and try and figure out why the jury felt that this was the film to elevate can be quite interesting.
I looked up this year and found... maybe the jury figured it was a uniquely weak year, since almost all of the films are totally forgotten to time. Including one of my favorite films (Farewell to the Ark), but that's not the kind of films they give awards to anyway. Plus Terayama was dead, so he didn't mind.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: pixote on March 11, 2018, 01:23:42 AM
It's fun to imagine a parallel universe where Bogdanovich's Mask is a Palme d'Or winner.

pixote
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 11, 2018, 06:28:02 AM
Otac na sluzbenom putu / When Father Was Away on Business (Emir Kusturica, 1985)
Watching films like this one, which won the Palme d'Or but haven't quite lived up as towering achievments (I'd say this is, what, Kusturica's fourth most acclaimed film ?), and try and figure out why the jury felt that this was the film to elevate can be quite interesting.
I looked up this year and found... maybe the jury figured it was a uniquely weak year, since almost all of the films are totally forgotten to time. Including one of my favorite films (Farewell to the Ark), but that's not the kind of films they give awards to anyway. Plus Terayama was dead, so he didn't mind.

Kiss of the Spider Woman, La historia official and Mishima are the only ones that ring a bell in the list, so maybe it was a weak year (for Cannes anyway, that year had Ran, Sans toit ni loi, Come and See and others I'm sure Cannes missed).
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 11, 2018, 04:24:12 PM
Ta'm e guilass / Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997)

(https://i.imgur.com/xeKtAan.png)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 54:31) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/a/9/b/a9bb4a0cefbb5dc9/filmspot282_112009.mp3?c_id=1309693&expiration=1520775863&hwt=2618ec6d2d6307b7a8371d20d577247c)

My first Kiarostami, which I'd feel worse about if I wasn't pretty sure it was also the Filmspotting guys's first at that point (Close Up is coming later in the Contemporary Iranian leg of this marathon), and it looks to me like two films I love (Panahi's Taxi and Ceylan's Once Upon a Time in Anatolia) were influenced by this to various degrees... why is it that I find people mysteriously wandering around in cars so interesting, especially with those weirdly enthralling landscapes in the background ? I'm not sure, but I was entirely on-board with the film on that base level, and even moreso when it started hinting at some thriller aspects.

**Spoilers, I suppose**

Once we learn more about the main character's purpose, those hints reveal themselves to be red herrings, and what we have is a parable rather than a thriller. A man is planning to take his own life, and he's looking for someone to help him with it... though really, the more I think about it, the more I tend to agree with Adam & Matty that he's rather looking for someone to talk him out of it, or at least to someone to talk to, to give more meaning to his gesture, to bear witness to it. The reasons are unclear and the main character is kept as mysterious as possible by Kiarostami, which works rather well, though from the context and the way he broached the subject of the Iran/Irak war a couple times made me think it might be connected to it, perhaps the loss of a son ? I suppose that line of thinking goes opposite Kiarostami's intent, and he's supposed to be a universal stand-in for any suicidal person, which I would venture most people have been at one point in their life, to some degree.

There are four encounters here, or five I suppose if you want to count the two Afghanis as separate encounters. They get longer each time, which makes sense on a script level of course as we get to know more about our main character every time, but it also means that the connection made between the two people talking is stronger every time. I'm not familiar enough with Iranian society to know the full relevance of everyone's origins, but it's noteworthy that they are all outsiders to some extent: from Kurdistan (persumably the Iranian part), Afghanistan or Turkey. There is something slightly too neat and too perfectly humanistic in the fact that the last one, the one who might succeed in talking him out of it, is the one making the simplest, most empathetic points, but it is a parable after all, and it's all rather well executed. After that last encounter, I was ready for the film to end whichever way it would, ambiguosuly or not, anything would work really... or so I thought.

It's been a while since I've been this taken aback by the ending of a film. The first that come to mind would be Enemy and Solyaris, but even in those cases, the ending felt of a piece with the films coming before them... not the case here. This felt like the cinematic equivalent of "Pull my finger" to me. It's, frankly, an infurating way to end a film, and I can't say that Adam & Matty's attempts at justifying it are convincing at all. Why would we need to be reminded that "it's just a movie" ? What kind of nonsense is that, why undermine your own film that way ? I can only assume it's something else, but my guesses are all in such contradiction with the rest of the film (nihilistic absurdism does not mesh well with thoughtful humanism) that I just can't see it as anything else than a total failure, which messes up what might have been a masterpiece otherwise... it doesn't entirely ruin the film for me, but it does sour me a fair bit what would have likely been a favorite.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 16, 2018, 08:50:25 AM
Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier, 2000)

(https://i.imgur.com/bQhJnmI.png)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 28:54) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/a/f/8/af823c380d287c0f/filmspot283_120409.mp3?c_id=1318220&expiration=1521204455&hwt=d98b5018b64a37492dd18a8c0d2fcb17)

I had a hard time wrapping my head around this film. For the first 40 minutes or so, I was reminded of how distracting I already found von Trier's exaggerated handheld style in Melancholia, and how weirdly surreal the whole film seemed, with it's 60s American being populated by the likes of Björk and Catherine Deneuve as factory workers, Peter Stormare as a nice guy and other unfathomable things such as David Morse playing the most "normal" character around. Deneuve as a factory worker especially seemed like an obvious nod towards this all being some sort of a commentary on the artificial nature of film, and how the juxtaposition of this social drama with the style and the cast only served to underline that. Interesting enough, but not that riveting either, frankly.

And then it turned out to be a musical. I suppose I knew music would play a part given Björk's involvment, but I didn't know exactly how. Throughout the film, any time a musical sequence would happen, the whole film would suddenly make sense. It's perhaps the best repudiation to about half of Dogme95's rules, yet I can't quite decide if von Trier is celebrating the American musical or ridiculing it. The easy out is to say it's a deconstruction of it. Obviously that is the case, and von Trier uses the setting to take a few easy potshots at the America those classic musicals celebrated (namely McCarthyism and the death penalty), but the more interesting point of conflict is Björk's character. She's saintly, but delusional, and her delusion seems to stem specifically from musicals: "There's always someone to catch me" being the key idea here. Of course there isn't always someone, as von Trier takes great pleasure in concluding the film on... but does that make her - as Matty suggests in the podcast - a selfish, perhaps reprehensible character ? I don't know that it does, and I  think the film challenges von Trier's natural cynicism through these musical sequences. Is it something that Björk as an artist forcefully brings to the film, or an internal conflict in von Trier expressed through her ? I don't know, and I'm not sure it matters, because the result is strangely fascinating.

What is it, then, that makes the musical scenes work so well ? Well, most of it is Björk, obviously, both as a composer and as a performer. Matty seems dubious of her performance here, and I wouldn't argue that we need to see her in another film because of how great she is here... but she truly is great. It's a role that could easily feel completely artificial, but she brings something to it, that I would hesitate to call "real" but nonetheless makes her able to ground the film, emotionally speaking. Sincerity is probably the key thing here: that's what she exudes, and it's something that the film really needs to work, in the middle of all the postmodern deconstruction. The way the musical scenes are edited is striking as well, and do make von Trier's hand-held affectations worthwile if only because the contrast is so strong in those moments that he doesn't need to go that far to make them stand out.

It all combines in this weird, bittersweet tragedy that I can't quite believe works, and yet does. Magic of movies, right ?

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: MartinTeller on March 16, 2018, 09:14:22 AM
I have great love for DITD -- largely because of Bjork and the music, although there are other fine qualities as well -- but the straw man LVT builds for his anti-death penalty argument is so friggin ludicrous. I am anti-death penalty myself, but the way LVT stacks the deck makes my eyes roll clear out of my head. Do you know how many women were executed in the U.S. in the 1960's? One. ONE. It just didn't happen, but just to cover his ass LVT manipulates an absurd series of consequences to ensure that she's unwilling to defend herself. It makes his argument weaker when he frames it in such a convoluted and unlikely corner case.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 16, 2018, 09:21:44 AM
I have great love for DITD -- largely because of Bjork and the music, although there are other fine qualities as well -- but the straw man LVT builds for his anti-death penalty argument is so friggin ludicrous. I am anti-death penalty myself, but the way LVT stacks the deck makes my eyes roll clear out of my head. Do you know how many women were executed in the U.S. in the 1960's? One. ONE. It just didn't happen, but just to cover his ass LVT manipulates an absurd series of consequences to ensure that she's unwilling to defend herself. It makes his argument weaker when he frames it in such a convoluted and unlikely corner case.

Yeah, between that and the nods to McCarthyism, I don't know how seriously we're supposed to take the film on a political level. I expect "not very" is the answer there, much in the same way that the film is nominally about working class people but its version of reality is so disconnected from any reality (again: Catherine Deneuve and Björk as factory workers in 1960s America) that it almost seems like a joke, perhaps a mockery of "social" films as being just as unreal as escapist musicals. Which is where I'll come back to Björk's sincerity being what makes the film coalesce into something good, because von Trier's brand of postmodernism gets really messy when left on its own.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 16, 2018, 03:43:02 PM
La stanza del figlio / The Son's Room (Nanni Moretti, 2001)

(https://i.imgur.com/dPjhTXq.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 25:58) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/f/6/f/f6fa438adad6d0a8/filmspot284_121109.mp3?c_id=1331126&expiration=1521235348&hwt=6ee370e402da605479eb44a903d91c86)

Has a blander film ever won the Palme d'Or ? I've only seen about a third of the winners, but so far it's winning that particular competition hands down. It's almost impressive how thoroughly unremarkable this film is. This is going to be a short review, because there really is nothing to say other than expressing my befuddlement at this film being chosen by the jury... maybe the fact that the closest the film has to a climax takes place around 50km from Cannes ?

Visually, there is nothing going on here. Matty compares it to an afterschool special, and... he's not wrong, aside from one or two images here and there, notably at the end. Maybe that's it: it does end pretty strongly, with the only distinctive idea the film has in the character of Arianna that the family has to deal with. Or maybe it's the relatively understated approach to grief, which I would be game for if it didn't feel like Moretti fell asleep behind the camera for half the scenes. I guess taht doesn't make sense because he's acting in almost every scene, but you get the idea.

It's possible Moretti has something going on that I just don't get, because his recent film Mia madre was a big hit with French critics and left me similarly underwhelmed. These films are melodrama, and if a melodrama fails to provoke any kind of an emotional reaction, well it doesn't really matter that it's well-acted, it's just not effective. Again, that doesn't make this film terrible, it's nice enough... but it's quite a comedown for the Cannes Festival to go from something as bold as Dancer in the Dark to this big bowl of meh.

4/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on March 16, 2018, 04:45:08 PM
The Bronze Fronds (Cannes Golden Palm Winner Awards)

Adam & Matty claim the name of the awards makes sense because of something having to do with French. Um. I get "Bronze", but I have no idea what a "Frond" is, or what happens when there's multiple of them.

In the same order as the podcast (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/f/e/d/fed7c5b540da2480/afterhours13_123109.mp3?c_id=1357914&expiration=1521237316&hwt=55bb12cfa30207bd21f72dca94543f3a).

One screenshot is a bit of a spoiler for Dancer in the Dark. It's also pretty ugly, but that's what von Trier gets for shooting on video and I couldn't find better (and have given the DvD back already).

Best Cinematography: Gu Changwei (Ba wang bie ji / Farewell My Concubine)

(https://i.imgur.com/iqrkVxa.jpg)

Best Actor: Homayoun Ershadi (Ta'm e guilass / Taste of Cherry)

(https://i.imgur.com/ZsQC3Wi.png)

Best Actress: Gong Li (Ba wang bie ji / Farewell My Concubine)

(https://i.imgur.com/qOlWFC5.jpg)

Best Moment/Scene: Cvalda - Musical in the Factory (Dancer in the Dark)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6CrtCwRA_A

Most Depressing Moment/Scene : The End (Dancer in the Dark)

(https://i.imgur.com/2tsSQQe.png)

Best Picture: Dancer in the Dark

(https://i.imgur.com/b8FsF1o.gif)

Summary/ranking

Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier, 2000)
Ta'm e guilass / Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997)
Ba wang bie ji / Farewell my Concubine (Chen Kaige, 1993)
Otac na sluzbenom putu / When Father Was Away On Business (Emir Kusturica, 1985)
La stanza del figlio / The Son's Room (Nanni Moretti, 2001)


No Supporting category, so Gong Li wins over Björk, who will console herself with knowing everything else Dancer in the Dark got was mostly because of her.

Up next (though not right away), Ernst Lubitsch ! I know nothing about him other than he made comedies, I think ?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: smirnoff on March 16, 2018, 05:18:27 PM
I hope they're good for a laugh or two then! :)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 23, 2018, 12:52:45 PM
Ninotchka (Ernst Lubitsch, 1939)


(https://i.imgur.com/5RUAHiK.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 46:12) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/3/d/f/3df421ba3e85a62b/filmspot292_021910.mp3?c_id=1437306&expiration=1524508356&hwt=732474fecc0f77a57c67720e05c94de8)


Garbo laughs ! Which is apparently a big deal, but this is my first encounter with Garbo, so I couldn't appreciate the novelty of it, and I was a little surprised to find out all about it actually, since I thought Garbo didn't work very well as a Russian robot/soviet version of Sheldon Cooper and got much better when allowed to, you know, emote.

Adam makes a good point about these romantic comedies depending very heavily on the chemistry between the leads, which is the problem here. Melvyn Douglas is fine, but he doesn't have the kind of overpowereing charm that would justify's Garbo's transformation... though I'm not sure even a William Powell could have made that work, so I suspect this is more about Wilder and Brackett's script than any fault on Douglas's part. And really, the script is a huge disappointment, coming from such prestigious names. There's some funny stuff in there, and the of it all politics are... interesting, but I don't think it really works.

Part of it my usual gripe about the language, with the cultural and political context ringing hollow when everyone is casually speaking fluent English just because. But mostly it's just not very funn ? Maybe that's a bit harsh, but when the romantic center of the film isn't all that fascinating, the jokes need to hit a lot more than they do here... or the politics need to add up to something more coherent than they do here. It's... kind of fascinating in a way, to see the quickly shifting attitude the US had to the USSR in the span of about ten years, and it's somewhat funny to see a film that seems to argue that the main problem with the Soviet Union is that they're just too damn serious all the time. In the end though, it doesn't seem to me that Lubitsch managed to say anything meaningful about that: whether it's because he didn't have any intention to or wasn't allowed to is impossible to know, but the end result is a muddled, mostly ineffective romantic comedy for me.

4/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on April 25, 2018, 05:17:09 AM
Trouble in Paradise (Ernst Lubitsch, 1932)

(https://i.imgur.com/62EjaBs.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 26:47) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/a/e/6/ae6e85cf78ea98fa/filmspot293_022610.mp3?c_id=1451742&expiration=1524647492&hwt=f85f0ce8a0a3e532ca85d471919f3003)

For better or worse, I find that my enjoyment of 30s Hollywood comes down mostly to the performances. To a certain point, I suppose this is generally true of romantic comedies in general, but there's probably something about that period in particular which put the actors front and center and especially their ability to deliver dialogue because it was all new and contrasted with the silent era. In this case, Lubitsch's direction is quite dynamic and thoughtful, especially with that opening sequence in Venice... but the fact ot the matter is: Herbert Marshall is no William Powell (or George Sanders). Miriam Hopkins and Kay Francis are fine in their respective roles, but Marshall gives them very little to work with, and that robs the film of most of its potential.

That's a shame because there's plenty going on here. The mix of escapism and mild social commentary that goes with a Great Depression film about rich European people being scammed for one thing, but more interestingly the sexual frankness, which is striking because it stands in sharp contrast in what the Hayes Code would impose on Hollywood shortly after this. The sex is not shown of course, but it's not even implied so much as underlined, and Kay Francis comes off as downright predatory in her seduction of Marshall. Maybe that's why I had a hard time feeling invested in the final theatrics, not believing she was really a challenge to the thieving couple emotionally, though there might have been something for Lubitsch to do with the status she offered. Alas, Hayes Code or not, this is still classic Hollywood and we need that happy ending: yes it involves criminals so it counts as somewhat subversive, but it really doesn't feel that way.

I'm befuddled as always by the need to set this story in France with French characters when everyone is speaking in English. The film even has fun with other languages, so why exactly couldn't this all take place in London, or New York for that matter ? I guess that's not glamourous enough, but since the Paris setting is purely theoretical, I'm not sure what the film even gains from it anyway. It's not like New York high society was lacking in clueless rich people either, but oh well. I should say that, for all its faults, I did enjoy parts of this film. The opening is rather brilliantly realised, and there are somme funny scenes : simply not enough to make up for how little I cared about all of it.

5/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on May 02, 2018, 05:23:35 PM
The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940)

(https://i.imgur.com/CUR4CM5.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 28:53) (http://traffic.libsyn.com/cinecast/filmspot295_031210.mp3)

One of my main problems with Trouble in Paradise and Ninotchka was their male leads, so it makes sense that The Shop Around the Corner would be the first film I like in this marathon, seeing as it stars my favorite actor of this era: James Stewart. He's predictably great, and the whole film feels like it's coming from a different director, really. The film essentially tries to be both a screwball romantic comedy based on a premise which made me think "huh, that'd work really well in an modern, online context" - not realizing Nora Ephron was way ahead of me there - and a wholesome film about a group of people working in a small shop.

The Capra-esque (maybe Capra only comes to mind because of James Stewart I guess) ensemble dramedy is what really worked for me here. As Adam (I think) mentions, it's refreshing to see a comedy deal frankly with money, and the cast is really strong overall, save for some excessive mugging by William Tracy as Pepi. I particularly liked Felix Bressart (also seen as one of the Russians in Ninotchka) as Stewart's underling, providing moral and comedic support throughout. There's a strong sense of community overall, even though I had to pretend the action was all taking place in Budapest, MN to avoid gritting my teeth through a whole film trying to make me believe James Stewart would be Hungarian, of all things. Retrospectively, the whole business with Matuschek's unseen wife is a bit silly, but Stewart and the others are so good, and again the stakes feel so real that it all works for me.

The romantic part of it is dicier. Partly because of how Lubitsch uses the conceit by having Stewart realize what's going on quickly and entirely manipulate the whole ending in ways that I found somewhat uncomfortable, and it generally seems somewhat undercooked. They seem to get along fine early on and then suddenly we're supposed to accept they just hate each other's guts, which is retroactively and clumsily explained by Sullavan's characters, but it all feels pretty artificial. Still, they have pretty decent chemistry and they're quite funny when they're mean to each other, which brings me back to how different this film feels to the other. In this film, Lubitsch's snarky tendencies are put in contrast with the wholesomeness of most of what goes on in the eponymous shop and I think that makes the whole thing work much better comedically and emotionally. The sharp edge is still there, lurking, but I cared much more for the characters and that made it all the more effective.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on May 11, 2018, 09:12:00 AM
To Be Or Not To Be (Ernst Lubitsch, 1942)

(https://i.imgur.com/elVfTqd.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 36:20) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/1/f/f/1ff3de5e360d10e3/filmspot297_032610.mp3?c_id=1560782&expiration=1526046124&hwt=d4bbcf7a8c65bbaaa482d4bd6911628b)

I don't know if it's me getting more comfortable with Lubitsch's sensibilities or him actually getting better over time, but his 1940s films seem to speak to me a lot more than his 1930s ones, based on this very small sample anyway. Once again, the difference is that, though this is mostly a farce (with Nazis!), there is an emotional core here with this theater troup which really feels like the lovable ragtag band of misfits it's supposed to. Felix Bressart was already a key part of the ensemble in The Shop Around the Corner, conveying a sense of warmth that puts the sharper comedy (sharper here than in that film), and he plays that role again, though mostly in the background this time. There is an added poignancy however, because he is a Jewish actor (playing one too) in a film about the Nazis invading Poland, and Lubitsch manages to balance that much better than Chaplin in The Great Dictator I'd say, with Bressart's Shylock speech lending the film exactly the right amount of gravity to fit the situation.

And it does need that, because - even without knowing what we do now - laughing about the repetition of "So they call me Concentration Camp Ehrhard, eh?" is... tricky. Perhaps the way Lubitsch wraps the narrative in a few layers (insert comment about the language thing here) ; most notably with the play that opens the film and basically gets repeated in the film's actual narrative. It's all quite clever, and more importantly, it's all very funny, thanks to a very charming Jack Benny and a somewhat underutilized Carole Lombard. The whole ensemble is quite strong too, though Robert Stack is beyond wooden as the lesser part of the central romantic triangle which Lubitsch thankfully doesn't let overtake the film, letting it be a heist farce instead.

Adam & Matty mention the film being poorly received at the time, which I assume is related to the political situation it tackled. Watching it in 2017 it's fascinating to see Lubitsch, a German exile, make this film, which makes light of the Nazis but still does have things like, well, a line about concentration camps. It makes light of them without letting you forget that they are doing horrible things because they're, you know, nazis. I generally do think that laughing in the face of evil is not only acceptable but necessary, though it certainly is a tricky proposition, which makes To Be Or Not To Be all the more remarkable for succeeding. Come to think of it, it's what he tried to do with considerably less sucess (to me at least) in Ninotchka. I guess communists aren't as fun as nazis.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on May 11, 2018, 09:31:41 AM
The Lubitsch Touches (Ernst Lubitsch Awards)

In the same order as the podcast (starts at 49:58) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/c/b/e/cbe7656190d4e78b/filmspot299_040910.mp3?c_id=1601792&expiration=1526054128&hwt=afdd95994a736b3db79b0405b651759f).

Best Actor: James Stewart (The Shop Around the Corner)

(https://i.imgur.com/5LTjaFE.jpg)

Best Actress: Carole Lombard (To Be Or Not To Be)

(https://i.imgur.com/SL9CdXp.jpg)

Best Moment/Scene: The Shylock speech (To Be Or Not To Be)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RQwNYT7Hl0

Best Picture: To Be Or Not To Be

(https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5674a1b0e0327c06bcc83be3/t/5ac4e3126d2a735364581fed/1522852643393/gif.gif)

Summary/ranking

To Be Or Not To Be (Ernst Lubitsch, 1942)
The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1939)
Trouble in Paradise (Ernst Lubitsch, 1932)
Ninotchka (Ernst Lubitsch, 1939)


Pretty sure that makes James Stewart the first repeat winner in this marathon (he won for Vertigo in the Hitchcock section). Appropriate.

Up next, Billy Wilder, and some of my biggest blindspots !
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: 1SO on May 11, 2018, 12:59:44 PM
I've always been out of whack with Lubitsch because To Be or Not To Be has never clicked with me and I doubt anyone here appreciates Jack Benny as much as I do, though that's hardly who makes or breaks the film. I've seen that film 3 times and will probably watch it again because I figure one day I'll get it. Ninotchka was where I finally saw the light
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on May 11, 2018, 05:29:45 PM
I've always been out of whack with Lubitsch because To Be or Not To Be has never clicked with me and I doubt anyone here appreciates Jack Benny as much as I do, though that's hardly who makes or breaks the film. I've seen that film 3 times and will probably watch it again because I figure one day I'll get it. Ninotchka was where I finally saw the light

I suspect I'd like Ninotchka a bit more after seeing more of his work: after all I've liked every film more than the previous one so far.

I assume you've seen a few of his German films, are they markedly different ? I suppose most of them must be silent, so that might be hard to compare.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: pixote on May 11, 2018, 06:20:37 PM
Lubitsch went to Hollywood in 1922, so his German directorial period is a relatively small window. I just watched The Doll (1919) this week (review coming this weekend, hopefully), and its style is definitely more playful and fantastical than I expected from Lubitsch — and also much less refined; the work of a young director experimenting to find his style. I'm hoping to catch up with The Marriage Circle (1924) later this month for comparative purposes.

pixote
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: 1SO on May 11, 2018, 10:44:59 PM
I've seen The Doll and The Oyster Princess (1919), but for me Lubitsch hit his stride with his collaborations with Maurice Chevalier...
The Love Parade (1929)
The Smiling Lieutenant (1931)
One Hour with You (1932)
The Merry Widow (1934)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on May 12, 2018, 03:36:46 AM
Oh, I'd assumed he left Germany because of the rise of Nazism, but he left much earlier than that then.

I assume his Maurice Chevalier films are also full of mysteriously English-speaking Europeans, huh ? I suppose I should get to that at some point though, I should see at least some of Chevalier's work.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on May 15, 2018, 11:45:05 AM
Sunset Blvd. (Billy Wilder, 1950)

(https://i.imgur.com/vwfVmRR.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (stars at 33:59) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/2/c/6/2c6f29bbdfb64d56/filmspot301_051410a.mp3?c_id=1805166&expiration=1526407089&hwt=2a03eec3fdce578db62924cc8d80dbfb)

This is a Very Good Film.

That about wraps it up right ? I don't know, this is the kind of film I don't know what to say about. What's great about it is pretty obvious, but I can't endlessly rhapsodize about it either because I didn't quite fall in love with it. I'm not sure why that is, maybe the many layers of meta-narrative kept it at a bit of a distance for me ? I'm not sure. Maybe I just didn't care enough about the romance part of it, even though Nancy Olson is rather charming ? Maybe it's because William Holden is merely adequate as the lead, and has trouble keeping up with Gloria Swanson ?

Maybe. But those are all small things, really, because not only is this great in obvious ways, it's also fun. To the point that I thought early on I had been mistaken about this really being a noir rather than a noir pastiche... and frankly I'm still not sure how much of it is meant to be taken seriously. I think that's a result of the subject matter: once you're making a film about a screenwriter, with a character bemoaning the prevalence of dialogue in current films... well it's hard not to think about the man behind the camera (who happens to be known for his prowess at writing dialogue) and to think everything is a commentary of narrative conventions, up to and including the typical noir framing device and obligatory voice-over narration.

Gloria Swanson embodies that dichotomy within the film, starting as this over-the-top character that seems ridiculously out of touch with reality: her house is shot like Dracula's castle (with Bach's Toccata and Fugue to hammer that point home) and it now just occurs to me that this might be another meta touch, since one of the classic silent female characters was the "vamp", as in "seductive woman". She becomes the tragic heart of the film though, and I think that ambiguous relationship the whole film seems to have to her delusional and ridiculous but ultimately sympathetic character  is also that of Wilder to, well, cinema if not Hollywood. That is reflected in a more tender way through the character of Cecil B. DeMille... played by Cecil B. DeMille, which I did not know about going in. He's good, and gets much more than a cameo (as opposed to Keaton and the other "wax figures") which was doubly surprising. DeMille has faded in reputation nowadays, but I assume Wilder held him in high regard to give him this role here, one that contrasts a lot with the cynical protagonist who Wilder might have been closer to, but I guess I don't know enough about him to speculate on that.

It's hard to say how impactful lines like "I AM big, it's the pictures that got small" and "I'm ready for my close-up" would have been had I not known about them beforehand: the latter is still rather powerful and that whole sequence is a very fitting ending, but as a result I might not have had the feeling of discovery that I would have needed to hail the film as a masterpiece. Not that it matters, enough people have already (including Adam & Matty here), and I still have two of those coming up.

8/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 22, 2018, 12:57:35 PM
*thread slowly rises from the grave while Also Sprach Zarathustra plays*

The Lost Weekend (Billy Wilder, 1945)

(https://i.imgur.com/iNBevdR.png)

Adam & Matty's takes (stars at 26:26) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/4/6/f/46f159d3240e86cc/filmspot304_060410.mp3?c_id=1861955&cs_id=1861955&expiration=1537632500&hwt=e1763cb54e1eab951e0c959ac9b9249f)

I've never been addicted to a substance, probably because I know how easily I get addicted to other things and am very, very wary of opening myself up to things like smoking or drinking. I say this to explain that, despite not being a drinker, I felt like I could relate to Ray Milland's character a lot: it doesn't hurt that the reasons he has for drinking (ie not quite amounting to as much as he expected to) hit pretty close to home as well. So I found it easy to get invested in the film, and Wilder's depiction of addiction seems quite universal and effective to me, be it alcoholism or something else.

Ray Milland is excellent in the main role, especially when it comes to portraying the pain and anguish of his condition. It's a pretty big performance, but at the right pitch for the story I think, though I wish we felt the passing of time more. Here, the flashback structure muddles things a bit and the whole "4-day bender" thing ends up being more abstract than I would like. Because of the focus on a character losing his self-control, there are hints of something like Repulsion here, but Wilder doesn't go quite that far (even the hallucinations are pretty mild) and instead spends too much time with side characters he doesn't really bother writing with enough depth. From the brother who gives up on him to the woman at the bar who seems inexpicably attracted to him (he doesn't seem to be that fun a drunk), and of course Jane Wyman as his unwaveringly supportive girlfriend. It all seems to be there mainly so that the film can arrive at its conclusion, which is one of those quickly expedited Hays Code endings. The problem isn't that it ends well, but that it ends lazily, as if his problems were just a matter of finding the will to "get over it". I don't think the film quite argues that, in that it has too much empathy for its main character for that, but it is disappointingly simple.

I don't know how much of it reflects Wilder's own life: because Milland plays a writer, it's impossible not to think of Wilder and to wonder if he struggled with the same problem, and if that's what moved him to make a film that ends up feeling like a long PSA. It's a very well-directed PSA though and beside Milland's performance, it benefits from a pretty effective Miklos Rozsa's score which reminded me at times of Bernard Herrman's score. Vertigo, mostly, but Taxi Driver also came to mind even though the scores are obviously quite different (this is a pretty typical and loud Classic Hollywood score) because there are some exhoes of Travis Bickle in the protagonist's darkest moments here. His alienation never turns to violence (well, not towards others anyway), but there is a commonnality in that they are both characters who are self-destroying in a big city: the difference is that our main character here somehow has people to support him, which is perhaps the least convincing part of Brackett and Wilder's script.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 24, 2018, 06:42:26 PM
Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)

(https://i.imgur.com/IcsO0Ok.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 34:08) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/f/5/1/f517e28ec4ed6cb2/filmspot305_061110.mp3?c_id=1889595&cs_id=1889595&expiration=1537823647&hwt=8b9a4b09791d1ef719ca877b7b1fe46e)

Wilder's take on screwball, which sounds great on paper, except the screwball comedy this most reminded me of is Bringing Up Baby, and that's not a good sign, for me. I guess it's the high-concept of it all, though I'm not really bothered by the story being unbelievable. I am bothered by it feeling artificial though. Sam praises the characters here, but I don't see that much in the way of character here, aside from Marilyn. Jack Lemmon is really good, and him fully embracing the courtship is comedy gold, but is it really character-motivated ? It seems to me that it happens because it's the funniest thing that could happen, and there's nothing wrong with that when it really is funny, but not all of it works as well. Bringing it back to Bringing Up Baby, I don't think Curtis' Grant impression works at all. I don't even know if it's supposed to be an impression or if it's just Curtis being lazy when havint to portray a bumbling nerdy type... but then again I didn't like the original performance either, so what do I know ?

If I sound down on the film, it's because I am, but only relative to its status. It's still pretty funny, and Monroe is iconic of course... though I'll confess I'm uncomfortable with her, here and in other films with the full Marilyn persona. It always feels exploitative of her, and it's entirely possible that I'm robbing her out of her agency by assuming she was being exploited, but... well I suppose I'd feel differently had she lived. She is good here though, for the most part, and I suspect the reason I didn't buy into the romance aspect is more Curtis than her. It's not that he's bad, but it's a very arch-performance which he never manages to ground really, unlike Lemmon, who's just as big but still works as a character, at least in the moment. Curtis is always transparently performing, even when his character isn't, exaggerating the "virility" of his voice to accentuate the contrast.

The cross-dressing concept, aside from the wacky hijinks it allows to ensue, does allow Wilder to insert some light social commentary here and there, though even that's pretty dicey, as it's just slightly harder to laugh at sexual harrasment these days, but that's really not Wilder's fault. I do think the film works better when it's about them in drag than when it's trying to be a gangster film, mainly because of Lemmon but also because there's some annoying smugness in Wilder's script when it comes to the 1929-ness of it all, with characters commenting on things like the stock market always going up and never falling, or random sports prediction that I'm sure were "hilariously" wrong. The more I think about this film, the more obvious it is to me that it's basically a mess that's saved from failure by Lemmon's performance, and Monroe's to a lesser extent.

I do wonder if I'm missing something subversive here, as it does all seem too broad and simple for a Wilder script, and I'm sure a film with such a heightened place in the canon has to have some interest to it beyond the entertainment value. Not that it'd need to, but watching it, it felt like a big studio productions centered around stars and a wacky high-concept more than an artist's vision. The whole point of the "politique des auteurs" was to reconcile those two ideas obviously, but I have some trouble finding where this all fits in for Wilder. Hopefully that'll be clearer once I'm done with this leg of the marathon.

6/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on September 24, 2018, 09:40:51 PM
I wasn't as much of a fan of Some Like it Hot, either.  The sexual politics seems dated somehow, even though you have two men getting married.  I suppose it is the tone of it, rather than the content.  Merilyn seems very in control, actually.  But still, it isn't a humor I care for.  And I'm a fan of Bringing Up Baby, which is silly but fun.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 25, 2018, 12:44:58 PM
I wasn't as much of a fan of Some Like it Hot, either.  The sexual politics seems dated somehow, even though you have two men getting married.  I suppose it is the tone of it, rather than the content.  Merilyn seems very in control, actually.  But still, it isn't a humor I care for.  And I'm a fan of Bringing Up Baby, which is silly but fun.

It made me think of Bringing Up Baby because it's the best example I know of a screwball comedy that's just too excessively zany and, well, screwball for me, but it's also probably Curtis's impression of Cary Grant reminding me specifically of his bumbling character in BUB. I'm wondering what makes you say Marilyn seems in control ? Her character is sympathetic and not as ditzy as she could be I suppose, but she still mostly seems to be there to be sexy. She has some fun lines, but they're often at her character's expense, which is what her whole thing was, but I guess that's what I always feel uncomfortable with.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 29, 2018, 05:55:57 AM
The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960)

(https://i.imgur.com/p1OIR6F.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 36:48) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/7/b/6/7b6e31ff03791461/filmspot308_071610.mp3?c_id=2056945&cs_id=2056945&expiration=1538154369&hwt=bc52812c2359c701346b8412e435ea4b)

I recently watched the first season of Mad Men again, and there is an episode in which a few characters discuss seeing The Apartment and the way in which in relates to their lives. Knowing I would watch it for this, I took note of it, but I didn't expect it to feel so familiar, to the point that Wilder's film was obviously a major influence on Matthew Weiner, something everyone else was probably already aware of but oh well, it's never too late to learn. There's (slightly) less drinking and smoking going on here, but the cruel office/sexual politics and the underlying sadness beneath the comedy is all there, which did surprise me to some extent. It's very frank and casual about what goes on in the apartment, which is pretty bold for an era in which the Hays Code was technically still in place, though obviously crumbling.

The Apartment also differs visually from the Wilder films I've seen so far in its widescreen format, which Wilder uses to great effect with C.C. Baxter's seemingly never-ending office, which does a lot of work to help establish his character. Seeing him in that setting underlines the mediocrity and sadness of the character which allows Lemmon to be more broadly comedic: in just a few moments, that juxtaposition paints a full picture of the character and sets up the stakes for the film. He's a charming goofball and a "nice guy", but his most defining characteristic is being the ultimate pushover, the quintessential yes-man, which inevitably leads him to moral bankruptcy. Him realizing that and growing a spine is more or less the point of the film*, which I suppose is why Adam & Matty discuss the idea of Shirley MacLaine as a proto-Manic Pixie Dream Girl. I see their points, but I never felt that way during the film because MacLaine's performance is so, so strong: as much as Jack Lemmon is the focal point of the film, I think she is the standout performer here. Though I agree with Adam that her infatuation with McMurray is somewhat bewildering, I take her despair as motivated by a more general desperation with her situation in life. The way MacLaine conveys that deep sadness is ultimately what makes her work so well as a character, which I think disqualifies her from MPDG-dom (-ness ?), despite her bubbliness with Lemmon.

It's also a very funny film, which I should probably state since I'm making it sound so depressing. That it can be both is where Wilder's genius as a screenwriter shows of course (as well as the two main performances, again), but there is something that bothers me about the whole thing and prevents it from being a true favorite for me. It's the ending, but not just the ending: Lemmon's whole arc really. His interactions with MacLaine fit the trope of the "nice guy" so well, and the film ultimately revolves around him making a change and "getting the girl". There's something false about the ending, and I don't see the ambiguity in it that Adam seems to, I think we're meant to believe that he got the prize he rightly deserved for his moral righteousness, and that's MacLaine. Given how prevalent this idea of the nice guy who deserves a woman has become in our society (it shows up a bit in the podcast actually, in ways that it wouldn't in current Filmspotting episodes I might add), it makes the whole thing very uncomfortable to me, and not in a way that I think Wilder intended. Add to that the strange exchange in which Lemmon recites MacLaine's whole personal information, which she unexplicably finds delightful rather than creepy... it's certainly unfair to criticize the film for social implications that might have been very different in 60s America, but I can't help how a scene like that makes me squirm and distracts from the central romance.

This is a quibble more than anything though, there is still plenty to appreciate, and I'd consider this my favorite Wilder so far by a fair margin.

8/10

*I can think of a select group of senators who one might want to show The Apartment too in the coming week.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Sandy on September 29, 2018, 07:31:37 PM
Great read, Teproc.  :)

If you'd like to see another great performance by Shirley Maclaine, I recommend Some Came Running. She holds nothing back.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: smirnoff on September 29, 2018, 11:32:16 PM
A Damn Movie Podcast (http://adamnpodcast.tumblr.com/) just wrapped up a Wilder marathon if you're looking to hear other perspectives while it's still fresh. :)
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on September 30, 2018, 04:53:00 AM
Great read, Teproc.  :)

If you'd like to see another great performance by Shirley Maclaine, I recommend Some Came Running. She holds nothing back.

I have that to look forward to then, as it's literally the last film scheduled in this marathon... for now.  ;D

A Damn Movie Podcast (http://adamnpodcast.tumblr.com/) just wrapped up a Wilder marathon if you're looking to hear other perspectives while it's still fresh. :)

I'll have to check that out, thanks for the recommendation.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on October 01, 2018, 11:55:26 AM
Stalag 17 (Billy Wilder, 1953)

(https://i.imgur.com/eD8tGXL.png)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 36:29) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/7/1/5/71579690b4ff1f04/filmspot310_073010.mp3?c_id=2102857&cs_id=2102857&expiration=1538407177&hwt=1d603e55e8b5b02934a2560cf9d8c47f)

A Tale of Two Wilders. One of them is trying to do Hogan's Heroes... wait, I now see that this actually predates Hogan's Heroes, but you get the idea: broad comedy about prison camps, because those are fun, right ? I suppose the obvious point of reference here would be Renoir's La grande illusion, but you can't make La grande illusion with nazis: the existence of nazis undercuts the whole point of La grande illusion in fact. Wilder of all people certainly knows that so I'm not sure why he applies the same light approach, but it doesn't really work here, at first. It's not just about the German soldiers being nazis and therefore hard to take lightly, it's also that the main comic relief character (Animal) is hamming it up like it's 1925 while William Holden is over there giving an Oscar-winning performance in the Hitchcockian thriller that is the other half of the film. That juxtaposition doesn't really work and the film gets much better as it sidelines the more broadly comedic aspects.

Part of that is William Holden's performance, which is one of those few examples of the Academy getting it right (he says, not having seen any of the other nominees's films). Much like in Sunset Blvd. he's playing a selfish and amoral character, but because he's put in the classic "wrong man" situation (have I mentioned Hitchcock yet ?), his sense of humour and casual cynicism make him endearing and even sympathetic. He might be the most sympathetic among Wilder characters who are out for themselves and nothing else and haven't changed by the end of the film. Really, he could be the same guy as in Sunset Blvd. but that's the power of a plot in which the main character is falsely accused - that and Holden's performance, which is sligthly gentler than in Boulevard.

It's also just a pretty great thriller, and this is where I come back to Wilder-as-Hitchcock, because there is a scene here in which Wilder shows you the way the informant communicates with the German officer that would feel right at home in something like Strangers on a Train. Wilder doesn't milk the informant situation quite as much as I would have liked, but it does make me wonder if there are other films of his with this quality, because I find most of the execution here to be quite satisfying and it feesl very different from Wilder's other films I've seen. I don't see as much commentary in it as Adam does, but as entertainment, it's quite succesful despite some rough comedic scenes in the first half.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on October 02, 2018, 05:20:18 AM
The Sheldrakes (Billy Wilder Awards)

In the same order as the podcast (starts at 27:09) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/2/d/8/2d88f1a5d9af7176/filmspot312_081310.mp3?c_id=2184204&cs_id=2184204&expiration=1538477787&hwt=ce42273481a1783ddf0124bebcacacf7)

Best Supporting Performance: Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot

(https://i.imgur.com/LB8i7KC.png)

Best Actor: William Holden in Stalag 17

(https://i.imgur.com/t9veRD3.png)

Best Actress: Shirley MacLaine in The Apartment

(https://i.imgur.com/Islmfw8.jpg)

Best Scene or Moment: Norma Desmond descending the stairs (Sunset Blvd.)

(https://i.imgur.com/lwDwa8f.jpg)

Best Picture: The Apartment

(https://i.imgur.com/mud0dcW.gif)

Summary/ranking:

The Apartment
Sunset Blvd.
Stalag 17
The Lost Weekend
Some Like It Hot


One might quibble with Lemmon as Supporting in Some Like It Hot, but he really gets sidelined in favor of Curtis and Monroe in the second half, and there weren't any other supporting performances I felt very strongly about. I like von Stroheim fine in Sunset Blvd. but I don't quite see what all the fuss is about.

Up next (in about a month I think): Powell & Pressburger, which will start with one of the rare rewatches in this marathon (Colonel Blimp).
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 09, 2018, 10:53:04 AM
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1943)

(https://i.imgur.com/xLEOlPw.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 38:38) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/0/2/f/02f958b29991caaf/filmspot315_090310.mp3?c_id=2291574&cs_id=2291574&expiration=1544363608&hwt=6c344a76408ff9cfcd44f36c95a98b4f)

As always when revisiting a favorite, I was worried it wouldn't live up, especially for a film I've seen in the theater (with the screen two meters away from me at most, but still) and am rewatching at home. In this case, I wasn't worried I wouldn't like it, but there's something hard to define which makes a film something you love rather than something you like a lot, and I wasn't sure which way it would go.

The first thing that struck me is how entertaining a film this is. The first two acts (the "War starts at midnight" part and the Berlin flashback) are as fun as anything Hollywood was putting out at the time, with delightful wit and a very winning performance from Roger Livesey as the young Candy. It's a pretty bold move from Powell & Pressburger to move from the ridiculous Blimp character incredulously bellowing that "War starts at midnight !" to the young dashing hero of yesteryear. It's one of the film's main points really: to show Blimp as the avatar of the British Empire, which does make him obsolete in some ways (the Empire would not last a decade after this film) but also imbues the character with a certain sense of nostalgia, of a dignitiy and even a romanticism lost in the dark world of post-1914 Europe. That they transition from one to another in a beautiful tracking shot over the pool is the icing on the cake, because what really matters here is that they never let Blimp/Candy be too much one or the other. He's undeniably sympathetic, but he's never perfect, and Powell & Pressburger never let the film become a pure nostalgia fest. There is a fair bit of that in the first flashback, with characters talking about Sherlock Holmes and David Livingstone, but both the script and the direction undercut it. The duel is a nice example of that: the script highlight how pompous and preposterous it all is while the direction underlines how removed it is from current reality by pulling away and showing us this snowy Berlin as something out of a fairytale. And of course it's all tremendously entertaining too.

The second part of the flashback taking place in and after WWI, is a bit weaker but a very necessary transition, setting up the stakes of the WWII part. It's also a change of tone, perhaps not as striking as it would have been had the France part taken place in, say, early 1917, but still. Candy is shown as a bit of a hypocrit too, though Powell & Pressburger don't put too fine of a point on it. They're never telling you what to feel (well, I suppose they are with the Wolbrook character but that's a bit different), which is key, but it also lets you recontextualize some of the plot points about the Boer War earlier on (let's just say the British did not behave particularly nobly in that one). I have to get to the Deborah Kerr thing though, because this is the only thing that makes me feel slightly queasy about the film. It appears that Powell was madly in love with Kerr at the time, and that's all well and good, but it's a testament to Livesey's performance that Candy does't come off as a grade-A creep here.

That second part is also where Anton Wolbrook's character becomes much more important to the story, and I must admit that I had forgotten about his two scenes here, but they're excellent. The first one has more to do with the use of Schubert and the direction than his performance really, but his monologue in the train back home is an incredible scene, and apparently the biggest factor in making Churchil want to ban the film. Wolbrook is almost villainous in it, which is again incredibly bold given both the context (1943 Britain) and the fact that Powell & Pressburger are just minutes away from making him the most sympathetic character of the film. It also lets the viewer reflect on what's being said about the changing nature of the world in the early 20th century without forcing any particular feeling on you. Wolbrook is prescient in some ways, but does that make him smart and pragmatic, or pessimistic and weak ? It's very hard to say which way Powell & Pressburger stand here, and that's the greatest thing about this film. It's deeply humanistic (Wolbrook's refugee speech is so powerful) and melancholy but in a way that's open-ended, which is so remarkable for a film made while London was literally under German bombs.

So yeah, two great performances (I haven't talked about Livesey's versatility and sublety here), flawless direction and a complex script all wrapped in an film that's at once entertaining, deeply moving and stimulating to engage with. If only I wasn't so creeped out by the Deborah Kerr thing (in no small part due to the fact that the characters she plays keep dying offscreen), I might call it perfect.

9/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Junior on December 09, 2018, 10:55:39 AM
Yeah, it's pretty spectacular. Great writing on the Walbrook character in particular, you expressed why it's so magical really well.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 10, 2018, 10:45:27 AM
Yeah, it's pretty spectacular. Great writing on the Walbrook character in particular, you expressed why it's so magical really well.

Thank you.  :)

I see Walbrook is in The Red Shoes, and I've seen Livesey in I Know Where I'm Going, but I find it... I don't know, notable ? that they're relatively little-known, as are Powell & Pressburger really, at least among a non-cinephile crowd. I was recommending Colonel Blimp to my parents yesterday, and they had never heard of anyone involved in it aside from Deborah Kerr. They're not cinephiles, but they're not ignorant of classic cinema at all, and would at least recognize the names of most directors that are as prominently featured as Powell & Pressburger in "best of all time" lists. I guess this may have to do with them being British and their works only being properly restored in the 80s it seems like ?
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 10, 2018, 02:48:29 PM
Black Narcissus (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1947)

(https://i.imgur.com/OBuuIlu.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 36:51) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/8/2/a/82ae61ce0c7241f2/filmspot317_091710.mp3?c_id=2361043&cs_id=2361043&expiration=1544467262&hwt=08f1baad4fa3831e736426751c92afb3)

All I knew about this film was the poster (well, that and the directors and main star), which was quite enough to make me excited for it. Black Narcissus delivered in the most obvious promise of that poster, which is the landscape and the way Jack Cardiff shoots it. As I expected, the mystical quality of such a place is a central part of the film, but the Archers don't quite succeed at creating quite the atmosphere they're going for I think, or at least to make the film as entrancing an experience as it ought to be.

In some ways, this film feels ahead of its time. I don't mean that in the sense that it feels modern or somehow better than other films of its time, but more literally: in order for it to fully work, it would have needed the relaxed censorship (and general attitude towards what could be depicted in films) of the 60s. They're trying to do Repulsion but they can't be as explicit as they want to, and there probably is a way to do it without that, but the form tends so much towards what would become one of my favorite subgenres (see also: Perfect Blue, Black Swan) that I'm very disappointed that it didn't quite get there for me. Part of it is the way in which the mysticism I mentioned earlier unfortunately reeks of orientalism. The setting makes that inevitable in some ways, and the main characters attitude towards the place, its inhabitants and its traditions are obviously pretty terrible... but that all could work if the native characters weren't themselves such an afterthought.

* It now occurs to me that the 20s would also offer that, and that this would have made for quite the fascinating silent film, and some of the performances here (Kathleen Byron in particular) would feel quite at home in a silent film.

The other issue is the eroticism that the Archers are quite clearly striving for but really never materializes for me. I can tell that it's supposed to be there, especially in Deborah Kerr's performance, but the characters who are supposed to be the vessel for it all fail for various reasons. On the female side, Jean Simmons in brownface - even if we look past that part of it - is just too ridiculously stereotypical of "oriental seduction" to work without an actual character to back it up. On the male side, the main attraction is supposed to be David Farrar as Mr. Dean, but nothing regarding him works. I don't know if it's the writing, the acting or the directing, but it completely falls flat. The scenes surrounding him were the ones that made me suspect this was a literary adaptation: you know when you can tell there is somehing missing from a film because it's an adaptation of a book and there's clearly supposed to be something going on but it just isn't there ? Well, Black Narcissus has quite a bit of that hard-to-define feeling, and most of it features his character. In the end, the young general is the most effective character in that category, but lacks a bit of depth too, and the ending of his story also feels more literary than cinematic.

What does feel cinematic though, is the Suspiria-like developments around Sister Ruth. There is a bit of what I call the Jack Nicholson in Shining problem (not very catchy, I should work on that) of her character seeming like the devil incarnate from the very start, which robs her switch to crazy mode of its power a bit... in theory at least, because in practice, the shot of her emerging from the building is still marvelously chilling, and for those fifteen minutes or so the film finally gets to that atmosphere it was clearly working up to all along. It works despite the failings of that build-up, but the overall feeling I'm left with at the end of the film is of the great film that could've been, and of the really interesting failure that remains.

6/10*

* I enjoyed it a bit more than this all sounds like I think.

Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on December 25, 2018, 03:48:44 PM
A Matter of Life and Death (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1946)

(https://i.imgur.com/OxG9taF.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 26:47) (https://i.imgur.com/wnSYaO8.jpg)


aka Stairway to Heaven, which makes me wonder if Led Zeppelin was inspired by it somehow ? I mean, there is a literal stairway to heaven in it.

In any case, this didn't quite work for me. It's charming enough, but I don't share Adam & Matty's awe at Niven's performance here. He's... fine ? I don't know, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to see there really. Livesey is giving a much more dynamic performance and - to use the usual cliché - completely steals the film from Niven anytime he shows up. This makes the way in which the film handles his character's death pretty jarring. I mean yes, death isn't such a big deal in a film in which the afterlife is real and apparently pretty peaceful (though people still very much cling to Earthly grievances it seems), but still. Of course, his death is needed for the plot to advance, and it's somewhat foreshadowed with his reckless driving (those scenes look quite good too), but "the plot needed it" isn't a great reason to do something in a film if it's what you end up thinking about rather than the emotional stakes.

Maybe the issue is that I don't particularly buy the central romance. They have decent chemistry I suppose, but the whole thing is supposed to be all about their Love being so strong that it must supercede the normal order of life and death. The opening scene is quite strong at establishing a connection, but their interactions thereafter really don't live up to what the script needs them to be. The only reason I end up rooting for them at all is Livesey's charisma... well, that and the fact that it's sort of a metaphor about PTSD, possibly ? The problem with that reading, and maybe the problem overall, is that this is such a silly film in many ways that it's hard to take the grandstanding very seriously. I suppose that dynamic is also present in Blimp, but it works much better there, though I'm not sure I can quite define why.

There's also the weirdness of devoting so much runtime (proportionally) to the trial and to make it a US v UK thing. The whole argument feels irrelevant and not as entertaining as it could have been, not to mention pretty reactionary in nature. I suppose there is some value in rehashing what both unites and opposes Americans and Brits at a time like 1946, but nothing here feels particularly insightful or clever. Same goes for everything involving the French aristocrat, which... really, the less said about that guy, the better.

Now, this is still a decently entertaining film, with the standouts being Livesey's performance and the art direction. The art-deco look they went for works quite well, and the semi-eponymous stairway leads to a pretty striking final scene.

6/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on December 26, 2018, 01:13:40 PM
I generally agree with you, although i think I like Niven's performance better than you.  It is pretty silly, like 78's Heaven Can Wait, and I would like to say that it would play better for audiences of the 40s than today.  On the other hand, I hear that this is GB's version of The Wizard of Oz, where all the kids watch it when young and it becomes a nostalgia-trip for everyone.  It's a fine film for that, but the attempt to make a balance between reality and fantasy does seem a bit silly.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 06, 2019, 05:25:21 PM
The Red Shoes (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1948)

(https://i.imgur.com/QmG2GwF.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 32:35) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/4/c/8/4c8dac52b09422cf/filmspot322_102210.mp3?c_id=2604636&cs_id=2604636&expiration=1546795952&hwt=7c0b62ce27e00e64f5336fd25d96de66)

The Powell-Pressburger part of this marathon is one I've been particularly looking forward to for a while, based on my experience with Colonel Blimp, and I specifically had high expectations for this film. I didn't know that much about it, but the screenshots I had seen and the connection to Black Swan were quite enough. To say these were not quite met would be - as always with these things - quite unfair, but here we are nonetheless. I like this film, and I do think there is a decent chance I would like it more upon rewatching it in a few years, but I didn't connect to it as much as I hoped I would.

It comes down to the central ballet sequence, I think. It's a scene I should absolutely love, not only because it's quite impressive and inventive technically, but because it quite literally encapsulates the whole film. Maybe that's part of the issue, as The Red Shoes (the story) is quite aptly summarised by Lermentov in fifteen seconds, and the ballet itself doesn't really seem to bring much more to it. Yes, Moira Shearer was an amazing dancer, and yes, the Archers do neat (though somewht confusing) stuff by adding effects to it, but the idea of the red shoes taking control doesn't quite transcribe, for example. I don't know if it's ballet that's not didactic enough an art form for me or if the story just isn't that developped. In any case, the whole film rests on that sequence, and while it's a good one, it's not the masterpiece it would need to be - and I say this as someone who generally enjoys protracted stuff like this (see also: An American in Paris and A Star Is Born).

What does work great is Anton Wolbrook's performance. I was almost shocked when it became clear that his character was supposed to be the villain of the film, because I was so captivated by him, despite Lermontov being a theoretically typical tyrannical of an artist. I'd agree with Adam's interpretation of his feelings for Shearer's character: if he does love her, it translates for him in wanting to make her great, and to do that with him. Wolbrook brings something more to that part, makes you feel for the pain that he feels in seeing her get away from him, not so much because she could somehow not be a great artist without him, but simply because he wants to be the one to be accompanying her. Marius Goring is pretty good in a role that could easily come off as "bland protagonist we're supposed to root for but really don't care about", so that's a rather succesful "love" triangle, with Moira Shearer's acting being just good enough (helped by the very expressive makeup) to support her marvelous dancing.

As announced by Lermontov's summary of the Andersen story, the narrative here turns to the tragic, in ways that don't entirely work. What makes a tragedy is what happens to the protagonists, yes, but just as important is the feeling of inevitability, of implacapble destiny bringing us to the sad conclusion, and I don't know that it's entirely there. Narratively, yes, as we understand where this is going from the moment Lermontov casually mentions the ending of Andersen's story, but it's not quite there in the filmmaking... or rather, it's there and it isn't. I'm not sure exactly what makes me feel this way, because any time we go to a closeup of Moira Shearer, yes, we do feel the tragedy coming... but then the rest of the film is not quite as intense as that. Maybe it's the lack of a true villain: Wolbrook is too good for his part almost ? But I don't know that a tragedy needs a villain either... I don't know, the more I think about it, the less I understand why I ended up underwhelmed by it all. The weight of expectations, possibly, and I should say that I did like it quite a bit still, just not as much as it may deserve... I guess I'll have to revisit it somewhere down the line.

7/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on January 10, 2019, 12:05:47 AM
As you said, the opinion of the film is founded in the ballet sequence.  I absolutely adored the ballet, the rest was... okay.  I think you captured the performances well, and I was hoping for a more dynamic protagonist.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 10, 2019, 03:59:22 AM
As you said, the opinion of the film is founded in the ballet sequence.  I absolutely adored the ballet, the rest was... okay.  I think you captured the performances well, and I was hoping for a more dynamic protagonist.

Yeah, I'm guessing the Archers felt they couldn't ask too much of Moira Shearer as an actress ? It kind of contributes into Wolbrook kind of taking over the film I think, and perhaps part of why I didn't feel great about the way the film ends with regards to his character. It's almost as if the Powells expected his character to be a full-fledged villain but his character ended up more nuanced, and almost felt like the protagonist at times.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: oldkid on January 10, 2019, 12:59:20 PM
As you said, the opinion of the film is founded in the ballet sequence.  I absolutely adored the ballet, the rest was... okay.  I think you captured the performances well, and I was hoping for a more dynamic protagonist.

Yeah, I'm guessing the Archers felt they couldn't ask too much of Moira Shearer as an actress ? It kind of contributes into Wolbrook kind of taking over the film I think, and perhaps part of why I didn't feel great about the way the film ends with regards to his character. It's almost as if the Powells expected his character to be a full-fledged villain but his character ended up more nuanced, and almost felt like the protagonist at times.

I never felt that he was the protagonist and he seemed quite the creep, but only sometimes.  She was just never interesting enough to really capture my imagination.  Where was Deborah Kerr?  Probably busy making another movie.  On the other hand, I think that she'd have a difficult time playing someone passive.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 16, 2019, 01:20:52 PM
Peeping Tom (Michael Powell, 1960)

(https://i.imgur.com/Fkwdg7K.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 26:36) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/1/c/0/1c0b7079a65f4606/filmspot327_120410.mp3?c_id=2848744&cs_id=2848744&expiration=1547509728&hwt=de0e96c84a857bbb585b058d56f40472)

Only one Archer left (and consequently only one arrow in the logo, which I thought was a nice touch), and a decade and a half makes for a very different film from the previous few in this marathon. Gone are the fantasy elements and the technicolor, instead we get... a Hitchcock movie ? It's really quite eerie how much this looks and feels like a Hitchcock film, most obviously through its central theme: voyeurism. Though Peeping Tom will forever be linked to Psycho because they came out the same year (and Psycho does feature a peeping Tom scene), the Hitchcock films I was mostly reminded of here were Rear Window and Frenzy. Rear Window is pretty obvious (the very act of watching a movie is voyeurism bla bla bla), Frenzy... I guess I'm not sure why aside from "Hitchcock in England"... and maybe I shouldn't be spending so much time talking about another director, but maybe that's because I was very underwhelmed by this film.

Adam & Matty mention how provocative it might have been at the time to have such a sympathetic killer as a protagonist, and I guess there's something to that, because he is pathetic in the classic sense of the word (as in: he inspires pity)... but is he interesting ? His origin story is somewhat intriguing I suppose, but why is it exactly that he applies this obsession his father taught him to women ? And why does he want to kill them ? I guess he's a psychopath who just happen to have some quirks aside from that because of his awful father, but in the end... I think Powell doesn't really embrace the pulpiness of his premise, and the psychology isn't as interesting as he thinks it is, so it all kind of falls flat for me.

I mean it's a fine film, it's enjoyable. Moira Shearer dances in a scene, that's nice. Powell is a gifted director still, and he has an understanding of how to make scenes flow... but - and I hate to come back to this - he's not Hitchcock. He doesn't have the playfulness or the creepiness that would make this material sing I think.

6/10
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on January 18, 2019, 12:50:16 PM
The (Archers Awards)

In the same order as the podcast (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/4/c/a/4ca55dbe4d1f93de/filmspot329_121710.mp3?c_id=2904414&cs_id=2904414&expiration=1547838029&hwt=9ad16c2b4bff1bcd9fae40c2e35c74a1) (starts at 49:39).

Best Supporting Actor: Anton Wolbrook (The Red Shoes)

(https://i.imgur.com/rOMUe5d.jpg)

Best Supporting Actress: Maxine Audley (Peeping Tom)

(https://i.imgur.com/eYpdvXr.jpg)

Best Cinematography: Black Narcissus

(https://i.imgur.com/mF3K3fu.jpg)

Best Actor: Roger Livesey (The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp)

(https://i.imgur.com/cCiM1Wc.jpg)

Best Actress: Deborah Kerr (Black Narcissus)

(https://i.imgur.com/Z65UCXE.jpg)

Best Scene/Moment: Anton Wolbrook's refugee monologue in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcZ6fnRLDLU

Best Picture: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

(https://i.imgur.com/IGJVbxw.gif)

Summary/ranking

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1943)
The Red Shoes (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1948)
Black Narcissus (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1947)
Peeping Tom (Michael Powell, 1960)
A Matter of Life and Death (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1946)


Up next (at some point), Krysztof Kieslowski. Time to cross some tricolor blindspots.
Title: Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
Post by: Teproc on June 05, 2019, 11:16:50 AM
Amator / Camera Buff (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1979)

(https://i.imgur.com/NKeYVem.jpg)

Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 25:11) (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/f/c/9/fc94a0097bff3788/filmspot335_021211.mp3?c_id=3081322&cs_id=3081322&expiration=1559726830&hwt=632cbda3601e0c58e8def0e5e806d07b)

The rise of individualism is the major sociological fact of the past few centuries, and what better time and place is there to explore it than in a Communist state on the verge of huge social change ? Not that Kieslowski could have known about Solidarnosc in 1978/79: really it seems like this film came more as the result of his own journey, first making documentaries and then gradually transitioning to fiction. Amator is some sort of autofiction, but its preocupations are very much universal. How do we fulfill our own wants and desires, and how does our pursuit of happiness interfere with others, from the ones that are closest to people we don't even know about ?

As always, universal questions such as this are best approached within a very specific context, and filmmaking is a particularly ripe "hobby" for Filip to get obsessed with. Aside from the obvious metatextual implications (which Kieslowski cleverly underlines several times), the voyeurism inherent to the act of filming makes it a more ambiguous pursuit than, say, painting, or music. When Filip explains to his wife that this new passion is more important to him than his family (hoping to comfort her, which surprisingly does not work out for him), it's a real test of the viewer's sympathy for artistic pursuit. Filip's marital life is generally the weakest point in the film I would say, seeming to be present more to give emotional stakes and make a point about comfort ("peace and quiet") vs art/individual expression, but his wife is not enough of a character for it register as fully as it should. Still, that scene is quite important in its content: is your personal fulfillment worth disengaging (at least partially) with your loved ones ? In today's western societies, we tend to celebrate it, and on principle it'd be easy to scoff at what could be labeled "family values", but when you illustrate it with individuals (as thinly sketched as they may be), it gets more complicated.

What's even more complex and interesting is Filip's conversation with his boss late in the film. This is where I do appreciate the nuance in Kieslowski's writing: the boss has been nothing but a stifling influence, a figure of burocratic authority and censorship to be overcome. But the points he is making about the consequences of Filip's actions touch a nerve, not just in Filip but in ourselves. Kieslowski has assimilated the communist values of the collective over individual, and confronts them with humanity's innate desire for freedom and the inevitable historical trend of individualism. He doesn't give us or Filip an easy answer either - the main person who loses his job because of Filip still encourages him to pursue his passion after all - he simply leads us to conclude that one cannot live as if the world around us only existed for us to exploit it for our own purposes while staying outside of it. One cannot simply be a voyeur - willing or not - we are all participants in human society.

7/10