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Author Topic: 1SO vs. The Directors of Shame  (Read 46303 times)

MartinTeller

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Re: 1SO vs. The Directors of Shame
« Reply #100 on: June 27, 2011, 08:24:21 AM »
Requesting you change the title of this thread to "1SO is a Grumpy Gus Who Doesn't Ever Like Anything".
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1SO

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Re: 1SO vs. The Directors of Shame
« Reply #101 on: June 27, 2011, 09:48:23 AM »
That is my next marathon where I watch everything you Rated an 8 or higher.  ;D
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verbALs

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Re: 1SO vs. The Directors of Shame
« Reply #102 on: June 27, 2011, 11:27:22 AM »
1SO likes Becker, that's at least worth a month's pass in my book. 8)
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Re: Directors of Shame: John Cassavetes - The Killing of a Chinese Bookie
« Reply #103 on: June 27, 2011, 04:43:33 PM »
Marathon Update



The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

Quote from: MartinTeller
Good as a genre picture, and also good as a unique twist on the genre.  But the seemingly endless scenes of the (deliberately) pathetic burlesque show really ground things to a halt.  I had a choice to watch the 1976 original version, or the 1978 re-release which is a half hour shorter.  I think I should have gone with the edited version.  Oh well.  Rating: 7
After Faces, I went with the shorter version. I'm no fool. I can only imagine what else was in this, because the version I saw was still much too long, especially in the first third. There's a definite progression from Shadows to here in the way Cassavetes allows more plot to seep into this films. This one has a fairly standard 70s gangster hook, spelled out in the title. What's most surprising is Cassavetes handles the crime scenes pretty well. The killing scene has an offbeat intensity brought about by his documentary style. There's another great moment where we follow someone who's out to kill Cosmo Vitelli (Ben Gazzara). He's hunting all around, increasingly frustrated while he and we don't know where Cosmo is hiding.

And here's where it gets interesting again. Just like with Faces, the film is at its best when it nears its end. The climactic scene between Cosmo and his girl (and her mom) are emotional and nicely underplayed. This is followed by Cosmo giving a pep talk to his employees, people who until this scene I cared very little about. It's warm and touching and nicely directed. All the performances are great, but you have to single out Gazzara. For all the complaining I've done about Cassavetes giving his actors too much latitude, I haven't heaped enough praise on the fact that Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk (in Woman Under the Influence) and now Ben Gazzara have all turned in their best work for the auteur. Gazzara's always been a fine character actor, but this shows he was every bit as capable of having a career similar to Harvey Keitel.

I've come to end of my Cassavetes jaunt, but I have to wonder why I tend to be thrown at a distance by the beginnings of his films, yet I find myself enchanted by how they end. It could be that Cassavetes often has difficulty finding his story and once he is able to see it through the characters, things become really engaging. Or perhaps his openings are so character intensive, they don't appeal to me. I find myself wondering "who are you and why should I care to find out?" Film history would say the problem is with me, but considering how many of you still haven't seen any of his films (inc. sdedalus, who watches everything), I may not be entirely off base.
RATING: **

Here's my ranking of the six John Cassavetes films I've seen.
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sdedalus

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Re: 1SO vs. The Directors of Shame
« Reply #104 on: June 27, 2011, 05:54:29 PM »
Cassavetes seems to me to be depressing and actor-focused, neither of which qualities appeal to me.  I could be wrong, and I'll get around to him eventually, but I'm guessing he's not really my kind of guy.
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roujin

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Re: 1SO vs. The Directors of Shame
« Reply #105 on: June 27, 2011, 06:39:47 PM »
I thought that would be the case when I watched A Woman Under the Influence, but I actually found the staging of his scenes to be pretty cinematic. I'm excited to check out more.

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Re: Directors of Shame: René Clair - À Nous la Liberté and Le Million
« Reply #106 on: June 27, 2011, 11:36:53 PM »
Double Marathon Update



À Nous la Liberté
Quote from: MartinTeller
Charming and inventive, and quite funny though not laugh-out-loud hilarious.  The comparison between prison life and the industrial workplace is very amusing.  As an early talkie, a lot of the time it plays very much like a silent film, though it does lots of clever things with sound, and contains several key songs.  This is the movie that Chaplin ripped off when he made Modern Times (but to be fair, Clair himself is obviously influenced by the tramp). Rating: 8
Chaplin may have borrowed a lot of ideas from this film, but he executed them so much better. I frankly couldn't make heads or tails of this picture. It plays much more like a satire than a comedy, which is a polite way of saying it's definitely smart, but it's not that funny. I didn't get into the characters, wasn't amused by most of the situations. (The suicide involving the loose jail bars was kind of funny.) Some of the jokes are very broad, but the film has the cool reserve of a British drawing room comedy mixed with the stuffy distance stereotypically associated with the French. It's also a musical, but the songs come out of nowhere and don't fit at all. (That last statement is from the guy who worked on Kaante, the Bollywood musical version of Reservoir Dogs.)
RATING: **



Le Million
Quote from: MartinTeller
I'm getting in habit using the words "charming" and "inventive" when it comes to Rene Clair, and here he does it again, with another delightful musical comedy. Again, it's clear that this film served as inspiration for others, particularly the Marx Brothers. Joyful and sublime.  Rating: 8
I didn't want to just jump forward 10 years to I Married a Witch, and this film is praised by a lot of you. Plus it's only 83 minutes. I'm really glad I gave Clair a 2nd look because this time I was charmed. While the other film feels like a social satire, this is most definitely a farce comedy. While I complained about the other film being too distant and cool, this was kind of madcap and the songs blended right into the stitching of the script. My favorite part of this double feature was the intro and song by the "soldiers of inequality". Very clever. This did everything I was hoping for from À Nous la Liberté, and while I didn't like it quite as much as Martin, his review speaks for me as well.
RATING: ***

Still doing I Married a Witch. I could say it's because I want to compare Clair's later work to these two, but the real reason is Veronica Lake.
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sdedalus

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Re: 1SO vs. The Directors of Shame
« Reply #107 on: June 28, 2011, 12:49:26 AM »
I Married a Witch is charming, but my favorite Clair is his other big early musical, Under the Roofs of Paris.
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Re: Directors of Shame: René Clair - I Married a Witch
« Reply #108 on: June 28, 2011, 10:32:17 AM »
I Married a Witch

I give up.
77 minutes with the most pedestrian direction, this isn't a film. It's a 50s television pilot. (As the inspiration for Bewitched it sorta is.) Veronica Lake shows some comedic flair, but too often sets her voice to a pouty whine that's... what's the opposite of endearing. Fredric March has less charisma than Dick York cut in half. Some cute moments, but if ever a film needed a talking cat.
RATING: **

You want to see some René Clair? Rent And Then There Were None. I need some Dardenne Brothers right away.
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1SO

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Directors of Shame: The Dardenne Brothers - La Promesse
« Reply #109 on: July 01, 2011, 12:00:59 AM »
Marathon Update



La Promesse

I watched my first Dardenne Brothers film, The Son, last year and it went into my Top 100 of the 00s. As much as I was afraid of these directors who make movies where nothing happens, I found the movie to be intellectually appealing and richly rewarding. I was definitely interested in checking out some more from their rather small catalogue.

1996s La Promesse was their International breakthrough, telling the story of a teenage boy who witnesses a terrible tragedy and while helping to cover up the event, defines his personal morality. This emotional journey puts him in conflict with his father, who is able to look at all the angles and decide what is the smart thing to do. Through the directors' trademark fly on the wall camera technique, you see the push/pull going on between father and son even when they're not verbally debating the issue. One of the highlights of the film (pictured above) shows the two singing at a karaoke club. They're having fun and we see the bond, but we know there is a large wall building between them. That's great filmmaking. Nothing is happening, while at the same time it's gettin' kinda tense.

***MILD SPOILERS AHEAD***

Also intriguing is that what starts the kid on his moral path and away from his father is nothing more than teen lust. He is attracted to the wife of the deceased man. The tragedy provides an opportunity for him to form a bond with the wife. That is what makes him want to defy his father. Nothing is simple and it all feels very real. There's a moment when the boy wants to tell the wife the truth and his father asks "Why do you want to tell her? What'll it serve?" With those questions the boy realizes it's not about his attraction anymore. It's about doing what's right.

***END SPOILERS***

The film stars Jérémie Renier, who has grown into a pretty big deal over in Europe. Olivier Gourmet plays the father. Gourmet also starred in The Son. He's kinda large and round, with thinning hair and thick glasses. I thought the Dardennes used amateurs and local talent. Gourmet is not movie star handsome, but he's got over 80 credits on IMDB and he's really interesting to watch. The father goes through some pretty emotional extremes and I absolutely believed all of it.

That's all good stuff, but the Dardenne's aren't at the top of their game yet. There was an amazing grace to the stripped down filmmaking of The Son. Here, they seem tripped up by the amount of dialogue and plot (what little there is of both.) Scenes with dialogue feel a little flat, just handheld gritty realism and little more. Some of the scenes with no dialogue don't have the quiet reflection that The Son had like a constant heartbeat. Which means the film feels kinda slow and padded in spots. It's a good early effort, but they can do much better.
RATING: ***
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