Author Topic: 1SO vs. The Directors of Shame  (Read 43324 times)

1SO

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Directors of Shame: Howard Hawks - Sergeant York
« Reply #170 on: July 16, 2011, 06:19:52 PM »
Marathon Update



Sergeant York
I always thought Sergeant York was a war film. Oh there's war in it, eventually, but I kept waiting for Alvin York (Gary Cooper, who won a deserved Oscar for this) to go off and fight the Germans. Turns out this is a very religious picture, so much so I was surprised to find it not included in the Arts and Faith Top 100. Sam, I would love to dictate this to you because the film is about turning your life around by turning to God and religious beliefs being tested by the needs of war.

The film only mentions World War I once in the first half, and doesn't go off to fight until the last 45 minutes. In true Hawks fashion, the film is slower than it needs to be in places but there are no bad scenes. Once again, the more people in a scene, the better his direction is. I still can't speak to the way he handles groups of people talking work, but he's possibly the best director at blending exposition, humor and folksy charm.

Some of the patriotism is forced, and I get that this film was probably a major recruiting booster as America was getting ready to enter WW II. The last 15 minutes is all parades and awards. I didn't care for the epic war footage. (Limitations of the time it was made.) Once sharpshooter York is given a mission it becomes a bit like the pro-Nazi film from Inglorious Bastards. I was surprised to learn that the more unbelievable heroics in the film actually happened.

But I come back to the religion which is so pro-God it would be daring for a studio to touch the material today. There are two key scenes, and they both feature no dialogue. Hawks sets the scene and Cooper underacts the hell out of it. In one, we see York hit bottom and the other has him high up on a cliff (Gethsemane?) with a copy of The Bible and an American History book. The debate is slanted the way the film needs it to go, but I really like the issues raised and the discussion presented.
RATING: ***

I've seen 18 films by Howard Hawks. This is #13, which just shows how much I like his films. I wonder what's left of his that I should see.
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sdedalus

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Re: 1SO vs. The Directors of Shame
« Reply #171 on: July 16, 2011, 06:31:02 PM »
Once sharpshooter York is given a mission it becomes a bit like the pro-Nazi film from Inglorious Bastards.

That's not a coincidence: as I recall Goebbels was a big fan of this film.
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1SO

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Directors of Shame: Alfred Hitchcock - Lifeboat
« Reply #172 on: July 17, 2011, 09:57:00 PM »
Marathon Update



Lifeboat
Quote from: MartinTeller
Actually worse than I remembered it.  It's so horribly manufactured.  Here's the part where they lose all the supplies, here's the part where they start bickering from hunger, here's the part where the opposites attract, here's the part where they talk about something trivial to get their minds off the situation.  There's very little subtlety in the script, the characterizations, or the performances.  Oh, and a pet peeve of mine: bad drunk acting (apparently it only takes two minutes with half a flask of brandy to become completely hammered).  Nonetheless, some scenes are effective, and I rather enjoyed Hume Cronyn's performance.  Rating: 6
I love it when there's a Martin review to get things started.

According to IMDB, this was the highest rated I hadn't seen from Hitchcock (my 3rd Favorite Director). It's part of a series of limited set films, which include Rear Window, Rope and Dial M For Murder. This is the most limiting of all, and it's also the most strained. What I really liked about the other films is that you don't think there's a lot of room for Hitch to create suspense with the camera, and he still finds a way. Dial M For Murder is extremely talky, but the performances are so good and the mood of that apartment so interesting you're surprised by how exciting it is.

Lifeboat certainly has some good scenes and good performances, but this is the one where you can feel them stretching to meet the running time. It's dull, full of too many monologues and not enough excitement. There's a great bit in the center involving an amputation that's like a group version of 127 hours, but the interactions from people of different levels of status and class and gender never sustain a good clash of conflict like these kinds of stories need to do. The film also gets really heavy with the anti-Nazi propaganda that was very important at the time, but feels hammed into the story now. The master of suspense does what he can, but he needed a stronger script with a lot more conflict and tension. This truly is "lesser" Hitchcock.
RATING: **1/2

According to IMDB, the greatest Alfred Hitchcock I haven't seen is Foreign Correspondent, so I guess I'll get to that some day.

Next director up is Sangsoo Hong, (which I just realized is probably Hong Sangsoo and listed in the wrong place on the Director's Best Index.) His thread was started by sdedalus, and according to the poll only 2 of you have even seen a film from Hong. So, I asked sdedalus for a dictation to start me off and I'll be watching Oki's Movie.
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Verite

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Re: Directors of Shame: Alfred Hitchcock - Lifeboat
« Reply #173 on: July 17, 2011, 10:10:02 PM »
Next director up is Sangsoo Hong, (which I just realized is probably Hong Sangsoo and listed in the wrong place on the Director's Best Index.) His thread was started by sdedalus, and according to the poll only 2 of you have even seen a film from Hong. So, I asked sdedalus for a dictation to start me off and I'll be watching Oki's Movie.

At least three Filmspotters have.  I haven't cast a vote in the poll yet.  Should you choose to watch more Hong films, Virgin, Turning Gate, and Kangwon have playful narrative structures.  Though the films themselves are pretty intense as they are some of the most critical films I've seen about men and sex.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2011, 10:11:56 PM by Campion Ver »
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sdedalus

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Re: 1SO vs. The Directors of Shame
« Reply #174 on: July 18, 2011, 01:49:40 AM »
Hope you like it!
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1SO

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Directors of Shame: Hong Sang-soo - Oki's Movie
« Reply #175 on: July 19, 2011, 01:36:25 AM »
Marathon Update



Oki's Movie
I'd say his last three are his best starting points and they're also my three favorite.  But really all his films are very similar. They're usually structured as two separate stories, with the second playing off or countering the first. The main character is often a film director, and the characters always drink a lot and have complicated romantic lives. We're generally not meant to see the protagonist as heroic, but rather identify with his bumbling through life the best he can without being too noble or sober.
It's so easy to spend a week with a bunch of Dardenne or Borzage. You have a mini festival, read up on why people love their films, and then apply your own impressions to the existing analysis. The films of Hong Sang-soo are not easy to find. You really have to want to see his films. sdedalus has been very quiet about singing the filmmaker's praises, and I've now only seen one of his films. However, solely on the basis of that one film, I have a lot of reason to believe that Hong Sang-soo lives up to the hype. I do have some problems, and that's okay because some of my favorite directors - like Takeshi Kitano, Robert Rodriguez or Wong Kar Wai - make artistic decisions that keep their appeal fairly limited, but it places them among the more interesting filmmakers out there.

(500) Days of Summer (which I liked a lot) said it wasn't a love story but a story about love. That film is Nora Ephron by-the-numbers compared to the interesting loops this film takes. It doesn't plow the romantic genre for fertile soil, but lift the entire plot of land out of the ground to view from a whole new angle. I hope I'm not giving the impression that this is some Chris Nolan, time jumping, impossible to follow mood piece. There story is actually a really simple love triangle, but it's told in four parts and each section looks at the triangle from a different point of view. They act as four separate short films, but they don't come together to form a single narrative so much as they come together emotionally to give a more complex outlook of the characters.

The script is excellent in its structure, but I wish the characters sounded a little less like they were speaking with one voice. The two men in particular are too similar. Perhaps one is meant to represent an older version of the other, but all three of them are written and performed much more flat than they should be. These were not film actors, not even indie performers. Facial expressions were practically non-existant and the look of the film was very flat and digital. It might have been deliberate since two of the leads are aspiring filmmakers, but Oki's Movie looks like it was shot by an aspiring filmmaker, not a cinematic director. I'd have to see more of Sang-soo's films first. BTW, I read a lot about these films being funny but I think you need a large crowd for that. The humor is way too subtle for one person in a darkened living room to find much funny.

Oki's Movie offers a refreshing perspective on the genre, and is very brief (80 min). I wish I had a few more films so I could get a better handle on Hong Sang-soo, who now passes Theodoros Angelopoulos as the most incomplete director in this marathon. I had to pull some strings to get hold of Oki's Movie, and I don't know when I might dig up some more. Still feeling the shame.
RATING: ***
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sdedalus

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Re: 1SO vs. The Directors of Shame
« Reply #176 on: July 19, 2011, 03:37:59 AM »
I'm really glad you liked it.  I think you may be the only other person here to have seen one of my #2 movie of last year (just ahead of Uncle Boonmee and Meek's Cutoff).

It's been almost a year since I saw it, but I recall thinking the one character is an older version of an earlier character.  Here is my review from last year's Vancouver Film Festival.

Like I said there, this is a somewhat unusual film for Hong, where he moves away from the narrative structure he used in every other film I've seen from him (one film split into two concurrent, yet interrelated stories).  But visually it isn't a big departure.  He's very much in the low budget/long take school.  Like a less self-conscious Woody Allen maybe.
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roujin

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Re: 1SO vs. The Directors of Shame
« Reply #177 on: July 19, 2011, 09:26:17 AM »
I need to catch up with Hong. I haven't seen anything past 2005's Tale of Cinema.

1SO

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Re: 1SO vs. The Directors of Shame
« Reply #178 on: July 19, 2011, 10:20:30 AM »
Your review offers quite a bit of insight. (And I know this conversation will only interest us.) The way Hong doesn't give you a solid time line or a solid feeling of "this is real" "this is movie" leaves a lot open to interpretation. (Might be why I liked the last section the best. It clearly is Oki's film about the two men, perhaps based on one man at two different times in her life.) I found it intriguing that he made the lead so condescending (like during the camera scene.) The last scene from that one was great. The third film was my least favorite. Perhaps it's the Godard influence you talk about. It was during that single take where I noticed how flat and uninteresting the performances were. I was thinking about how Ozu gets more energy from the performers and those characters don't move.

I have Turning Gate in my DVD queue. It's his highest rated on IMDB, but I'm much more interested in Hahaha or Like You Know It All.
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Bondo

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Re: 1SO vs. The Directors of Shame
« Reply #179 on: July 19, 2011, 10:32:58 AM »
If I said I added Oki's Movie to my queue would you say "why do you do this?" or is this one you actually think isn't contrary to my tastes? I'm putting the short runtime and structured script ahead of the long takes as indicators.