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Author Topic: Write about the last movie you watched (2006-2010)  (Read 4551291 times)

jbissell

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Re: Rate the last movie you watched
« Reply #9090 on: December 22, 2008, 01:17:19 PM »

Still Life (Jia Zhang-Ke, 2006)*

Just gorgeous. If anyone is using DV correctly, it's Jia. Utilizing the ridiculous depth of focus available to him to dwarf his characters in their surroundings (place them in a social context or something), he's showing/exploiting this technology like no one else is. To me, this shit is just fascinating. The slow pans (with the occasional dreamy music) to reveal new information and terrains is just amazing but I guess it helps that it helps that Jia is shooting the whole Three Gorges Dam deal which is just staggering. We see footage of people taking down buildings, in essence, dismantling their own city. Some parts of the city are just rubble of the buildings that have already been taken down and there's a bizarreness to these images (like, this can't possibly have been civilization, right?) that's accentuated by men in white suits and these little (but HUGE) moments where artifice is gleefully squeezed into the narrative (with CGI!). These moments are so random and yet so oddly beautiful that... jeezuz... and the ending beats Man on Wire at its own game. Just CINECAST!ing superb.

A-

Yeah, you pretty much said most of what I was going to say.  I'll post a few more thoughts later tonight.

worm@work

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Re: Rate the last movie you watched
« Reply #9091 on: December 22, 2008, 01:18:55 PM »
Still Life (Jia Zhang-Ke, 2006)*
 Some parts of the city are just rubble of the buildings that have already been taken down and there's a bizarreness to these images (like, this can't possibly have been civilization, right?) that's accentuated by men in white suits and these little (but HUGE) moments where artifice is gleefully squeezed into the narrative (with CGI!). These moments are so random and yet so oddly beautiful that... jeezuz... and the ending beats Man on Wire at its own game.

Yeah, this blend of what feels like a documentary with these amazing fantastic moments is what made watching this movie such an exhilarating experience for me. I need to watch this again because this may well end up being my #1 film from this year. I'll just pretend I don't see the minus sign next to your rating :).  
« Last Edit: December 22, 2008, 03:00:07 PM by worm@work »

roujin

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Re: Rate the last movie you watched
« Reply #9092 on: December 22, 2008, 01:22:38 PM »
I thought it was just pretty good the first time I watched it. The second time was just amazing (I actually thought I would fall asleep) and I was riveted throughout. The minus doesn't really mean much, by the way.

worm@work

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Re: Rate the last movie you watched
« Reply #9093 on: December 22, 2008, 01:33:35 PM »


Wild Reeds (André Téchiné, 1994)

I had some seriously high expectations going into this one. After all, pixote had named it his #2 film of all time and skjerva seems to have a lot of love for it too. Plus, it belongs in my favorite genre - coming-of-age films and features young and good-looking protagonists! So, did this live up to my sky-high expectations or had I just set myself up to be underwhelmed?

Wild Reeds is the story of four young people caught exactly at the point where they are on the cusp of adulthood and adolescence, an age that seems to capture the imagination a lot of filmmakers but one that seldom gets portrayed just right. The film's title comes from The Oak and the Reed, a fable by La Fontaine that is the subject of a classroom lesson. Firstly, I was mistaken in thinking that Wild Reeds was just a coming-of-age film. It's so much more than that. It's a period piece about a very particular place and time - i.e. A small town in Southwest France right around the end of the Algerian conflict. Consequently, it also ends up being a political allegory. Plus, its a movie about starting to get comfortable with one's own sexuality. It's also a character study of four individuals caught in a love quadrangle. But all of this is secondary to what the film is really really about, namely, the intimacy and joy that friendship offers even as one is going through all of the insecurities and uncertainties that inevitably accompany the process of growing up.

Okay, so I admit, this is definitely one of the best coming-of-age films I've seen. I think what really makes it so great is how intimate and real and detailed it all feels. By the end of the film, I felt like I had gotten to know these characters as friends and I was genuinely invested in their future. The film doesn't offer any easy answers nor does it offer any reassurances that everything has been resolved neatly. Rather, it shows us how these characters have matured and grown stronger during the course of the film thereby offering us hope that even though life will continue to challenge them, their ability to love and connect and change will help them get through quagmire we call life. I am amazed at the way Téchiné manages to completely do away with melodrama, downplay the tragedy and even let the political stuff remain solidly in the background and focus almost completely on the evolving relationship between these four characters. Plus, these characters always feel like completely realized, living and breathing human beings. Human beings that are thoughtful, intellectual and feel everything intensely. I love every one of them!

Another really exceptional thing about this film is the way the entire story unfolds. We seem to be merely following characters along as each scene just flows seamlessly into the next and I didn't even realize at what point I got so attached to these characters. Even though, on the surface, these characters seem to inhabit personalities and positions that are seemingly at odds with one another (gay and straight, male and female, Communist and right-wing, French and Algerian), the portrayal of how they are drawn to each other by the shared outsider status and their circumstances is completely credible and one of the most authentic depictions of budding friendship I've ever seen on film. Despite the obvious downplaying of the dramatic elements in the film, I was able to feel the same sense of urgency towards every new sensation and emotion that the characters in the film are bound to feel at their stage in life.

Élodie Bouchez, oh Élodie Bouchez - where do I even begin. Why wouldn't everyone be in love with her! She is youthful and joyous in parts, mature beyond her years and sober in others, compassionate at times and bitterly hurtful in others, but through all of this she never loses her luminescence and beauty. Her character really forms the emotional core of the film and she seems to carry that burden with such grace and ease. Seriously, I don't think this movie has any weak performances but Élodie really stands out. Oh and Stéphane Rideau is HOT!

Ultimately, nothing spectacular ever really happens in Wild Reeds. These are simple events in the lives of normal characters and maybe that's why this has so much emotional resonance because the film never trades authenticity for drama and never turns manipulative or false. At the end, I was left with the feeling that every relationship in this film, no matter how deep and close it felt, was ultimately ephemeral.

Yet another film with a perfect ending scene. The camera revolves in a circular pan of the countryside and we anxiously look around but don't see our protagonists anywhere. Finally, we hear someone whistling and see three friends crossing a bridge with their arms interlinked and we feel comforted that ultimately these kids are going to be alright.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2008, 01:43:11 PM by worm@work »

jbissell

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Re: Rate the last movie you watched
« Reply #9094 on: December 22, 2008, 01:35:28 PM »
Nice review, I'm definitely going to get around to this one (hopefully) in the near future.

sdedalus

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Re: Rate the last movie you watched
« Reply #9095 on: December 22, 2008, 02:00:56 PM »
I need to watch this again because this may well end up being my #1 film from this year. I'll just pretend I don't see the minus sign next to your rating :).  

It's been near the top of my end of the year lists for the last three years.

Glad people are finally getting a chance to see it.
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StarCarly

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Re: Rate the last movie you watched
« Reply #9096 on: December 22, 2008, 02:41:39 PM »
High School Musical 3

I've never seen the first two, but my mom and I decided to venture to the movie theater out of boredom and a crush on Zac Efron. I certainly enjoyed this movie. The dancing is fantastic. I'm not sure I agree with the critics who were calling this an objectively good movie. I'm just glad that Mr. Efron is done with these films, because he has a bright future in acting ahead of him.

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jbissell

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Re: Rate the last movie you watched
« Reply #9097 on: December 22, 2008, 02:46:04 PM »
I'm just glad that Mr. Efron is done with these films, because he has a bright future in acting ahead of him.

Like the Footloose remake?

edgar00

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Re: Rate the last movie you watched
« Reply #9098 on: December 22, 2008, 03:27:19 PM »

Just gorgeous. If anyone is using DV correctly, it's Jia. Utilizing the ridiculous depth of focus available to him to dwarf his characters in their surroundings (place them in a social context or something), he's showing/exploiting this technology like no one else is. To me, this shit is just fascinating. The slow pans (with the occasional dreamy music) to reveal new information and terrains is just amazing but I guess it helps that it helps that Jia is shooting the whole Three Gorges Dam deal which is just staggering. We see footage of people taking down buildings, in essence, dismantling their own city. Some parts of the city are just rubble of the buildings that have already been taken down and there's a bizarreness to these images (like, this can't possibly have been civilization, right?) that's accentuated by men in white suits and these little (but HUGE) moments where artifice is gleefully squeezed into the narrative (with CGI!). These moments are so random and yet so oddly beautiful that... jeezuz... and the ending beats Man on Wire at its own game. Just CINECAST!ing superb.

A-
 

I didn't mention it in my own quick review but I'm glad you brought up the scenes involving the employees destroying the homes along the coast of the river. There was something quite emblematic in seeing the inhabitants of the region take apart these apartments. The times are changing in the region with this large scale project. There are valid arguments that the use of the dam will reduce China's dependence on coal, which, it can't be hidden, is a major contributor to green house gas pollution. China has depended for many years on coal, which is far more dangerous than hydroelectricity to the environment (not to say that the construction of hydroelectricity dams carries no ecological footprint either however).  With that in mind, I found there was a very ambiguous feeling about the scenes in which the viewer witnesses these workers, some of whom probably live in the region, helping in the destruction of the homes.

There is a great 2-3 second clip in which the viewer hears a news report regarding the evolution of the Three Gorges dam. The broadcaster mentions how the citizens of the region have committed a 'great sacrifice' to the cause of this project. I thought that was very pertinent to the mood of the film and the mood of what is happening in China right now. It's a country that has truly exploded onto the international stage in recent years in terms of economic performance and how it holds sway in how international politics and economics are dictated. It's project like the Three Gorges dam that can get the ball rolling with regards to job creation and economic booms, not to mention the potential long term environmental benefits (which I believe outweigh the long term ecological footprint of hydro dams, because they do exist). And yet, we're witnessing the destruction of how a town use to live and be itself. It was that ambiguity which I felt that made Still Life particularly interesting.

Whether director Jia Zhang-Ke intended there to be ambiguity on the subject is open to debate for film buffs I imagine, but that's what hit me as I watched the film.
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edgar00

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Re: Rate the last movie you watched
« Reply #9099 on: December 22, 2008, 03:31:47 PM »
And before I forget, I read somewhere that Jia Zhang-Ke used some kind of high-definition digital camera to shoot the film. I'm sure those familiar with that kind of equipment could provide the details better than I ever could, but the point is that it does make the movie look very handsome. Just a real nice look to the movie overall.
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