Author Topic: August 2011 MDC: IMDB Top 250 Write Ups  (Read 6750 times)

Bondo

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Re: August 2011 MDC: IMDB Top 250 Write Ups
« Reply #20 on: August 21, 2011, 11:02:58 AM »
The thing that struck me as emotionally resonant was how he had found a woman he loved but the social conventions, biased against divorcees/single mothers, was keeping him apart from her and pushing him toward an "ideal" pairing. It is that conflict of respectability vs. happiness that I think is somewhat universal and makes it powerful.

Still, glad you enjoyed it.

Now I'm wondering if I should be watching some Rohmer. I doubt I've seen anything from him. I'm suspicious of him though, as he spells his first name wrong. 8)

Bill Thompson

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Re: August 2011 MDC: IMDB Top 250 Write Ups
« Reply #21 on: September 01, 2011, 01:17:42 PM »
Ran (1985)

I’ve allowed my thoughts on Ran to brew in my head for a few days now. I admit that I never read, nor was I ever privy to any production of, King Lear. This has undoubtedly shaped my view of Ran differently than others and it’s created a scenario where I lack one of the key components most people use in interpreting the film. That King Lear is a source for Ran is but one component though, so I do not feel I come at the film from a place of ignorance. Rather, I’m coming at the film from a different perspective that is not taking the major source material into account, I’m simply commenting on what I saw in the film.

Ran is, at its best, the story of Lord Hidetora Ichimonji, and I tell you this not as a description of the plot. The reason why it matters that Ran is the story of this one character is because the film does falter in its middle when Hidetora is off the screen for far too long. The other characters are interesting, but they are less developed, less powerful presences, and lack the larger scope that Hidetora’s mere presence gives to the film. Watching Lady Kaede scheme and manipulate to bring about the fall of the Ichimonji clan is well done, but at the same time it lacks the immediacy of Lord Hidetora’s story. The shift that takes place in the middle ground isn’t something that can be done away with, those moments are integral to how the film comes to its conclusion. I don’t know what could have been done to shore up the middle section of the film, but something needed to be done to bring the focus back to where it belonged, on Lord Hidetora.

Speaking of the man known as Lord Hidetora, he has to have one of the most interesting faces I have ever encountered in cinema. There’s a perpetual look of shock on his face, it never goes away, it may get worse, but it never goes away. Hidetora’s face ties into what I loved most about Ran, the surreal nature of the entire film. In many scenes my attention was grabbed and held by the surrealism of the unfolding events. Take the battle scenes for instance, the color of the blood alone is enough to drive the surreal quote through the roof. The surrealism creates an atmosphere of silence, this is helped by the ambient score, where moments of action are punctuated by silence and long stretches of meditation. It all works beautifully, from frame to frame I was impressed with the control Akira Kurosawa showed over how out there his film was while never crossing the line into farce.

Those colors I talked of in the last paragraph are quite the spectacle unto themselves. The luscious robes of the characters, the almost neon red blood, and the loud battle standards that are used all look gorgeous. The colors feed into the surreal atmosphere, the bright flames of the arrows in one particular battle scene help to highlight Hidetaro’s face and show just how crazy the world has become. There’s also a moment when an ancillary character who we have not spent any time with is killed. Her death has no meaning by itself, but the way her blood splatters against the wall and lights up the room is impressive and calls attention to the surrealism that Kurosawa-san wants to impress upon the viewer. Not only do the colors look great, but they help to drive the motives of the film, ad allow the viewer to fully grasp the situation Kurosawa-san has plunged them into.

I ended up loving most of Ran, save the baggy (thank you Mark Kermode) middle. I know that the film is rather beloved among the hardcore cinephile community, and I hope that means other Kurosawa-san fans will tell me what they liked about the middle portion that I was not able to. I’m a sucker for surreal tales, especially when they have a high production value behind them. It’s no surprise that Ran was a hit with me, the color usage alone was enough to make me like Ran a great deal. I don’t know if Ran has spurred me into checking out King Lear, William Shakespeare and I are not exactly intimate associates, but it is one heck of a great movie that I am glad to have watched.

Mike Shutt

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Re: August 2011 MDC: IMDB Top 250 Write Ups
« Reply #22 on: September 04, 2011, 01:49:44 PM »
Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans

This is quite the popular flick on these boards, amongst other places. It seemed like a lot to live up to. I am sorry to say that for me it did not live up to those expectations. In fact, it fell far, far below them. I, personally, do not see why the film is so heralded. There is not much of a story. The characters are broad archetypes, and there is little to no momentum throughout the runtime. I did not find the revived romance particularly intriguing between the man and his wife. I mainly just sat there perplexed by the amount of coincidences they run into that just so happen to suit them at the time. It hardly felt like there was any coherence to the piece and the episodic nature became incredibly tedious, and all the wacky antics they get into were not very amusing, especially trying to catch the pig. Also, I had a big problem with George O'Brien. This man is about a subtle as a frying pan to the face. His over the top acting is incredibly distracting and very comical when it is not supposed to be. Janet Gaynor actually plays her part for real, but the chemistry is off because he is so nutty, and I feel bad for her on that account. I mean, sure, the film is nice to look at and Murnau can set a mood, but that is really all I could derive from it. I just could not get myself invested into what was actually going on in the film. The film is only about 90 minutes long, but it felt like it was well over two hours. It is a rare occurrence when I have to pause a film and pick it up on another day because of boredom, but I had to with this one.. It just was a rough sit. So, sorry to disappoint all the fans out there, but this was just not my cup of tea.

Grade: D
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Bondo

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Re: August 2011 MDC: IMDB Top 250 Write Ups
« Reply #23 on: September 04, 2011, 02:32:48 PM »
Finally I've got company among the Sunrise contrarians.

Bill Thompson

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Re: August 2011 MDC: IMDB Top 250 Write Ups
« Reply #24 on: September 04, 2011, 03:45:49 PM »
I can't formulate a response without saying a lot of stuff that would probably come across as me being a dick. Instead I'll just say I disagree completely and have no idea what movie you watched.

fransisco4

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Re: August 2011 MDC: IMDB Top 250 Write Ups
« Reply #25 on: September 07, 2011, 11:57:19 AM »
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

I have to say that the reason it took me so long to finally watch this movie was not a lack of time, but rather a lack of interest. Sierra Madre, with Titanic and some others, are ones I've been intentionally avoiding. Mainly because nothing in them, not the plot nor the cast, appeal to me and I hate movies not living to all the praise I've heard of them. This was almost the worst choice I could've gotten. But hey, maybe I will be pleasantly surprised.
Well, the plot followed all the point I expected it to. Greed corrupts men and all that. I do have to say that it manages to tell it in a gripping way. It wastes no time in telling it's story. We are treated to a series of vignettes of these men journey. It presents a new conflict in each of these scenes with Bogart madness being the overaching theme. And I think that there is where it fails. I don't buy Bogart. The whole transformation seems hamfisted, and all the foreshadowing feels forced. Humphrey fails too grip me in his performance, it's too by the letters, there's nothing to be amazed at. He just seems apt enough for the role. This isn't something I noticed only in Sierra, both Casablanca (which I love, not thanks to Bogart needless to say) and Maltese Falcon (which I meh) show this. He isn't memorable enough to me, quite clearly most people disagree. At least we have Walter Huston to make up for this in the acting department. Although his is a less nuanced character he plays it in such a way that manages to make it something else. This is the first time I see anyone do the famous prospector dance in a unironic way. At one point in the aboriginalridiculo tribe where he is treated as a king he looks at the camera as to let as know that he is aware of the ridiculousness of the situation, I found that funny (I can't take a screenshot of this for some reason, but trust me).
Not much else to say, this is a story more concerned with it's characters than anything else, particularly Dobbs. Since I didn't enjoy him (not in a "like" him basis, on a "good character" basis) the whole thing sort of crumbles. I liked the ending, certainly not a "happy" one, but one that fits it well. If i want a greed sucks story I'll stick to Greed.

Beavermoose

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Re: August 2011 MDC: IMDB Top 250 Write Ups
« Reply #26 on: October 31, 2011, 08:26:42 PM »
Metropolis

While watching the restored version of this classic I kept asking myself if this actually was the definitive version of the film. Maybe a lot of the footage had been cut out for a reason because this film felt incredibly bloated to me. That is to say that everything else about the movie fascinated me and had I watch a shorter cut of the film I most likely would have enjoyed it much more.
The art direction here is flawless and the visuals are some of the best I've seen in any silent film. The worker's revolt and class struggles in the plot are common in soviet films at the time. The expressionist visuals and the politically loaded plot are what make this film unique. It isn't simply a critique on capitalism, it also explores issues of technology and industrialization. Incredibly, and maybe unfortunately, this film seems even more relevant now in this time of political upheaval than it did back then.
It's really a great film.

1SO

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Re: August 2011 MDC: IMDB Top 250 Write Ups
« Reply #27 on: January 31, 2012, 01:43:49 PM »
I'll have whatever you dare to serve me. Hit me with your Best Shot!

This is what my arrogance has brought me. I now understand why FroHam's Marathon failed, and why you have to have a little veto power.

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Ceddo
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I like broadening my horizons and challenging myself, but it should be more of a stretching of boundaries rather than a blind leap into the unknown. A 1970's Senegal film that deals heavily into religion and politics. Really tough for me to embrace with any enthusiasm at this point in my cinematic education. However, I can't just talk about the acting being stiff, the filmmaking being poor and move on. I'm here for the two-hour ride, and somebody recommended it for a reason. It's my duty to try to engage with the film/filmmaker and figure out what they are trying to accomplish.

Presented like a parable, and calling beliefs into question, much like with A Separation, there is a lot of interesting terrain being debated in Ceddo. It clearly can be very absorbing/engaging to someone with a greater admiration for religious debate than I have. As for me, I often had trouble keeping the ideologies straight, despite the limited costume changes that made it easier to identify the people. The bulk of the film is built on long dialogue sequences that feel transposed from a stage play. Characters would take their spot, and the film is as cinematic as a political debate. It's obvious that the cast is not used to performing for a camera.

There's also a good deal of ceremony, especially a long sequence in the middle. Again, it's a glimpse inside a world I barely grasp so most of it didn't make any impact on me besides "oh, that's kind of interesting." Reminded me of Of Gods and Men, except that one I liked the human story and the ceremony there was repetitious. It's theatrical and artificial, but after a while it kind of worked in a Jesus Christ Superstar kind of way. The best moment for me involves a person literally buried where he kneels dying.  And while the film seems to be on a course of "the times they are a changing", the climax makes a strong dramatic point towards sticking with the old ways. (Or does it? I guess that bit of debate is left up to you.)

MartinTeller

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Re: August 2011 MDC: IMDB Top 250 Write Ups
« Reply #28 on: January 31, 2012, 01:53:06 PM »
Was that your first Sembene?  Ceddo is my favorite of the few I've seen, but you may like Moolaadé more.

1SO

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Re: August 2011 MDC: IMDB Top 250 Write Ups
« Reply #29 on: January 31, 2012, 02:07:24 PM »
Was that your first Sembene?  Ceddo is my favorite of the few I've seen, but you may like Moolaadé more.

When I was marathoning my Directors of Shame, I got to Ousmane Sembene and chickened out. I was going to watch Moolaadé, but it's such a foreign culture to me. And not enticingly foreign like Anh Hung Tran, but completely alien. I decided to wait until I was more ready and open before watching some Sembene. Looks like he snuck in through another door. At least now I'll be less hesitant towards Moolaadé. (Looking at his Director thread, I've also heard of Xala.)

It's the ending that really helped bring down some of my aversion. There's a bit of action about 30min in, and its very amateur and clunky. You have to write it off as limited experience and limited resources. The final bit however, is quite striking, especially compared to what came before.