Author Topic: Akira Kurosawa, François Truffaut and Satyajit Ray  (Read 43323 times)

Bondo

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Re: Akira Kurosawa, François Truffaut and Satyajit Ray
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2012, 01:08:43 PM »
I really don't know what I'm going to do if I find myself struggling to enjoy Ray. I've been wanting to see the Apu Trilogy for a long time.

I've only seen three Ray's but I really don't think it'll be that much of a struggle.  He's pretty easy to like.

He's easy to like, the DVD production is easy to hate. I think when I watched Mahanagar the subtitles weren't synched right or something. I'm a bit hesitant to try much further without feeling I can be confident it will be done well.

1SO

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François Truffaut
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2012, 06:17:56 PM »
Marathon Update



Les Mistons
Quote from: MartinTeller
A fine early short from Truffaut, kind of a preamble to The 400 Blows.  It has a breezy feel to it, with a handful of playful editing tricks and some pleasant camera movement on the bicycle scenes.  Rating: 8

As luck would have it, my hobby of watching short films for iCheckMovies brought me to this 1957 appetizer from Truffaut. It has many elements that I already take to be typical of Truffaut: a trip to the movies, an unattainable romance and the joyful rambunctiousness of kids being kids. There's even a recreation of cinema's first sight gag, 1895's Tables Turned on the Gardener by Lumière.

There are a couple of clunky edits, reaction shots that don't match in at all, very typical of student filmmaking. However, this is for the most part an assured work that has me even more excited for what lies ahead. Like with The 400 Blows, things are not as plotless as they seem and the story ends on a small surprise and a great final moment you wouldn't expect from the first 15 minutes. A final scoop of resonance to give the film a little lasting power.
RATING: * * *
« Last Edit: February 19, 2012, 12:42:24 AM by 1SO »

1SO

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François Truffaut
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2012, 12:40:53 AM »
Marathon Update



Shoot the Piano Player
Quote from: MartinTeller
I like this one a little more every time I see it.  Everything about it has grown on me, to the point where I can't understand why I gave it a rather mediocre score (7) the first time.  It'll never surpass Jules et Jim as my favorite, but it's way up there.  Rating: 9

Until Shoot the Piano Player, I've never been able to connect François Truffaut to the French New Wave. His direction and plotting are always so confident. I assumed his screenplay for Breathless was more typical and that Godard just experimented on it and fragmented the crap out of it. I love what I've seen of Truffaut, so how could he be a major player in a movement I generally can't stand?

Partly why I don't care for the French New Wave is that while I can appreciate trial and error with filmmaking techniques, I only like these films as a warm up for the director using what works in a more professional project. I love Erin Brockovich, and see how the editing of The Limey shaped his follow-up so beautifully. But I'm not a fan of The Limey itself. I'm more likely to praise a film that knows exactly what it's doing. I can appreciate a filmmaker trying out new ideas, but that doesn't make me forgiving when the ideas don't work.

I've also gone on record as being someone who likes a consistent tone. Set up the type of story you want to tell and then stick to the plan. Shoot the Piano Player has the "kitchen sink" quality of many over-baked sophomore efforts. It's certainly original and I can understand other film buffs finding the way Truffaut breaks the rules to be exciting, but the tonal mess left me cold.

Looking at the core of the film, you have a rather standard story. (The averageness provides a motive for adventurous filmmaking.) Like Breathless, it feels borrowed from American noir and gangster films. The scenes then work up a stew of Godard, Renoir, Lubitsch, Borzage and Chaplin. (There's also a big chunk of Chris Nolan, though obviously Truffaut provided the influence in that case.) People can be stupid/funny one moment and scary/dangerous the next. These extremes work for some people, but they're too extreme for me.

At the center are two very passive leads. Charlie, the piano player (Charles Aznavour) is held back by his past. (An extended flashback). It makes him withdrawn, inert ... dull. Marie Dubois as Léna has no such excuse for being so uninteresting. I don't understand why Charlie is drawn to Léna when Michèle Mercier is much, much more exciting as Clarisse. I'm not saying Charlie should choose the prostitute character over love, only that Mercier the actress is more interesting in every way.


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A Room Full of Win!

RATING: * *

verbALs

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Re: Akira Kurosawa, François Truffaut and Satyajit Ray
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2012, 03:15:59 AM »
I don' think your enjoyment of other Truffaut films will be spoilt by them following in the lines of Shoot The Piano Player. I think it stands apart from his other films, although JetJ might be as experimental but in a very different way. Silken Skin is a more "on rails" French romance, and probably could have done with some of STPP's verve.

That picture of Aznavour & DuBois looking kind of vacant, misses the vital element that whilst they appear nonchalant deliberately, Charlie is thinking at 100 mph (in somebody else's voice), which we only get to hear occasionally. This may be an example of inconsistent tone, and had that experimental edge, but it highlights one of the greatnesses of the film. Truffaut throws a "kitchen sink" of technique into the film, but a very large percentage of it hits its target; but that, of course, is just my opinion. That seems to be a defining factor in new wave, that the pace and tone and pov and etc etc will switch and change constantly. This is the only one I have seen that works to any great extent. So to that end it shows the potential for greatness in the style.

However, when you get to Day For Night, Truffaut's confidence in the style, means he can inject many different styles but only in service of the story, without the feeling of experimentation. Perhaps, you could comment on what you like in DfN that resonates with this earlier effort, if you feel there are any significant points of comparison.

Apart from that, the point you make about borrowing from noir films. Honestly, so what? Genre is a platform, it doesn't hurt any film, just because you can define the genre it comes from. My only problem with defining noir as a genre, is separating great ones like Blood Simple, Brick & Winter's Bone from their progenitors, just because they aren't B&W or old enough.
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy

MartinTeller

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Re: Akira Kurosawa, François Truffaut and Satyajit Ray
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2012, 03:51:05 AM »
I really don't have the energy to respond to this review right now (for one thing, it's almost 2 in the morning).  Honestly, some of the things you say are just depressing to me.  But verbALs said a lot of what I wanted to say (although I don't agree with everything he said).  And besides, the review I'm about to post for The Burglar is kind of a response in a roundabout way.

1SO

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Re: Akira Kurosawa, François Truffaut and Satyajit Ray
« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2012, 02:17:46 PM »
I don' think your enjoyment of other Truffaut films will be spoilt by them following in the lines of Shoot The Piano Player. I think it stands apart from his other films, although JetJ might be as experimental but in a very different way.

I figured as much. I thought 400 Blows also avoided what I don't like about French New Wave, so I was surprised to see it so strongly here. Jules and Jim is a rewatch and I remember the technique to be more like Scorsese than Godard. (My belief right now is that Truffaut eventually found his own voice and formed a style separate from French New Wave, whereas Godard continues trying to break and reinvent the rules to this day.)

As for Aznavour & DuBois, I love the early scene where he tries to naturally hold her hand. The narration worked great there.
I tried really hard to fit the following into my next review and couldn't find a place. There is one moment where the jarring tonal shift worked amazingly well, and that's the ending. The climactic moment of the film goes from treating the bad guys as a couple of morons to seeing how dangerous they can be. *MAJOR SPOILER ALERT* There's some gunfire excitement and then my favorite shots of the entire film. Léna runs through the snow and the camera is too close to properly follow her. There's a rush, a feeling that events are spiraling out of Truffaut's control. (Mike Nichols created a similar effect in The Graduate.) It's easy to put 2 and 2 together and know what's about to happen, but much as you might want to, you're powerless to stop it. Then there's the downward slide down the snowy hill. This was the highlight of the film.

The low point, or I should say the moment where I knew I wasn't along for Truffaut's ride was the song in the bar. I think it's called "The Blight on the Berry" and I hated it.

As for Day For Night, this film still feels quite a few years removed from that masterpiece. There might be a solid through line from 400 Blows to DFN, but I don't see it yet. That's why I like these director Marathons. Like I said, the real connection here is the short film that leads into The 400 Blows and how the script here reminds me of the genre blend of Breathless.

When I said of the story "it feels borrowed from American noir and gangster films", that wasn't meant as a negative against the film. I like seeing those stories presented with a European sensibility. Bertolucci's The Conformist is a great film. I also enjoyed the main elevator story of Elevator to the Gallows.

And Martin, I don't expect this to be yet another Marathon where I say bad things about films you love. While Ray is a mystery, I love Kurosawa and Truffaut already so I'm expecting a lot of great discoveries. I don't think Piano Player is the start of a bad trend, and I wouldn't be surprised if when the marathon's over it ranks as my lowest Truffaut.

verbALs

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Re: Akira Kurosawa, François Truffaut and Satyajit Ray
« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2012, 02:36:11 PM »
Quote
The low point, or I should say the moment where I knew I wasn't along for Truffaut's ride was the song in the bar. I think it's called "The Blight on the Berry" and I hated it.
I love the whole of that scene, and how daft that song is. I can see that might be the litmus test for whether you like the whole film, if you love that bravura, almost careless, mix of elements. It's stupid, I love it.
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy

1SO

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Re: Akira Kurosawa, François Truffaut and Satyajit Ray
« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2012, 02:59:59 PM »
I figured as much. It went on for so long it felt like a "make or break" point. I had a similar reaction to "Wise Up" in Magnolia, which I know is very loved around here.

I can see Martin rolling his eyes in further frustration.

1SO

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Satyajit Ray
« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2012, 12:50:23 AM »
Marathon Update



Pather Panchali
Quote from: MartinTeller
Poetic, beautiful, a perfect creation.  I don't know of a finer debut for a director, and that includes Citizen Kane.  Welles' movie may be more influential, but I'll take Ray's over it any day of the week  The photography is exquisite, magical, and utterly transports you into the world of the story.  Ravi Shankar's score is sublime, one of the finest I've ever heard.  The performances are, bar none, pitch-perfect... including some of the best child actors you'll ever witness.  The story is authentic and moving, displaying a deep understanding of humanity as it touches on poverty and dignity, small pleasures and great losses, and most of all, family.  Rating: 10
Quote from: Akira Kurosawa
I can never forget the excitement in my mind after seeing it. I have had several more opportunities to see the film since then and each time I feel more overwhelmed. It is the kind of cinema that flows with the serenity and nobility of a big river... People are born, live out their lives, and then accept their deaths. Without the least effort and without any sudden jerks, Ray paints his picture, but its effect on the audience is to stir up deep passions. How does he achieve this? There is nothing irrelevant or haphazard in his cinematographic technique. In that lies the secret of its excellence.
Quote from: François Truffaut
I don't want to see a movie of peasants eating with their hands.

After watching Pather Panchali, I told FroHam and Bondo it was like watching Sophia Coppola, but without the fanciful mood or undercurrent of sensuality. It's neo-realism, not something I'm easily drawn too. But I'm in this for the long ride and so I settled in, let my anxiety slip away and spent a couple of hours with my first Satyajit Ray film. I didn't love it, but what it does it does quite well.

This is the opposite of everything I connect with Indian cinema. Strip away all the Bollywood artifice and you're still not close to the home grown, rough feeling of Pather Panchali. It reminded me a lot of David Gordon Green's George Washington. Both films have a few wisps of story, but are far more interested in capturing moments, what you might call life's simple pleasures and everyday hardships. This is a very authentic feeling depiction of life in a small Bengali village, and if that's your cup of tea then this is definitely a film to check out. Immediately afterwards I saw the new trailer for Beyond the Black Rainbow. That film is probably going to suck, but it's much more my type of cinema than Pather Panchali.
RATING: * * *

MartinTeller

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Re: Satyajit Ray
« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2012, 09:39:44 AM »
Immediately afterwards I saw the new trailer for Beyond the Black Rainbow. That film is probably going to suck, but it's much more my type of cinema than Pather Panchali.

I don't see what this has to do with anything.  Do you only like one "type" of cinema?  I know you don't.  I don't really understand the 3 stars either.  My understanding is that 3 stars is a pretty high rating for you and yet your review seems to indicate that you didn't enjoy it very much.

 

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