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Author Topic: Retro Filmspots Review Thread (1974)  (Read 57685 times)

MartinTeller

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread (1974)
« Reply #360 on: September 15, 2012, 03:30:21 PM »

The Mouth Agape - Monique (Monique Mélinand) is an older yet not elderly woman.  She is dying of cancer.  When the Paris hospital can do no more for her, she returns to her home in the Auvergne region.  There she is cared for by her philandering husband Roger (Hubert Deschamps), her philandering son Philippe (Philippe Léotard) and daughter-in-law Nathalie (Nathalie Baye) to live out her final days.

There's a lot of death in the movies.  In most cases, it comes suddenly and violently.  A hail of bullets, the stab of a switchblade, hit by a car, once in a while a heart attack.  Although there are some exceptions -- Bergman's Cries and Whispers, or Allan King's haunting documentary Dying at Grace -- you rarely see death protracted, the type of death that many of us will experience.  You don't see a body wasting away.  Pialat, however, does not flinch.  From the very beginning of the film Monique is ill, and gradually she becomes weaker and weaker.  She stumbles in her step.  She is confined to bed.  She struggles to speak.  Eventually, she labors just to moan and breathe, and Pialat lets us (or makes us) share in her pain... and her isolation.  She becomes less and less human, and her family becomes more and more distant.

But despite their obvious flaws, Roger and Philippe are not demonized.  This isn't the tale of nasty, self-centered assholes who can't wait for a loved one to expire for the sake of easing their own inconvenience and discomfort.  We may not like them -- especially when their libidos go wandering -- but they unhesitatingly take on the responsibility of caring for Monique, and with little complaint.  We aren't allowed to easily place them in convenient boxes, and their stories do not wrap up tidily.  And what to make of Monique's brother Emil... never seen, but frequently commented on?  Pialat doesn't permit quick judgment.

A fine, thoughtful and well-realized film all around.  Rating: Very Good (83)
« Last Edit: September 15, 2012, 03:32:07 PM by MartinTeller »

Sandy

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread (1974)
« Reply #361 on: September 17, 2012, 12:40:11 AM »
Where the Lilies Bloom



Waltonesque, but with a female narrator/writer. This fourteen year old protagonist is spunky and proactive which could have pulled the movie through, but as the story walks along predictably, not a lot is happening. There is plenty of irksome banjo picking to be had as the pace picks up on occasion along with a smattering of folk songs throughout which I do enjoy. Not a bad experience at all, but feel like the story could be told in under an hour.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2012, 01:31:38 AM by Sandy »

MartinTeller

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread (1974)
« Reply #362 on: September 17, 2012, 11:22:46 PM »

Les valseuses - A perverse buddy/road trip movie.  Two carefree hoods (Gérard Depardieu and Patrick Dewaere) roam around, stealing cars, harassing people, abducting and/or molesting women.  In their misadventures, they'll encounter a young lady (the very frequently nude Miou-Miou) who tolerates their misogynistic company for lack of anything better to do, and a tragic, newly released ex-con (Jeanne Moreau).

I will say this about Les valseuses: it's challenging.  These two guys do some truly despicable things, but Blier treats it all like a casual, light-hearted romp.  It's like A Clockwork Orange but without the ironic cues to the audience.  It's hard to say where the line is between the characters being amoral and the film being amoral.  Much of the film has the appearance of simple shock value, yet it doesn't really come off that way.  The incident with Moreau would be a life-changing event in most other films, but here it's hard to say what effect it has on the protagonists.  Are they better people, or do we just think they are?  Is their encounter with "Jacqueline" at the end of the film an act of liberation, or just another in a string of abusive, misogynist acts?

So the film certainly has a complex morality.  But to what end?  I was ready to write this off as button-pushing, pseudo-edgy tripe.  But the more I think about it, the less I'm annoyed by its offensiveness.  I'm not sure yet what the message is (if any exists) but I'm finding it difficult to dismiss... as much as I'm inclined to do just that.  Because another part of me is rolling my eyes and saying "Bravo, Monsieur Blier, you made an offensive movie".  But the fact that I'm conflicted about it is a good sign, and I'm leaning more positive than negative.  Rating: Good (71)


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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread (1974)
« Reply #363 on: September 18, 2012, 12:01:23 AM »
Martin, is the a buildup to seeing Get Out Your Handkerchiefs?

MartinTeller

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread (1974)
« Reply #364 on: September 18, 2012, 12:33:17 AM »
Huh?

1SO

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread (1974)
« Reply #365 on: September 18, 2012, 07:07:10 AM »
I get that you watched this for the Retro Filmspots, but in 1978 Bertrand Blier and the two male stars made the companion film Get Out Your Handkerchiefs, which is equally challenging about men and morality that won the Best Foreign Language Oscar.

MartinTeller

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread (1974)
« Reply #366 on: September 18, 2012, 09:28:56 AM »
Ah.  I dunno, have you seen it?  Any good?

1SO

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread (1974)
« Reply #367 on: September 18, 2012, 09:58:46 AM »
I haven't (yet, of course). Just always read about the two films being looked at together. Giving two different perspectives on challenging traditional social conventions.

MartinTeller

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread (1974)
« Reply #368 on: September 18, 2012, 10:34:12 AM »
Nah, probably won't bother with that one.  Maybe after I make a significant dent in my watchlist.

As a sidenote, I was just putting a preliminary version of my top 20 discoveries of 2012 (just to see where I'm at so far) and three of them are from this thread.  And another is a 1974 film I watched early this year.

Only one (Ni Liv) is from the 1957 Retrospots, and it's not likely to still be on the list at the end of the year.  Three of my bottom 10 WORST discoveries, however, are from 1957 (two are from 1974). 

MartinTeller

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread (1974)
« Reply #369 on: September 19, 2012, 09:18:56 PM »

The Towering Inferno - I must be getting soft in my middle age.  I’ve never cared about disaster movies, and every reasonable indicator tells me I should hate this movie.  It’s emotionally and thematically shallow, sensationalist, Hollywoodized carnage.  I was actually dreading it.  But hell, I ended up enjoying it.  Once the fire starts — which takes a fair amount of time to get to, but not an unreasonable amount — it’s laser-focused on delivering the goods.  There are a few sidebars for quick character moments, but for the most part it’s all about the blaze and how the people either overcome or succumb to the obstacles it creates.  It’s pretty exciting stuff most of the time, actually.  You get a chance to see folks be brave, clever and noble… and you get to see them die in spectacular ways.  What more do you really want from a disaster flick?

A few shoddy process shots aside, the special effects are convincing and the action is photographed in a manner that makes it clear what’s going on.  The performances by McQueen and Newman are the steely, heroic, manly roles you’d expect… I’m not complaining.  Holden and Dunaway are pretty forgettable.  O.J. Simpson is abysmal, but it’s a very small role.  The worst of the bunch is Richard Chamberlain, hamming it up as the self-centered, greedy guy who is at fault for the whole thing.  In the movies, the blame is always on the corporate greedmonger for cutting corners, even though most disasters of this ilk are due to design flaws.  There’s an undercurrent of high-rise hysteria in this film, but it’s not like history is riddled with tragic skyscraper disasters (not including terrorist-induced ones, that is).  Still, it’s only a movie.  And a fun one, as long as you’re not expecting profound social commentary or anything.  Rating: Good (73)



And that's it, I've got nothing else lined up for 1974.  I don't think anyone can accuse me of not putting in enough effort.  If you want to make a case for one of your favorites that I've overlooked, I'll consider it.  Otherwise I'm done (except possibly a couple more shorts).