love

Author Topic: Retro Filmspots Review Thread: 1999 Edition  (Read 101063 times)

1SO

  • FAB
  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 36101
  • Marathon Man
Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread: 1999 Edition
« Reply #90 on: June 15, 2013, 10:52:41 PM »
Quote from: roujin
Lots of shots of men working out and being legionnaires or working out or dancing or working out or staring at each other in silence... or working out. It's kinda boring sometimes but also kinda ridiculously watchable.

An example of a film that needs more than 30 minutes before the journey starts to feel worthwhile. Swap 'boring' and 'watchable' and you have my review of the first half. Then the watchability fights things to a stalemate. Sometimes the filmmaking reminded me of Un homme qui dort. Sometimes Hunger. I completely agree that the ending is quite special.

This will almost certainly make my ballot for Best Editing.

* * 1/2
RATINGS PROJECT: Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999) ó   5

goodguy

  • Elite Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 2099
  • Colleen West was here.
Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread: 1999 Edition
« Reply #91 on: June 16, 2013, 01:09:16 AM »
Well, that went as expected. This is my new favorite film of 1999 and will most definitely make it in my next Top 100 list.

With such a killer opening, it is completely alien to me how one can say the film takes 30 minutes to feel worthwhile. I guess you were looking for the narrative element, the rivalry between Gallup and Gilles, which I assume is the thing that goes back to the Melville novel (haven't read it).

But Beau travail is a dance film. What Denis interests, I think, is that those soldiers pretty much exist without purpose. She reshapes their fight training into rituals that get more and more abstract, become something else entirely. She gives equal attention to their domestic tasks, the cooking, cleaning, ironing, etc - tasks with a less macho connotation. The rituals and routines in their various forms become something that exists on a purely aesthetic level - the absence of purpose creates beauty.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2013, 01:16:18 AM by goodguy »

1SO

  • FAB
  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 36101
  • Marathon Man
Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread: 1999 Edition
« Reply #92 on: June 16, 2013, 09:01:07 AM »
I guess you were looking for the narrative element, the rivalry between Gallup and Gilles,

Yep. This is something I need to work on. Had I known beforehand the film was going to be SO visually ritualistic, (like I did with Un homme qui dort) I might have warmed up to it sooner. Yet, I found myself more engaged as it got more abstract, becoming a kind of lost Kenneth Anger film. Still, this film has a very limited scope and while Anger takes no longer than 40 minutes, Denis beats on these homoerotic bongos for almost 90.

1SO

  • FAB
  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 36101
  • Marathon Man
Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread: 1999 Edition
« Reply #93 on: June 16, 2013, 11:35:24 AM »
My Neighbors the Yamadas
* * * 1/2

Absolutely charming film from the impossible to pin down Isao Takahata. Few filmmakers have a range as diverse as Pom Poko, Grave of the Fireflies and this. Even the animation styles feel like different people. (Throw Only Yesterday into the conversation and it becomes just as unclear.) I held off on watching this forever because of the watercolor style and episodic structure, but I immediately clicked with this as being similar to a Charlie Brown special. The humor is similar, though the human connections are much stronger here.

When the grandmas speech was visualized as an adventure trip, I was on the road to Takahata putting a 3rd film into my Top 100. I connected to so many of the situations: the constant forgetfulness, the way conversations between 2 people affect others in the room in unintended ways, getting people to do something for you (especially make food) and how that rarely comes out like you hoped. When the group makes a mistake everybody excludes themselves from blame. I also laughed a lot during the film, the best being when Mom tries to change the channel and Dad blocks the remote signal with his newspaper.

I started to get nervous that Takahata wouldn't be able to keep the magic going for the entire film, and unfortunately I was right. The sameness of it starts to wear thin. While the jokes and character beats don't start repeating themselves, it's like Takahata put all the best bits in early, saving only the glorious ending (set unfortunately to "Que Sera Sera") for the finale. So, not quite the masterpiece but if you're not going to vote for Toy Story 2, the Animation Category just got tougher. My #11 out of 165 films of 1999.

Possible Retro Filmspot Nominations:
Animated Film
Non-English Language Film

Sam the Cinema Snob

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 26772
Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread: 1999 Edition
« Reply #94 on: June 16, 2013, 12:01:28 PM »
Glad you liked it. I agree there's a lot of sameness to it, which is probably why it's not among my very favorites of Ghibli, but definitely second tier. I also got a Charlie Brown special vibe to the film. Wonder if that was a deliberate influence.

And yea, the animation category for me is going to be tough because I'm not voting for Toy Story 2.

1SO

  • FAB
  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 36101
  • Marathon Man
Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread: 1999 Edition
« Reply #95 on: June 16, 2013, 11:14:05 PM »
Does anybody else not like the music of Buena Vista Social Club? This is why I never saw the film before. It's just not my thing, and the film did little to change that opinion. They seem like a good bunch of people - talented, professional and creative - but it's all something I expect to hear in the background of a restaurant while I'm eating chips and guacamole. I even consider myself a fan of Ry Cooder, for his 80s scores with Walter Hill and Wim Wenders, but this just isn't my thing, and the uninspired filmmaking (hilariously deconstructed by Roger Ebert) failed to elevate the experience. I kept thinking about Stop Making Sense, which was enhanced by the staging and direction. This seemed to be music strictly for the fans.
* *

roujin

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 15508
  • it's all research
Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread: 1999 Edition
« Reply #96 on: June 16, 2013, 11:22:30 PM »
I have a bunch of their CD's. Ibrahim Ferrer is amazing.

1SO

  • FAB
  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 36101
  • Marathon Man
Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread: 1999 Edition
« Reply #97 on: June 16, 2013, 11:35:25 PM »
I understand they're very popular, and this film brought them a bunch of new fans. I'm definitely the minority here. I just want to know if ANYONE had the same problem? Or perhaps a similar problem with another acclaimed musical documentary. For example, I'd much rather see Don't Think, which is an 85-minute concert documentary centered on The Chemical Brothers, but put to a Deathmatch, it would likely get creamed by Buena Vista Social Club.

1SO

  • FAB
  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 36101
  • Marathon Man
Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread: 1999 Edition
« Reply #98 on: June 17, 2013, 01:11:59 AM »
Peppermint Candy
* * *

Been chewing on this one most of the day. I wasn't that engrossed emotionally, which might be because of the flashback structure or Lee Chang-dong's impersonal touch. (Yong-ho's more desperate moments occur in the deep background of the frame, through glass or in a way that he's often not aware of the emotional/physical damage.) Lee likes to present events with little commentary, meanwhile employing all these ideas in the margins, like the motif of train tracks, the changing relations to women and that candy.

But the more I thought about it, the more I was impressed with the structuring. It's a gimmick, even more so than Memento, but I believe I would prefer it to a linear approach. Plus it definitely pulls a couple of gut punches in the end. One is horrific, but best is the final shot that chills with a feeling of dread for all that is to come. I wish it didn't freeze frame because it's one of the great long takes on a person's face and I think rivals Beau Travail for Best Ending.

#70/167 films

ArmenianScientist

  • Senior Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 753
  • They don't think it be like it is, but it do.
Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread: 1999 Edition
« Reply #99 on: June 19, 2013, 02:12:02 AM »
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Jim Jarmusch, 1999)

I can understand why people might argue that Jarmuschís appropriation of hip hop and samurai culture is hipster affectation, merely intended to seduce the audience with RZA-scored dollops of cool. However, what makes this film more than a stylistic exercise in minimalistic cool is that it gets to the heart of why people appropriate/reference/define themselves though pop culture iconography, literature, and media in general. There is a cultural and communal void in the US that causes certain Americans to seek out a diverse patchwork of outside influences through which they can construct an identity. Ghost Dog fills the cultural void not through popular American culture, but rather through the Samurai code, which gives him guiding principles that allow him to live a life of pure simplicity.

Despite Ghost Dog's seeming contentment, he's still a slightly melancholic loner, unwilling to sully the purity of his hitman lifestyle with the messy complications that relationships often bring about. In one scene, Ghost Dog looks wistfully at a group of free-styling rappers, giving us the sense that he yearns for the sense of community and shared identity that the hip hop culture fosters. Compare this to the empty mafia culture evident in the scene in which a landlord tells of a mobster and the mobster proceeds to look for sympathy from his gangster peers who couldnít care less about their fellow manís plight. This is not the communally strong family mafia of the Godfather, but rather a group of pathetic old men who watch cartoons and order hits on people for no particular reason. Instead of watching crummy cartoons, Ghost Dog reads from the ancient tradition of Japanese literature, which might seem wacky, but it isnít so much the content of the code thatís important as it is the sense of detached grace it lends Ghost Dog and the film itself. While Ghost Dogís detachment may preclude him from being a part of a community, or having a friend who speaks his language, he is nevertheless able to lead a fulfilling life through his commitment to the grace of the samurai code. Whether this particular state of grace, or cool, transcends the genre trappings of this film and has any real world resonance is questionable, but whatís not questionable is Jarmuschís command of genre and culture.

Rating: 4/5

 

love