Author Topic: July 2013 MDC: Movies about patriotism  (Read 2702 times)

Bondurant

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Re: July 2013 MDC: Movies about patriotism
« Reply #20 on: July 13, 2013, 08:18:05 AM »
PeacefulAnarchy will be watching:


JolietJerry

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Re: July 2013 MDC: Movies about patriotism
« Reply #21 on: July 24, 2013, 06:16:28 PM »
The Third Generation (1979)


valmz, I feel bad to so intensely dislike a film someone dictated to me but unfortunately "The Third Generation" was one of the most irritating viewing experiences I've had. Still, I thank you for pointing me towards a film and director I would otherwise maybe never have come across. I'll have to at least check out one more Fassbinder film to compare it to this one. Any suggestions?

I found it maddening due to the constant background noise of televisions and audio tapes playing in addition to a score that was like nails on a chalkboard. The attempts at humor (if that's what they were) fell completely flat to me and when a film doesn't come close to making me give a damn about what it's characters are doing I find it hard to see what it's point is. Nothing ever really happens other than the group of would-be terrorists sitting around having uninteresting conversations while loud noises rain down around them. Perhaps I need more insight into the German political climate of the late '70s to appreciate some of what's going on here but aside from the opening scene and credits (some of the most inventive I've seen) I just couldn't make a connection with this one. I think a good film would pull me in regardless.

*1/2 out of *****

valmz

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Re: July 2013 MDC: Movies about patriotism
« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2013, 02:45:34 AM »
You shouldn't feel bad about disliking the film intensely! I would only be confused if you didn't feel intensely one way or another. Fassbinder is not very skilled at half-measures.

I rewatched the film about a week ago to have it fresh in my mind. Watching it again, it's clear from what you've said why it wouldn't rub you the right way. The characters barely give a damn about what they are doing, and the film is satirizing them for this (note how they don't even know what they are inciting terror for, they only ask for prisoners to be released because that is what other groups typically do). As for the maddening background noise, the oddest thing about it is the way it is seen as so normal by the characters, which I took to be the joke. Clueless people surrounded by a constant stream of information, from which they derive only something to mimic, not something understood. On top of these people who lead pointless but destructive lives, people who seem to have some sense of the political implications of their actions, you have a capitalist figure who sees no issue in provoking destruction in the guise of a political action for the support of his business which thrives on the suppression of his own people. Essentially, you have a display of how capitalism perverts patriotism into a means to police one's people for a profit. In America, the greatest country on earth, this sort of thing rarely inspires art but it did inspire one Act called the Patriot Act, which was unfortunately not a play.

Once we fought for our freedom from tyranny, then we fought for our free markets, now we fight because it is profitable.

I think it's hilarious and brutally scathing, myself, but I certainly don't expect anyone to react with indifference! As far as Fassbinder goes, you're sure to have an intense reaction to In a Year with 13 Moons, perhaps better because it is less satirical and more empathetic, perhaps worse because it is brutally honest. Most of his work is heavily influenced by Brecht, which means that there is a lot of stuff that will intentionally 'push you away' rather than 'pull you in' for the sole purpose of preventing you from giving much of a damn about the characters, so if that's important to you right now then he may not be your cup of tea. I'm often more interested in the underlying implications and humor interspersed through his work, dark as it may be, so he's like my brier patch.

I think it's a fun film to talk about with regards to patriotism, though, at any rate. It's certainly not a pretty picture.

Eldog

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Re: July 2013 MDC: Movies about patriotism
« Reply #23 on: July 26, 2013, 09:26:48 AM »
The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On

This 1987 documentary directed by Kazuo Hara is about Kenzo Okuzaki, a very strange man haunted by events that occurred during the Japanese occupation of Papua New Guinea during the Second World War. Despite the fact that those events happened over four decades ago,  Okuzaki very aggressively seeks closure. The length of time that has transpired since these events occurred seems not to have healed some very serious and deep wounds in Okuzaki's psyche. He is truly unrepentant and singleminded in trying to discover the truth and this makes for an amazing documentary. He confronts many of his former superiors and in the absence of military reprisals, Okuzaki is able to relentlessly question and bully these men into admissions. This evokes diverse reactions from the officers and showcases how guilt is dealt with by different individuals - their responses range from forthright and honest to others lying pathetically in an unconvincing manner.

The documentary is a fascinating look into Japanese society. I was also amused by the contradictions in Okuzaki's behavior, many as a result of traditional cultural ways. For example, he apologizes  profusely to an officer he wants to interview for intruding unannounced then later proceeds to physically assault him for his lack of honesty. I wonder where director Hara stumbled upon Okuzaki. I would not be surprised if he had observed him ranting his theories at a subway station when Hara thought "I could throw a suit on him, clean him up, dump him on the doorsteps of these guys he's ranting about and just let the cameras roll." Obviously this is mere speculation but that is the type of confrontational realism that drives this documentary.

8.5/10

MartinTeller

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Re: July 2013 MDC: Movies about patriotism
« Reply #24 on: July 26, 2013, 11:02:42 AM »
Such a fascinating figure, full of paradoxes.  I need to watch that one again.

Bondurant

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Re: July 2013 MDC: Movies about patriotism
« Reply #25 on: July 27, 2013, 11:56:14 AM »
Hero (2002)

I found this film to be interesting and a bore at the same time.  The film is very colorful and visually pleasing.  A sword duel between two ladies dressed in flowing red robes with yellow leaves of autumn falling around them made for one of the more visually pleasing scenes.  I also like the overall concept of the film: plotting to kill a warlord seeking to unite China by force.  The scheme plays out wonderfully.

It's the fighting sequences that bog the film down.  The modern martial arts style does not interest me much or hold my attention.  Fight sequences are hyper stylized and choreographed.  I don't buy into Jet Li soaring thru the air.  During a few scenes, weapons being used appear to experience brief elemental changes.  In one such scene Jet Li's swords changes from standard sword to a floppy, pliable weapon used to smack an opponent.  One is likely expected to simply brush this aside in a film with such over the top fight sequences but it's beyond difficult for me to except.  This style of film does not work for me.

Being a fan of history I enjoy the overall plot.  I would, however, enjoy it all the more in a different style of film.  Jet Li isn't too shabby in the film either.  He makes for a good nameless warrior and brings a presence to the film (he's also quite good in, what I believe to be his first full on dramatic role, Ocean Heaven).

As an overall film experience I would put Hero in the middle of the road.  It's not bad or without merit but I cannot claim to like it.

2.5/5

PeacefulAnarchy

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Re: July 2013 MDC: Movies about patriotism
« Reply #26 on: August 02, 2013, 12:56:48 AM »
Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage (2005)

I haven't had feelings this mixed about the quality of a film in quite some time. To say it's bad would be to disregard the extremely compelling story, the very effective pacing and the rather solid writing. On the other hand, those great things are severely hobbled by a slew of offputting directorial choices. Why is this shot with a handheld camera and bad lighting? It makes the film look like a low budget TV show and rather than giving things a sense of realism it just makes the sets and acting stand out. The acting is hugely variable, and even the lead is terrific in some scenes and awful in others. In fact, several of these actors suffer from the same problem of being very good at delivering lines but horrible at every type of non-verbal acting. It trivializes the horrors, injustices and bravery the film is trying to shed light on when every few minutes there's a silly knowing grin or rehearsed movements. I'm generally a pretty big apologist for stagey films, but I can't really do it here, because the film doesn't embrace it's stagey script. It leaves too many silent moments to reflect on nothing, too many establishing shots that serve no purpose, and most egregiously it has several moments with overwhelming musical cues that just confuse me. Some of this may be intentional, but whatever the idea was I don't think the execution succeeded. My biggest problem, though, is the depiction of nazis in the film. There's an attempt at humanizing them, which I guess is good, but it does so in an extremely clumsy way. Instead of adding a humanity to their sinister beliefs, it makes them all full of self doubt and paints them all as severely affected by a few clumsy speeches. It bothers me because it undermines the core of the film. It takes away from the genuine power of the Nazis in their own police station and courtroom, and undermines the bravery of the dissidents in confronting them when there are continuous clues that everyone silently sides with them.

Hmm, that ended up rather negative. I didn't dislike the film though. I found it very interesting and watching it wasn't a chore. It gave me things to think about in terms of power dynamics and the conflict between self preservation and genuineness. The films unique style, despite how I think much of it was a series of bad choices, makes frustrating to watch, but didn't hinder my engagement, More than anything it left me wishing the execution could have been better.

6/10

valmz

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Re: July 2013 MDC: Movies about patriotism
« Reply #27 on: August 04, 2013, 01:20:32 AM »
Team America, World Police

I've never found South Park very funny, and I didn't find this funny. I don't even understand what the overall point of view is supposed to be, so it's hard to figure out what the jokes are supposed to be juxtaposed against, unless it is 'nuance'. If that is the case, then there is a frame of reference, but I didn't get any clear sense of nuance in the way it diverges from 'nuance', as little or as much as that may make sense. The film's funniest moments to me all stemmed from the meta-humor when the film exposes the artifice of the puppets, as when the puppets fight against each other or when the puppets are shot in perspective against real objects (sometimes convincingly, which makes it all the more funny when they are clearly not), or... cats. The cats take the cake, for sure, and were the clear highlight of the film.

As far as patriotism is concerned, I can't speak of any great lessons I learned from the film. Obviously there is a healthy amount of buffoonery involved, as with The Third Generation, but given that the end goal is a legitimate one (if set in a totally absurd context), it is difficult to consider their mission entirely satirical (as is certainly the case with The Third Generation). However, the actual nuances of 'policing the world' are at times mentioned, always to be brushed aside for a soon-to-come anatomical reference. To summarize the potential patriotic issues raised by the film, though, I could say: Violence in need of control by violence is often beget by violence, and as the cycle spirals ever-outward the concept of 'peace' becomes perversely naiive, sadly, and all flags' colors eventually bleed together.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2013, 01:22:56 AM by valmz »