Author Topic: March Madness - Communal Watchlist Group Marathon 2014  (Read 6817 times)

Jared

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Re: March Madness - Communal Watchlist Group Marathon 2014
« Reply #20 on: March 02, 2014, 01:05:41 PM »
Broken Lullaby

I've seen maybe a dozen other Lubitsch films so I popped this on expecting a good deal of laughs and whimsy. This was quite a change of pace from anything else I've seen from him though.

Lionel Barrymore plays a French soldier haunted by his killing of a German soldier during WW1. Unable to get over it, he decides to go to Germany and ask the man's family for forgiveness. When he meets them however, he is far too nervous to say anything. He has to hold onto his secret while a loving family begins to really enjoy his company.

It's a really great performance by Barrymore. He really wears a lot of anguish on his face and does it really well. There are all sorts of wonderful and unique Lubitsch touch moments as usual too.

My only real complaint is the last 5 or 10 minutes of the film. Going to go into spoiler territory a little bit here, but I was just kind of annoyed that instead of fully resolving the conflict that the movie builds so well, it sort of tables the big dramatic seen that one would expect and hope for. It's still a nice ending, despite that when viewed in the whole of the story it is a little bit of a let down.

Liked it quite a bit, maybe my 5th or 6th favorite from Lubitsch.

Rating Project Score: 7

1SO

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Re: March Madness - Communal Watchlist Group Marathon 2014
« Reply #21 on: March 04, 2014, 01:50:54 AM »
Journey to Italy
More completely uninteresting storytelling from Roberto Rossellini. I could watch Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders in anything. I already watched Indiscreet, where Bergman does little more than share a meal with Cary Grant and I had a smile on my face the whole time. Here, there are a number of scenes where I had to think, "what is the point of this? Why is it so important that we see this?"

Now let me back up because I'm not even talking about Rossellini's travelogue scenes with Bergman. Those are like documentary bits spliced into a 20 pages script. I'm talking about actual scenes, scripted scenes. The ride into town, the initial tour of the villa. These scenes are like the Before trilogy minus Richard Linklater. Shapeless bits of dialogue masquerading as real life while achieving no believable emotions.

Now let me back up again because here's where I have to tell you my initial attempt to watch Journey to Italy ran into a snag when Hulu+ only offered the version where Bergman and Sanders are dubbed into Italian and then subtitled back into English. I gave it a try for a while, not knowing if another option even existed. I finally gave up in frustration. Bergman and Sanders have two of the most distinct voices in cinema. It pains me to hear other people reading their lines.

Tonight after work, I get hold of a DVD with an English Mono track. That corrected one problem, but I still found most of their conflict to be forced. Bergman would go for a drive and mumble insults about Sanders being a terrible husband. They weren't even trying to connect for such a long time. Finally they start to argue and the film gains a spark on interest. Then, there's the climax of the film where the growing divide and the neorealism meet over a pair of plaster bodies. Finally, the spark ignites and the couple react in an emotionally and believable way. It's a startlingly insightful interaction so late in the game. Then comes the clunky final moment during a religious procession. Reality disappears once again while Rossellini ties everything up as if nothing bad even happened. This is the kind of story that would've benefitted from an open-ended conclusion. I don't mind Rossellini making a definite end decision, I just hate the way he forced it in.

Rating Project Score: 4
« Last Edit: March 04, 2014, 11:23:16 AM by 1SO »
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Jared

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Re: March Madness - Communal Watchlist Group Marathon 2014
« Reply #22 on: March 04, 2014, 10:31:34 AM »
Water Lilies

A nice little coming of age movie about 3 high school girls, mostly taking place in the setting of a synchronized swim team.

Marie is the shy girl that wants to join the team, mainly because she has a crush on the captain, Floriane. Floriane is assumed by everyone to be promiscuous, but as she and Marie form a friendship we find out that things aren't really as they seem. Marie's less popular friend is Anne, who is in some ways the most childish and in other ways the most adult of the three of them.

The movie is nice and wonderfully directed. It paces kind of slow and contemplatively, to its benefit. A lot of scenes are bathed in this wonderful blue, sort of reminding me of a certain Kieslowski movie amongst by top 50.

What I didn't like is that Floriane was just so much more interesting to me than the other characters, and it creates kind of an imbalance. I wasn't thinking Id like this as much as I did because she wasn't really even in it much for the first 15 minutes, which is dominated by Marie and Anne. I think a movie with Floriane and Marie, but without Anne, probably would have been a little bit more up my alley. That relationship had kind of a Fu(king Amal sort of vibe and I found it pretty interesting.

Rating Project Score: 7

Bondo

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Re: March Madness - Communal Watchlist Group Marathon 2014
« Reply #23 on: March 04, 2014, 01:08:55 PM »
The connection between Water Lilies and Fu(king Amal is relevant enough...both are in my top-100 and it is a confluence of general teen angst with the added layer of sexuality, both between the girls in the focus of the story, and between those girls and boys. In fact, each has the same basic trio of girls, the popular girl, the less popular girl chasing her, and then the unpopular girl who is somewhat pushed out as a friend in the pursuit. I think FA is ultimately more about the relationship and WL is more about the gender expectations, which makes them stand out each in their own, valuable way.

In terms of Floriane perhaps dominating too much, this could be the "fault" of Adele Haenel being a notch above as an actress. From her debut as a girl with autism in The Devils to this and then more recently House of Tolerance, she's shown herself to be pretty great. Not that the others aren't but her relative screen presence may tilt things.

Antares

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KasperL

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Re: March Madness - Communal Watchlist Group Marathon 2014
« Reply #25 on: March 05, 2014, 07:41:50 AM »
On my mad March slate:

Journey to Italy
My Night at Maud's

Winchester '73
« Last Edit: April 14, 2014, 01:06:58 PM by KasperL »

Bondo

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Re: March Madness - Communal Watchlist Group Marathon 2014
« Reply #26 on: March 07, 2014, 04:09:02 AM »
Happiness (1998)

This may have gotten delisted but I decided to push ahead anyway. As a PSH vehicle I hadn't seen, it feels like a good thing to watch, not to mention the edgy content that Todd Solondz is known for fits my oeuvre. There was a great amount to like here in the fascinating characters of Joy (Jane Adams) and Bill (Dylan Baker) in particular. Trish (Cynthia Stevenson, who I recognize but feel like hasn't actually been in much I've seen) is Joy's sister and Bill's wife is the connecting point between the two and I kind of wish there was more for her to do. Joy's other sister Helen (Lara Flynn Boyle) is the tie to a third main thrust of plot, the one involving PSH, though that one is just strange and emotionally off-putting. The fourth and final main dramatic thread is the three sisters' parents relationship struggles. This is all a lot to put up there, and the film goes a good bit past the two hour mark to cram it in. While it could have lost some in the two other threads, it does thankfully focus most on Joy and Bill.

Bill is in particular an interesting character, revealed early on as having an interest in preadolescent boys. I feel like the conception of this character tends more toward Jackie Earle Haley's role in Little Children, that of a socially inept outsider. Bill seems much more like the reality instead of the myth, a seemingly successful family man who exploits positions of trust to feed his desires. It is the priest or the football coach or the teacher, as we have seen, that is the greater risk than a random guy at the swimming pool on a hot day. The dialogue in Bill's scenes, like so many of the others does get a bit forced in its effort to shock or feel off-kilter, but the character survives this.

Ultimately though this is a film of a few good characters and a few good scenes that feels a bit helter-skelter as a whole. Tighter and shorter, as usual, is the key to improvement.

B- (Rating project score 7)

Antares

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Re: March Madness - Communal Watchlist Group Marathon 2014
« Reply #27 on: March 07, 2014, 08:39:52 PM »
Departures (2008) 84/100 - An emotionally exhilarating film which showcases the ancient Japanese ritual of nōkan (encoffining), where a mortician prepares the body of a deceased relative, through a series of choreographed techniques in front of the family. This ceremony allows family members and friends to view the deceased one last time and to say their goodbyes. It is the nōkansha's duty to try and recreate, through cleansing and make up, what that person looked like in life, giving the family one last glimpse of the person that they shared their lives with. When the film is focused on these ceremonies, it is a moving and thought provoking process on death and how different families deal with the loss. But it also tends to dwell on scenes which don't really add much to the story and it has a few too many predictable twists in the storyline. But it's all worth viewing because of some of the strong, emotional scenes that take place in the homes of clients of NK Agency. In one scene, they arrive five minutes late for the beginning of the ceremony and the husband of the woman who has died, is visibly upset. But as Sasaki is preparing the body, which you can tell must have suffered through some sort of prolonged illness, for the make up adding part of the ceremony, he looks behind him at the picture of the smiling woman, radiantly alive before her illness, and he goes to work. The camera pans back and forth from the deceased, to Sasaki working, to the family members watching on. Slowly, methodically and with a tenderness which years of experience have mastered, Sasaki recreates her cold, lifeless face into a perfect replication of the picture behind him. The pain of loss flows from the family alongside a gratitude towards Sasaki for giving them one last moment with the woman, adorned in all her glory. One of the most beautiful moments I've ever experienced in a film. Had the rest of this film stayed on this path, I probably would have deemed it a masterpiece, but there's a useless montage of Daigo playing his cello in various outdoor locations, which kind of disturbs the rhythm of the film and to a degree, feels manipulative and cheesy.
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Sandy

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Re: March Madness - Communal Watchlist Group Marathon 2014
« Reply #28 on: March 07, 2014, 09:08:59 PM »
Good call on that scene Antares. Because of that and the mood the movie put me in, Departures was in my top 100 for a year.

Bondo

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Re: March Madness - Communal Watchlist Group Marathon 2014
« Reply #29 on: March 07, 2014, 09:52:52 PM »
The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964)

So yeah, the version of this that my library has is the 91 minute edited version, colorized with English dubbing. I imagine the B&W and Italian dubbing wouldn't greatly change things, but the extra 45 minutes very well could have. You see, one of my major complaints of the film is that it feels so roughly edited. One shot jarringly leads to another, one scene is given no room to breath before the next, feeing much like a greatest hits parade. Yet I'm not sure if I should write this off completely to the shortened version because even in the prior four Pasolini films that I've more or less enjoyed, there was a technical choppiness (and bad dubbing distraction) that held it back.

What strikes me, at least in this edited version, is how very earnest and straight-forward the film is. I obviously wasn't expecting the extremes of the four films I've watched, the extremity and bluntness of themes being much of the appeal for me. Still, from a Marxist, atheist, it has a pretty pious feel about it. It doesn't focus in on Jesus' egalitarian economic teachings nor put much doubt into the mysticism. The one aspect that does seem emphasized here is in making Jesus more aggressive in contrast to the Pharisees than is often displayed. This is a character who is yelling at power, daring it to respond, and respond it does. This is interesting in its own right, though without the craft in building it up to really make it resonate.

Ultimately, neorealism or not, this film exhibits a lot of the aspects of Italian filmmaking that has kept me so far away from it. It all just feels so rough, especially with the use of dubbing. Even if the full cut delivered more thematically, this technical barrier would be perhaps too much to overcome. Also, apparently, the lack of copious nudity.

C  Rating Project Score: 5

Oh FFS, apparently the DVD has the full B&W version with Italian dub...they consider it a special feature apparently. I am not rewatching this.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2014, 10:00:25 PM by Bondo »