Author Topic: Year-by-Year: Something Old, Something New  (Read 6745 times)

Bondo

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Re: Year-by-Year: Something Old, Something New
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2015, 07:26:54 PM »
2010 ties for my longest list (46), but only Inception is a sure lock for my top-100 from the year so I guess it is a year that is a mile wide and a foot deep.

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Year-by-Year: Something Old, Something New
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2015, 08:52:19 PM »
By the way, was 2010 a down year for film, or was I just busy with other stuff? I only graded two films a B+ that year (Toy Story 3, Poetry) and nothing above that. For comparison, 2009 had 9 films; and 2011 had 8.

pixote
Certified Copy, yo. Unless you counted it 2011.

pixote

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Re: Year-by-Year: Something Old, Something New
« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2015, 11:21:34 PM »
1930: Bonus Short



School's Out  (Robert F. McGowan, 1930)

At some point in my childhood, I was exposed to the some form of Little Rascals on weekend afternoon television, but I have no idea which era of the franchise it was. I definitely think of 'Our Gang' as comprising of Alfalfa, Buckwheat, and Spanky, with a 'no girls allowed' clubhouse and with Alfalfa crushing on a girl named Darla, but I might have just absorbed that secondhand, from general pop culture exposure (including the trailer for the 1994 film, which I don't believe I ever saw).

Anyway, I'm probably not the only one to forget that this Hal Roach created this franchise back in 1922, many years before Alfalfa was even part of the gang. Even though School's Out is from 1930, it's something like the 102nd short in the series. I also didn't know (or didn't remember) that Jackie Cooper was a Rascal (as was Robert Blake). Lots of interesting history here.

The film itself, though seemingly well regarded, was something of a disappointment. The kids are cute and well cast, and the dialogue is often cute and well delivered (Teacher: "Who was the Hunchback of Notre Dame?" Jackie: "Lon Chaney."), but the editing is absolutely primitive, robbing the comedy of any rhythm. Much of the film consists of closeups of the kids' cute faces. We cut to Kid 1, and there's a half beat before he delivers his line and a half beat after. Then we repeat with Kid 2. And with Kid 3. And then we cut to an adult and there's another half beat before they mug a reaction shot. Drove me crazy. I'd be really curious to compare the style of the silent films and whether this all works a whole lot better with intertitles.

That said, there's still an appealing sensibility here, especially with the casting. I just wish the lovely naturalness of the kid actors wasn't so at odds with the cartoonishness of the comedy direction. This is a much better film, obviously.

Grade: C-

pixote
« Last Edit: June 02, 2015, 11:24:13 PM by pixote »
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

pixote

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Re: Year-by-Year: Something Old, Something New
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2015, 04:01:25 PM »
1930: Something Old



All Quiet on the Western Front  (Lewis Milestone, 1930)

The quality of the screenshot above doesn't reflect the gorgeous Blu-Ray transfer I watched, but it does capture the wonderful, raw grittiness of the battle sequences in All Quiet on the Western Front. I've always been a fan of Milestone's roving camera, but never moreso than in this film, as it tracks on and on and on over the WWI trenches, creating beauty out of its fluid disinterest in the casualties that pass beneath. Sound is put to equally great use here, too, in the form of the endless cacophony of bombarding shells. The monotonous misery of battle is truly palpable.

This Academy Award-winning Best Picture isn't the flawless masterpiece I remembered, though. Many of the scenes between battles struggle to maintain the same sort of appealing naturalism. That it's an early sound really shows in these dialogue-heavy scenes. I think, if I watched the silent version (which is a special feature on the Blu-Ray), I'd be strongly championing Lew Ayres' performance. But most every time he opened his mouth to speak, it took me out of the film a little. He looks the part, perfectly; he just doesn't always sound it. Instead, it's Louis Wolheim who really shines in these scenes, creating the prototype for the tough-talking, resourceful veteran that became such a staple of Hollywood's WWII films. It's such a shame that he died in 1931. I'd love to know where his career would have taken him.

Grade: B+

pixote
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

pixote

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Re: Year-by-Year: Something Old, Something New
« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2015, 05:00:16 PM »
1930: Something New



People on Sunday  (Robert Siodmak and Edgar G. Ulmer, 1930)

People on Sunday is a film of youthful, cinematic exuberance. It's both a celebration of various key movements of 1920s filmmaking (French impressionism, German city symphony films, Russian formalism) and a stylistic forerunner of late 1940s neorealism and 1950s New Wave romanticism. Those historical associations aren't necessarily concrete; they're perhaps just an inevitable by-product of all inchoate enthusiasm for making art with photography in motion.

The documentary aspects of People on Sunday were the most appealing to me. Cinematographer Eugen Schüfftan isn't a name I know (though I should: he won the Oscar for The Hustler three decades later), but his filming of faces in tight closeup is just mesmerizing. My favorite sequence in the film consists of people looking directly into the camera, as if waiting for their photograph to be taken. It's a triumph of comic naturalism. The film is equally well edited, especially in the juxtaposition of contrary motions to create intersecting lines of visuals between shots.

The principal actors all provide strong faces, but the narrative for their characters never fully engaged me as much as the documentary aspects. I think a second viewing might change that, as the (cynically) romantic idyll plays better in my head than it did live. Perhaps next time I'll be less caught up in making comparisons to the early films of the nouvelle vague filmmakers.

The law forbids anyone from reviewing People on Sunday without mentioning the pedigree of the filmmakers involved, so I'll note my confusion on the credits here. IMDb lists the directors as Curt Siodmak, Robert Siodmak, Edgar G. Ulmer, and Fred Zinnemann (with uncredited work by Rochus Gliese, who I believe left the project); while Wikipedia lists just the Siodmak brothers. But the Criterion Blu-Ray I watched gave director credit to Robert Siodmak and Edgar G. Ulmer, so I'm sticking with that.

Grade: B

pixote
« Last Edit: June 04, 2015, 05:02:35 PM by pixote »
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

pixote

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Re: Year-by-Year: Something Old, Something New
« Reply #15 on: June 04, 2015, 05:13:09 PM »
1926 (Poll)

Films graded: None!

Films remembered: Ménilmontant, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, Rien que les heures, Emak-Bakia

Watchlist: Flesh and the Devil, Faust, A Page of Madness, Mother (can't remember if I've seen this or not), Moana: A Story of the South Seas, 3 Bad Men, Dog Shy, Battling Butler, Nana, Beau Geste, Mare Nostrum, The Strong Man, One-Sixth of the World

I chose 1926 as the second year in this marathon, so that I could watch A Page of Madness as part of oldkid's month in the Top 100 club and as my Something New film here. It looks like that'd be a YouTube watch, though. Anyone have first-hand experience with that version? Is it decent?

For my Something Old film, I don't have many choices in 1926. My vote in the Best Films of 1926 poll is currently for Rien que les heures, so I guess I'd better at least watch that, in order to justify my vote.

pixote
« Last Edit: June 04, 2015, 05:18:03 PM by pixote »
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

Antares

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Re: Year-by-Year: Something Old, Something New
« Reply #16 on: June 04, 2015, 06:55:31 PM »
It's such a shame that he died in 1931. I'd love to know where his career would have taken him.

More than likely, he would have gotten all the roles that Wallace Beery would get for the next 8-10 years. He was a much better actor than Beery. You should check out this film that he actually had the starring role...



It also stars Jean Arthur in one of her first talkies. It only runs less than an hour and is not that bad a film.
            
                                                           Beep! Beep!

pixote

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Re: Year-by-Year: Something Old, Something New
« Reply #17 on: June 04, 2015, 07:02:59 PM »
Danger Lights sounds like something I need to see. I'll definitely add it to my watchlist the next time 1930 rolls around.

Nice call on the Beery comparison, too.

pixote
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

pixote

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Re: Year-by-Year: Something Old, Something New
« Reply #18 on: June 12, 2015, 05:58:54 PM »
1926: Something Old



Rien que les heures  (Alberto Cavalcanti, 1926)

This was not a successful rewatch for me. I remembered Rien que les heures being second only to René Clair's Entr'acte (1924) among the avant-garde, impressionistic, 1920s shorts of this style (with Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera being in a class of its own). This time around, though, Cavalcanti's film struck me as much more of an amateur work. Like People on Sunday, it combines the 'city symphony' documentary style with French impressionism and bits of Russian formalism; but, unlike People on Sunday, it fails to synthesize its elements into a cohesive whole. More than anything, I wanted the film to make visceral the passage of time within a day, but it failed for me in that regard. I was put off, too, but the juvenile, anti-bourgeois political slant that emerged from time to time, beginning with the self-congratulatory title card, "This is not a depiction of the rich and fashionable set, but of the poor and downtrodden who eke out modest lives in the eternal city of Paris." The narrative interludes here were the biggest misstep, failing to maintain the same sort of engagement as the more vérité passages, nor the same excitement as the inventive bursts of playfully abstract visuals. These latter elements are almost enough to recommend the film, but not quite.

Grade: C+

pixote
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

Sandy

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Re: Year-by-Year: Something Old, Something New
« Reply #19 on: June 12, 2015, 10:55:48 PM »
pixote, I never noticed the details of the All Quiet on the Western Front picture before. That's very bold. :(

I've seen two films from your marathon so far. Mostly I just want to say, I'm reading along!
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