Author Topic: Year-by-Year: Something Old, Something New  (Read 7389 times)

Dave the Necrobumper

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Re: Year-by-Year: Something Old, Something New
« Reply #90 on: October 19, 2017, 03:18:44 AM »
pixote, if you have access to a bigger screen I would recommend Sorcerer from your watch list. I found it to be better than Wages of Fear (although I did see Sorcerer first, which may have biased my view).

pixote

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Re: Year-by-Year: Something Old, Something New
« Reply #91 on: November 24, 2017, 11:59:04 PM »
1977: Something New



The Ascent  (Larisa Shepitko, 1977)

The Ascent has the reputation of a very emotional experience, but my appreciation of the film was rather clinical. I admired it without really feeling it. But that's okay because there's so much to admire, starting with the stark, black-and-white cinematography, which is wonderful in typical Soviet fashion. Unlike the shimmery grays of Shepitko's Wings, the high contrast photography of The Ascent creates a binary world of rough textures, where even snowflakes seem substantial in their brilliant whiteness. Even though I failed to connect on an emotional level, I did get a visceral sense of the harsh environment, no more so than when one character drags another through the snow. I might have shivered in empathy.

The character being dragged in that scene is played by Boris Plotnikov, and he possesses the most photogenic face in a black-and-white film since Max Von Sydow in The Seventh Seal. He has the perfect balance of light and dark features for this style of cinematography, and his eyes are alive to match. Every closeup of him is a bit awe-inspiring.

Bergman was on my mind throughout The Ascent, as was Tarkovsky. The story is something of a war survival tale (e.g., My Name Is Ivan, perhaps) but also plays as a spiritual allegory, which is an aspect that never quite worked for me. I was much more interested in the surprising turns the narrative took, as the protagonists staggered between episodes of The Twilight Zone.

Grade: B+

pixote
« Last Edit: November 25, 2017, 04:48:06 AM 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 #92 on: November 26, 2017, 12:51:08 AM »
1977: Bonus Short



Powers of Ten  (Charles Eames & Ray Eames, 1977)

An impressively made film that satisfyingly creates the illusion of traveling out to the stellar expanse and then all the way back in to the subatomic frontier. A humbling experience. I wish I'd liked the narrator's delivery a bit more, especially when finding out afterwards that he worked on the Manhattan Project. A cool touch.

Grade: B-



A few additional reviews, unrelated to this marathon ...



A Rough Sketch for a Proposed Film Dealing with the Powers of Ten and the Relative Size of Things in the Universe  (Charles Eames & Ray Eames, 1968)

This 'sketch' isn't quite as rough as advertised. It's almost surprisingly how similar it is to the 1977 film though I imagine those similarities are driven mostly by Kees Boeke's 1957 book Cosmic View. Even though the visuals in A Rough Sketch are less accomplished than those of Powers of Ten, they're offset by a more appealing narrator (Judith Bronowski) and the added element of time relativity, which was of great interest to me.

Grade: B-





Cosmic Zoom  (Eva Szasz, 1968)

This animated adaptation of Boeke's book, produced by the National Film Board of Canada, feels empty compared to A Rough Sketch, which was made the same year. The absence of photorealism and narration underscores how important those elements are to the success of the Eames' film.

Grade: C





901: After 45 Years of Working  (Eames Demetrios, 1990)

Very amateur documentary filming of somewhat interesting topic the contents of the Eames' offices that's ultimately too cursory to be of any worth, like a slideshow of the collected bric-a-brac of hoarders with good taste. The musical choices, though understandable, are rather grating.

Grade: C

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