Author Topic: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons  (Read 15585 times)

Teproc

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Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #460 on: March 20, 2017, 02:31:41 PM »
Look Back in Anger (Tony Richardson, 1959)



Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 36:16)

In their discussion, Adam & Matty wonder what current actor could give a performance on the level of Richard Burton's today... 9 years later, I don't really need to worry about that, since the similarities between this and Fences were hard to ignore, having seen it pretty recently. Both set in the 50s, featuring a working class man who is frustrated at the lack of opportunities for him, and expresses that anger in a very eloquent and charismatic matter... while also making everyone around him miserable. Now, this is the « Angry Young Men » marathon, but I assumed Burton's character to be in his mid-thirties... apparently not in the play, but – even without taking Burton's age in consideration – the character makes so much more sense to me as a 35 year-old anyway, since his anger has a definite jadedness to it.

Adam & Matty make the film sound like a painful experience, and I guess I can see why, but I don't agree. Burton might be unbelievably cruel, but he's nonetheless fascinating to watch, and the film – unlike Fences – has a mood I enjoy a lot : the crisp B&W cinematography of course, but mostly the music. Now I'm not saying the film is fun, but there is a melancholy to it : again the idea that this character is supposed to be in his 20s makes less and less sense the more I think about it, as the film as a whole oozes with frustration and sorrow, more than youthful, energetic anger. Burton speaks fast and loud, but he looks tired of it all, and that comes through in the music he plays.

So we have an amazing central performance, great cinematography, plenty of thematic richness in dealing with how it felt like to be British while the country had to transition from world Empire to small industrial country (which... let's just say this film has not lost its resonance), it's a masterpiece right ? Well... no, because the film just doesn't really have anywhere to go from there, and the supporting characters only exist as props for Burton to yell at. I can see intellectually why his wife would put up with him, but it doesn't really come through in her performance, and the direction the film takes with the Elena character... it just doesn't work at all for me, on either side of the equation. It feels like Richardson identified a feeling worth depicting on stage/screen, and did that quite well, but didn't necessarily had anything else in mind than that. It's a fine endeavour still, and carried by Burton's performance, but leaves a little to be desired in the end.

7/10

Teproc

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Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #461 on: March 22, 2017, 03:08:51 PM »
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Karel Reisz, 1960)



Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 34:10)

Much like Look Back in Anger, this film relies heavily on its lead's performance. Unlike Matty though, I wasn't all that impressed by Finney here... in fact I'd say his theatrical acting style clashes pretty heavily with the film's neorealist aesthetic : it's not that he's bad, he just overdoes it a bit. That worked for Richard Burton because he was playing a larger-than-life character, but this guy is supposed to be an incarnation of the young British working class, and it doesn't quite work on that level.

The first 20 minutes, in which we follow Finney as he spends his week-end partying and fooling around with a married woman... with the titular sunday morning being both a brief moment of bliss and the threat of consequences when he has to leave in a hurry before the husband comes back. The film then doesn't really follow up on this idea : we see Finney behave recklessly, lie to everyone and it seems that the film is about the self-destruction of the working class... but then it still wants to end on a hopeful note that sounds pretty false. Adam sees it as a tragic ending because settling down doesn't seem to suit Finney... but I guess I see him as less of a free spirit and more of an asshole ? He might be less abrasive than Burton in Look Back in Anger, but he's constantly lying and generally doesn't seem to care about anyone or anything, really... so when he gets the promise of domestic life, it seems like a pretty good deal in the circumstances.

In reality, this guy, what with his line about laws being meant to be broken by guys like him, would end up in prison, now there you'd have an ending more fitting with the type of film this is, and that would be a lot more meaningful in its depiction of a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. As is though, it's not bad by any means, I broadly enjoyed it : as Matty mentions it is very well shot, but I suppose I wanted more out of it.

6/10


I will catch up on Varda later, as I'm currently waiting for the "Tout(e) Varda" set to be available at the library.

Teproc

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Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #462 on: March 30, 2017, 05:16:17 PM »
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Tony Richardson, 1962)



Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 30:24)

I don't know why I'm not quite connecting with these films. They're interesting, both in what they have to say about class and their status as the British equivalent to the Nouvelle Vague (with this one having a car scene notably influenced by A bout de souffle)... but when all is said and done, what I mostly got out of this was that I probably should read the noveL.

As with the two preceding films, the central performance is key. Tom Courtney almost plays Smith like a psychopath, constantly on the defensive and barely containing an always simmering, intense rage. It makes him slightly hard to relate to, for me at least : saying he wants to "give it" to all the bankers etc. because that's what they want to do to people like him is an understandable sentiment, but not one I particularly care for. It's also that he's so inwardly focused, to the point that he comes off as a bit of a self-centered prick more than a tragic figure. Overall I'd say it has the typical problem of literary adaptations, which is that the complex emotions that are probably described in the book can't fully appear on screen, especially with a character that internalizes a lot.

The way Richardson tries to get around that is through flashbacks, which works fine when it comes to showing us another facet on him with that trip to the beach, but doesn't really work for the climax. We get to this decision that Smith makes, and again I kept thinking (this must have been a great chapter", but I found the quick succession of images from the films to be too big a break in style with the rest of the film, foregoing naturalism for a much more affected style that felt manipulative too me, and also didn't entirely sell me on the decision in question. It's still a powerful moment, but it sums my reaction to the film quite well, in that the context of the film ends up being more interesting to me than the film itself.

6/10

DarkeningHumour

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Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #463 on: March 31, 2017, 05:17:31 AM »
What's this marathon actually about? I haven't listened to those early episodes and I know nothing about these movies so I don't know what they mean by Angry Young Men.

I also wonder sometimes if you ever rethink this entire project. Do you ever reconsider using this as your watchlist instead of focusing on things you are more likely to like?
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Teproc

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Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #464 on: March 31, 2017, 05:24:19 AM »
What's this marathon actually about? I haven't listened to those early episodes and I know nothing about these movies so I don't know what they mean by Angry Young Men.

I also wonder sometimes if you ever rethink this entire project. Do you ever reconsider using this as your watchlist instead of focusing on things you are more likely to like?

Angry Young Men is the name that was given to a group of young British playwrights initially, that made plays (Look Back in Anger being the posterchild for this) about... angry young men. But it's then also tied to a whole new generation of artists, including novelists and filmmakers, most notably Tony Richardson who adapted Look Back in Anger and then this novel, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, and Lindsay Anderson who I'll get to later. The cinematic part of that is also called the British New Wave, because it has a lot in common with the Nouvelle Vague and also every film movement specific to a country has to be called the Something New Wave.

As for the second part, you've mentioned this a few times already, and I really don't. The goal here is mostly to educate myself : enjoying the films is better of course, but it's not the primary objective. I don't really know how to write more academic reviews (nor do I really want to put that much time into it) so I still focus on my personal reaction to the film... also, a 6/10 ain't bad. It means I liked it with reservations.

DarkeningHumour

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Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #465 on: March 31, 2017, 05:48:42 AM »
But in a nigh infinite ocean of movies, most of which you haven't seen, isn't there a way to continue to educate yourself and discover new things while picking only those that sound like they will work for you?
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Teproc

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Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #466 on: March 31, 2017, 05:55:03 AM »
But in a nigh infinite ocean of movies, most of which you haven't seen, isn't there a way to continue to educate yourself and discover new things while picking only those that sound like they will work for you?

Well, first of all I started this because I was listening to the Filmspotting archive, so there's also that aspect to it : I'm enjoying progressing through the history of the podcast too.

But more importantly, I guess I don't have that strong a handle on my taste. I didn't expect to love Dawn of the Dead, or Andrei Rublev. If I limited myself to only stuff I think I'll like, I'd be missing a lot... there's also a pleasure to be had in exploring, even if you don't enjoy the specific films you're seeing, and you can't very well explore if you only watch stuff you think you'll like.

Also I'm bad at choosing among that nigh infinite ocean, so having a list I can just follow works well for me.

Teproc

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Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #467 on: April 08, 2017, 04:56:57 AM »
Les créatures / The Creatures (Agnès Varda, 1966)



Adam & Josh's takes (starts at 2:00:31)

I can safely say that I did not expect anything like... this to show up in this marathon, and certainly not this early. Only knowing her from reputation, I didn't think of Varda as particularly avant-garde, but she is certainly experimenting here, in a rather bold fashion. As it often goes with these things, some of it is infuriatingly mannered (the score, which seems to scream "HEY ISN'T THIS QUITE SOMETHING !" at all times), but there is a sense of fun, a playfulness that especially comes through in the second half of the film, once the sci-fi aspect comes into play. One early example of that would be the scene in which Piccoli starts conversing with a horse : it's absurd and funny, and helps you along the path of reality merging with fiction, to the point that I started assuming that everything after the initial incident was all a figment of the main character's imagination. I don't think that's really the case, but it helps to take things with a certain detachment, because the film can be quite frustrating before the "game of life" is introduced.

I'm really not quite sure what to say about the content of it. Obviously there's the idea of the artist "playing God", possibly of life (and especially love) being heavily influenced by luck and randomness... and then theres the central relationship. I'm going to go ahead and guess that Adam & Josh are not aware that Varda was married to Jacques Demy, and that this film is specifically dedicated to him, because I'm guessing one can read the film as a deconstruction of their relationship (of which I should say I know nothing about other than that they were married until Demy's death) : surely the casting of Castelnuovo and Deneuve, the stars of Demy's then-recent hit Les parapluies de Cherbourg, cannot be innocent there, especially when considering the themes of a creator artificially toying with romance and drama... come to think of it, it's perhaps less about their relationship than Varda just taking similar elements and saying "Well, here's what I would have done with those", I don't know.

That's really the most I can say about the film : I don't know... but it's pretty fun trying to decipher it. Oh, and speaking of casting choices and filmmaking influences, Persona seemed to be all over this movie... until I realized they came out the same year, so it's just a happy coincidence that a Bergman actress (Eva Dahlbeck) is present here I suppose ? Though there is a bit of The Seventh Seal going on too, so maybe not. Well, this is not so much a review as a discombobulated assemblage of random thoughts, but somehow it feels appropriate for this.

7/10

smirnoff

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Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #468 on: April 09, 2017, 12:56:14 AM »
But in a nigh infinite ocean of movies, most of which you haven't seen, isn't there a way to continue to educate yourself and discover new things while picking only those that sound like they will work for you?

Well, first of all I started this because I was listening to the Filmspotting archive, so there's also that aspect to it : I'm enjoying progressing through the history of the podcast too.

But more importantly, I guess I don't have that strong a handle on my taste. I didn't expect to love Dawn of the Dead, or Andrei Rublev. If I limited myself to only stuff I think I'll like, I'd be missing a lot... there's also a pleasure to be had in exploring, even if you don't enjoy the specific films you're seeing, and you can't very well explore if you only watch stuff you think you'll like.

Also I'm bad at choosing among that nigh infinite ocean, so having a list I can just follow works well for me.

And I imagine whatever your experience with the film, that promise of "feedback" in the form of Adam & ____ sharing the experience with you is something you look forward to. It seems like it would provide a nice additional motivation. :)

Do you ever find yourself in the middle of some of these films thinking "oh, I don't think Adam/Sam/Matty/Josh  is going to enjoy this"? You've probably got a pretty good handle on their tastes, if not your own. :)

Teproc

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Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #469 on: April 09, 2017, 03:38:35 AM »
And I imagine whatever your experience with the film, that promise of "feedback" in the form of Adam & ____ sharing the experience with you is something you look forward to. It seems like it would provide a nice additional motivation. :)

Do you ever find yourself in the middle of some of these films thinking "oh, I don't think Adam/Sam/Matty/Josh  is going to enjoy this"? You've probably got a pretty good handle on their tastes, if not your own. :)

Yes, exactly.

I certainly figured that they would both (Josh particularly) care for La Pointe-Courte more than I did... in general, I think Adam has more reverence for these films than I do, especially nowadays. The tone of the show has changed quite a bit, so Adam & Sam/Matty can sometimes trash a film (Sam on Suspiria was a pretty fun one), but I don't think it's happened at all with Adam & Josh. (speaking only of marathons here). Not that they love them all, but I think when they don't care for a film, they tend to try and find things that are interesting to talk about regardless, rather than having a "fight". I'm not sure which approach I like better: the analytic approach is generally more fruitful, but certainly less memorable.