Author Topic: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons  (Read 15297 times)

Knocked Out Loaded

  • Elite Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1023
  • All temperatures are in centigrades.
Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #470 on: April 09, 2017, 02:13:19 PM »
[....] Sam on Suspiria was a pretty fun one [....]
That is one of the funniest moments ever in the Filmspotting history! ;D
I might remember it all differently tomorrow.

Teproc

  • Elite Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1842
Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #471 on: April 11, 2017, 06:15:09 AM »
L'une chante, l'autre pas / One Sings, the Other Doesn't (Agnès Varda, 1977)



Adam & Josh's takes (starts at 1:25:47)

a.k.a. Second-Wave Feminism: The Movie

I was surprised to hear Josh downplay the political aspects of this film, because that's really how this film played for me : a cinematic manifesto under the guise of a drama... and a pretty effective one. The issue with this kind of film can be that the characters seem to only exist to prove a point or represent some aspect of society, but Varda, Liotard and Mairesse don't let that happen to the two main characters. Mairesse in particular has a tough job, because her character could so easily be a walking-talking cliché, but she never does... except perhaps when she sings. Even then, I didn't find it as distractingly laughable as Adam did, but it works best in small doses, and the last 20 minutes or so have a lot of singing.

The whole ending also suffers a bit from the nature of this film as a political statement, and you can feel Varda struggling a little with how to give resolution to these characters without making it seem like where they end up is where women should end up: this is even directly adressed by Pauline at one point when she's criticized for a song celebrating pregnancy. I think this is the reason we end with this very awkward ending, which could work well if Varda didn't feel obligated to intrude with her narration, which had appeared a few times already and always made me roll my eyes : it's egregiously didactic in a way that just isn't needed.

That all being said... I really liked it. It's a bit jarring to see Varda take such a formally simple approach after the first two films in this marathon, but - aside from the above gripes - it works very well. Mairesse really anchors the film, and the central relationship between her and Liotard is deeply felt : the postcards thing could feel cutesy as Josh mentions, but it doesn't. It conveys this idea of these two women living their parallel lives in a changing world, staying connected in a very meaningful but simple way. It's a bit messy, but I'm surprised by how obscure it is, with Mairesse still being relatively famous here and its time-capsule...ness.

7/10

Teproc

  • Elite Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1842
Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #472 on: April 13, 2017, 02:39:19 PM »
Sans toit ni loi / Vagabond (Agnès Varda, 1985)



Adam & Josh's takes (starts at 53:20)

Aside from "unwaveringly humanistic", there's really no telling what a Varda film will be like when sitting down to watch it. I suppose this might be where she settles on a style that straddles the line between documentary and fiction - we'll see with the next two - but even then, it's not like this is a Dardenne film either. We have Yolande Moreau (delightful as always) adressing the camera directly, and one gets the sense that realism isn't Varda's concern so much as conveying a certain idea of France, and more specifically the margins of it. Well, I say the margins but this is what we'd refer to as "la France profonde" (ie "deep France"), so quite the contrary to the margins I suppose... except for our main character of course. She is very much a marginal, and - from the first time a radio is turned on - I kept expecting the anthem of 80s marginals to turn up (that would be Les Rita Mitsouko's Marcia Baïla - perhaps not incidentally about a woman who died prematurely) and Varda did not let me down.

I didn't think of the Citizen Kane comparison when it comes to the plot, but I suppose it's there, in that we ostensibly spend the film trying to understand Sandrine Bonnaire's character, and what led her to end up in that ditch. I really like the point Adam makes about that first interaction we see with the truck driver: I took her comment about "the ride not being free" as referring to the possibility of a sexual exchange, but his reading of it seems much more in line with the film as a whole, which presents Mona as someone who has quite simply chosen to opt out of the social contract. Where the Kane comparison fails though, is that the film is only half-character study : just as interesting are other people's reaction to her.

Like Josh, the one that I found most fascinating was the philosophy-graduate turned sheepherder. It should be noted that this is a very well-known phenomenon that happened in the 70s, specifially in the Larzac region, which is close enough to Varda's usual hunting grounds that one can reasonably assume it to be where this occurs. Varda's relationship to '68 - which the preceding film notably avoided, jumping from early 60s to early 70s - seems like particularly fertile ground to me, and I really enjoy trying to figure out where Varda stands  here... it gets to this interesting dynamic in that the leftist movements entangled with that generation generally still envisioned a society based on work, which Mona can't abide: he really formulates what could be seen as the thesis for the movie when he talks about wanting to be absolutely free leading you to be completely alone. One can respect Mona's quest to be free of all attachments, a kind of wandering asceticism that has a pureness to it, but also an expiration date.

Aside from all these questions the film raises, what ultimately makes it so good is how it refuses to be depressing. As a baseline it is, because we know from the first scene how this story ends, but we're not watching a train-wreck here. This is how she chose to spend her time here, it probably wasn't optimal, but - ha - she did it her way. My personal highlight (aside from Marcia Baïla) here was also mentioned on the podcast, and that's the scene with the old lady. It's pure joy, watching Mona loosen up and laugh, but more importantly connect, perhaps not the only time she does in the film, but it feels like the most significant one. Perhaps because - as I think Adam mentions - there is no contract here other than two people enjoying each other's company and a glass of Cognac, which sounds like Mona's idea of an ideal world.

8/10

oldkid

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 17176
  • Hi there! Feed me worlds!
Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #473 on: April 17, 2017, 02:28:55 AM »
Good thoughts on this film, my second favorite by Varda.
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

Teproc

  • Elite Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1842
Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #474 on: April 19, 2017, 04:46:52 AM »
This Sporting Life (Lindsay Anderson, 1963)



Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 31:03)

Listening to Adam & Matty talk about this film helped clarify why it didn't really work for me: rise-and-fall narratives just aren't my thing. Raging Bull and Scarface are mentioned as films that were probably influenced by This Sporting Life, and that makes sense to me, because they all have a similar hollowness, a sense of predetermined fate that makes them feel like a bit of a pointless exercise to me.

What you're then left with is the artistry, which I wasn't particularly impressed by here: the rugby scenes weren't all that kinetic or compelling for example, and the cinematography is certainly fine, but nothing special within the context of this marathon certainly. The same goes for Richard Harris in the main role: he's good, certainly, but I didn't find him nearly as fascinating a figure as Adam did, perhaps because I couldn't help but see him as a bit of a retread of Albert Finney's character in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. He's still a compelling figure, but not all that revelatory... and then there's the fact that this film is a good 30 minutes longer than the previous ones in this marathon, a length that doesn't really justify itself in my eyes.

Part of it is probably that the central relationship doesn't really work. It seems entirely doomed from the start (which I suppose is what I find hard to deal with in these rise-and-fall narratives), and it doesn't help that it starts with a sex scene that's half-consensual at best, something that I'm not sure was exactly intended ? Regardless, it distracts from the more interesting aspect of the film, which is how a working man's body gets appropriated by the upper class, both by Harris's patron and his wife: that certainly resonnates, especially in the context of professional sports, and I wish the film had solely been about that really. As it went further down the melodrama route, it seemed more rote and lost the specificity that made it somewhat interesting.

5/10

Teproc

  • Elite Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1842
Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #475 on: July 07, 2017, 02:43:38 AM »
Ahem. Well, life has been hectic recently and I haven't had as much time to watch movies, much less review them (related: I'm now officially done with being a student, yay !)... but I did watch the next film in the list, Billy Liar. That was in May though. I'm not watching it again, so I'll do a brief review of it based on what I remember and try to star this thing back up in the days to come.

Billy Liar (John Schlesinger, 1963)



Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 33:53)

The first half of this film was a bit of a struggle for me, because this starts out as some kind of Tom Courtenay one-man show... and I'm not a huge fan of Tom Courtenay, I guess, or at least not his young self. The fantasy stuff, which is really the central conceit, doesn't work as well as it sounds like it would, and the character is just so insuferable at all times that it just gets hard to watch. That he's stringing two girls along doesn't help... and then Julie Christie appears.

Not only does he (the character) get better in her presence the whole film does. From silly, over-the-top comedy in love with its own high concept, it turns into a little melancholy dramedy about small town people, perpetually torn between the allure of getting away and the security of staying there. Billy, with his grand declarations and literal fantasies, is the guy who will never leave and deep down he knows it, but he can't admit that openly. She is... I want to say a realist, who indulges him in his big romantic gestures because she just understands that she has to get away. The scene they share overlooking the city is simply great, and I was amazed by how much she managed to change my perspective on him for a moment, from annoyance to pity. The end is then beautiful, and finally makes all the fantasy stuff worth it.

The problem of course, is that first half. Maybe it'd be less of a chore to get through knowing where it goes, but as it was, it significantly dampens my enthusiasm for the very strong second half. Mostly I'm hoping to see more of young Julie Christie now.

6/10

P.S.: I do remember that there is a stand-up comedian (presumably fictional) named Dany Boon in this film. Funny how that worked out.

Teproc

  • Elite Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1842
Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #476 on: August 09, 2017, 08:12:15 AM »
Let's truly get this started again.

If... (Lindsay Anderson, 1968)



Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 45:44)

Adam mentions this film feeling like a culmination of the "Angry Young Men" genre, and I have to agree, though I'd say it's more that it transcends the genre by using it as springboard for bigger, bolder things. It probably helps that it was made right when the generational divide thata caracterized the 60s - and gave its birth to this whole movement - was coming to a boil... it's shockingly easy to make an analogy between the earlier films in this marathon, which generally ended in resignation and fatalism even when tinged with a touch of hope, and this one, which.... um, does not.

I thought the ending was very well-known (I certainly knew about it going in), but I suppose Adam and Matty didn't... I'm jealous, but knowing about it also gave me an idea of what the film would be like, and gave it the opportunity to really mess with my expectations. Because what I expected was some kind of manifesto of facile rejection of authority... and while that is certainly present, and certain scenes are heavy-handed in the way that I feared (the general's speech in the church), those still work because the film is both more grounded and more weird than that.

It takes the time to grounds itself in coming of age/angry young men genre (the first hour is basically Harry Potter without the magic) to then veer into allegorical satire... but without losing sight of McDowell's Mick as an actual character. It seems crazy to think of McDowell as "grounding" a film, but he really does... I wouldn't call his performance naturalistic exactly, but he's not mannered either, unlike in Clockwork Orange... in a way, he's like an Alex that hasn't quite gone mad yet.

It's certainly the boldest film of the marathon stylistically, as well. There are the seemingly-random B&W sections (presumably to save money or something, I'd say they're more distracting than anything else) and the use of music, which layers the film with a quietly growing sense of menace, and makes the trip to the town work really well, regardless of what's supposed to be real or not there.

In the end it's a film that leaves me with more questions than answers, which puts it in sharp contrast with the previous 5 in this marathon, and - as far as I'm concerned - a cut above.

8/10

Teproc

  • Elite Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1842
Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #477 on: August 09, 2017, 09:52:27 AM »
The Kitchen Sinks (Angry Young Men Awards)

In the same order as the podcast, except I skipped "Best Kitchen Sink Scene" as I couldn't think of one.

Best Supporting Performer: Peter Jeffrey (If...)



Best Actress: Julie Christie (Billy Liar)



Best Actor: Richard Burton (Look Back in Anger)



Best Scene/Moment : Tom Courtenay/Julie Christie heart-to-heart (Billy Liar)



Best Screenplay: Look Back in Anger (Nigel Kneale & John Osborne)



Best Director: Lindsay Anderson (If...)



Best Picture: If...



Summary/ranking:

If... (Lindsay Anderson, 1968)
Look Back in Anger (Tony Richardson, 1958)
Billy Liar (John Schlesinger, 1963)
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Karel Reisz, 1960)
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Tony Richardson, 1962)
This Sporting Life (Lindsay Anderson, 1963)


Next up, New Hollywood (with Jules et Jim as an appetizer). But first I need to finish up Varda.

Teproc

  • Elite Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1842
Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #478 on: August 10, 2017, 07:01:20 AM »
Les glaneurs et la glaneuse / The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000)



Adam & Josh's takes

Is is possible for a 80 minute film to be too long ? I guess it is, because I really felt that Varda had crafted a perfect 40-minute film, culminating with the scene in which she tries to "grab" the trucks on the road, an image which I think encapsulates her playfulness in the face of the profound societal problems she's exploring... but then we get 40 minutes or so of repetition and random asides. It's not like the film goes off a cliff or anything, it's still a pleasant watch, and I certainly can't quibble with the very end of it, but it simply didn't add anything.

This superfluousness is particularly evident with the return to the initial gleaners after the "moving pictures" detour. it doesn't seem like many reviewers had this problem with the film (certainly not Adam & Josh), but that return seemed egregiously circular to me, with nothing really new being added there, other than the random charm that Varda is always able to find or add herself.

That all being said, I'm only talking about this because I was truly impressed by that first half, and how she was able to connect the gleaners (and how the practice connects to some of our society's biggest problems and challenges) to not only herself and her artistic expression, but a general outlook on life, one that has been developping through the last 50 years or so, of rethinking our approach to our environment but building on older customs... and during it all, Varda never seems like she's judging anyone, or presenting any thesis, it all just derives naturally from what she chose to film. Add in the layer of Varda's own mortality, and it's remarkable really... I just wish that the film as a whole had stayed this effortless.

7/10

oldkid

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 17176
  • Hi there! Feed me worlds!
Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #479 on: August 10, 2017, 04:50:24 PM »
Well, I can't tell you that you're wrong, only that I found the entire film to be full of charm and the asides just added to the theme of gleaning.  It doesn't all hold together, but it doesn't matter because it's all Varda.  Watching the visual ramblings of such an engaging subject is bliss, like spending time with my favorite grandmother.
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

 

love