Author Topic: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons  (Read 25628 times)

oldkid

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Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #590 on: October 16, 2019, 06:17:29 PM »
The Dekalog, of which these are two theatre versions of the miniseries, in my interpretation, deals specifically with at least one specific commandment of the famous ten for each episode.  I find that each episode wants to stretch our understanding of each command beyond a simplistic good/bad, obey/disobey dichotomy.  The blurry edges of each command is explored, sometimes to the point that we can no longer see a clear ethical idea.  I love this narrative approach with very little exposition in the series.  And the common elements— the twin apartment buildings and the voiceless “angel”, always observing and never interfering.   I highly recommend the whole set.

The voiceless angel ? Did I miss something there ?

Judging by those two (which I know are longer versions but still), it does look very much worth my time, but I suspect I'll leave it for much later, given that I'm about to watch most of his major works in a relatively short period (if I don't take another 5 month break that is  ::)).

Anything by Keislowski is worth the time.
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Teproc

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Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #591 on: October 24, 2019, 05:12:51 PM »
La double vie de Véronique / The Double Life of Véronique (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1991)



Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 37:14)

A hard film to wrap one's head around. Maybe because the head isn't really the targeted area: this is a pure aesthetic wonder, from Slawomir Idziak's cinematography which once again uses a very striking and warm color palette to Zbigniew Preisner's elusively romantic score, not to mention the fact that Irène Jacob is in basically every frame. She is strikingly beautiful, and I don't know how much of that is due to Kieslowski and Idziak's choices behind the camera, but she certainly looks like she fell straight down from heaven, which may or may not play into the film's themes.

I say it may or may not because... well I'm not sure what those are exactly supposed to be. Duality, obviously... fate, certainly... maybe it's just that those particular themes don't speak to me personnally, but I found it much harder to engage with than the perhaps more didactic films featured in this marathon thus far. It is so beautiful and romantic that I should simply be able to enjoy it purely on that level, but there's something Matty mentions in the review that encapsulates my issue here. Talking about the scene in which Véronique watches the puppet show, he mentions the fact that we see the puppeteer's hands but it doesn't distract from the spectacle... but here, I'd argue that the whole premise of the film is distracting, to me anyway. It's not that I can't accept it - it's that I don't get what I'm supposed to take away from it. A commentary on East v West ? Maybe, but there's nothing very specific to either setting that really plays into the characters fates. No, it seems more transcendental, more ambitious than that, but I just can't grasp it.

A beautiful enigma is what I'm left with. Maybe I'm looking for something that isn't there, maybe this is not supposed to make me think, it's only supposed to make me feel. I kept being reminded of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's work: it seems very obvious to me now that he owes a lot to Kieslowski, both visually and in some of the plot of the French part of this film which seems like a more poetic version of Amélie Poulain... and yet I just don't connect to it as much because all the while I'm still trying to figure what the color scheme means. It may be that I'm trying to "solve" something while the film is existing in an entirely different plane. A fascinating, memorable experience either way, but also a frustrating one.

7/10
« Last Edit: October 24, 2019, 05:15:10 PM by Teproc »
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Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #592 on: October 24, 2019, 06:32:48 PM »
We often live as if our lives are unique but perhaps we are more connected than we realize. The idea of doubling is that we may have kindred spirits living parallel lives that we may never see but perhaps might feel. Maybe there's someone pulling the string. Is that person benevolent or manipulative? What connects anyone to another person?

From Kieslowski on Kieslowski:
Quote
Or take this girl, for example. At a meeting just outside Paris, a fifteen-year-old girl came up to me and said that she'd been to see [The Double Life of] Véronique. She'd gone once, twice, three times and only wanted to say one thing really - that she realized that there is such a thing as a soul. She hadn't known before, but now she knew that the soul does exist. There's something very beautiful in that. It was worth making Véronique for that girl. It was worth working for a year, sacrificing all that money, energy, time, patience, torturing yourself, killing yourself, taking thousands of decisions, so that one young girl in Paris should realize that there is such a thing as a soul. It's worth it.

Teproc

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Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #593 on: October 25, 2019, 02:36:12 AM »
We often live as if our lives are unique but perhaps we are more connected than we realize. The idea of doubling is that we may have kindred spirits living parallel lives that we may never see but perhaps might feel. Maybe there's someone pulling the string. Is that person benevolent or manipulative? What connects anyone to another person?

From Kieslowski on Kieslowski:
Quote
Or take this girl, for example. At a meeting just outside Paris, a fifteen-year-old girl came up to me and said that she'd been to see [The Double Life of] Véronique. She'd gone once, twice, three times and only wanted to say one thing really - that she realized that there is such a thing as a soul. She hadn't known before, but now she knew that the soul does exist. There's something very beautiful in that. It was worth making Véronique for that girl. It was worth working for a year, sacrificing all that money, energy, time, patience, torturing yourself, killing yourself, taking thousands of decisions, so that one young girl in Paris should realize that there is such a thing as a soul. It's worth it.

Interesting. I think I approached the film looking for symoblical or metaphysical meaning when it's more interested in the spiritual, maybe. I'll keep that in mind for the Three Colors (and for whenever I rewatch Véronique, down the line).
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Teproc

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Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #594 on: October 30, 2019, 05:33:59 PM »
Trois couleurs: Bleu / Three Colors: Bleu (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1993)



Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 38:01)

I'm told this trilogy is both based on the French tricolore flag and the national motto of "Liberté, Egalité Fraternité", which would make this one about liberty. I'll note that the colours of the French flag have nothing to do with any of those concepts (their meanings are actually disputed, but the majority view is that the blue and red stand for the city of Paris and the white for the Bourbon monarchy), but blue happens to be associated with the political right in most Western countries (read: every one of them except for the US), and the right/left dichotomy can be boiled down to a fight over what to prioritize between freedom/liberty* (right) and equality (left), so this all tracks. Not so much with the next two, but I guess we'll worry about that when we'll get there. I'm spending time on this because I enjoy Kieslowski's high concept approach to filmmaking: first the Decalogue, now this, and from what I understand he had a Hell/Heaven/Purgatory trilogy in the works before his untimely death. Even Véronique is an easy-to-summarize high concept: two "identical" girls leaving in different places at the same time. This could lead to gimmicky or overly didactic works, but Kieslowski knows how to approach big subjects such as killing or liberty in unexpected ways.

In this case, we get to liberty via grief, and a person (Binoche's Julie) reacting to a horrendous tragedy by attempting to free herself from it. It's the Buddhist approach: suffering comes from attachments, so to avoid suffering one should free themselves from said attachments, and achieve a state of plenitude. Except this is not really possible, or at least this is what Kieslowski argues here. We are part of this world, we have attachments, and you can't shortcut through grief. You're not free from other people (see also: Sartre), you're not free from the world: you're always brought brack by whatever those things you use to bungee-jump are called. Whether or not that's a good thing is irrelevant, really, and I like that open-ended approach from Kieslowski which I also found in the Short Movies (presumably it's also present in the rest of the Decalogue).

To get back to the actual film - as opposed to its broad themes - Kieslowski continues to be very bold stylistically, and successful. Those three cuts to black mid-conversation with the orchestra blaring are very heavy flourishes, but they work, in large part because you get Binoche at the top of her game here. I don't know how much of the film we spend just watching her face, but it certainly feels like a lot, and you can light it as blue as you want, she still needs to give you something to make it all work. I think there is a difference between this performance and Irène Jacob in Véronique, which is that Jacob is striking but too mysterious, too otherworldly for me to fully engage with her character(s). I definitely don't have that problem with Binoche, even if she's very visibly younger than her character is supposed to be. She's a treasure, and I can't explain why. She's just compelling to watch. This film could feel extremely didactic and over-the-top, and I think a big part of why it doesn't is how reined is she is. The filmmaking is bold, so she isn't, and that balance might be where the film's success resides.

I suppose I should talk about the music, since it is so central to the plot here, but I'm not sure what to say other than, like Kieslowski, Preisner is not going for subtle here. They complement each other quite well, with Kieslowski doing the Amadeus thing of scoring the sheet music (did Forman invent that ?), always effective. Adam & Matty attempted to read something political into the music being meant for a "Unification of Europe" thing, but it just sounds like a generic big event that a contemporary composer would have to be involved with to me. I guess you can see a nod to the more political approaches to the concept of liberty, but I'd say that's a stretch, it just doesn't seem to me that political theory is a big interest of Kieslowski so far... and if it is, he's burying it very deep, too deep for me on first viewing anyway. But he feels more like a instinctual filmmaker than a puzzle-maker, and I don't think this needs to be about more than what it is clearly about to be great.

8/10

*which are one and the same in French. I'm a little unclear as to what the distinction is supposed to be in English actually.
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Teproc

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Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #595 on: November 03, 2019, 02:34:44 PM »
Trois couleurs: Blanc / Three Colors: White (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1994)



Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 41:11)

Is Kieslowski a political filmmaker ? I keep circling back to this question with these films, because these films seem at times to deliberately avoid the political realm despite having basic premises, settings and circumstances that seem tailor-made for it. We have a Polish filmmaker who starts his career just a few years before Solidarnosc, then goes West after the fall of the USSR while still keeping a very strong connection with his home country in his work. And the subjects he picks ? The Decalogue (while in a country where Catholicism is very much associated with opposition to the USSR and the regime in place) and "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité" / the French Flag, which could hardly be more explicitely political. But his film about liberty is really about grief, and his film about equality is really about sex. Well, it's also about power, but the power one individual exerts on another within the context of a relationship... certainly this could still be political allegory (Dominique is the West and Karol is Poland having to adapt to capitalist economics by doing the hard work and starting from the bottom), but it just doesn't quite play that way for me, it's too intensely personal and focused. It might make sense for Kieslowski, who came up in an environment where censorship was very prevalent, to hide political meaning in films and make it particularly subtle... but that's not how he generally rolls with, well, everything else. He does tackle the death penalty in A Short Film About Killing, but even it's in a pretty roundabout way, and not one that very clearly lays a viewpoint. So when Adam & Matty comment on the "you can get everything with money" lines in the film as being clearly political, I'm not sure I disagree but I wonder about what point KIeslowski is trying to make there, and ultimately if he really is making one at all.

It then gets me thinking about why I'm even asking that question. Here is a filmmaker exploring the human conditions in plenty of ways, with an impressive sense of style and great collaborators both behind and in front of the camera, and I found them all very engaging and mostly succesful, and I don't know that they'd be stronger films if they were more political... I don't know if it's a case of using film as cultural tourism, needing foreign filmmakers to explain their culture to me through their films when they may have entirely different goals, or if it's simply fear of missing something, of not entirely "getting it". Whatever the case may be, I find it both interesting and puzzling that I can't find a clear political point in a trilogy of films based on concepts that are so important to political science.

Not only isn't this really exploring equality from an explicitly political standpoint, it's also a much more comedic film than any other in this marathon so far. Pretty deadpan humour, and it does get quite dark in its overall arc, but still, it's particularly notable after the very weighty and somber first installment in the trilogy. Every time I try to qualify this film, I find it hard not to find it contradictory : it has some very warm humanistic moments with the Nikolaj character, but its overall point about relationships in general and sex specifically seems pretty dark, and it is ultimately a revenge story. There is a connection here between Karol's ambition and longing for Dominique and the main character in A Short Film About Killing: the motivations are pretty similar here, and pretty universal. I actually thought this would be a Faustian bargain story, with Nikolaj looking pretty devilish in his initial appearances (great performance by Janusz Gajos) but the fact that it went a completely different way in yet another surprising choice on Kieslowski's part, and one that makes this a much more complex, and ultimately interesting, story.

I guess part of me wants Kieslowski to be more didactic - probably because of the way these films are framed with those big symoblic themes - but I probably wouldn't like the result if he actually were. I'm too used to look for what an auteur is trying to communicate over and over, but Kieslowski doesn't makes points as much as he communicates a certain sensibility, a nuanced - sometimes even contradictory - view of humanity.

8/10
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Teproc

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Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #596 on: November 08, 2019, 11:43:10 AM »
Trois couleurs: Rouge (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1994)



Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 40:43)

Red might be the most cinematic color, if there is such a thing. I can't think of any "blue" or "white" film aside from the previous two films in the marathon. There certainly are films with such color palettes overall, but they don't come as easily to mind as those which use red in an overwhelming manner. I can't think of a film as blue as Suspiria is red, or a film as white as Cries and Whispers is red. This film probably uses more red than the previous film used white, but somehow it doesn't feel as overwhelming, and I'm not sure if it's because I have those reference points to compare it to which I didn't for the other colors or if Kieslowski is more interesting in using red in specific objects here: the car, the poster, some of Jacob's clothes, etc. Maybe it's because the things we generally associate with red, namely violence and/or sensuality, are not central here. Maybe it's just me, because red is a warm color and I found this film quite cold.

That coldness comes, for me, from the idea of fate that is clearly integral to the narrative. There is no theme that interests me less than fate, because questioning free will might be the single least productive intellectual pursuit there is. Questioning reality can lead to pragmatism, but I find that questioning free will only leads to moral relativism and determinism. As such, I found this film extremely frustrating, especially towards the end. It's just as the previous two, it might have my favorite score of the three, and it starts on this Rear Window riff which I found quite engaging at first. Fraternity can be interpreted as the need for human connection, which would tie this back with A Short Film About Killing, and I was quite interested to see which direction Kieslowski was taking there. But it didn't turn out to be about that really, it seems that - aside from fate - Kieslowski is interested in ethics, which sounds great to me but... it just keeps coming back to this circular narrative that I can't get into. I guess you could say that the judge character is remorseful and that the film is actualizing his remorse with this loop-like narrative, but I suppose I don't find that idea particularly compelling. Maybe it comes down to the performances: I'm really not convinced that Irène Jacob is a good actress at all, but I know Trintignant can be... they're both so stiff in their deliveries here though. They're talking exactly in the way one would expect characters to talk in a film which is labeled as being "About Fraternity and The Color Red", which the previous films managed to avoid.

I don't know. I started out liking this fine, but it gradually lost me and then we get to the ending which... again, frustrating. I'm probably missing something, but I don't see the point of it all. If we go back to the idea of Fraternity being about connection between people, I guess you can argue that what happens there is the ultimate example of that, but that's completely arbitrary. They're there because it's in the script. Again this might be a commentary about fate, and again if that is the case that simply does not interest me. Is Trintignant supposed to be a God-like figure, puppeteering it all ? If so though, why should I care ? It feels so writerly and artificial, which is something that he's managed to avoid in every film so far. And if it's about something else, I just missed it. I can still enjoy the pure aesthetic quality of it all, and that's certanily not nothing, but that's about it for me.

4/10
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Teproc

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Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #597 on: November 08, 2019, 12:23:52 PM »
The Decalogues (Krzysztof Kieslowski Awards)

In the same order as the podcast (starts at 27:30).

Best Supporting Performance: Janusz Gajos (Trois couleurs: Blanc / Three Colors: White)



Best Actor: Zbigniew Zamachowski (Trois couleurs: Blanc / Three Colors: White)



Best Actress: Juliette Binoche (Trois couleurs: Bleu / Three Colors: Blue)



Best Scene/Moment: Weronika singing in the rain (La double vie de Véronique / The Double Life of Veronique)



Best Picture: Krotki film o milosci / A Short Film About Love (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1988)



Summary/ranking

Krotki film o milosci / A Short Film About Love (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1988)
Trois couleurs: Bleu / Three Colors: Blue (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1993)
Trois couleurs: Blanc / Three Colors: Blanc (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1994)
La double vie de Véronique / The Double Life of Veronique (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1991)
Krotki film o zabijaniu / A Short Film About Killing (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1988)
Amator / Camera Buff (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1976)
Trois couleurs: Rouge / Three Colors: Red (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1994)


My last marathon with Matty I believe. Looking forward to getting to those early Josh episodes, with the Robert Bresson marathon.

Fun fact(s): the episode linked above is the very last "After Hours" episode, in which Matty jokes about Adam replacing him, the eternally-upcoming John Cassavetes marathon is discussed, and Adam also jokes about them definitely doing a Rohmer marathon at some point even if it's "Filmspotting 2018 or whatever".
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Junior

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Re: A Filmspotter's Marathon of Filmspotting Marathons
« Reply #598 on: November 08, 2019, 12:36:54 PM »
Great choice for scene. It's a fantastic start for that movie.
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