Author Topic: Phil vs FilmStruck  (Read 214 times)

philip918

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Re: Phil vs FilmStruck
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2017, 12:30:52 PM »
The 400 Blows (1959) ***


This got off to a really shaky start for me. The first twenty minutes felt interminable with classroom hijinks and dramatics that didn't grab me at all. There's a jolt of energy with the Gravitron (at least that's what that contraption was called at the carnival that came through my hometown every summer) with Antoine flailing on the walls of the whirling room as onlookers' faces spin above. Then the revelation of his mother having an affair and the conflicted feelings he's dealing with really sets the dramatic forces in motion. It's sort of like Catcher in the Rye with no internal monologue. Antoine witnessing the hypocritical and hostile world of adulthood and struggling to process that reality, while becoming a victim of it. The ending shot is iconic, but the long tracking shot of Antoine running that leads up to it is the thing that took my breath away.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2017, 10:48:51 AM by philip918 »
"If God gives you lemons find a new God."

philip918

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Re: Phil vs FilmStruck
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2017, 06:55:52 PM »
A Man Escaped (1956) ****1/2


Holy moly, does Bresson wring a tremendous amount of drama, tension, and emotion from the sparest of elements. Process is one of the underrated storytelling powerhouses, and this film uses it to full effect. Each little step in Fontaine's escape plan faces unique challenges that force him to adapt and improvise, and the stakes are subtly but clearly established by the sounds of gunfire regularly ringing out as executions take place off screen.

François Leterrier is wonderful as Fontaine. The movie is probably 50% close-ups of his face or hands and he carries it easily. (On IMDB his "Known for" is being the director of Emmanuelle 3, so there must be an interesting story there.)

And I was pleasantly surprised by the happy ending. Thirty minutes in I figured the "escape" would be a more spiritual one. Dying while striving for freedom, etc. So, I was bracing for Fontaine to get caught or killed until "Fin" appeared on screen.

The compositions are incredible. Like the one above, they are simple but evocative and extremely powerful. Just tremendous use of light and shadow.

This was so good. I definitely plan on working through the rest of the Bresson films on my list right away.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2017, 10:49:02 AM by philip918 »
"If God gives you lemons find a new God."

philip918

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Re: Phil vs FilmStruck
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2017, 01:25:15 PM »
Carnival of Souls (1962) ****


Sometimes all you need is a face. Candace Hilligoss may not be an incredible actress, but she is incredibly expressive, enough to completely sell the waking nightmare she's in and to thoroughly engage the viewer.

Carnival of Souls has been on my watchlist for years, but I'm glad I finally got around to it after watching the new season of Twin Peaks. This has such a Lynchian style it's kind of remarkable. The composition, tone, music, and especially the stilted performances all work wonderfully to convey surreality of Mary's situation and the supernatural menace bleeding into her reality.

Herk Harvey had quite the career in corporate and industrial films. It's a shame this is his only feature film. There's so much confidence and personality on display, one can't help but wonder where he could have gone from here.

« Last Edit: November 20, 2017, 10:49:13 AM by philip918 »
"If God gives you lemons find a new God."

philip918

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Re: Phil vs FilmStruck
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2017, 01:59:23 PM »
Pickpocket (1959) **1/2


Well, this one didn't work as well for me. I don't really connect to misanthropic protagonists and mopey Michel just didn't grab me. He's so joyless and sullen. I get that's part of his journey, but man is he a tough hang.

The pickpocketing sequences seemed silly rather than suspenseful or thrilling. Bresson's focus on process that worked to tremendous effect in A Man Escaped, here comes across as stagey and stilted. I don't know if they slowed each step down so the audience could easily follow, but none of it came across as fluid and natural.

The one character who really popped was Jeanne. It's been awhile since an actor left me completely enraptured and Marika Green is just radiant. She also had a major role in the original Emmanuelle, so the strange Bresson connection to that soft-core franchise continues.

I think the movie is bolstered by a great ending line: "Oh, Jeanne, to reach you at last, what a path I had to take." Michel finally connects to his emotions and to Jeanne, and the film ends right on that high point.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2017, 10:49:34 AM by philip918 »
"If God gives you lemons find a new God."

pixote

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Re: Phil vs FilmStruck
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2017, 03:06:58 PM »
... but man is he a tough hang.

Ha, I love this.

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

philip918

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Re: Phil vs FilmStruck
« Reply #15 on: November 20, 2017, 10:47:31 AM »
Brief Encounter (1945) ***1/2


This David Lean guy seems to know what he's doing. He imbues the mundanities of Laura's affair with epic emotional scope. Because that's how these things feel (romance at least, I can't speak to an affair). Every step is loaded with import - a phone call, meeting in a cafe, a missed connection. The film positively aches with longing.

Celia Johnson is fantastic. Conveying Laura's excitement, passion, and guilt perfectly. Also, never overplaying her expressions during the long internal monologue segments. The film seems remarkably empathetic to Laura's situation given the time period.

This has all the hallmarks of a film I will enjoy even more with future viewings. On this first viewing I wasn't quite on the film's wavelength, which could have more to do with the time of day and me allowing myself to be distracted with some other things while watching. It probably has almost everything to do with it. Just writing about it makes 3-and-a-half stars seem paltry, but I'm sure I'll be revisiting this one again in the near future.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2017, 10:50:31 AM by philip918 »
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philip918

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Re: Phil vs FilmStruck
« Reply #16 on: November 20, 2017, 01:42:32 PM »
Jules and Jim (1962) ****


This has left me a bit discombobulated. The exuberance of the filmmaking is infectious. The early scenes crackle with energetic performances and dazzling camera work. The exploration of the tragic love triangle is nuanced and tremendously sad.

But, I can't help feeling that Catherine is a narcissistic monster. Today I'm sure she'd be diagnosed with something akin to bipolar disorder. There are certainly social forces she's rebelling against for good reasons, but ultimately she resorts to murder-suicide, performed for maximum emotional impact on her loving husband. It's the apex of a twisted selfishness.

This one will be particularly interesting to revisit in ten years.
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Sandy

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Re: Phil vs FilmStruck
« Reply #17 on: November 20, 2017, 03:55:48 PM »
Brief Encounter (1945) ***1/2

This David Lean guy seems to know what he's doing. He imbues the mundanities of Laura's affair with epic emotional scope. Because that's how these things feel (romance at least, I can't speak to an affair). Every step is loaded with import - a phone call, meeting in a cafe, a missed connection. The film positively aches with longing.

Celia Johnson is fantastic. Conveying Laura's excitement, passion, and guilt perfectly. Also, never overplaying her expressions during the long internal monologue segments. The film seems remarkably empathetic to Laura's situation given the time period...

QFT

Glad you found this film to be noteworthy, philip.
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