Author Topic: Top 100 Club: MartinTeller  (Read 19726 times)

Dave the Necrobumper

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 12718
  • If I keep digging maybe I will get out of this hol
Re: Top 100 Club: MartinTeller
« Reply #100 on: July 27, 2020, 07:14:08 AM »
Leningrad Cowboys Go To America (1989 Aki Kaurismäki)

Sublimely ridiculous. The hair, the shoes, the suits, the sunglasses. Some definite nods to The Blues Brothers (particularly the country music gig). I enjoyed the music, there was a lovely variety in the songs. This film moved along like a gentle breeze, no hurry, but it still moved along. Every now and then stopping for a song, but soon on the road again.

Dead pan, the whole style, from the pacing, to the cinematography, to the performances (even during the songs).

Rating: 76 / 100

MartinTeller

  • FAB
  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 17854
  • martinteller.wordpress.com
    • my movie blog
Re: Top 100 Club: MartinTeller
« Reply #101 on: July 27, 2020, 09:37:39 AM »
Scenes from a Marraige - TV Version

Love it, have a few hangups. I just love the way the film was made, never saw the act of zooming a camera reveal so much about the lives, thoughts, even values of the characters. So many brilliant long takes, and I happen to be a sucker for films shot on 16mm. The grainy aspect gives it texture, and I think that texture lends the film an aura of actually being real. When you remove blemishes and make everything look so squeaky clean, I think it loses its humanity or realness. Anyway, Liv Ullman is so amazing. For much of the movie, Liv as Marianne has to absorb so much from her husband, his philosophies, his hangups, his plan for life. In the first episode, he's working with her, he seems decent, but the descent from there to Episode 4, and the hell of Episode 5, show her to be a lot of things: perhaps a bit saintly, but also more perceptive and altogether more interesting than Johan, her husband played by Erland Josephsen, who it seems is made to hate, though I find myself empathizing with him as well, or at least until Episode 5, when I really want him gone. Anyway, neither can fully extricate themselves from the other, and the second half of the series involves an absolute ton of emotional race to the bottom, intense, biting, bitter, upsetting, and I wonder why anyone would want to be married! But then, there's Johan's big hangup of having to go through rituals, basically tell lies or present as a lie in order to have comfort, which he soon rejects as he rejects Marianne, and I think the majority of people who get married DO want those things. Kurt Vonnegut said you get married just to have more people to talk to. I think Marianne and Johan went into marriage like many do, expecting way too much out of each other. I feel like the high-voltage euphoria at the beginning of a relationship is a truth (you feel that way) but a lie (you love someone because that's the way you're supposed to feel in love), but if you can get beyond that, you can learn that love means being a good companion, communicating, maybe teaming up to raise some kids, making compromises, making space for each other, and just enjoying the family aspect. Get out the grill and put up that swimming pool, blast some music, this is your Saturday, go talk sports with your brother-in-law and help the two oldest girls with their softball practice. Actually sound great to me. But I digress. Those are fairly basic things, and beyond that, to expect perfection or even greatness is ridiculous, and Johan has such high ideals for life that make him a bit of a condescending prick for wanting to run away from the family he helped create and for putting down the concept of family itself. He should've never gotten married in the first place.

I know that was rant-y, I'm sorry. Biggest takeways: Great acting, especially the facial components, lots of time close-ups, sometimes on the person reacting as opposed to talking, 16mm MWAH, wonderful dialogue, becomes more painful episode to episode, especially 2-5.

My hangup probably isn't terribly surprising for me, I'm just unsure what should have been happening after Johan beat Marianne in his office to the point she was bleeding. That fifth episode is the most tense, including the introduction of divorce papers, vengeful seduction, and an explosion of emotions that reminded me a bit of the scene between Charlie and Nicole in Marriage Story. I felt the more modern take on the fight to end all fights was perhaps more effective because there wasn't the physical violence. That allows you to still "see" both characters, especially as they both actually wanted their son, unlike Johan essentially wanting to disown his daugthers. The physical violence in Scenes made the 6th and final episode, where they get back together at a cottage, while kind of amusing with that garish star decoration barging in to the conversations, kind of hard to take. I don't think the violence need be avoided, it happens, it should be seen. But the sort of forgiveness and the compulsion Marianne still has to see Johan seems like he has a very worrisome hold on her, which, out of everything that is really well developed and fleshed-out, a little overlooked, in my opinion. If anything, this is a good discussion point to keep in mind as time moves forward and we come to understand how (or how not) abuse and its fallout can be shown.

Fave episode BTW is #4. Marianne finally gets a chance to explain herself by sharing some of her writing, which is beautiful, a bit jaded, where we get a montage of old photos as she speaks. It's almost a film-within-a-film, a documentary on the development from girl to woman and where she stands now. Once she's done, Johan is asleep. What a... That told us most everything we needed to know about most of them. That's a situation that didn't need to be the way it was, but for one incredibly selfish and self-righteous man with a self-inflated ego. Like I said, I did empathize with him at times, the need to be free, to pursue his passions, but then did you figure that out get a divorce and leave, or you don't get married in the first place. The worst case situation is all that emotional, and unfortunately in this case physical violence. It could have been largely avoided. But people are crazy.

Johan is a real piece of work, isn't he? He is terribly hard to like, but there are those moments where you feel for him. Maybe because he seems so familiar, and watching him makes me uncomfortably recall times when I have been that childish, petty, remote, thoughtless, vicious. Ullmann is amazing, but you have to hand it to Josephsson too. He makes a despicable character very real and at times unsettlingly relatable.

And yes, that 6th episode troubles me too, but I try to remind myself this is not a "happy" ending, but rather an unhappy pattern repeating itself in a different context.

I'd have to say my favorite episode is #3. It feels very true to life about how such a scenario would go down between a long-married couple, far from the explosive Hollywood version.

MartinTeller

  • FAB
  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 17854
  • martinteller.wordpress.com
    • my movie blog
Re: Top 100 Club: MartinTeller
« Reply #102 on: July 27, 2020, 09:40:46 AM »
Leningrad Cowboys Go To America (1989 Aki Kaurismäki)

Sublimely ridiculous. The hair, the shoes, the suits, the sunglasses. Some definite nods to The Blues Brothers (particularly the country music gig). I enjoyed the music, there was a lovely variety in the songs. This film moved along like a gentle breeze, no hurry, but it still moved along. Every now and then stopping for a song, but soon on the road again.

Dead pan, the whole style, from the pacing, to the cinematography, to the performances (even during the songs).

Rating: 76 / 100

Yes, very much in the vein of Blues Brothers, but with that wonderful Scandinavian deadpan. Doesn't sound like you loved as much as I do, but if you really liked the music, their concert film Total Balalaika Show is well worth a look. Honestly, I may like it even more than LCGA.

Sandy

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 12060
  • "The life we build, we never stop creating.”
    • Sandy's Cinematic Musings
Re: Top 100 Club: MartinTeller
« Reply #103 on: July 27, 2020, 08:50:13 PM »
Malcolm X



A chat review with Knocked Out Loaded and Sandy


KOL: It was a long movie!

Sandy: It sure was! Spike Lee was too enamored with their zoot suits. Much of that could have been edited way down.

KOL: Very much so. That backstory was too long, as was the time spent in prison,
but maybe it was necessary to balance the movie up that way. Those parts sure added texture!

Sandy:Yes, but it still felt padded. Just like those suit shoulders! Don’t get me wrong though, those suits were super cool.

KOL: They sure looked classy! Provocative too, in a way. Personally, I didn’t know that much about Malcolm before I saw the movie.

Sandy: Me neither. I knew very little. Yes, their clothes were a huge statement of style and attitude of defiance… There are so many avenues to walk down with this film. Each part is worth a discussion. I’ll start with the religious movement. It was very triggering. The sign that said, "Our most precious possession, our women," that made my skin crawl.

KOL: I never noticed that sign.

Sandy: It was during one of the rallies.

KOL: Alright, the statement in itself is a positive one, I guess, but the philosophy beneath is not and I guess it is the same in christianity, as in Islam or Judaism.

Sandy:  Yes, there is a darkness to it. It's the benevolent dictator stance.

KOL: Have we come a step further do you think?

Sandy: I wasn't sure where the story was going to go, but it did a good job of dismantling the religious movement, showing where power corrupts and hurts the most vulnerable. I do think we are a step further, but there are many religions that are still placing women as second class citizens, in the guise of holding them up on "pedestals.”
KOL: Yes, I see what you mean there. Just look at the film industry, how male dominated it still is.

Sandy: Yes. Very much so.

KOL: Actually, I think that we have not come so far that we believe we have.

Sandy: No, we haven’t… The movie is about race, but it also addresses gender issues. And even more, it's a movie all about an individual's evolution.

KOL: That is a generous way to look at it, Sandy.

Sandy: I think that is why Malcolm X’s story has endured - His ability to re-examine his beliefs and opinions and allowing himself to have new and changing ideas. It’s noteworthy

KOL: Over here, he is a much more marginal figure than Martin Luther King is.

Sandy: Here too. His story is messier. Sometimes he was misguided, but he adjusted and came closer to better answers.

KOL: I thought maybe his legacy was more living in the present debate in the U.S.

Sandy:  That sounds right. Please tell me more.

KOL: It is just a feeling. It is you who should inform me on that point, haha!

Sandy: :)  It’s definitely current affairs! The most powerful thing Malcolm said in the film is that until the black community could work together, they couldn't move forward… Infighting crumbles a cause.

KOL: The racism of course is present here too, but I feel that the deepest resentment is against black haired people of Mid Eastern origin.

Sandy: Clash of cultures?

KOL: At least their culture is definable. I know little about black culture. Here all this antagonism that boils up, basically it is about economy and also fear of a different perspective. It is not worthy of a globalized world, but I can understand the mechanisms that click in.

Sandy: Yes, fear is a big motivator. I like that statement, "not worthy of a globalized world."

KOL: i wanted more of all that in the movie, an angrier and more political Malcolm.

Sandy: Do you think he was toned down?

KOL: Yes, I like Denzel Washington very much, but he was a little soft. Maybe Malcolm was that irl. Maybe this gave extra complexity to the movie.

Sandy: I haven't watched any of Malcolm X’s speeches, so it would be interesting to see how close Denzel Washington gets to his persona.

KOL: I have not either. There was a documentary included that I might go to.

Sandy: I’d like to hear how the real Malcolm is compared to how he was portrayed. 

KOL: Do you think Samuel Jackson would have been a better choice? I was giving that a little thought. He is not as good as Denzel, not at all, but he has an attitude.

Sandy: I think I like the less bombastic approach. Malcolm lived through a lot of humbling experiences. He was so sure during his hoodlum life, and then so sure of his religious movement and both ended up crumbling around him. It’s more relatable to see him adjust to his setbacks and change of heart. It makes me think of the song from Music Man, “The sadder but wiser gal for me.” I’m a sucker for a humbled human.

KOL: I see, you have a point. In a way he almost seemed beaten.

Sandy: Yes, with his religious community turning on him and threatening his family, he basically lost everything, except his self respect.

KOL: Have you any knowledge of where his movement ended up after his death?

Sandy: That is a good question! I don’t.

KOL: Then I guess that all this was a Sisyphean effort and the stone rolled back to where it was from the beginning to start all over again!

Sandy:  I'm reading that Malcom X is credited with raising the self esteem of black Americans and reconnecting them with their African heritage. That’s a legacy!

KOL: One great thing about the movie that we haven't touched upon is the use of non-diegetic music throughout. I really liked that touch, especially during the first part when they were petty criminals.

Sandy: Yes, the music was very intentional. A good soundtrack.

KOL: Yes, and a toned down spike lee movie?

Sandy: I’ve only seen 4 of his movies, so don’t have a good grasp on his storytelling over the years. Blackklansman was pretty "in your face."
Maybe he's weary of subtly. What would a not toned down Spike Lee film be?

KOL: I don't know, but I usually get the feeling he tries to be in your face. Here he sure has opportunities to do just that, but stepped down a little.

Sandy: Letting the story speak for itself?

KOL: I guess so. Letterboxd says I have seen 8. Maybe he is better at rubbing things in, in interviews than on the screen. I liked Blackklansman very much.

Sandy: Me too. I haven't seen any of his interviews.

KOL: I think his filmography is an inspiring one.

Sandy: I agree. What I've seen so far makes me want to seek more out.

Dave the Necrobumper

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 12718
  • If I keep digging maybe I will get out of this hol
Re: Top 100 Club: MartinTeller
« Reply #104 on: July 27, 2020, 10:40:54 PM »
Leningrad Cowboys Go To America (1989 Aki Kaurismäki)

Sublimely ridiculous. The hair, the shoes, the suits, the sunglasses. Some definite nods to The Blues Brothers (particularly the country music gig). I enjoyed the music, there was a lovely variety in the songs. This film moved along like a gentle breeze, no hurry, but it still moved along. Every now and then stopping for a song, but soon on the road again.

Dead pan, the whole style, from the pacing, to the cinematography, to the performances (even during the songs).

Rating: 76 / 100

Yes, very much in the vein of Blues Brothers, but with that wonderful Scandinavian deadpan. Doesn't sound like you loved as much as I do, but if you really liked the music, their concert film Total Balalaika Show is well worth a look. Honestly, I may like it even more than LCGA.

Yes I do not appreciate it as much as you, but it is a good watch. The show sounds interesting.

MartinTeller

  • FAB
  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 17854
  • martinteller.wordpress.com
    • my movie blog
Re: Top 100 Club: MartinTeller
« Reply #105 on: July 27, 2020, 11:22:45 PM »
I think Denzel is perfect as Malcolm X, I couldn't imagine Samuel L. Jackson in that role. I can't say I know a whole lot about the man myself beyond what's in the movie, but I would think that making him angrier would be an unwise choice. It was his rhetoric, his intelligence, his dignity, his passion and commitment to uplifting black lives that made him great, not his "attitude".

I also don't mind all the backstory, as it gives a more complete picture of the man (I also just love that dance scene). But I can see how one might be wanting to get to the meat of his story quicker.

I suppose his influence largely lives on in the Nation of Islam, even though they assassinated him? I must confess I don't know much about it. Louis Farrakhan actually lives in the neighborhood I grew up in (I went to high school with his daughter). A divisive and controversial figure for sure. I'm not sure how prominent they are these days, to be honest, but when I was a kid you would often see them in the black suits and bow ties, selling copies of "The Final Call". According to Wikipedia they're all mixed up with the Church of Scientology now, which is weird.

One day I should read his autobiography.

As a film, I think it's masterfully engaging and with some brilliant cinematography... and of course, a great performance by Denzel Washington. For a deeper Spike Lee cut, I recommend Crooklyn, which almost made my list.

Thank you for watching and sharing your chat!

MartinTeller

  • FAB
  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 17854
  • martinteller.wordpress.com
    • my movie blog
Re: Top 100 Club: MartinTeller
« Reply #106 on: July 27, 2020, 11:29:24 PM »
Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) 75/100 - After finishing the film and submitting my rating on Criticker, I noticed that I've seen a lot of films by Robert Wise. He made films in almost every genre and was pretty successful in most of them. This is another finely crafted drama that looks and sounds great, but, at times, it seems as if there's just a tad too much on the plate. You've got the post-war angst alongside racial tension, with a huge helping of noir as the main course. But for a 96 minute film, it kind of dragged at times, and had a character whom I could not understand why she was there, Gloria Grahame. She sleepwalks though her short role and it appeared to me, was there just to pad out the film length. Robert Ryan, as always, is great and I was very impressed with Harry Belafonte's performance, who could have rivaled Sidney Poitier, if he did choose to do so. In essence, this film should have worked for me, but it only held me for brief moments, then it would just meander along. I doubt I'd re-visit it in the future.

Hope you don't mind if I cross-post your review here. I adore Belafonte's performance, I think way back when we did top 100 performance lists, it was on mine. As much as I adore Grahame, I do agree her scenes feel superfluous. As for too much on the plate, I disagree... the focus is primarily on the racial tension, although the post-war angst does factor into that incredibly bleak ending. I also love the score.

Obviously it hits some buttons for me that didn't for you, but I'm glad you got something out of it.

Eric/E.T.

  • Elite Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 3830
Re: Top 100 Club: MartinTeller
« Reply #107 on: July 28, 2020, 02:12:59 AM »

Johan is a real piece of work, isn't he? He is terribly hard to like, but there are those moments where you feel for him. Maybe because he seems so familiar, and watching him makes me uncomfortably recall times when I have been that childish, petty, remote, thoughtless, vicious. Ullmann is amazing, but you have to hand it to Josephsson too. He makes a despicable character very real and at times unsettlingly relatable.

And yes, that 6th episode troubles me too, but I try to remind myself this is not a "happy" ending, but rather an unhappy pattern repeating itself in a different context.

I'd have to say my favorite episode is #3. It feels very true to life about how such a scenario would go down between a long-married couple, far from the explosive Hollywood version.

Sorry for the particularly poor editing on my original post, I was all nerve last night and am even more so tonight.

I just wanted to add that what you said about Johan, that selfishness, viciousness, just on the emotional level, is hard for any of us to admit. Any human being at their worst was HORRIBLE, and I don't mean theoretical worst, but that certain low in their real, lived past experiences. The only place I can't go with him is physical abuse. But I think the physical abuse may have also made me reflect on my worst level of emotional barbarism, and I don't know if I was ever really THAT bad, but then, I don't know.

A lot of Scenes from a Marriage work for me because it's a lot more human than those explosive Hollywood versions. Just zoom in and let the actors and the script do their thing.
A witty saying proves nothing. - Voltaire

MartinTeller

  • FAB
  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 17854
  • martinteller.wordpress.com
    • my movie blog
Re: Top 100 Club: MartinTeller
« Reply #108 on: July 28, 2020, 08:58:50 AM »
ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER - I often feel like Almodovar is speaking through his use of mise en scene. The setups are often as alive as his characters, he recognizes he's putting on a play on screen.  The shot of Esteban's room, the reds and the subtle blues, the numbered dressers they are almost too perfect.  The players in this are all excellent, each unique in their identity and so loving each other despite being bound by the epidemic Lola.  I doubt it is unique to Hispanic culture, but sons and mothers tend to have an intense relationship with weird aspects of respect and love, almost Oedipal but not quite. Perhaps related to the years of Catholic embrace of the Virgin and her ascent as an icon.  It felt like Esteban could sense the chasm inside his mother, Manuela, that made her who she was and the distant connection with his unknown father. Manuela has to carry the weight and she is apt to the challenge as she faces the incredibly painful and not being afraid of her emotions. This film seems to speak on a number of levels of identity and gender and what it is to be a woman or for those who are women in almost every way.  This is almost the first part of PAIN AND GLORY, being the feminine and P&G as the masculine, though very intermixed.  I appreciate how no one really questions the choices, but still are imbued with their own emotional biases.  They are all beautiful and tragic and make for an incredible piece of cinema.  Thanks for sharing this one MT, I too am a huge Almodovar fan and am still in shock after the experience.

Whoops, I accidentally skipped over the good colonel here. Interesting note about sons and mothers, I think there's a lot of that in Almodovar's work (especially P&G). It may well be a certain Catholic influence in the culture. I'm really pleased you liked it so much. Your review has me thinking about possibly filling in my Almodovar blind spots: Julieta, Kika and his first three features.

colonel_mexico

  • Elite Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1416
Re: Top 100 Club: MartinTeller
« Reply #109 on: July 28, 2020, 12:37:46 PM »
Thanks MT! And no worries, figured there were so many reviews on ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER it looked like one you had gotten to!  JULIETA is fantastic, but KIKA is a little strange and one of his flops.  Your top 100 from all the other film reviews seems very robust and substantive films (I tend to put fun movies in there like TOP GUN haha).  I'm looking forward to AGUIRRE, hopefully by the end of the week.
"What do you want me to do draw you a picture?! Spell it out?! Don't ever ask me, as long as you live don't ever ask me more!"