Author Topic: Top 100 Club: PeacefulAnarchy  (Read 586 times)

1SO

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Re: Top 100 Club: PeacefulAnarchy
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2018, 01:59:17 PM »
It's taking me a long time to put together my thoughts on The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum. I can't separate it from today's journalism under siege, but I can't tell what Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta are trying to say about the press. "The Paper" is portrayed as bad but the press in general is in the right because Blum is definitely jerking them around. She's both the victim and playing up being the victim, which is interesting but muddy.

Angela Winkler gives a great performance and the direction is solid, but I feel like I missed the point, even though the film may only be handing me the events, asking me to come up with a point myself.

Sandy

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Re: Top 100 Club: PeacefulAnarchy
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2018, 02:59:05 PM »
PeacefulAnarchy, these are the films I choose for your month. :)

Letter Never Sent
Mr. Nobody
Walkabout
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PeacefulAnarchy

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Re: Top 100 Club: PeacefulAnarchy
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2018, 02:35:09 PM »
Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 2004)

I was advised to wait two years between Sunrise and Sunset... well, six months isn't that bad, right ?

Obviously it's not too bad, because I liked this even more than Sunrise. I'm very impressed by the way Jesse and Celine pick up right where they left off, though the nature of their conversations is very different. In Sunrise, they're philosophizing about the world, the nature of time, God etc. What little there is of that here is much more down-to-earth,; and they mostly end up talking about their actual, practical life and the way they've been affected by their missed connection a decade earlier. There are a few things that make this better than Sunrise to me, but one of them is that I felt the process of Jesse falling in love with Celine all over again much more acutely than in Sunrise, and I don't know if it's me liking Céline more in her thirties or the connection simply being more profound this time around, or if it's Ethan Hawke's performance that got better... it's probably a combination of these things really, and everything generally being more meaningful because there's that weight of what happened before hanging over the film. It's no longer a discovery of each other, it's a realization of something that feels obvious.

Part of it is also the real time nature of it. Linklater constrains himself much more than in Sunrise, where he had a whole night for his story: as such, their conversation is slightly more intense than it probably would be realistically... but it works, and I think that's because of Linklater's directing. I was reminded of Victoria: there are many cuts here, but the film feels of one piece because of that real time element. It's breathless (hah) in a way, we're there with them for those 80 minutes, and there's something exhilarating to that. The more I think about it, the more it seems obvious to me that they're also simply better, deeper performances on both sides here, maybe because Delpy takes control of the film in some ways, with Hawke spending a lot of time reacting to her, which he's great at.

In any case, this is simply wonderful. It's funny that there are so many films now trying to take characters we know and love and give us more of them in the hopes of solliciting an emotional reaction, but none of them get the effect that Linklater gets here. Probably because seeing Han Solo and Leia thirty years after is nice and all, but those movies aren't about their relationship really, it's just an element of them. Because Linklater makes these intimate films, the the effect of seeing them reunited is much stronger, and there's also the fact that it's so relatable: even if most of us haven't had any experience as romantic as Before Sunrise, we've ran into people we hadn't seen in a long time, or thought about what might happen if we would at the very least. Linklater, Delpy and Hawke, who really do feel like co-authors here, get that completely right, and the way their priorities shift from Sunrise to Sunset, from the big ideas to the disillusionment and need to deal with reality, that all makes for a very powerful experience.

9/10
I agree completely. When I originally watched them I liked Sunrise better, but when I rewatched them some years ago I came over to the opinion you express above. Sunrise is very good, and probably Sunset wouldn't be what it is without that background, but the focus of the conversations here is a bit more organic and to my current tastes. I still like philosophizing, but the more grounded dimension works better especially when we get to know two characters like these. And yeah the performances are better and Hawke in particular turning down the smugness a bit helps.

I wonder how you'll feel about Midnight. It's a little less laid back, which is why Sunset is still my favourite, but it's still very good. It's a very good trilogy in that regard, quite consistent in characterizations and style but each speaking to a slightly different perspective.

PeacefulAnarchy

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Re: Top 100 Club: PeacefulAnarchy
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2018, 03:01:51 PM »
Manila in the Claws of Light
Watching the film knowing nothing was like watching your first film by a distinct filmmaker without knowing if they ever made another. It's rough and ragged and wasn't grabbing me like Pixote or City of God, which seemed reasonable comparison points. I figured this was someone who only made the one film or possibly a voice new to me with a rich filmography. That felt more like the case when I got to the climax of this 1975 film which looks a lot like the 1976 film Taxi Driver, directed by someone famous for lifting from more obscure corners of cinema. That's when it clicked that the real point of reference might be Mean Streets or more likely Abel Ferrara.

Sure enough, in my post-game I discover director Lino Brocka is one of if not THE most famous Filipino director, and there's a Marathon to be done in Weighed But Found Wanting, this, Insiang (the first Filipino film to play the Cannes Film Festival), Jaguar, Bona and Bayan ko. All highly-rated on IMDB and Letterboxd, two available on Criterion.

So, I'd love to know PA if you've seen anything else by Brocka and what is it about this one that's so special to you? I'm asking because it didn't grab me, but that might be because I wasn't prepared. For this type of film, Manila showed me the roots of a type of gritty street melodrama where I've enjoyed much of the fruit.
I've only seen Manila, but I have been meaning to watch more, Insiang in particular. I think all your points of comparison are interesting, it definitely has that gritty 70s NYC vibe of Mean Streets or Ferrara, but carries different weight when plunged into Manila. Like the grit and gloom and despair aren't just an underbelly or a transition but something much more deeply ingrained in the fabric of the reality. The edges are a bit rough at times but the rawness of the material, makes up for it. Sounds like the kind of film that you might rewatch in 5 years or something and have it click for you, at least I hope so.

It's taking me a long time to put together my thoughts on The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum. I can't separate it from today's journalism under siege, but I can't tell what Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta are trying to say about the press. "The Paper" is portrayed as bad but the press in general is in the right because Blum is definitely jerking them around. She's both the victim and playing up being the victim, which is interesting but muddy.

Angela Winkler gives a great performance and the direction is solid, but I feel like I missed the point, even though the film may only be handing me the events, asking me to come up with a point myself.
It's been so long I might have to rewatch this. My recollection of my interpretation of the point was less about the press and more about power structures. The way those in power shape narratives and oppress with a mix of direct and indirect means. I think it's also meant to be an analogue of sorts to the things happening in East Germany at the time, where the government was also oppressing and spying on its citizens but in different ways. Sort of saying we may be better in some respects, but deep down our system has similar issues whose execution is tailored to what's acceptable in a democracy. I remember having particular reactions to specific scenes and moments, but I couldn't begin to say which ones now.

Sandy

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Re: Top 100 Club: PeacefulAnarchy
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2018, 12:01:07 AM »
Letter Never Sent



If fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know… all these things shall give thee experience. -- Joe Smith


I’d change the last bit to, “all these things shall give the audience an experience.” And what an experience it is! Fire and water, smoke and rain, wind and fog… The combinations of nature’s upheavals are nearly endless and endlessly fascinating to watch.

Is this the first showcasing of a hand-held camera, or an early rendition? Color me impressed! There are a few moments though, where I unintentionally drop the suspension of disbelieve. With all the thrashing through the trees, it makes me wonder if there mightn’t be an easier, alternate route a little bit to the right or left and sometimes the circuitous paths through said trees make me smile a little as I reminisce on old movies and TV shows where small sets of Styrofoam cave walls become long journeys, with the use of “creative” camera work.

If this comes across as completely unwarranted, then take it as my way of self-preservation, by keeping the film a little at arm’s length. The images are too sharp, the close-ups are too personal and Tatyana is too lovely for words. This has got to be the same director as The Cranes are Flying… Yep, sure enough! I’d know his style anywhere.

This is where I need a course on cinematography, because I don’t know where the director, Mikhail Kalatozov, stops and Sergey Urusevskiy, the cinematographer, starts. I may never know, because both men are credited for being directors and cinematographers. Whatever the combination, this team is a force of nature.
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1SO

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Re: Top 100 Club: PeacefulAnarchy
« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2018, 12:12:54 PM »
The Brand New Testament
In the early 90s, Siskel and Ebert brought Toto le héro to my attention and were so positive about it I saw it as soon as I could. I saw what the film was aiming to do and their review was like a fantasy of what it would be like if Jaco Van Dormael succeeded at everything he was attempting. (This type of magic wish fulfillment is typical of his work.) 3 years ago I watched Mr. Nobody, which I described as "Young Adult Cloud Atlas". JVD's endless visual imagination reminded me of Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton now that both directors care so little about the substance.

The obvious comparison point with BNT is Amélie, which may be intentional with the casting of Yolande Moreau. I would tell anyone who loves Amélie they have to make time for this, though at first this was like the negative version of that type of film, dwelling on the hardships of living. In the one simple, bold stroke of the moment when God's daughter sends everyone their date of death the film sets itself on a similar path of seeing life's glass as half full and Jean-Pierre Jeunet is denied what could've been his greatest story idea.

While there are still streaks of Van Dormael the show-off, he scales it back often enough to where the style is never mare fanciful than the substance. I enjoyed this film in a lot of different ways, the puzzle-box plotting involving the 6 new apostles, the slow liberation of God's wife, God being foiled by his own sadistic laws of nature, discovering a person's inner music. The serious stuff doesn't stick as hard as it should because the silly stuff involves things like beastiality. There's more here than is being explored involving loneliness, how our lives are shaped by sex and gender identity. This would've been an even stronger film with some genuine discovery and closure with characters like the person writing the book and the guy who keeps jumping from great heights, but this is easily my favorite JVD film and likely to appear as a Discovery.

pixote

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Re: Top 100 Club: PeacefulAnarchy
« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2018, 03:09:42 AM »


Johnny Got His Gun  (Dalton Trumbo, 1971)

I think it was the Ratings Project Communal Watchlist that first made me want to watch Johnny Got His Gun (8.18 average from 5 votes, at last count), plus the film's position in PeacefulAnarchy's Top 100, a list with which I find a good deal of kinship. (I'd totally forgotten that Metallica's video for "One" serves as CliffsNotes for the whole movie.) Somewhere along the way, though, I got nervous that Trumbo's film wasn't going to be to my liking — perhaps just an impression I got while looking at screenshots — and, unfortunately, my viewing tonight has borne out that concern. Through the first half, I actively disliked the experience. There's something just ... icky ... about it, which is crap criticism on my part, but what can you do. I'm generally quite open (and even partial) to depressing material, even when drably presented, but Johnny Got His Gun felt like an ordeal. I suppose you can argue that that's part of the point — for the audience to endure a fraction of Joe's torturous existence — but the point of it all just seemed belabored to me.

Things started to improve when Timothy Bottoms (as Joe) had a one-on-one scene with Donald Sutherland (as Jesus Christ), partly just because I so enjoyed seeing Sutherland in that role. Jason Robards' has a few nice Robards-y moments as well, bringing some professionalism to a largely amateur cast (or an amateurly-directed cast, perhaps). These moments helped bridge some of the distance that existed between me and the movie, and in the second half I was at least able to appreciate some of what I was seeing, if only on a theoretical level. I wish the fantasy imagery had added up to more, and I wish the script had dug deeper into its core themes rather than just hammering them home on an endless loop. Along those lines, I thought Trumbo's film compared unfavorably with another film by an writer-turned-director that I watched for this club, William Peter Blatty's The Ninth Configuration.

I hate not having liked this more, but I'm glad 1SO and Jared did back when they watched it for the Communal Watchlist marathon. I'm curious, PeacefulAnarchy, if you yourself have seen this more than once; it seems like the kind of film that, even as a favorite, one might be reluctant to revisit.

Ideally I'll get to a second film this month (Jeanne Dielman and The Burmese Harp were my original targets, but I'm also really anxious to see Letter Never Sent and Flesh and the Devil), with the caveat that I'm still playing catchup for the last few months. So we'll see. edit: I was originally planning to watch the DVD of The Great Silence that I've had sitting here for a year, but then I saw that a new restoration was playing theatrically (which I just missed), so now I'm holding out for the Blu-Ray.

pixote
« Last Edit: June 18, 2018, 03:17:37 AM by pixote »
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

PeacefulAnarchy

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Re: Top 100 Club: PeacefulAnarchy
« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2018, 11:52:00 PM »
Johnny Got His Gun  (Dalton Trumbo, 1971)
:( Disappointing, but not a completely surprising reaction. It is a very strangely constructed film and where that certainly can turn you off for me it's a big part of the appeal. The voice over and the way it's mixed with the visuals just really captivated me, I found it impressive on a creative level and the fact that it worked with the material sealed it. You're right that I've been reluctant to revisit it, it's quite depressing and that's always hard for me to go back to. Although lately I think I'm in a place where I'd like to rewatch the ones I've been avoiding for that reason (this, Schindler's list, Come and See and a few others). I'm partial to depressive films but I don't always want to watch them.

Hopefully whichever one of those others you choose fares better, they all have their idiosyncrasies that make them a bit of a risk but even Dielman which has the length and style to make people bored is probably a bit more familiar a style.

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Re: Top 100 Club: PeacefulAnarchy
« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2018, 12:42:11 PM »
It is a very strangely constructed film and where that certainly can turn you off for me it's a big part of the appeal. The voice over and the way it's mixed with the visuals just really captivated me, I found it impressive on a creative level and the fact that it worked with the material sealed it.

I like how it's constructed; that wasn't a turn-off at all. My problem was more with the individual scenes that made up that construction. Too few of them were fully engaging on their own merits. The film succeeds more on the interplay between scenes and their cumulative effect — but that wasn't enough for me, in this case. To be fair, I think the film is inhibited by its budget, the time it was made, and the quality of the direction. (I had a similar negative reaction to The Swimmer.) I much preferred Trumbo's writing to his direction, which, though conceptually strong, generally seemed rather clumsy in its execution. (The bakery scene is one example that comes to mind; or even the carnival scene.) I felt the film was also burdened by the fact that half of it was grounded in a very non-cinematic concept: despite the best efforts of the cinematographer, the hospital room (utility closet) with the barely visible patient doesn't offer enough visual engagement. It's the kind of setup that Rod Serling could make work in a 26-minute Twilight Zone episode; but it's a tough row to hoe in a two-hour movie.

Flesh and the Devil jumped up in my queue when I saw it mentioned as a reference point for Woman in the Moon.

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

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Re: Top 100 Club: PeacefulAnarchy
« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2018, 12:43:54 PM »
The Exterminating Angel (https://benefitsofaclassicaleducation.wordpress.com/2018/06/20/back-catalog-review-the-exterminating-angel/)

Like a less-overt episode of The Twilight Zone, The Exterminating Angel puts people in a weird situation and then sees what happens before putting a final twist of the knife at the very end. It's unlike most other movies in that it isn't super concerned with characters or even a story as such. And for all of its surrealism and absurdity, the events of the film mostly follow logically from one to the next. Everything, that is, except for the first few minutes, which feature the servants in a baroque Spanish mansion trying to leave before the start of a dinner party that will prove to last quite a long time. We see two maids hide in a closet as the group of rich revelers enter the house and go upstairs to the banquet hall. Here the maids see their escape route open, only to have the same set of guests enter and perform the same actions a second time around. It's your first hint that something is up here and it's delightful and offputting at the same time.

When the guests finish their meal and everybody prepares to leave, they find that they can't. They can't cross an invisible border between rooms, outlined by darker curtains that become more and more noticeable as the film progresses. Soon enough people are eating paper and busting a pipe in the wall for water. The party lasts forever, and Luis Bunuel does a fantastic job of turning the gap between what looks like one conversation and then the very next event into a space of hours or even days. There's really no way of knowing what exactly is keeping the party-goers in the room nor what is keeping everybody outside the house from entering it.

Bunuel uses this premise to point out the absurdity of the upper classes. A doctor tries to diagnose the problem and another man tries to reason his way through the invisible barrier, while yet others start to turn towards religion as an answer or a way out. Politesse soon unravels into contempt and perversion. Bunuel escalates the situation masterfully, with each moment seeming just a little worse than the one before. There's a moment just before the climax where he pans across the room, showing each surviving member of the party posed in postures of defeat. Bunuel has claimed that the film is a failure because he didn't take the depravity far enough. I admit that I wanted to see the guests turn on each other even more before the movie ended, but it's hard to watch this and call it a failure. While I might not understand the specificity of the satire on display (nor did I laugh at it, wry smirking was all I could muster) without further research, I think the general idea of pointing out how the rules of high-society life barely cover a the worst impulses of humanity are still quite resonant.

B+

PS. The bear really freaked me out. Sometimes it was a real bear and sometimes a guy in a suit and I think the mix of animal and human physicality worked well thematically as well as reminded me of the dog/bear/ghost blowjob shot in Kubrick's version of The Shining, so much so that I can't help but feel like the Kubrick scene was an homage of sorts to this film in addition to being a fragment of one of the weirder sections of the book.
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