Author Topic: Top 100 Club: Bondo  (Read 1666 times)

1SO

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Re: Top 100 Club: Bondo
« Reply #60 on: June 07, 2019, 12:54:47 PM »
I didn't know about this either, though it comes as no surprise. What I find fascinating is how this type of film was made and released and even celebrated. This was okay during my lifetime, and his victims didn't come forward until very recently. I expected to read his suicide was decades ago, but it was November 2016 when Hamilton was 83.
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1SO

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Re: Top 100 Club: Bondo
« Reply #61 on: June 08, 2019, 12:01:18 AM »
The Tale
★ ★ ★ - Good


I was around when a movie about a sexually abused child would be something on networks, which meant the end product would be censored down to a special lecture about how bad it is. The abuser would be a clear force of evil in a way that would realistically be obvious to everyone else in the room while the abused would be a series of images to represent innocence. That's as far and as subtle as you'd be allowed to go, dramatically peaking during the squeamish scene where the man crosses the line with verbal suggestion.

To tell such a story today you have to make a lot of smart decisions. On a basic level, you can't flinch from presenting step-by-step details in a way that never feels false for an instant. Then you have to capture all of the complexity in a way that makes this a compelling drama and not a sleazy one. For Jennifer Fox, this is a story that needed to be told, handled with an unusually sharp clarity. She's close enough to make her story sting, but distant enough to have a deeper understanding of the big picture.

There are a number of standout moments, mostly because of the meta-framing story that allows Fox to peel back events in layers instead of the usual chronology. Most effective is when after a good long time of Jennifer feeling like she was special in some weird way, we learn there were others, and this kicks up a lot of emotions, but the first reaction is one of betrayal, of being lied to. 2nd most effective is the way the story folds Mrs. G back into events, increasing her complicity. I also really liked the brief but important arc of adult Jennifer's boyfriend once he learns about the past.
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smirnoff

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Re: Top 100 Club: Bondo
« Reply #62 on: June 08, 2019, 04:03:29 PM »
At the Heart of Gold

One of the saddest aspects of the story to me was that the most frequently abused victims were so accustomed to it that they went on to council new victims that what they were experiencing was entirely normal. I guess that's not such an unusual dynamic in human behaviour generally, but it's particularly sad to see it come into play here.

The pattern with these mass-sexual abuse cases seems to be that they're always bigger than anyone first realizes. Cosby, Sandusky, Catholic Church, whatever else. Another pattern is that it seems to take more than one person coming forward to get the ball rolling. I guess this information is useful in the sense that victims shouldn't necessarily assume they are the only one. But woe to that first person to come forward... they always seem to get the worst of it.

Nasser doesn't come across as a mastermind in this doc, but an opportunist. While the culture of gymnastics, the age of the athletes, and the ultra-tiny leadership structure may have all combined to create uniquely favourable conditions for Nasser to commit the abuse, I don't think we need credit him with being more than a creep in the right place at the right time. The dynamics which worked to his favour were unfortunate side-effects which he then took advantage of, but not something he devised and set into motion through careful planning. At least I don't believe so. I feel that is an important aspect of the story... not to see it in an overly conspiratorial way, but to see it as opportunism. I don't know that you can solve for creeps, since they come in so many forms. But you can solve the conditions which creeps can thrive maybe?

Strong stuff.

Bondo

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Re: Top 100 Club: Bondo
« Reply #63 on: June 08, 2019, 11:35:28 PM »
I think that's right. Like, obviously Nasser is a very bad person, but without everyone else failing, he gets sentenced after one victim, not hundreds. That's why it is so important to talk about rape culture rather than just individual offenders. I'm not sure how much you talk about the film as a technical work (which is admittedly my standard on docs) but I think it just is so precise in putting things in the right perspective.

smirnoff

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Re: Top 100 Club: Bondo
« Reply #64 on: June 09, 2019, 05:24:03 PM »
You've been watching docs with more regularity than I have lately so I think you're consciousness for such things is operating at a higher level than mine. I didn't encounter anything that rubbed me the wrong way, which is good, but without any recent, outstanding negative experiences to compare it against I find it hard to define the particular things that set this one apart, or elaborate on the goodness of it's construction. It was a large point in your review, so I take it to have been an exceptional example of conventional documentary filmmaking. I suspect it is an aspect of the film I may appreciate more in retrospect (after seeing something bad). :))

1SO

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Re: Top 100 Club: Bondo
« Reply #65 on: June 11, 2019, 09:09:38 AM »
Room in Rome

Quote
The actual sex scenes are about the least sexy part. There is just something amazingly appealing about a women so comfortable with themselves to just exist, unselfconsciously, without clothes. In some ways the sex is the big problem here. While each instance has some meaning, watching them go at it is kind of grinding the character development of the dialogue to a halt.

While I was surprised to read this on Bondo's review, I'm glad to see we were on the same page. Unlike the unapologetic taboo erotica of Laura, this has a emotional ground it wants to cover. The clothes come off almost immediately, but the layers of protection take all night, and after all the false stories there's still some doubt as to how much truth was shared. After an initial tryst, the sex breaks are largely unnecessary. (I'm hearing "this Old Man" in my head.) It's all about the stories and the looks between the two women, who quickly become more compelling for their thoughts and their words than their bodies. Definitely more to it than lesbian erotica, even though it worked for me more as a formal exercise because their stories didn't strike a deeper connection with me. That's not a problem, this isn't really made for me and it's high praise that I didn't want the women to shut up.
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oldkid

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Re: Top 100 Club: Bondo
« Reply #66 on: June 11, 2019, 03:56:14 PM »
Booksmart

I just don’t see what this film offers above other “aware” (you can’t say “woke”) coming of age comedies about a first sexual encounter.  Superbad, The Sure Thing, Risky Business,  Fast Times at Ridgemont High... this film fits right into that mold.  The protagonists are surrounded by “experienced” people, but they seem hopelessly naive.   They recognize their naïveté and take firm steps to get beyond them, thinking that a sure, in-your-face approach will get them past this stage.  And, of course, there is some kind of time limit.  Here, the protagonists are female, nerdy and bossy and they have one night.  But why does this film fell so much different than the others?

One, is that they are girls.  They may be somewhat crude, but their initial thought wasn’t to “get laid.”  They wanted to experience the fun that other kids their age were having with, to their chagrin, no ill effect.  They had one more night before graduation and the rest of their tightly-planned lives, so they were going to party like it’s 2019.

And it really works.  The Sure Thing is the only one of the films above that I really enjoyed, because the banter was fast and sharp.  This film has that quick, punchy dialogue to a certain degree, but the real key is that there is already a developed, solid relationship.  Not romantic, but a bond that has clearly been formed for years.  They don’t have to “get laid” that night, and they don’t have to build a significant relationship, but no matter what (even through the inevitable conflict), their friendship would survive.  That takes out some of the stakes, perhaps, but is also releases some of the tension of the protagonist finding out that their goal wasn’t as life-changing as they thought it would be.  This gives the observer the opportunity to laugh and to enjoy the many colorful characters and situations.   I have never been so relaxed at a teen comedy in my life, and that felt good.

4/5
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

Bondo

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Re: Top 100 Club: Bondo
« Reply #67 on: June 11, 2019, 10:04:47 PM »
I think one thing that makes Booksmart work better than a lot of comedies of its type is it generally finds ways to couteract the more skeezy tropes. Though it does I'd say on one instance push too far into gross-out that I'd say is typical of a lesser film. I've heard critiques that it is too cheery a presentation of everyone being good and more complex, but I didn't really need one of the school guys to turn out to be a total creep.

it's high praise that I didn't want the women to shut up.

Trying to get into the quoted out of context thread? I don't have a lot to in response to your write-ups of The Tale or Room in Rome. Just kind of a "yup."

Teproc

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Re: Top 100 Club: Bondo
« Reply #68 on: June 14, 2019, 05:10:40 AM »
The Heiress (William Wyler, 1949)

**Spoilery**

"The Heiress" could probably be the title of a good third of Hollywood comedies from the 30s and 40s, from the admittedly small sample I've experienced. It's particularly appropriate here, because Olivia de Havilland's Catherine Sloper being so utterly lacking in characteristics or personality beside her social status is pretty central to the film's plot. As her father (a very sharp Ralph Richardson*) strikingly puts it in a pivotal scene: "You have nothing else", which is undoubtedly harsh but, as far as the viewer can see, quite accurate.

Before that point, the films plays out almost like a meta mystery, with Wyler playing with the audience's penchants for either romanticism or cynicism. It's hard not to be suspicious of Clift's Morris Townsend from the very start, but Wyler's direction, Clift and de Havilland's performances and especially Copland's score play around with the audience's expectations and emotions, pulling them in the opposite direction so that the film doesn't entirely show its hand too early. There is the old American idea that persistence is a sign of love after all, and it's not hard to read the first two thirds of the film as star-crossed lovers battling an overbearing curmudgeon who can't get over the death of his wife and constantly puts his daughter down behind her back. It could easily turn out to be the tale of a woman gaining her independence and, in the process, helping her father reckon with his grief. That neither of the lovers seems to have much of a personality wouldn't be so uncommon for such a story, after all. There's a playfulness in the storytelling that clashes interestingly with how dead serious the performances are.

It all changes when Richardson openly confronts his daughter, and openly reveals his deep-seated contempt for her. From that point on, the mystery/romance duality disappears and leaves way for a full-on tragedy. Only one of the three characters die, but none emerge unscathed, and de Havilland's performance does a complete 180. The way Wyler films her going up the stairs after realizing her fairy tale was just that is quite striking, and gets repeated for great effect later in the film. As demure and blank de Havilland was in the first part, she becomes something else entirely, feral almost, as she accepts her fate as the most horrible thing that could happen to a woman in victorian society: to become an old maid. I don't know that I can fully reconcile the two halves there, frankly. I think she underplays the romance half too much: it sure creates a huge contrast, but it's also hard to buy her as a consistent character, which is a shame because she really is formidable in the latter part of the film, especially when she gets to enact some small vengeance upon her would-be lover. Wyler's direction also becomes much more dynamic towards the end of the film, which adds to my feeling that the first 30 minutes or so are kinda unengaging by design.

7/10

*I wasn't familiar with him, though Letterboxd tells me he's a voice in Watership Down and appears in Time Bandits. Curious to see more, he's very good in this.
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Bondo

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Re: Top 100 Club: Bondo
« Reply #69 on: June 14, 2019, 11:57:05 PM »
I think we are in a pretty similar place on de Haviland. I said "but this is when Catherine emerges as her own character for the first time in the film" in my review. But I guess I found the contrast more successful than you; I did not necessarily have an issue with the first half in the context of the second half. I find that necessary, and yes, designed, but I guess I was still engaged.