Author Topic: Top 100 Club: Sam the Cinema Snob  (Read 5882 times)

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Top 100 Club: Sam the Cinema Snob
« Reply #110 on: November 23, 2020, 09:59:45 AM »
I wrote a long piece about Dredd here.

I certainly think the film is more satirical/critical of the judicial system than most, but I understand your concern. To some extent, I'm not sure how far you go with that without sacrificing the tone of the piece, which is why I don't like Judge Dredd (1995). And there's always room for audience misinterpretation. I know someone who takes Starship Trooper at face value and I think that's one of the greatest pieces of film satire. He just completely misses all the humor and think it's a legitimately persuasive film about how we should give people citizenship in the future.

Like I said, I doubt it'll make my next top 100. I've seen two much better films written by Alex Garland since, both of which have a decent shot of taking its place.
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Sandy

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Re: Top 100 Club: Sam the Cinema Snob
« Reply #111 on: November 24, 2020, 12:22:35 AM »
Ordet



*Spoilery

KOL: I watched Ordet yesterday. I showed my wife a snippet and she asked, "Why are you watching this? Do I know you?!"

Sandy: :)) What did you answer?

KOL: It is a must see classic I need to watch for a discussion.

Sandy: Good answer. I believe that is the reason I watched it too.

KOL: But boy, what a depressing movie this was. Have you watched Winter Light? I thought of that a little. It feels light weighted in comparison. I also thought a little of Bresson and The Turin Horse too.

Sandy: Those comparisons are good. Each of those types of films are about setting a specific mood. They each feel heavy. I haven't seen Winter Light. In fact, I was confusing it with Ordet and that is why I thought it was directed by Bergman. It feels rather ignorant of me to lump Scandinavian movies together like that. Slowly, I'm learning, though. The thing that struck me the most with Ordet is the placement of the faces and their line of sight. So often, they wouldn't look at each other. It was unearthly, really.

KOL: No they did not seem to acknowledge each other, like they lived in isolated capsules or something. Still, it never felt like this was a film that critized people of faith. It never made mockery out of God.

Sandy: It's a film about embracing faith. I'm the one who felt mocked a little, for not having faith.

KOL: Seriously?

Sandy: Faith like that is not part of my life anymore, so it felt a bit judgey.

KOL: I can understand that from what I know of your previous experiences.

Sandy: Mostly it felt like I was watching from a distance, both in time and experiences. Yes, experiences. Thanks for understanding what I was trying to get at.

KOL: Myself, i just felt relieved that there is no god in my life, but I don't think that the film set out to give you such a feeling. It is an earnest movie.

Sandy: It is. I was curious about whether the two families represented real sects in Denmark at the time.

KOL: I have read nothing about the film. After watching it for the two hours, I was surprised that the transcendental moment at the end touched me to a degree

Sandy: It was a surprising moment, so it feels right that your reaction surprised you too.

KOL: I think the chore that proceeded it was necessary to make you feel that way.

Sandy: True. The whole movie was designed for this reaction.

KOL: Can you think of an explanation of that moment when she woke up, or maybe rather what it symbolized?

Sandy: Like you said, it was an earnest film about faith and the "what if" addresses what one of the preachers said about there not being miracles any longer. The miracle becomes a thought experiment. "What if miracles hadn't ceased?"

KOL: It is a movie that is positive towards religion even though it portrays it in a strange kind of way. For my own part, it lacked the doubt dimension of faith in it.

Sandy: Do you mean that you never believed, so you never doubted?

KOL: I think i was a believer when i was little, but the doubt thing referred to the movie.

Sandy: I see.

KOL: Had it displayed doubt, I could have embraced it more.

Sandy: You didn't see the doubt factor play out in the movie very well? It was like a passing comment.

KOL: Right. I more or less missed that.

Sandy: The husband was not a believer, but it wasn't explored. He also just accepted the loss with resignation.

KOL: That is right. He could have made a full frontal assault on god but never did.

colonel_mexico

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Re: Top 100 Club: Sam the Cinema Snob
« Reply #112 on: November 26, 2020, 03:41:12 PM »
CERTIFIED COPY (2010) - It is the most odd places where I find myself pondering postmodernism and what is reality, what makes us who we are. The opening sequence immediately hits you with these ideas, especially the observation that we ourselves are merely genetic replicas of our ancient ancestors.  The name of the film "Certified Copy" an authentication of something that is promised to be a reproduction of an original.  It is oxymoronic as are many of the themes of this complex film that is so layered and nuanced I hardly feel like I understood much of what was being expressed. What could have been a simple love story tale of two seemingly opposites finding love and companionship in their differences. But Kiarostami instead begins an entire new play in the last few acts, a marriage on the rocks as two people who have clearly grown apart but for whatever reason convenience, children, normalcy, the fear of ending up alone binds them together--such a "realistic" depiction of many marriages posing as a sham that everyone just accepts, even if everyone knows it isn't true/real. 

The man, and the one with a name, seems to embody the usual patriarchal archetype, he has a name, he is important, his job is important, and his needs and wants are what drives the story and the characters. The woman has no name, but is certainly very alive and rages against everything he embodies, his Peter Pan syndrome of living life only for pleasure. Sure there are some healthy qualities about seeking pleasure and not living to work and I think his appreciation of the simple sister and her original husband are traits that likely initially attracted the woman to him. But his epicurean approach to life has eroded away any kind of healthy relationship he has with either his wife or his son (if they indeed are the couple the second half of the film portray them as). The woman portrays the stoic, she is responsible, she knows the harsh reality of being responsible for herself and another life and that someone does have to pay for everything. She is actually the most realistic because she exists in the objective world where you must behave as an adult, you must be the doting husband and father.  She wants the simple, that he makes so complicated because he feels living that sort of life is unoriginal, since everyone does it. At one point he says he hates to explain to the woman the obvious about himself, when the most obvious thing is the woman can forgive all faults, all wrongs if he only paid attention to her instead of himself. To notice the earrings and fulfill an expression of love through a simple compliment.  I love the comparison of him sitting waiting in the little chapel and refusing to take a picture and when he is finally corralled to take the photo a very despondent bride-to-be takes his place, they are the same unhappily participants in the game. 

I see both the man and woman's philosophies and i think they can both be right, a sort of postmodern Schrodinger's Cat, where both are selfish, both have valid positions on living life, both are also wrong in how they approach the other.  Though the woman does seem to make a much more concerted effort, and her position is a bit more justified because she refuses to accept the status quo, she refuses to give in to his base desires and even teases him about loving a terrible red wine.  Her fault, if any, is that she loves this man when all the signs and red flags surround her, she still is enamored with him and his idealism. Opposite do attract and as her son wonderfully noted she was starry eyed and not listening to the content, instead just in love with the attractive man.  Her own base desires winning over the common sense (and those red flags) to be with this man who flicks that instinctual switch of attraction.  Is love real, how do we define it? Besides the carnal attraction to procreate don't we love the idiosyncrasies of some, but despise those quarks in others--my wife always forgets to close the top on the contact solution, I might have found this a turn off, but for her I see past this and simply smile and close it myself.  Arguably manifestations of love could be part of the chemical desires to reproduce, raise young, and perpetuate the species, but that would fall so short of explaining our lives and how much meaning there is in the countless moments we spend living.

Lots meandering of thought here in this sort of review/stream of conscious thoughts, that is to say I loved this film greatly. There are some amazing shots, the use of mirrors to show the woman first as sort of model amongst the other beautiful marble statutes and then later a bit of terror for the man as she attempts to disprove his theory with other people.  Juliette Binoche is incredible, this is absolutely one of her best roles she can simultaneously look like a Madonna, look like a tired mother, cry, smile, laugh, and gaze deep into your soul without effort.  She would have made a great silent film actress.  William Shimell is also excellent as the grey fox academic whose charm matches Binoche, though later it unfolds a bit as his character's shallow philosophies make him a caricature of most oblivious males. 

Highly recommended watch, thank you Sam for sharing, I look forward to your thoughts on this one, a masterpiece.
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Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Top 100 Club: Sam the Cinema Snob
« Reply #113 on: November 27, 2020, 11:21:08 AM »
Interesting discussion on Ordet. It is a film basically building towards that final moment and I think how you feel about that moment does shape what you think of the film.

I've written so much on Certified Copy, colonel_mexico, I see all the pieces you talk about at play and have touched on them all to some extent at some point. I think some people get hung up on trying to "solve" the film or try to understand what it is saying about reality, but I think you're right to examine it as just as much, if not more, as a film about relationships and conflicting philosophies of life.

Certified Copy is a film that explores the tension of us wanting to have our own authentic and original relationship while recognizing that to a large extent we're playing out types that have been done before and will be done again.
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Teproc

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Re: Top 100 Club: Sam the Cinema Snob
« Reply #114 on: November 27, 2020, 02:01:20 PM »
Paris, Texas (Wim Wenders, 1984)

The real hero here is Robby Müller. The American West has been filmed so many times, you'd think it'd be hard to make it look unique, but boy did he and Wenders manage it. The Texan sky has never looked as beautiful, and the view from the couple's house down on L.A. is also stunning, to say nothing of the way the final confrontation is framed and shot. Add to that the laid back, longing and almost mystical Ry Cooder score, Dean Stanton's sonte-faced impassibility and Stockwell's all-american steadfastness, and you've got one of those perfect picutres of Americana that transplanted European directors seem to love. I noticed in particular the way Wenders constantly emphasizes highways, from those long straight lines with an infinite horizon in Texas to the crazily complex (and at the time still relatively novel) highway structures around L.A.

It makes sense for Wenders to be emphasizing this as a uniquely American story, because what he does in the second third is one of my favorite subgenres: a deconstructionist western. Stanton is another incarnation of the classic Western hero: a violent man, unfit for life in society who must come to terms with his loneliness and help civilization along, often in the forms of a woman. Here, it's coupled with a redemptive arc, but it's exactly that same idea all over again, except, you know, fewer gunfights. Stockwell is a more modern American ideal, the small businessman who made it but is still steadfast and profoundly decent. But Wenders wraps all that American exceptionalism in layers of self-awareness, my favourite touch being the way Nastassja Kinski loses her put-on Texan twang and reverts back to her native accent once she realizes who she's talking to. She's only got two scenes in the film, but it's more than enough to make her the standout performance by the way, with a role that really could feel like just another fallen woman who needs to be saved... and really it's what she is, but she gives it that sense of real humanity that makes it work regardless.

8/10
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etdoesgood

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Re: Top 100 Club: Sam the Cinema Snob
« Reply #115 on: November 29, 2020, 07:04:44 PM »
I don't think the whole of what I've wrote makes sense without the last paragraph, but that last paragraph basically spoils the whole thing, so don't read it if you don't want it spoiled, because, like, for real.

Days of Heaven

I'm not sure I was all the way with this film until its final shot and line. My primary hang-up, crazy as it might sound: This scheme to screw over this farmer is ruining my view of these beautiful rolling fields of wheat, and this wonderful music.

I'll try to explain what happened with my mind, and you can try to fill in the rest. We have this factory, which to me seemed like the pit of hell, toxic, full of carcinogens, and the labor just dreadful, and Malick & co. shoot it quite vividly, accentuating the orange and the black. Bill unintentionally kills his boss and makes a run for it to Texas with his girlfriend, Abby, and his preadolescent sister, Linda. The metaphor seems to be that the stretch of modernity is enslaving its inhabitants, and that better days can be found apart and free from the miseries of the modern world. It's nothing I subscribe to or find all that compelling, and it's not even something so absolute, as people toil and struggle in the fields just as they do in the fires. Yet, considering the Malick films I've seen and where the beauty is located, the perils of modernity, physical and spiritual, seems like a recurring theme in his work.

Now, when they get to the fields, fairly early in the film, different things start to happen to the production as a whole. I am not good at charting camera movement unless it seems unnatural, but just in reflecting on the film and reading about it, certainly we are swept through and around this new world in a manner that's meant to open our minds to its beauty. The voiceover narration may be the best I've heard. Delivered by Linda in quite the thick Chicago accent, it touches on the plot, but also on a range of other happenings and sensations, and is fairly non-linear in its structure. It sort of weaves in and out and around what is happening, but also what she is experiencing. The film is edited similarly, moving in and out of the plot to cut to other phenomena of the fields, the people working there, and the bugs and such. Since it is very much the Year of Morricone, and I've been exposed to some of his most famous scores, I must say that this one is my favorite, epic as you'd figure, but so emotionally-drenched and wide-eyed enough to keep up with the cinematography. That I keep getting drawn back into the plot, where Abby attempts to charm the owner of the farm to help both her and Bill get ahead, and it becomes a bit of an annoyance, because I don't really want to be told stories, at least not ones that seem too structured of formalistic. In my mind, I vaguely saw the end, and it had to do with one or more deaths and either Bill and Abby ending up together, or maybe Abby staying on that farm, and I didn't think all that much about Linda, besides that her voiceovers were really well done. Problem was, the plot rooted me to reality, while the visuals, music, and narration moved far beyond the plot.

Then, the plot is resolved, and the film's finale doesn't have much to do with Bill, Abby, or the farmer at all. From that, I get the impression that the most important thread of the story is the burgeoning of Linda's consciousness in this charmed place, which continues even after she's moved on. The only issue I have is that she seems to move on from her brother's death too quickly, but then, it's hard to say exactly what their relationship was like anyway, though he clearly cared for her. In one sense, I like that the tragedy is given its dramatic due, and then moved on from; it's not that it was simply a formality, but you'd think it'd be slightly more traumatic then some tears at the moment it happened. That problem aside, the film really does end with a thought that doesn't resemble anything like closure, and that's appropriate because Linda has far to travel, still, perfectly symbolized by the walking down the railroad tracks with a friend. We've seen the hell of modernity, the wonders of open land and honest work, so to speak, and we're left somewhere in between, in short, possibilities.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2020, 07:08:49 PM by etdoesgood »
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colonel_mexico

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Re: Top 100 Club: Sam the Cinema Snob
« Reply #116 on: December 02, 2020, 12:15:29 PM »
SHIRIN (2008) - I was slightly confused as to what was going on for the first few minutes of the film, thinking the YouTube video must have been so mistaken bootleg, but a quick internet search showed that this was indeed the film.  I'm not sure exactly how I feel, but the general feeling is a bit negative, compared to my experience with CERTIFIED COPY.  Without knowing the behind the scenes production, were the women aware of the cameras on them, was this told to them beforehand, were the cameras hidden or could they see the lens focusing in on them?  Lots of questions as I watched wondering if I was some kind of creepy voyeur?  That question is a bit more telling of my character (unfortunately for me) as I found myself examining every face, marveling at the beauty of both young and old.  Am I being the dirty old man leering at these beautiful women because I do not have something else (the Shirin film itself) to gaze upon and my baser character traits coming out?  Then I thought well perhaps the emotions are contrived, if the women were aware of the cameras and knew they would upon them are you not more likely to put on "a show" or some kind of display of emotion for the camera.  A theory in physics says that observation of things causes an interaction whether intended or not, and that feels very true for this film because whether or not the ladies know they are being observed the interaction is occurring.  If they don't know then I am voyeur peering into the experience of these ladies as they watch a film and that makes me a bit uneasy and a bit titillated (thinking of the facematch contests in SOCIAL NETWORK) which I find to be offensive about myself.  If they did know about the cameras then it seems there is a strong likelihood the reactions are partially contrived or more likely to be emotive than analytical because of the awareness they are being observed.  Still it is an interesting piece of cinema and I'm sure there is much more than the surface bits that my limited mind can fathom, just not my cup of tea.  I would love to see the film these wonderful ladies saw, it seems and sounded very interesting!
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Sandy

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Re: Top 100 Club: Sam the Cinema Snob
« Reply #117 on: December 02, 2020, 01:41:02 PM »
Rest assured they are all actresses, so were aware they'd be gazed upon. :) They are all beautiful and there is no shame in acknowledging and appreciating that.

Bondo

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Re: Top 100 Club: Sam the Cinema Snob
« Reply #118 on: December 02, 2020, 04:37:12 PM »
I think there's a value in self-awareness around concerns of "objectification" but on the other hand, there can be a tendency to turn it into a sex-negative, self-flagellating cudgel to deny basic human nature. Admiration of physical beauty isn't itself a destructive force.

colonel_mexico

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Re: Top 100 Club: Sam the Cinema Snob
« Reply #119 on: December 02, 2020, 06:44:40 PM »
Thanks Bondo and Sandy for the kind words and insight, you both are quite right.  I think something could be written about the variety of beauty from the different ages of these women. 
"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!"