Author Topic: Top 100 Club: Sam the Cinema Snob  (Read 15061 times)

Bondo

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Re: Top 100 Club: Sam the Cinema Snob
« Reply #60 on: August 10, 2019, 02:15:05 PM »
L'Argent (1983)

One thing that popped into my head fairly early in this is a comparison with It Follows. Here instead of a sexually-transmitted supernatural curse, it is a forged bill being passed along. Thus the logic might be once you come into possession of the bill, the goal is to get it passed along as many times as possible to keep the consequences from falling on your head. While there is perhaps a broader morality aspect in the various ways people's decision to continue passing it along comes back in a form of consequence, it is even more a class study as the bill starts higher up and goes lower...as it gets further from those responsible, or those capable of taking the loss, the consequences are actually more severe. There is something in that.

But ultimately my big problem here, and it isn't something I say a lot, is the film was just way too short. If the common view is "show don't tell" this one was "imply, don't show or tell." So much of even the basic plot points are elided, much less any character building moments that might make us actually care about any of these people. It makes for a very choppy and alienating viewing experience.

To get into spoiler territory, it isn't clear to me if the film is saying the guy's misfortune in ultimately getting caught holding the bill sent him down a path toward the much graver crimes or if the graver crimes were his attempt to get sent to the max security prison out of his determination for revenge against the man who got the bill to him. Either interpretation does not particularly convince me. I guess the end conclusion is they're all bad, humanity is bad, Giant Meteor 2020.

Sandy

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Re: Top 100 Club: Sam the Cinema Snob
« Reply #61 on: August 12, 2019, 12:26:06 AM »
Lost in Translation



Communication is hard. A voice may say one thing, but the eyes may express something entirely different. And, what if you can’t see the eyes? Then you’re limited to cadence, tone and vocabulary. A phone call with the comment “I have things to do” becomes diction detective work. Is the statement true? Is it an avoidance tactic? Or, is it just a bad time to call?

The limited conversations Bob and Charlotte are having with their spouses speak volumes. Patterns emerge, as words spoken and unspoken reveal the disconnect. There’s no understanding here. And, if one attempts to bridge the gap with a vulnerable, “I’m lost,” the disregard is deafening.

On the other hand, with an attentive ally, a small, hesitant, “I’m stuck,” can lead to a simply profound moment. Bonds are built with the willingness to take those kinds of chances. What did Bob whisper in Charlotte's ear, before he left? "Leave your husband?" "Have my agent call your agent?" "We’ll always have Tokyo?" I don’t know. It’s between them, but the important thing is, he said it. 
« Last Edit: January 04, 2020, 01:20:05 AM by Sandy »

smirnoff

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Re: Top 100 Club: Sam the Cinema Snob
« Reply #62 on: August 12, 2019, 01:48:40 AM »
Two Days, One Night (Dardenne Bros., 2014)

An unpleasant experience with no right answer. The protagonist, aided by her husband and a few colleagues, pursues a course of action that I wouldn't have the stomach for. However, maybe I would if I had ever experienced the kind of depression she had. She struggles with her own decision because of how awful the consequences are, but ultimately it must be less awful than the thing she's struggling to avoid. So I agree with the course of action she chooses for herself, but I don't necessarily root for her to succeed. To do so is to root for other characters to fail. Characters whose lives hang in the balance just as much as hers. So instead of rooting for characters, I make do rooting for good fortune in an unfair world. Something that lets everyone find a positive outcome to this dilemma.

There are good things to take away from this bleak story. The kindness and empathy that almost all of the characters show for one another. More than any outcome, you hope that people can deal compassionately with one another in difficult circumstances and not add pain onto an already painful situation. And it was heartening to see that so many of them do. Life works hard sometimes to make us enemies of one another... so it is good to see most people not giving into it.

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Top 100 Club: Sam the Cinema Snob
« Reply #63 on: August 12, 2019, 04:28:50 PM »
L'Argent (1983)

But ultimately my big problem here, and it isn't something I say a lot, is the film was just way too short. If the common view is "show don't tell" this one was "imply, don't show or tell." So much of even the basic plot points are elided, much less any character building moments that might make us actually care about any of these people. It makes for a very choppy and alienating viewing experience.
I certainly can see this view. At least with Au Hasard Balthazar you feel for the donkey. Here just about the time you might attach with someone, they're whisked off the stage. I like the approach in that it makes me reflect on the nature of money and morality and less on the drama of the characters, but I can see where it would annoy some.


Lost in Translation

Communication is hard.
Truth. Great thoughts. It's very much about miscommunication in dysfunctional relationships and great communication in healthy relationships. Add on a layer of cultural differences, physical and emotional gaps and the title has layers upon layers of application.

Two Days, One Night (Dardenne Bros., 2014)

There are good things to take away from this bleak story. The kindness and empathy that almost all of the characters show for one another. More than any outcome, you hope that people can deal compassionately with one another in difficult circumstances and not add pain onto an already painful situation. And it was heartening to see that so many of them do. Life works hard sometimes to make us enemies of one another... so it is good to see most people not giving into it.
This is a good summation of why this film and The Son are my two favorite Dardennes Bros. films. They do the best at demonstrating what makes their films so good: exploring where circumstance should pit us against each other but finding a way to give each other love and grace instead. It's rare that a film can be so bleak and hopeful at the same time.

"It's all research." -roujin

Sandy

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Re: Top 100 Club: Sam the Cinema Snob
« Reply #64 on: August 14, 2019, 10:51:59 PM »
Lost in Translation

Communication is hard.

Truth. Great thoughts. It's very much about miscommunication in dysfunctional relationships and great communication in healthy relationships. Add on a layer of cultural differences, physical and emotional gaps and the title has layers upon layers of application.

This movie stays with me. All those layers of potential disconnect couldn't stop a lovely bit of serendipity. :)

1SO

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Re: Top 100 Club: Sam the Cinema Snob
« Reply #65 on: August 18, 2019, 12:46:08 AM »
Millennium Actress
Satoshi Kon was a master of transitions that blur different time periods and different realities. I was reminded of that on my return visit to this film. It's easy to recommend the film on that level alone. That said, the technique goes much further, is more complex with Paprika, Perfect Blue and Paranoia Agent. The story here is much sweeter, only with Tokyo Godfathers is Kon also in such a bright mood. That can be good and bad, like with the interviewer. It's cheeky to watch him become part of the action and fold into it in delightful ways. His cameraman... well I liked the joke initially, commenting on the strange way they're getting literally pulled through the actresses' life, but it's one joke and it wears out its welcome long before the ending.

** SPOILERS AHEAD **
Reading your review, I think what keeps me so far away from where you are with this film is the central theme of the pursuit being greater than the goal. It's a good concept, and certainly more clear than Kon's puzzle box films about reality and madness that I'm more drawn to. However, I'm not sure the film supports it so much as tacks it onto the end. Much of the actresses' life is dealing with obstacles like earthquakes, the old woman and the jealous actress. While she learns and grows from these encounters it seems like her life was more difficult because of them. That her optimistic take might be a lie she's telling herself to accept not being able to complete her life's mission.

Teproc

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Re: Top 100 Club: Sam the Cinema Snob
« Reply #66 on: August 31, 2019, 03:10:46 PM »
L'homme qui plantait des arbres / The Man Who Planted Trees (Frédéric Back, 1987)

An environmentalist fable before environmentalism. Humanistic in a way that is very reminiscent of Miyazaki and not at zll of Giono's other works, this is a combination of his evocative writing (theatrically declaimed by Philippe Noiret) and Back's animation which depicts a natural world constantly in motion. Miyazaki comes to mind again - though this does not look similar to Ghibli's house style, there is a commonality in how central the wind is to its depiction of nature: one could say that's because life is motion, but Back also uses it for the desolate landscapes early on. What makes this a worthy and incredibly effective fable is that, though it is idealistic and optimistic, it is not naive, and one feels the hurt of early XXth century Europe, the wounds opened by the wars which the titular man seems oblivious to but are nonetheless a central part of the story here. Humanity is capable of the worst atrocities or the most inspiring deeds, it's all a matter of how one chooses to live one's life.

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PeacefulAnarchy

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Re: Top 100 Club: Sam the Cinema Snob
« Reply #67 on: September 02, 2019, 01:42:04 AM »
From Up on Poppy Hill
A really mixed experience.

The good: I liked the characters, even if I would have liked them more complexly drawn. I liked the art, a lot of pretty pictures with variety and good at creating the atmosphere for the film. The final scenes really lift the film up a bit, connecting all the pieces.

The OK: The story could have been great, but the insistence on mixing together the story and themes and a relaxed atmosphere made everything feel a bit underwhelming. The themes are strongly done, but I personally don't care for social nostalgia or broad coming of age stories, and that's fundamentally at the core of the film. No matter how well done, I found it hard to be engaged with those impersonal themes, doubly so since 1960s Japan doesn't speak to me. Still an interesting window, though.

Disliked: The music. I dislike strong scores, and I didn't particularly like the music on its own terms, so every time it came blaring it just stopped the film's momentum for me. It's a petty complaint, I don't think the music is objectively bad in any way, but it didn't work for me. Something about the animation felt off to me. I can't put my finger on it, but it lacked charm or warmth or humanity or something. I don't think it lacked technique, maybe it was overly technical? I don't know, I only know the effect was distancing for most of the film.

Overall I thought it was pleasant, and interesting, but the depth was inaccessible to me. Reading your review I think I agree with how you describe what the film is trying to convey, but I couldn't connect to the richness of it enough to engage with it beyond the superficial level. It may have not been the right day to watch it, or maybe my own sense of how the past and present interact clashes with the things the film presents.

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Top 100 Club: Sam the Cinema Snob
« Reply #68 on: September 03, 2019, 11:42:37 AM »
Millennium Actress
Satoshi Kon was a master of transitions that blur different time periods and different realities. I was reminded of that on my return visit to this film. It's easy to recommend the film on that level alone. That said, the technique goes much further, is more complex with Paprika, Perfect Blue and Paranoia Agent. The story here is much sweeter, only with Tokyo Godfathers is Kon also in such a bright mood.
I can certainly see how you would enjoy this one less than his more complicated films, but there was something about Kon being in a sweeter mood that also won me over. I also think it played into one of the themes I love where movies break down objectivity as the representation of the filmmaker in the film gets sucked into the story. He's caught up in the fantasy as much, if not more, as the audience is.


L'homme qui plantait des arbres / The Man Who Planted Trees (Frédéric Back, 1987)

An environmentalist fable before environmentalism. Humanistic in a way that is very reminiscent of Miyazaki and not at zll of Giono's other works, this is a combination of his evocative writing (theatrically declaimed by Philippe Noiret) and Back's animation which depicts a natural world constantly in motion.
I'm not familiar with Giono's other works but I can certainly see the Miyazaki comparison. It's a warm look at humanity's capacity to live in union with nature in spite of our shortcomings. Glad you enjoyed this one so much.

From Up on Poppy Hill
A really mixed experience.
I liked the story and themes a lot more than you, it sounds like. I thought it was interesting how these characters were so shaped and informed by a past they slowly discovered and how it in terms shifted their thoughts on the future. I fondly remember the music, so I'd have to disagree with you on that point. Sorry you didn't enjoy it more.

"It's all research." -roujin

BlueVoid

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Re: Top 100 Club: Sam the Cinema Snob
« Reply #69 on: September 05, 2019, 03:36:53 PM »
Diary of a Country Priest
It's an interesting examination and character study, but ultimately the stripped down aspect left me disconnected. I came to watching this after earlier this year watching 'First Reformed' and 'Winter's Light', which I think borrow heavily from this film. I don't think this film is fundamentally worse than either of those, but I also thought they were more visually and thematically interesting. I like Bresson quite a bit, but this subject matter paired with his style didn't land with me.
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