Author Topic: ET v. Sight and Sound's 100 Greatest Films of All Time  (Read 4150 times)

oldkid

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Re: ET v. Sight and Sound's 100 Greatest Films of All Time
« Reply #30 on: March 26, 2020, 11:58:37 PM »
Great reviews and discussion.
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etdoesgood

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Re: ET v. Sight and Sound's 100 Greatest Films of All Time
« Reply #31 on: March 27, 2020, 12:56:50 AM »
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
POWELL AND PRESSBURGER, 1943
5 STARS OUT OF 5

Take both the title and the opening scene, and you think you have a 2 hour, 40 minute comedy about a blow-hard and buffoon rising and falling in the British military. I'm glad I didn't do any research on this film prior to seeing it, it would've ruined the truth of the film, and a few paragraphs could've stolen this experience right out from under me. Because, in the end, Clive Candy is a decent if incredibly naive man out of which militarism and imperialism made a fool. Once his truth really sunk in with me, I started to wonder if, tonally, this was fundamentally sad-funny or funny-sad. But then, that's one of the great questions of life.

Powell and Pressburger flex a magic for humanizing the unthinkable in this film, and that's what has struck such a chord with me. It also apparently led them to a great deal of pain, insofar as you consider temporary censorship and the threat of never being knighted pain. You take a comic strip idiot colonel and say, No one is simply this. Who are they? Who were they? And create this fanciful, charmed, if not doomed life for our Clive Candy. Then you take a German soldier, Theo, as your army fights the Nazis in WWII, and show that beyond the fighting, he's simply a man. A man that has complex thoughts on war and being. Then you take the newly-minted, fully realized Candy and the humanized Theo, and make them best friends who touch base on and off throughout the years, and you get people to care about them in a lengthy war film that shows little of war and so much of the people, it's a great accomplishment. And I believed in their age differences a lot more than I did with The Irishman, too, a film made with the technology of 77 years later - maybe to its detriment.

There should also be a pause to think about the contributions of Deborah Kerr and her trio of characters who collectively bewitch and haunt Candy's life. The first, Edith Hunter, he gives up because his new best friend falls in love with her, and she with him, though later Candy realizes he was in love with her as well. The second is his wife, twenty years his junior now, as his ideal of her stays the same age as he gets older. The third, a woman soldier who works as his driver, the irony here being Edith in 1903 refusing to go back to England because she'd have no agency and could only be a wife or a governess who taught "good manners", when now a woman can serve in the armed forces and do quite a bit more than work in the home. Another rather progressive touch from the directorial duo. It also adds a sense of melancholy and nostalgia, seeing her throughout the movie, especially when she takes the third "Johnny" form and Theo looks upon her with longing now that his Edith version has passed and their two sons, what should still connect them, have become Nazis. It especially shows how Candy's concept of a great woman has changed as much as he has, which is to say, not at all. Love and the cost of war is on full display.

As I watched, I was easily most interested in the plot and the three primary actors, taking the look of the film a bit for granted. Still, a little further inquiry, and I'm starting to better understand what Technicolor was all about, how its color-saturated richness changed storytelling. It's hard to imagine Colonel Blimp in black and white considering his personality, the abundance of military khaki, and the overall tone of the film. It might be a film that provokes a bit of melancholy in me, but it's not black at all. It's like imagining a Wes Anderson film in black and white, hard to compute.

Fantastic picture, surprisingly deep and complex, and yes, funny and a bit sad.

Now, Antares, to what soliloquy were you referring? Theo detained by the British when seeking asylum? Theo on the morality of fighting the traditional way or no way at all? Or something else I haven't thought of?

I will also say about the rating that I did not expect to give anything five stars in this marathon because usually I need time to think things through, let it sink in. Like, months, maybe years. But, oh well, this is where I am with Colonel Blimp.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2020, 03:40:50 AM by etdoesgood »
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Re: ET v. Sight and Sound's 100 Greatest Films of All Time
« Reply #32 on: March 27, 2020, 03:05:39 AM »
A film I love, yet your remarks on Deborah Kerr's characters make me love it even more. It never registered with me that casting her in the three roles symbolized Candy's entrenched views perfectly, and I always thought that was the only part of the film that was slightly bothersome (because it's a little creepy). Fully agreed re: The Irishman comment. Makeup works just fine, people !
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Re: ET v. Sight and Sound's 100 Greatest Films of All Time
« Reply #33 on: March 27, 2020, 09:40:19 AM »
This is a great review of a movie that I love. If you think the Technicolor works here (it does, marvelously), you gotta see The Red Shoes, which is one of the 20 best movies of all time and maybe the prettiest. P+P really are among the best to ever do it.
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Re: ET v. Sight and Sound's 100 Greatest Films of All Time
« Reply #34 on: March 27, 2020, 01:46:06 PM »
Now, Antares, to what soliloquy were you referring? Theo detained by the British when seeking asylum?

This, it's my favorite scene of all time.

I will also say about the rating that I did not expect to give anything five stars in this marathon because usually I need time to think things through, let it sink in. Like, months, maybe years. But, oh well, this is where I am with Colonel Blimp.

It's an amazing film, and really, should be higher on the S&S 100.
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etdoesgood

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Re: ET v. Sight and Sound's 100 Greatest Films of All Time
« Reply #35 on: March 30, 2020, 10:56:45 AM »
Yi Yi
YANG, 1999
5 STARS OUT OF 5

Yi Yi is a moving film, a slice of life book-ended by a wedding and a funeral, driven by philosophy from unexpected places, deliberately paced and full of life. It is the first film of the marathon that I could describe as "my type", as I find deep enjoyment in the slice of life film, the hangout film, the film that is driven by characters living their lives and the constant struggle to make meaning between birth and death. Yi Yi is stunningly insightful and profound in its realization that issues of love and death repeat themselves even when we take extreme measures to pursue a more idyllic existence, i.e. the father, N.J.'s trip in Japan to pursue the truth of a past love or retreating from life altogether to pursue a purer existence (and escape from the reality of a dying mother). Inevitably, their daughter Ting-Ting ends up in the same disappointing romance that N.J. tried to recreate and improve upon, in vain, though Yang-Yang's fairly successful search for truth provides us hope that life can indeed bring triumphs of insight that require engagement, not Min-Min's retreat.

I'm writing this during my "intermission" between the first and second acts of D.W. Griffiths Intolerance, and I think it's an interesting comp for Yi Yi. Griffith's film takes different time periods where intolerance has taken different forms and ruined people individually and en masse. Yi Yi also takes events from two generations of a family - children and their parents - and through editing, also stitches together the failures of love in one generation with the failures of love in another. I'd say where Intolerance desperately seeks profundity, Yi Yi finds it in its naturalistic approach to showing what life actually looks like, how it feels. There is melodrama, but only insofar as life also includes melodramatics. It is restrained in the right ways, letting life shine through.

The most idealistic passages here are seen through the eyes of the youngest character, Yang-Yang, and they put this film over the top for me. It takes a bit of ego to say you want to show people that which they can't see or haven't considered, but coming from an eight year-old, this notion feels inspired. We need to interrogate that inspiration as adults and realize the importance of our own voice and insights while seeking those of others. Yang-Yang's photos of the backs of people's heads to show them what they cannot see is simultaneously quirky, creative and totally wonderful. N.J. and Ting-Ting get a good deal more screen time than Yang-Yang, but his role in the film works to clarify his father and sister's plights, where they become so involved with their own personal dramas that they struggle, until late in the film, to see the larger world. However, the whole program wraps up beautifully, not necessarily with a bow on top, but with insight and poignancy that this film earns.
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Re: ET v. Sight and Sound's 100 Greatest Films of All Time
« Reply #36 on: March 30, 2020, 06:23:33 PM »
Intolerance
GRIFFITH, 1916
2 STARS OUT OF 5

Intolerance was hard to get through, though I can understand the mission, and even some of the better qualities. It's an ambitious project for its time, maybe for any time, that seeks to bear witness to intolerance throughout the ages, which is something I can get with. Likening the concept of intolerance to a crib perpetually rocking through time is inspired and helps unite the four stories that are cut up and interspersed, with the modern story as the featured story.

Three large issues detracted from this experience. For one, the accompanying score sounds incredibly flat and dull. The brass dominates a good bit of the score, and the section sounds like a "brass" preset on a keyboard/synthesizer. I don't know if that's the technology of the time or something specific Griffith and/or the music director were going for, but such a score makes following a silent film pretty difficult. There's a version with an alternative, piano score, which might work better, or at least not work against the film. I did catch the change in music to reflect the period, but even that representation seemed a bit shallow and obvious. The acting is probably just what the acting was for the time, and I found it grotesque. All the big eyes and exaggerated movements caused a physical reaction in me, sort of a queasy feeling. Maybe those two elements of the film just show its age, but I also found fault in the story itself. The modern story of intolerance from the morality police, the "uplift" of society, is fascinating. The French Catholic's massacre of the Huguenots works well in parallel. The story of Jesus is underdeveloped, while the Belshazzar/Babylonian story is the weakest insofar as exemplifying intolerance, and serves as a distracting spectacle. Clearly, a sizable amount of the budget was spent on this segment, and the huge invasion and celebration scenes must have taken some coin as well as coordination and effort. It could've, maybe should've, been its own film on the fall of Babylon. It just doesn't work for this film and sucks up a ton of screen time.

As a viewing experience, Intolerance is a slog that I can't imagine watching again. Whatever Griffith contributed to cinema is a separate issue for me. Probably the best part is the ambition to cut four stories together along a certain theme. Making the theme the title is a bit heavy-handed, and the final product failed to maintain my interest for anything but short bursts. Can't remember where I read it, but some article called it the Ulysses of film, and that may be. I have never finished Ulysses, and I question the value of anything that is a supposed feat of literature but simultaneously unreadable, and I've read and loved many classic works. I can at least see how parts of Intolerance are entertaining and worthwhile, if not necessarily engaging or even all that artful. But the bottom line is that few people today would have the motivation to get through it. Hard to blame them.

I get why the people voting in this poll would want to include it among the 100 Greatest Films of All Time, because they see it as important to the development of cinema, as well as an alternative to voting in the openly racist Birth of a Nation, but that to me turns this into the 100 most important films of all time, and there is a certainly distinction to be made between the two. Having it tied for 93rd means it's far from a unanimous choice, and I wonder if it won't drop out in the next installment, presumably in 2022. Anyway, I've seen a Griffith, and I don't see a need to see another one anytime soon.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2020, 08:45:15 PM by etdoesgood »
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Re: ET v. Sight and Sound's 100 Greatest Films of All Time
« Reply #37 on: March 30, 2020, 09:37:00 PM »
Un Chien Andalou
BUNUEL, 1929
3 STARS OUT OF 5

I'm a big fan of purposeful randomness, and I appreciate any art that subverts norms and the expectations of the average consumer. In 15 minutes, Bunuel, with writing from Salvador Dali, covers sex, violence, death and religion in discontinuous and fascinating ways. There is certainly a lot of rabble-rousing going on here, as this was meant to get a reaction out of the bourgeoisie, and from what I understand: mission accomplished. It's another one where I think it'd be more appropriate on a list of 100 most important films as opposed to 100 greatest, and I think it's sad it's the only Bunuel on here when he's got more accomplished works to his name (I'd take Viridiana or The Exterminating Angel over several films I've already seen here, knowing I haven't seen all of his key films yet). Nevertheless, I can see how Un Chien Andalou could have inspired other works of surrealism down the road, and I thought a few times of David Lynch as it played.

Note: The use of dead animals for shock value doesn't actually do much to help this film, overall. The opening eye-cutting scene uses the eye of a dead calf, and the effect there is interesting. I think the dead donkeys on the pianos distract from the religious imagery of the scene in which they appear. I can't figure why the donkeys are dead in the first place and really hope it's not just for the sake of the film. Anyway, the dead animals do really detract from the experience for me, increasing the level of what I see as unnecessary shock value.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2020, 05:31:13 PM by etdoesgood »
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Re: ET v. Sight and Sound's 100 Greatest Films of All Time
« Reply #38 on: March 31, 2020, 01:44:56 AM »
"Unnecessary shock value" is kind of Bunuel's shtick overall I'd say, even though I like The Exterminating Angel quite a bit.

Re: Intolerance, I haven't seen it but scores are so important when it comes to silents, I can imagine a poor score would make something like this a chore to watch.
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etdoesgood

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Re: ET v. Sight and Sound's 100 Greatest Films of All Time
« Reply #39 on: March 31, 2020, 03:59:12 AM »
"Unnecessary shock value" is kind of Bunuel's shtick overall I'd say, even though I like The Exterminating Angel quite a bit.

You think? I haven't seen enough of his films yet, but of those I've seen I haven't seen shock value. Irony and blasphemy for sure, but nothing I've found particularly shocking until Un Chien Andalou, and I'm assuming a mixture of youth + Dali had something to do with that.
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