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Author Topic: Corndog Watches Your Favorite Film  (Read 43509 times)

Corndog

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Re: Corndog Watches Your Favorite Film
« Reply #100 on: June 02, 2010, 04:34:53 PM »
skjerva
Umberto D.
Directed by Vittorio De Sica; Written by Cesare Zavattini

Like French New Wave, my education on Italian Neo-Realism is shallow too. I have seen the ultimate in De Sica's The Bicycle Thief, but past that absolutely nothing. This film is similar to De Sica's other film in many ways, but it is also very different. When I saw The Bicycle Thief, I was not blown away, nor was I hit in the gut by some powerful punch. I liked the film, I appreciated it and I took it for what it was, but I did not love it. I would have to say that I enjoyed this film a fair bit better. It follows one man, oddly enough his name is Umberto D. Ferrari. Umberto is struggling. He is a pensioner who worked for the government for 30 years and is now just scraping by. He struggles to keep his place from his landlady who demands he pay his back rent almost daily and to no avail. His only two real friends are his dog, Flike, and the landlady's maid, Maria, who happens to be quite gorgeous.

The main difference between The Bicycle Thief and Umberto D. is the character of Maria. In The Bicycle Thief, it was the man and his son. The wife was scarcely seen. But here women are represented more and she too is struggling with her pregnancy and who the father is. The whole story is pretty heart breaking. Umberto asks friends for money, or even just to have a talk and they deny him, needing to get to their bus. He even goes to a medical ward to spare himself some time with the landlady. What is worse is what happens in the third act. The Abandonment of both Maria and Flike seem so selfish and at the same time so very defeatist. Here I was truly struck with a powerful punch in the gut. There was something in his character that made me feel like he did not deserve what was happening to him. Umberto did nothing wrong, he was just struggling and it did not seem fair. But then again life is not fair. So what was he to do?

The ambiguous ending has me wondering what happened next. Like The Graduate, I was wondering whether he went on to happiness with Flike and perhaps Maria or if instead he did not get out of his rut and what we saw was just a false glimpse of hope. Again I probably fall in the naive, hopeful minority here, denying the inevitable. But I do not know. Maybe De Sica's filmmaking has zapped that from me, because I definitely felt no finality in the "happiness" of the final shot. Though I did not love the film, I certainly had a great time with it and appreciated it greatly. These realist films never seem to fully do it for me. I can see why people love them and can see where it is brilliant filmmaking, but I can never see myself watching something like this over and over again. And at the same time, I cannot see myself being so deeply affected by its images that it alters my life in some way. Still, at the end of the day, impressive filmmaking, impressive writing, and an impressive film well deserving of being someone's #1 film of all time.

*** So close to adding a 1/2

Next Up: The Third Man
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

Corndog

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Re: Corndog Watches Your Favorite Film
« Reply #101 on: June 03, 2010, 11:11:15 PM »
Holly Harry & jrod
The Third Man
Directed by Carol Reed; Written by Graham Greene

I used to always think that Carol Reed was a woman. I always used to say to myself, "Wow, it's amazing how a woman was allowed to helm big movies back then, that's great. And they were great movies too, supposedly anyway." Well, then I started watching this and had that thought again, but then it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, that it's just a dude called Carol; I mean John Paul II's real name was Karol. So yes, Carol Reed is a guy, and that is a surprise to me, though given the context it makes sense. So now on to the actual film that I watched. I knew nothing of the plot, the characters, none of it. I went in cold. But let me tell you, things got hot pretty quick. The story, in essence, is about a man, Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) who arrives in Vienna to find his friend, who was supposed to put him up, had been accidentally killed in a automobile accident. But he starts to get curious as to what actually happened. What he finds is more than he bargained for. Basically there is a "Third Man" involved and Harry Lime (Orson Welles), the friend, was some kind of racketeer.

The film starts off with a cool, I want to say local, musical instrument playing and this style of music continues throughout the film. In the first few scenes I got this kind of tone that it might be somewhat sarcastic or funny, but soon enough I found it would be serious, though I kind of liked it the way it was. But nonetheless, the music still continues, which somewhat irked me because then it started to not fit the tone of the film and it sometimes got annoying, though it was used less as the film continued on. I was always kept wondering about the conspiracy though, I never knew what to think exactly and I was always involved in the film throughout the first two acts. Obviously, in addition to the great tension, the strongest point of the film was the cinematography. It was stunningly beautiful and the use of the canted angle was marvelous. Some might say it was over used, as sam suggested in his recent review of Slumdog Millionaire, but what I loved about it there and here is that it creates that tension. Yea, some might feel that is too in your face and obvious, but it made me uneasy and always questioning what was happening. Especially when Holly did not know what was going on. It was just composed so well. And then of course the tunnel sequences were astounding and a visual treat. The other technical aspects were quite good too. The acting was good, but I also noticed the editing in some points, but in a good way. Sometimes there were some fast edits that I did not care for, but for the most part I noticed it as adding to the tension and creating that great atmosphere.

I had a lot of fun with this film, and like The 400 Blows, the final act was marvelous. Unlike that other film, however, The Third Man involved me all the way through and I had a genuine concern for the outcome of the film. The ending, while I would not say perfect, was pretty cool too, especially the very last shot itself. It was very satisfying and involved some interesting dilemma/decision making. This is definitely something that I can see watching again, and also something that may get better with repeat viewings. Good pick Holly Harry and jrod!

***1/2

Next Up: I gotta imagine High Fidelity, especially since it fulfills two marathons. But I guess anything could happen.
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

michael x

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Re: Corndog Watches Your Favorite Film
« Reply #102 on: June 03, 2010, 11:22:51 PM »
Nice write-up!

A lot of people seem to think the music is intentionally at odds with the tone of the film and thus ironic. I've only seen the film once, so I'm not quite sure how I feel the music, personally.

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Corndog Watches Your Favorite Film
« Reply #103 on: June 03, 2010, 11:30:19 PM »
lol, for two seconds I also thought Carol Reed was a chick. Then I realized the film was made way back when and that it pretty much had to be a man.

And it does get better with repeat viewings. But that didn't stop my little brother from declaring it the greatest black and white film ever made after like ten minutes.
"It's all research." -roujin

oldkid

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Re: Corndog Watches Your Favorite Film
« Reply #104 on: June 04, 2010, 01:05:25 AM »
It is an amazing film, my favorite film noir and one of my favorites of all time.  I love the development of the plot, and the music was just right, because all the elements of the film add together to keep you off kilter. 
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

Corndog

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Re: Corndog Watches Your Favorite Film
« Reply #105 on: June 07, 2010, 08:02:56 PM »
OlympicArtichoke
Halloween (1978)
Directed by John Carpenter; Written by John Carpenter & Debra Hill

I went into this believing I had seen it before. Maybe I have, but if I have I do not remember it basically at all. I have seen some of the more famous images from time to time in my life, but seeing this all the way through was a new experience for me, and it was a great one. I have never much been into horror, but at the same time I have never discounted it. I love the Scream series, and am eagerly awaiting the new one, and Psycho is probably my favorite Hitchcock film, though I have not seen that one in a while either. Halloween is fairly legendary and always rehashed, as marked by its numerous sequels and remakes. It marked the start of scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis' career as well as a new direction for horror. What is so great about this film is its simplicity. Unlike some of the convoluted and complex plots seen in many other horror films, Halloween tells the viewer what is happening and still manages to scare the sh*t out of them. The killer is Michael Myers, we all know that. The setting is Haddonfield, Illinois, the place where a 6 year old Michael killed his older sister. When he escapes from the mental institution 15 years later, he has visions of repeating the crime with some high school girls he has never seen or known. The psychological reasons for his targets do not make sense, but they do not have to because Michael is crazy.

The horror film genre has never been known for great technical achievements, but this one is somewhat different. Although the sound design lives up to the idea that horror=hammy, the look of the film is astounding. Much like The Graduate earlier in this marathon, almost every shot seems iconic, or if it is not it should be. The use of the handheld camera is masterful and makes for great suspense. In addition to the look of the film, the famous music score is unnerving. We all know the classic theme, and there is not much variance on it, but it is still massively successful and adds everything to the sense of atmosphere and tension. The acting by the cast is not stellar, but it makes it work.

All things considered, this baby is a masterpiece of filmmaking. It is strange though, I would not call it a perfect film, but it thrives on those imperfections in its acting and its sound design. If any of my friends liked horror, especially on Halloween, I would make this one a staple in our viewing. And maybe I can just convince them it is essential viewing and get some screaming out of them anyway. I usually never scream or even get scared when I watch movies, but with this one I was on the edge of my seat and and on the edge of my nerves.

****

Next Up: Gotta be High Fidelity...right?
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

Bill Thompson

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Re: Corndog Watches Your Favorite Film
« Reply #106 on: June 07, 2010, 08:09:51 PM »
Glad you loved it Adam, it's one of my all time favorites, so simple, so awesome, and so effective as a suspense tale.

Junior

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Re: Corndog Watches Your Favorite Film
« Reply #107 on: June 07, 2010, 09:09:34 PM »
Halloween is a great great film. If you appreciate it you'll likely appreciate Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It's got a similar vibe.
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Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Corndog Watches Your Favorite Film
« Reply #108 on: June 07, 2010, 09:13:09 PM »
I actually don't like Halloween all that much. It's effective and a good film but it doesn't reach up to great horror for me. I prefer Friday the 13th (1980) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), but Halloween is still good and we wouldn't have these films without it.
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Re: Corndog Watches Your Favorite Film
« Reply #109 on: June 07, 2010, 11:21:56 PM »
Halloween is a great great film. If you appreciate it you'll likely appreciate Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It's got a similar vibe.
For the record Halloween is one of my favorite films of all time, yet I do not 'appreciate' Texas Chainsaw.  Too much weak acting from the kids, whereas the teens in Halloween are way above par for the genre.

P.J. Soles >> guy in wheelchair from Chainsaw
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