Author Topic: Oldkid's Ultimately Cool (And Long) Top 100 Marathon  (Read 40866 times)

oldkid

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Re: Oldkid's Ultimately Cool (And Long) Top 100 Marathon
« Reply #540 on: June 20, 2011, 02:00:20 PM »
A Serious Man



The Coen Brothers certainly have a unique take on filmmaking.  They tend to touch on ancient themes, but with a unique take, applying it to modern times and adding in characters that are real, but dealing with situations that are quirky, at best.

Technical- 5/5— The Coens are masters at their craft.  They know how to make their actors do as they want and to put a film together.  This film is excellent in editing, storytelling and acting.



Interest—5/5— The unique thing about this film is how it is told like an ancient Semitic text.  There are themes explored, then new characters and new plots, then it returns to what was already introduced, with the later context providing a different take.  It makes for difficult film watching, but is brilliant.  I suppose it could be so difficult it would be boring, but not here.

Tension—5/5—As the tension builds for our main character, so it builds for us.  He is going through a moral and personal crisis, and everything is just falling apart.  The plot itself is a tornado, with the character being drawn to the center, where he will either come to understanding or be destroyed.



Emotional—3/5—I find the Coens to be intellectually challenging and to say some important things, but they are emotionally distant.  Although we should be feeling the conflict within our main character, we are somewhat removed from him.

Characters—4/5—In this film, I think that the emotional distance is due to the main character’s inaction.  He is confused and distraught, but because he takes no action himself (which is, of course, the point), we are kept at a distance.  We feel more of his son’s dilemma than his own.  This is not a fault of the acting or of the filmmaking, per se, but perhaps if the reactions were more typical then we could connect with the characters better.



Theme—5/5—This film is all about theme: To act is to exist.  Everyone is acting all around our main character, everyone is believing, everyone is responding.  But he is so confused, so powerless that he just waits, doing nothing.  And it is his doing nothing that creates the conflict.  He is Schrodinger’s cat in all of his circumstances.  He is neither here nor there, neither one thing or the other.  To be real, he must act. This relates to God, as well.  As long as God does not act then He is indefinable.  Only in action is there reality.

Ethics—5/5—Given the above theme, it seems as if there is—there could be—no moral aspect to this film.  But the film very subtly recommends a course of action.  One should always act in love.  This is played out in the first scene where we do not know if the old man is a dubbyk (evil spirit) or not.   He is neither one thing nor the other.  But in the end, it doesn’t matter, because if he is treated with respect then all will be well.  Often the truth of someone gets in our way from acting with compassion and love and so we lose everything.  Thus, the film says that there are two negative ways to live: doing nothing, or acting with hate.  The only positive way is to act with love.  Thus the greatness of Jefferson Airplane, the new Torah.



Personal-4/5—On an intellectual level this film really connects with me, but not in any other way.  Oh well, I’ll take what I can get.

A Serious Man is probably one of the most powerful philosophical film ever.  I hope it will make my top 100 because it is so unique and has such a powerful message, although we have to work for it.
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

Melvil

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Re: Oldkid's Ultimately Cool (And Long) Top 100 Marathon
« Reply #541 on: June 20, 2011, 05:36:41 PM »
Hurrah! I seriously love this movie. Great to see you respond the same way.

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Oldkid's Ultimately Cool (And Long) Top 100 Marathon
« Reply #542 on: June 20, 2011, 10:03:01 PM »
Agreed, it's easily one of my all time favorites. A fun, though provoking and bleak film. Strange that all those are in the same film.

FLYmeatwad

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Re: Oldkid's Ultimately Cool (And Long) Top 100 Marathon
« Reply #543 on: June 20, 2011, 11:11:44 PM »
Yeah, for me it's the only thing that could potentially challenge O Brother. Though I need to see a couple of the other 'big' ones before I say that for certain, I suppose.

tinyholidays

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Re: Oldkid's Ultimately Cool (And Long) Top 100 Marathon
« Reply #544 on: June 21, 2011, 09:29:16 AM »
It's probably going to make my top 20 this year. What a movie! What an ending! It looks beautiful, it's funny, great supporting cast, all the old Coen tropes, mysterious prologue. I love it. Let's get this on the list, guys.

oldkid

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Re: Oldkid's Ultimately Cool (And Long) Top 100 Marathon
« Reply #545 on: June 21, 2011, 10:50:03 AM »
I agree.  I don't think there's too many people who haven't seen the film, but we should certainly promote it for the top 100 this year.
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

oldkid

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Re: Oldkid's Ultimately Cool (And Long) Top 100 Marathon
« Reply #546 on: June 22, 2011, 09:13:27 PM »
Where The Wild Things Are



Maurice Sendak is one of the greatest children’s picture book creators in the world and I don’t know why.  If you have read a lot of his books—and I have—they are one part charming, one part creative and several parts creepy.  Have you ever read the brief tale, Pierre, where a disobedient, disrespectful boy is eaten by a lion? Why do people read this stuff to their children?  Why did I?  Partly because Sendak gives us all a context to see darkness in the world and a mythological method for us to deal with it.  We understand it is imagination, but we accept it.  (Pierre turns out okay, btw.)

Spike Jonze and Dave Eggars captures that sense in their narrative version of Sendak’s most famous work.  They provide some background and beauty to the original story that it lacks, as well as a spare story.  And this movie is all about children, especially boys.  It captures the dangerous imagination that boys have, as well as their incapacity to understand social mores.  However, this film is not really for kids.  My daughters didn’t really appreciate it.  But I get it.  It strikes me to my core.  It is a film written for my inner child.  Perhaps you think you don’t want to meet me face to face, but don’t worry—I keep my inner child locked up most of the time.



Technical—5/5—This was made brilliantly.  It is a complete fantasy—life as seen from the point of view of a hyperactive, overimaginitive boy.  Yet it has many touchstones of realism throughout it.  Well done shaky-cam, moments where the perspective is from the mother, gorgeous landscapes.  And the editing is brilliant—keeping us off guard by giving us long, slow views then suddenly quick jumps.  We have no idea what will happen next.  And the music—wow.  Jonze crafted every scene to be this perfect combination of art, film, music and context. 

Emotional—5/5—To me, this movie is all emotion.  The story is barely an outline that can be fully realized in a paragraph.  The whole fantasy sequence is actually conflict of the boy’s emotions and drives—anger, being ignored, drive for connection, loyalty, peacefulness, sadness—all pushing their agenda, attempting to reach some balance so they can all live together.  I think you might be able to cut the film into sections which begins with anger, moves into sadness and concludes in peace… only to move to the next section of anger, etc.  To me, this film isn’t about narrative, but about emotion.  There is a story to emotion and the proper conclusion is finding how to give emotion its own logic and meeting its need.   



Tension—5/5—WtWTA’s tension builds to an almost perfect climax.  The danger is always there, but from the wild rumpus to the end of the film, it is all about the building of tension.  It is written all over Max’s actions.  He seems so confident at first, then nervous and finally outright hiding.

Interest—5/5—Some have complained that the movie is too slow, that it is just plain dull.  And if seeing it on a strictly narrative level, I can see what they mean.  Frankly, not much happens and there’s a question whether it actually gets resolved.  But the same problem could be seen in the original picture book.  Little happens and it doesn’t seem to have a point.  The book and the film aren’t supposed to be understood intellectually, but emoted.  We are supposed to follow the ups and downs of Max’s emotional state and appreciate the turmoil he’s going through.  Not everyone senses that.  But between the story of Max’s emotions, the ever-increasing tension, and the beauty, I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen.



Characters—4/5—The only fully developed character is Max, and that is as it should be, because the majority of the story takes place is Max’s head.  The story is about the psychological healing of a young boy, and the monsters are simply parts of himself.  The dialogue in the fantasy land is the kind of story a young boy would create—unrealistic, but expressing a part of himself and keeping the spare story moving.  Yet, for all that, I have to give credit to the actors moving the monsters and the voice actors.  These “pieces of Max” were excellent characters, especially Carol, voiced by James Gandolfini.  Carol is “the angry one”, but his actions and voice were strangely calm with strong danger behind it.  Carol’s anger is powerful and controlling and sudden, but it communicates the danger quietly long before it acts.  This is powerful and adds to the horror of it.

Theme—5/5—The theme is anger.  The film speaks less about how to deal with anger than seeing the results of it.  It goes through a cycle of anger many times, giving us a fuller sense of it each time.  And though the language and story is from a boy’s point of view, it is not just about children and it is not communicating in a way that children could necessarily understand.  I don’t think children will come away with a better sense of what their anger is, but I think adults would.



Ethics—4/5—This film is nothing like a sermon.  It gives no solution other than Max’s emotions need a mother.  It is descriptive, however, and clearly speaks of consequences of one’s emotions.  The cause and effect are not clearly pointed out because, like life, relationships are messy and there isn’t an easy finger to point at or solution to reach.  This is a perfect film for discussion about issues revolving around anger.

Personal—5/5—Max is my inner child.  He screams at injustices and refuses to look at things from all sides.  When things don’t go right or his needs aren’t met, he screams and is violent and hurts others.  He wishes people would understand him, but his emotional façade keeps that from happening.   The best solution is to go away for a while, allow the inner demons to deal with their conflict, allow reason to prevail and then go home for a comforting meal.  “And the food was still hot.”

This film hit all my emotional buttons.  I can see that most people wouldn’t resonate with it, but it is beautiful to me in every way possible.


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

oldkid

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Re: Oldkid's Ultimately Cool (And Long) Top 100 Marathon
« Reply #547 on: June 24, 2011, 10:44:03 AM »
The New World



Technical—5/5--Never have I been more disappointed at not seeing a film on the big screen.  How I wish to have seen such magnificent beauty writ en large.  I wished to have heard the swelling of the music in contrast to the usual quietness of most scenes. 

Interest—5/5—The main reason I hesitated to watch The New World is that the story of Pocahontas has been done so badly for so long.  I have read her history and am disappointed at John Smith’s fantasies being played out, and I cannot forget that Pocahontas was, at most, 12 (probably 9) when his fiction took place.  It is true, Malick takes some (okay, a lot) historical license here, but the end of the story is accurate, so I forgive all.  Some would say that the film is slow, even boring.  What is there to be bored about?  This film was crafted perfectly.  The beauty, the romance, the sorrow, the action, the final scenes—everything is fascinating and perfect.



Tension—4/5—The movie really is slower paced, which can reduce tension.  But Malick uses that pace to help us feel  the tension between the father and the daughter, to sense Pocahontas’ conflict within herself, who loves both the English and the Native.   Only Kubrick could have done better.



Emotional—5/5—It took a while for the emotional impact to hit me.  At first I was very critical of the film.  Pocahontas is too old, her relationship with Smith is too direct… blah, blah, blah.  But Malek won me over by sheer majesty of presentation and storytelling.  Although everyone is quiet (what is it with the constant whispering?), the emotional weight is communicated perfectly.  We know what all of the main characters are going through and experience with them their sorrow and pain.  I know, that is what a movie is supposed to do, but it so rarely happens so perfectly.

Characters—5/5—The actors all did a magnificent job.  Everyone was perfect.  But I want to give credit where credit is due and that is probably to Terrance Malick.  Never have I seen Colin Farrell or Christian Bale give a better performance.  Never have I seen them act with such emotional power, yet with speaking so few words.   They showed it, they carried it, and it had to be because Malick was directing.  Unless they were inspired by the trees.



Theme—5/5—True love.  What is love, really?  Is it a youthful passion?  Is it a committed relationship?  Is it found with the dangerous, powerful man that can be tamed?  Or with the kind man that loves you more than you love yourself?  While not denying any kind of love, it speaks to the lasting power of one.

Ethics—5/5—The saying goes, “All is fair in love and war”, yet we know just how untrue that is.  There are ethical limits to war but especially to love.  Perhaps the rules of love are unique to each relationship, nevertheless they are there.  What constitutes a marriage, what is unfaithfulness? When hurt increases, so do the ethical principles.  Although the ethical situation in this film is unique, it speaks to the limitations of love in all contexts.



Personal—5/5—One thing I loved about the film that I haven’t mentioned yet is the focus on courtship.  Most films spend time on how a couple meet and fall in love then move quickly to sex or even a wedding—some sort of consummation.  Here, in both relationships that are depicted, the focus is less on the falling in love as on how the couple spends time together, the joys they have with each other apart from orgasm.  This is much more realistic and romantic and makes me reflect on my own “romantic period”. 



This is one of the finest crafted films ever made, and full of power and emotion.  How can I not put it on my top 100?
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

MartinTeller

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Re: Oldkid's Ultimately Cool (And Long) Top 100 Marathon
« Reply #548 on: June 24, 2011, 11:05:58 AM »
Well put, oldkid, and I'm glad you got so much out of it.
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Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Oldkid's Ultimately Cool (And Long) Top 100 Marathon
« Reply #549 on: June 24, 2011, 12:41:08 PM »
One of my all time favorites. Glad to see more love for it.

One think I'd point out is that the more I see this film, the more I think that to a certain extent Malick is very well aware that the John Smith/Princess romance is more myth and fantasy than fact and he plays off of that.