Recently Watched Films 2020

Not the stuff on your shower tiles.

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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

Post by Dan Warburton »

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Harmony Korine, The Beach Bum, 2019

As is my wont, here's a little selection of other people's thoughts, culled from various reviews gathered together over at Rotten Tomatoes.
"The movie means nothing and proves a complete waste of time." "This can only provoke something like awe that something so awful can still get made." (That's Bradshaw btw) "You’ll need a lot of patience – or weed, or tranquillisers – to stick with Korine’s paper-thin, larky portrait of a literary bum in crisis." "There was a method underneath his madness and a madness that made his characters fascinating in spite of their apparent perversities. That, however, is lost in The Beach Bum. It may not be his worst film, but it’s easily his shallowest and most generic, which might be even more of an offense." And, on a more positive note: "The Beach Bum is hilarious, quirky and the yin to the nihilistic yang of Spring Breakers. The film also feels oddly autobiographical, with McConaughey’s aging enfant terrible an allegorical stand-in for the 46-year-old Korine who will forever be infamous for writing Kids into instant-notoriety back in 1995 and trying to simultaneously live it down and live up to it ever since. If you’ve perused Korine’s recent press run for the film there is always a point where he is tasked with addressing his bizarre past, which has become the stuff of indie urban legends. The Beach Bum is easily Korine’s most accessible work to date and a film that could become a touchstone performance for McConaughey who really does something special in realizing Moondog and making you believe his hustle." And finally from Rolling Stone, where I nicked the pic above: "The Beach Bum is not about plot. It’s about having the good taste to live like trash, or maybe the bad taste to live really well and NGAF. (“The best thing about being rich,” one character says, “is that you can be horrible to people and they have to take it.” This should be the tagline for every single program on Fox News.) [..]It climaxes with fireworks, a Viking’s funeral and a glorious 'fuck you' to the ethos that currently governs the ruling class. It’s the only way the movie — and Western Civilization — could end."
I'm with that: I found myself laughing almost as much as Moondog (wonder why HK chose that name - is he a fan of Louis Thomas Hardin? Can't say I am, really). There are some great lines - Martin Lawrence's Captain Wack cameo deserves some kind of award in itself - and some typically provocative touches of sicko humour, but above all a great almost non-stop soundtrack (from Peggy Lee to The Cure via Jimmy Buffett, who also appears as himself: hell, this is his home turf, Margaritaville). Benoit Debie's photography is gorgeous, if not as gaudy as Spring Breakers. It's good to see the film polarises opinion - always a plus point for me: I'd prefer to watch something that alternates 1/10 and 10/10 IMDb user reviews than something stuck in 5/10 country. Not wishing to spoil the ending, there's always something truly disturbing about watching money go up in smoke, so it's fitting Korine wanted to go out in style. The words of Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is?", which underscores a crucial central scene, basically sum up the whole affair: "If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing / Let's break out the booze and have a ball." Just about all we can do these days. Brighten up your winter lockdown in Margaritaville.
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Wombatz
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Dan Warburton wrote:
Fri Dec 04, 2020 1:05 am
Wombatz wrote:
Thu Dec 03, 2020 4:24 am
if you're interested, my hockney chrono is out right about now in a dirt cheap package from taschen, re-designed as a smallish stand-alone book with all the major paintings illustrated also)
I am interested - Christmas is coming, and Jeff Bezos needs my money.. got a link, Lutz? Thanks!
it's this one
https://www.amazon.fr/David-Hockney-Tas ... 942&sr=8-1

so the other night we watched the first episode of game of thrones to see what our older boy is addicted to, but we won't continue. it's unimaginative, and most annoyingly plot thickness never varies for a moment, the series just switches locations when it threatens to.

it seems that after classic hollywood only the french can do knights and castles? (which corresponds to the fact that the old english epics are boring, while the french are still interesting ... except then there should be good german knight movies also, but we only have a handful of watchable filmmakers anyway and those are mostly sociologically minded.)

Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

Post by Dan Warburton »

Thanks Lutz - Santa has been duly contact traced :) Meanwhile, unlike my wife, I never even bothered to start with GOT. I still like and admire the LOTR films (no, haven't read the books, and won't), but in my little world Jon Snow is a Channel 4 news presenter.. Anyway, don't know if you're a Zappa fan but you might like this

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Alex Winter, Zappa, 2020

Whether you're a Frankophile or not, this is a mighty piece of work, half a decade in the making, thanks to a hugely successful Kickstarter funding drive to preserve Zappa's huge archive, in which Winter has found enough material for an entire series. Accordingly, the documentary itself edits at breakneck speed, trying to get as much of the good stuff in, and to a large extent succeeds: shame there wasn't more about his friendship with Beefheart, but hats off to Winter for focussing more on Zappa the composer and Zappa the social campaigner. There's an interview with him on the project here
https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/20 ... lex-winter and more info here http://alexwinter.com/projects/zappa/
Add water, makes its own sauce :D
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Bruno Monsaingeon, Richter: The Enigma, 1998

Bruno Monsaingeon has made some fabulous films on the great names in classical music - Gould, Menuhin, Oistrakh, and (haven't seen it, must get it) Pollini - and this 2h40 documentary on Richter, featuring extremely candid and moving extracts from an interview filmed at the end of his life is magnificent. The original French title is Richter: l'insoumis - which translates more as "rebellious" or "unbowed" rather than simply enigmatic - and it's more appropriate for his searing putdowns of some of his contemporaries (Karajan doesn't come out well) - and of himself. The ending is devastating.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Woody Allen, Radio Days, 1987

https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/radio-days-1987 Roger's right to compare it to Amarcord, I reckon. But Paul Attanasio in the Washington Post disagrees (hope my link works, if not try the one at Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/s ... a0ad93.htm I think he's taking it a bit too seriously, myself. I thoroughly enjoyed it, fwiw. But make up your own mind.
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Wombatz
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Dan Warburton wrote:
Mon Dec 07, 2020 12:50 pm
don't know if you're a Zappa fan but you might like this
god no, i'd rather inject bleach into my eyeballs than see frank zappa's face (or ditto eardrums and guitar solos). speaking of which

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we saw blade runner 2049 (me and my unrequited love for sf). it's actually a smart film that wears its artificiality proudly (except the clichéd fight scenes, i'm so tired of every fist to the stomach sounding like an exploding elephant), especially the inversion of plot is well done, and there's smart little references to the book ... in many ways its better than the original film except ryan gosling is totally unwatchable. he looks like he thinks he's cool and that's the extent of his acting. so the only pleasure to be had was seeing his very punchable face punched, but again the sound effects spoiled those moments ...

Lao Tsu Ben
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

Post by Lao Tsu Ben »

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Face, Antonia Bird, 1997

Wanted to see some British thriller after reading the first of the Factory series by Derek Raymond. Starts off rather promisingly, with a heist chock-a-block with tension. It already has that 90s look though that makes it seem like it was made for TV, which is not the case. Then, when things go wrong as expected, the script takes a bad turn that could have been, it seems, easily avoided. As is, it is all too predictable or is it because we know Ray Winstone well by now? Actors are good and sometimes Bird is apt at orchestrating chaos, but it never feels fully formed in the end. Makes one want to reread Parker by Westlake or watch some HK classics like Long Arm of the Law or underrated sleepers that will never be talked about much like Love Battlefield.

Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

Post by Dan Warburton »

Nice to see you back, Ben :)

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Luchino Visconti, Vaghe stelle dell'Orsa (aka Sandra), 1965

Visconti goes all Gothic in his recrafting of the Elektra / Orestes tale, building up an incestuous head of steam between Claudia Cardinale and Jean Sorel. It bombed at the box office, which is a shame as it's beautifully made, and deserves to be better known, though I do wonder if Cardinale's sulky, dusky peasant look doesn't fit in as well as, say, Dominique Sanda's enigmatic pallour in de Sica's Garden of the Finzi-Contini (slightly similar theme, anti-Semitic angst around WWII..). As for Sorel, he's excellent - maybe the Count picked him because Delon wasn't available, but Alain would have come across too macho, I imagine. Sorel did play in quite a few undistinguished gialli, but will probably best be remembered as Pierre in Belle de jour (though I can heartily recommend his performance in Bolognini's La Giornata balorda, a great film)
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henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

Post by henriq »

Lao Tsu Ben wrote:
Tue Dec 08, 2020 7:39 am
Image

Face, Antonia Bird, 1997

Wanted to see some British thriller after reading the first of the Factory series by Derek Raymond. Starts off rather promisingly, with a heist chock-a-block with tension. It already has that 90s look though that makes it seem like it was made for TV, which is not the case. Then, when things go wrong as expected, the script takes a bad turn that could have been, it seems, easily avoided. As is, it is all too predictable or is it because we know Ray Winstone well by now? Actors are good and sometimes Bird is apt at orchestrating chaos, but it never feels fully formed in the end. Makes one want to reread Parker by Westlake or watch some HK classics like Long Arm of the Law or underrated sleepers that will never be talked about much like Love Battlefield.
Funny thing about the director: I remember seeing a thing on tv sometime in the nineties, with Robert Carlyle in dreads pissing on some guy before snoggging him. Thinking i wanted to find that, I googled "Robert carlyle dreads" and it appeared, just like that. It's Antonia Bird's Safe, made for tv. I haven't seen it yet, the rip looks atrocious and there are no subs, which is direly needed. But glory to the web for helping me out :D

henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

Post by henriq »

And speaking of television:

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Herbert Ross - Pennies From Heaven (1981)

Quite possibly not at all the fair or right thing to do to Ross’s film, but I just finished watching Potter’s Pennies From Heaven and wanted to have another look here to see if it stacks up. It doesn’t. Oh, how it doesn’t. Trounced in EVERY respect by the original series, I feel I must be at least a little bit fair to it, or try to at least. To the American defence, it is impossible to approach or emulate something like Potter’s Forest of Dean. (So then, you might righteously grumble, why even bother with a fucking remake?) That place is magical and pivotal to the author, a space of play and cruelty, sex and abandon, drift and dream and coal mine drudgery, all at the same time. Without it, the character of Eileen isn’t there, nor is Philip Marlow in Singing Detective (I’m not touching the American remake of that even with the longest, most antiseptic of bargepoles - Mel Gibson? Robert Downey Jr? KATIE HOLMES??) Cheryl Campbell’s Eileen in the series is a beautifully chiselled portrait, both a loving, playful teacher to the children in the school, and a sexless carer in her family after the mother’s death, shackled to hearth and home. Her love for Arthur, the flight and release he gifts her - you get nothing of that with Bernadette Peters in the film. Her family isn’t even there, save for the shortest of street level glimpses. What’s to escape from? And, moving on - not quite as hard, so a bit more unforgivable, is the context of the first world war, Arthur Parker a veteran of the trenches, the trauma of both war and the depression. Without it, Steve Martin is nothing more than a churlish teenager. Bob Hoskins, in contrast, is both horny, brutal and innocent at the same time, wrecking lives around him without really knowing or caring too much. And the shadow of war in the series is also what sets up the subtle and powerful rhyming between Arthur Parker and Accordion Man - both scarred, traumatised, and filled with music and the beauty of the world. So you get neither character in the film! Yes, granted, this is a whole lot of context to work into a film of just under two hours compared to the seven plus of the series. The director takes another tack, and I will say that Vernel Bagneris’s choreography on a rainy stage as Accordion Man while the pennies rain around him is great. But this, alas, is also what is most damning about the film. Why in hell should it be so damn opulent? So you do Busby Berkeley as a contrast to the blasted terrain of the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, okay then, but this was NEVER the idea of the series. If anything, that was Gene Kelly on a shoestring, space moving a bit inwards, the eruption of song and mime never really moving beyond the spaces of drab domesticity, save for a few times, but rather lighting and colouring it from within, or without, coloured light spilling through windows. The bank in the series is a tiny office; in the film an architectural extravaganza to dwarf New York’s Grand Central Station. From nowhere an army of dancing nymphs appear, a massive, massed choreography. The kids in Eileen’s Forest of Dean school room open their desks to reveal tiny pianos, pull out papier mache saxophones to clumsily mime music; the American room erupts into garish white, sequinned costumes, white pianos and all. It is infuriating, inexcusable to behave like this! Bob Hoskins’ death by hanging in the series is so sudden and brutal it’s hard to take, so that his reuniting with Cheryl Campbell on the bridge is a genuine breath of hope and light in all the sorrow and gloom. Steve Martin? His death isn’t even shown, what do I care about yet another chorus line of bared legs, and a faux happy ending? I might return some time when Potter isn’t so strongly with me, but I doubt it.

henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

Post by henriq »

Dan Warburton wrote:
Thu Dec 10, 2020 7:17 am
Nice to see you back, Ben :)

Image

Luchino Visconti, Vaghe stelle dell'Orsa (aka Sandra), 1965

Visconti goes all Gothic in his recrafting of the Elektra / Orestes tale, building up an incestuous head of steam between Claudia Cardinale and Jean Sorel. It bombed at the box office, which is a shame as it's beautifully made, and deserves to be better known, though I do wonder if Cardinale's sulky, dusky peasant look doesn't fit in as well as, say, Dominique Sanda's enigmatic pallour in de Sica's Garden of the Finzi-Contini (slightly similar theme, anti-Semitic angst around WWII..). As for Sorel, he's excellent - maybe the Count picked him because Delon wasn't available, but Alain would have come across too macho, I imagine. Sorel did play in quite a few undistinguished gialli, but will probably best be remembered as Pierre in Belle de jour (though I can heartily recommend his performance in Bolognini's La Giornata balorda, a great film)
So you got around to that, nice one! Glad you liked it. I love the opening, love most everything about the film.

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

Post by Dan Warburton »

henriq wrote:
Thu Dec 10, 2020 10:56 am
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Herbert Ross - Pennies From Heaven (1981)
Wow, your monster write-up not only makes me want to return to the original series ('"horny, brutal and innocent at the same time" great line) but calls into question my own rather charitable review of this film a while back. Yes, end of 2020 is not the time for "another chorus line of bared legs, and a faux happy ending." And, yes, finally got to the Visconti! I may eventually get to Bergman's marionnettes! :D
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Nagisa Oshima, Max mon amour, 1986

Wiki: "Billed on the DVD cover as "the greatest ape romance since King Kong", Max, My Love is the story of a British diplomat in France, Peter Jones (Anthony Higgins), whose wife Margaret (Charlotte Rampling) takes a chimpanzee, Max, for her lover." On paper, it looked so good: written by Jean-Claude Carrière, filmed by Raoul Coutard, also starring Pierre Etaix, Fabrice Luchini, Victoria Abril.. how could you go wrong? But oh boy go wrong it certainly does, in almost every conceivable way. First, the supposedly scandalous zoophilia element is obviously ludicrous, and made to look even more so by the director clearly not using a real chimpanzee. Perhaps if Marco Ferreri had been directing (a man with some experience of giant apes :) ), the more risqué implications of Carrière's script could have been explored, but even then I'm not sure - it would nonetheless remain a low point in Carrière's otherwise stellar career. Secondly, the acting: Higgins is so distant and detached I wondered for a moment whether he wasn't trying to outdo his own coldness as Mr Neville in The Draughtsman's Contract. And Rampling doesn't exactly ooze sexuality, or even warmth. But she rarely does, anyway. Both give the impression they're bored as fuck. Idem the supporting cast. But the real Golden Turd Award here goes to Oshima, who really should have known better. No pace, no energy, seemingly no enthusiasm for the project at all. I'd like to know what other more Oshima-friendly folks here (Ben, Henrik..) made of this, not that I'm ever going to watch it again.
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henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

Post by henriq »

Dan Warburton wrote:
Fri Dec 11, 2020 1:35 am
henriq wrote:
Thu Dec 10, 2020 10:56 am
Image

Herbert Ross - Pennies From Heaven (1981)
Wow, your monster write-up not only makes me want to return to the original series ('"horny, brutal and innocent at the same time" great line) but calls into question my own rather charitable review of this film a while back. Yes, end of 2020 is not the time for "another chorus line of bared legs, and a faux happy ending." And, yes, finally got to the Visconti! I may eventually get to Bergman's marionnettes! :D
Well, as I said, I watched Ross's film literally right after finishing the series. I don't think it's exactly charitable to the american. It takes a different tack, it is a different film completely, and you can't fault apples for not being oranges. But the film must by all accounts have been an awful experience for Potter: per wiki, he had to do thirteen rewrites before MGM was satisfied; had to buy back, with his own money, the rights to the material from BBC - consequently the series was kept off British television for ten years, until Alan Yentob raised the money to buy it back. The film is probably better than I gave it, so maybe I even must return. The series is just amazing, though.

henriq
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

Post by henriq »

Dan Warburton wrote:
Fri Dec 11, 2020 3:21 am
Image

Nagisa Oshima, Max mon amour, 1986

Wiki: "Billed on the DVD cover as "the greatest ape romance since King Kong", Max, My Love is the story of a British diplomat in France, Peter Jones (Anthony Higgins), whose wife Margaret (Charlotte Rampling) takes a chimpanzee, Max, for her lover." On paper, it looked so good: written by Jean-Claude Carrière, filmed by Raoul Coutard, also starring Pierre Etaix, Fabrice Luchini, Victoria Abril.. how could you go wrong? But oh boy go wrong it certainly does, in almost every conceivable way. First, the supposedly scandalous zoophilia element is obviously ludicrous, and made to look even more so by the director clearly not using a real chimpanzee. Perhaps if Marco Ferreri had been directing (a man with some experience of giant apes :) ), the more risqué implications of Carrière's script could have been explored, but even then I'm not sure - it would nonetheless remain a low point in Carrière's otherwise stellar career. Secondly, the acting: Higgins is so distant and detached I wondered for a moment whether he wasn't trying to outdo his own coldness as Mr Neville in The Draughtsman's Contract. And Rampling doesn't exactly ooze sexuality, or even warmth. But she rarely does, anyway. Both give the impression they're bored as fuck. Idem the supporting cast. But the real Golden Turd Award here goes to Oshima, who really should have known better. No pace, no energy, seemingly no enthusiasm for the project at all. I'd like to know what other more Oshima-friendly folks here (Ben, Henrik..) made of this, not that I'm ever going to watch it again.
You know, everywhere I read that the film is truly awful, so I haven't watched it. Not in a great hurry after reading your takedown, either...

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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Woody Allen, Scoop, 2006

https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/scoop-2006 "A relentlessly talky movie, but all the talk doesn't necessarily make for good (or funny, or coherent) conversation." Yes, Roger. But you can enjoy looking at Scarlett Johansson instead. Pleasant enough way to spend a Sunday evening.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Yves Boisset, Le saut de l'ange, 1971

Jean Yanne and Sterling Hayden (not to mention Senta Berger - don't tell Rene Rupnik (see page 21 above) :) ) in a bloody gangster revenge flick set in Marseille? Sounds great, but isn't, unfortunately. Boisset's good when it comes to showing raw violence - the opening of Un condé still packs a punch - but here he can't decide if he's making a Mediterranean Get Carter or a Bond film and the result is nowhere near as good as either. Go and watch Dupont Lajoie again instead.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Stephen Frears, Walter & June, 1983

If you haven't got time to rewatch the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Ryan's Daughter but like Ian McKellen and Sarah Miles, here's the answer - providing you like (like?) those gritty, raw and unremittingly bleak TV dramas the British were so good at back then. McKellen's Walter is a well-meaning but mentally-challenged lad taken into permanent care at the age of 21 after his parents' death (that story was told in Walter, made a year earlier than this one - he's 40 now); Miles' June is an unstable manic depressive, committed because clearly unable to take care of her baby. They escape from the psychiatric hospital and make their way to London, ending up squatting in a condemned building. Yep, it's miserable stuff, and as a Northerner myself I'm not always happy to see the old pigeon-fancying, flatcap-wearing stereotypes trotted out (though indeed there were - maybe still are - these Wally Batty characters up there), but if you want to remind yourself how fucking awful Thatcher's Britain was, by way of a prelude to how fucking awful Brexit Britain will be next year, here's a good pre-Christmas downer for you.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Jean Renoir, Le caporal épinglé, 1962

Quite why Renoir felt he had to do what is essentially a remake of La grande illusion in 1962, nearly two decades after the events it portrays (in the novel of the same name by Jacques Perret based on his own experiences as a POW), at a time when French society and cinema had changed significantly, is a mystery to me. Intercutting with stock WWII footage was also a dodgy move, especially when the newsreel extracts he chose to pillage are more powerful than anything he shot himself (Sam Fuller had the same problem). This review finds much to praise http://www.frenchfilms.org/review/le-ca ... -1962.html but it contains several factual inaccuracies: Renoir didn't discover Jean-Pierre Cassel at all, as he'd already appeared in twenty-odd films and starred in two features by Philippe de Broca; and Claudes Brasseur and Rich weren't exactly newbies either. The review is right to criticise the music, though: Kosma's score is light and bubbly, but intrusive and curiously at odds with the disaster stock footage. The comedy, such as it is, consisting mainly of Keaton / Chaplinseque slapstick tropes, feels forced, and Renoir's dialogue (Jean Carmet worried about his adulterous wife, Jacques Jounneau rapping on about how to carry a tray of drinks in his Parisian brasserie..) exudes an uneasy nostalgia for the society the director painted so well in the 30s, but one that had all but disappeared in the trentes glorieuses. I wonder what the Cahiers crew made of it, especially as they jumped through numerous hoops to canonise Renoir while spitting venom on many of his equally talented contemporaries. But by 1962 Godard was busy with Vivre sa vie and Truffaut with Jules et Jim - a whole other world.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2020

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Werner Herzog & Clive Oppenheimer, Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds, 2020

To quote the site I swiped the image from: imagine "a Nat Geo TV special narrated by an existentialist-turned-standup comic." Quite! Herzog documentaries are always fun, not only for his deadpan narration but the cast of characters he manages to assemble, most of whom are probably just as mad as he is. To tell the story of meteorites big and small, he recruits, amongst others, a Norwegian jazz guitarist turned amateur meteorite sleuth (using a magnet in a plastic bag to pick them out of puddles on an Oslo rooftop, a talking hologram in an Alsace museum, a batty Cambridge don convinced that the 1492 meteorite strike in Ensisheim helped bring about the rise of the Habsburg Empire, and a ludicrously joyful Jesuit priest in charge of the Vatican observatory in Castel Gandolfo. Along the way he and Oppenheimer go caving in the Yucatan, meteorite hunting on the ice plateau of Antarctica with a pack of madly enthusiastic Koreans, and end up on a beach watching the sunset with some overweight old folks on a beach on an island somewhere between Australia and Papua New Guinea. There's yet more music from Ernst Reijseger, his cello and choir (pretty, but getting a bit tired of it now - what is this, his tenth Herzog soundtrack?) and a couple of juicy clips from Deep Impact. Good fun - and no need to worry about a slow, painful death if Earth gets hit by another asteroid the size of the one that fell off the Mexican coast about 66,000,000 years ago: we'll all be literally turned to glass within milliseconds. Ruby glass, presumably.
http://www.paristransatlantic.com
REISSUED! Eric La Casa / Jean-Luc Guionnet / Dan Warburton METRO PRE SAINT GERVAIS
https://swarming.bandcamp.com/album/met ... nt-gervais