Recently Watched Films 2016

Not the stuff on your shower tiles.

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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

Post by Dan Warburton »

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Takashi Miike, 13 Assassins, 2010

Very well-made and all that, but I wonder why he felt the need to return to the samurai movie genre, especially since he swiped so many things from Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (particularly the Kikuchiyo character, who inexplicably comes back to life at the end of the movie, a major wtf moment). That said, maybe the original Eiichi Kudo 1963 Thirteen Assassins (which I have yet to see) also borrowed elements from Kurosawa. What seems clear from one of the IMDb punter reviews I've read is that Miike turns Naritsigu from "an arrogant, cowardly and childish character" to "an angelic psychopath, softly spoken and not at all a coward." So he's revising the samurai genre in the same way he revised the western in Sukiyaki. (This one is much better, though.) Not bad, but I'm sure he could have lopped off 20 minutes or so along the way.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

Post by Dan Warburton »

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François Ozon, Sous le sable, 2000

A little underwhelmed by this one, to be honest - and I'm a fan of Bruno Cremer and Charlotte Rampling, even if she is hard to look at at times (I always think someone put her lips on upside down). I think a more elliptical director like Claire Denis could have made the story of the husband who disappears on holiday and his wife's inability to mourn more.. well, mysterious for a start. Be thankful though, the same plot in the hands of Haneke would have become an exercise in brutal spectator torture. Does it end happily? Watch it yourself and find out, if you like.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Hal Hartley, The Book of Life, 1998

If Dogma was a bit too, umm, racy for you but you like the idea of Jesus and Satan mulling over whether to trigger the apocalypse or not in latterday USA, you'll love this. Hartley and his team are on top form - very sharp script, which must be a real pleasure to act, and Martin Donovan (Jesus, of course) and Thomas Jay Ryan (Satan) do a great job. PJ Harvey, whose face you usually see when you google this one, is fine but it's just a supporting role. Great framing, cool soundtrack. Easily as good as the (better known) earlier Hartleys, now working my way through the more recent ones.. A suivre
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Michael Winner, The Stone Killer, 1973

Before Charlie Bronson went over to the dark side in Death Wish a year later, here he is on the right side of the law (playing dirty, but nowhere near as dirty as Dirty Harry) trying to foil a carefully masterminded Mafia massacre to celebrate the 42nd anniversary of the Night of the Sicilian Vespers. If you like a good solid action movie complete with car chases and shootouts, with a smashing Roy Budd soundtrack and cool supporting roles (Martin Balsam's Italian accent notwithstanding :) ), check it out.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Hal Hartley, Henry Fool, 1997

As this, with hindsight, seems to be the first of a trilogy of sorts, followed by Fay Grim and Ned Rifle, I think I'll wait until I've checked out the next two before reporting back. My kneejerk reaction is that HH is better when he sticks to shorter films - the plot gets quite involved and drags things out, which also looks like it might be the case with the others - but jury's out for the moment. But anyone who gives his seven-year-old a slug of whisky and a cigarette is all right with me :lol:
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dialectics of shit
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

Post by dialectics of shit »

Dan Warburton wrote:Nice write-up, keep 'em coming.

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Alain Resnais, L'année dernière à Marienbad, 1961

It's still something of a Holy Grail for art cinema buffs, and still a tough nut to crack. Not meaning to figure out what's going on, and whether these folks really did meet at Marienbad last year - there's no way of knowing, and no point in finding out anyway - but trying to decide whether it really does live up to the hype. Pauline Kael hated it, of course - she was just about the only major league critic who did, lumping it together with La Dolce Vita and La Notte as the kind of movie that really rubbed her up the wrong way, "the no-fun party for non-people" (that, after enthusing over L'Avventura too, and adoring Jeanne Moreau in Jules et Jim later.. go figure). Nobody I've read (and I've just trawled through one of the BFI guides devoted to the film) has mentioned what annoys me the most: Delphine Seyrig's brother's bloody organ music. OK, sure, you guys all know I hate organs anyway (pipe organs I mean - Hammond B3s are cool with me), but I agree with Robbe-Grillet who himself said he'd have preferred something more violent. He made good use Michel Fano's music in his own films, so he has a point. It's intriguing to read how Resnais and Robbe-Grillet managed to disagree / contradict each other on numerous small points. But is it, after all, "the greatest film ever made" (Jacques Brunius, 1962)? That's like asking if Pierrot Lunaire or Le marteau sans maître or 4'33" are the greatest compositions of the 20th century, or whether Finnegan's Wake or The Death of Virgil or L'innomable are the greatest novels. All these works are seminal masterpieces of modernism, but none (with the possible exception of the Boulez, imo, and the Cage, which can be anything you want it to be) is particularly enjoyable. I've never met anyone who ever made it to the end of the Joyce, and I only managed to get through the Beckett once. The Broch took three attempts, and I can't remember a bloody thing about it. As for Marienbad, I might go back to it again in a couple of years, but I find myself more drawn to Muriel and Je t'aime je t'aime. Any thoughts, modernistas?
Finnegans* Wake (no apostrophe)
L'Année dernière à Marienbad = overrated/not worth the hype
• Robbe-Grillet films > Resnais films
L'Innommable = extremely enjoyable

;)

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walto
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Much better to read, so you can skip ahead a handful of pages at a time. I don't know anybody who feels guilty about not reading stuff they've just read a minute ago! But with the movie, you don't have that freedom, there's this obligation to sit there and watch the same goddam scene a dozen more times.

Maybe if it was interactive and you could make small changes....
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

Post by Dan Warburton »

dialectics of shit wrote:Finnegans* Wake (no apostrophe)
Of course. Wrist duly slapped. Have you read it (all)?
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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walto wrote:Much better to read, so you can skip ahead a handful of pages at a time. I don't know anybody who feels guilty about not reading stuff they've just read a minute ago!
Yes, I quite often have to go back over things I've just read - or re-read it aloud.
walto wrote:But with the movie, you don't have that freedom
In a cinema, sure - but I watch most of my movies at home - and you can pause / re-run a DVD (even at slower speed) and VLC. But you're right, in the sense that film, like music, exists in time.
walto wrote:Maybe if it was interactive and you could make small changes....
Hasn't anybody done this yet? Release a film where the editing can be done by the viewer or (easier) is done randomly by the computer? Surely it's been done.. Didn't Rivette discuss this idea with Boulez back in the mid-60s? I must have a look at those old Cahiers pieces again.
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Piotr Tkacz
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Dan Warburton wrote: Didn't Rivette discuss this idea with Boulez back in the mid-60s? I must have a look at those old Cahiers pieces again.
Thanks for this, I wasn't aware of their encounter(s), on a quick search I found this https://books.google.pl/books?id=6CKfPX ... ez&f=false

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walto
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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walto wrote:Much better to read, so you can skip ahead a handful of pages at a time. I don't know anybody who feels guilty about not reading stuff they've just read a minute ago!


Yes, I quite often have to go back over things I've just read - or re-read it aloud.
Ah, but that's voluntary, not obligatory. If I think I need to reread something, maybe I will. But if you go to see Marienbad, you have to watch each scene fitty times whether you want to or not.

Glass, Reich and Adams can be that way too, of course.....
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Dan Warburton
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Piotr Tkacz wrote:
Dan Warburton wrote: Didn't Rivette discuss this idea with Boulez back in the mid-60s? I must have a look at those old Cahiers pieces again.
Thanks for this, I wasn't aware of their encounter(s), on a quick search I found this https://books.google.pl/books?id=6CKfPX ... ez&f=false
The interview between Boulez and Rivette & François Weyergans is in Cahiers #152, February 1964. I don't know if an English translation exists, or if I could find a link to one (or a link to the French original, if it's online somewhere - I only have a pdf). Meanwhile, though it's not directly related to Walt's discussion of aleatoric editing, this is a fine article http://sensesofcinema.com/2016/jacques- ... du-cinema/
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Bernardo Bertolucci, The Spider's Stratagem, 1970

It's based on Borges' Theme of the Traitor and the Hero - here's a summary for you tweeters who haven't got time to read the original, which is only five pages long, http://www.enotes.com/topics/theme-traitor-hero - but BB transposes the story from aspiring republican Ireland to post-fascist Italy, and the young man investigating the hero's death is his son (Athos Magnani). Not only that, but he's the spitting image of his father, which allows the director to switch effortlessly (and often confusingly) between present and past. Set in the fictional town of Tara in the Po valley, it's not as visually opulent as The Conformist - though that may just be the RAI TV rip I got (is there a DVD of this? doesn't seem clear) - and the principal protagonist isn't as complex or charismatic as Trintignant, but it's well worth several attentive viewings.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Eric Idle, The Rutles: All You Need is Cash, 1978

This is a total delight - Idle and Neil Innes researched their Beatles archives in meticulous detail before producing this splendid spoof documentary, and Innes not only penned some terrific songs (close enough to the originals for us all to know which song is in the firing line, but definitely not plagiarism - listening, Melania?) but has got Lennon's spoken voice down to a tee. Fun cameos too from Bill Murray, John Belushi, Paul Simon and especially Mick Jagger, who gets the hilarious last word: "Are the Rutles going to re-form?" asks Idle. "I 'ope not!" says Mick. Watch out for the awesome take on Yellow Submarine too, here Yellow Submarine Sandwich. Bon appetit!
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Aki Kaurismäki, Juha, 1999

This the fourth time, apparently, that Juhani Aho's 1911 tale of a simple country girl lured away to a life of sin in the big city has been turned into film, though if there are any direct references in it to earlier Finnish adaptations you'll have to excuse my ignorance for not spotting them. There are a few sly nods to other filmmakers though, including a Sam Fuller quote on the police station blackboard, and André Wilms' sports car, which is called Sierck (Detlef Sierck of course is better known as Douglas Sirk). Wilms' craggy features are always great to look at, but at 52 with that receding hairline you might argue he's a tad too old to play the city slicker, but never mind. The leading lady is, of course, Kati Outinen, and you'll spot several other AK regulars in the supporting cast. The gimmick here is that there's no spoken dialogue, but that's not to say it's a silent film - the Anssi Tikanmäki soundtrack is almost omnipresent (and far too loud in places) and there's plenty of diegetic sound too (Juha sharpening his axe..) - it's a silent film in the same way that The Artist was, if you like. And a damn sight better too.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Ingmar Bergman, Törst ("Thirst"), 1949

Ah, just when you're beginning to enjoy your day, you pop a Bergman into the DVD player and WHAM! back down you go, sunshine. Have a bit of Strindergian angst, and a suicide thrown in to boot. Yay! It's a bit scattered this one - the blog I nicked the screenshot from says it all, more or less http://www.filmsufi.com/2013_12_01_archive.html - but there are some splendid scenes: the implied lesbian attachment of the two ladies above, the terrific three-and-a-half minute tracking shot that opens the film, the wonderfully claustrophobic train scenes. Not major league Bergman, but enough to depress you nicely.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

Post by Piotr Tkacz »

Dan Warburton wrote:
Bernardo Bertolucci, The Spider's Stratagem, 1970

It's based on Borges' Theme of the Traitor and the Hero - here's a summary for you tweeters who haven't got time to read the original, which is only five pages long, http://www.enotes.com/topics/theme-traitor-hero - but BB transposes the story from aspiring republican Ireland to post-fascist Italy, and the young man investigating the hero's death is his son (Athos Magnani). Not only that, but he's the spitting image of his father, which allows the director to switch effortlessly (and often confusingly) between present and past. Set in the fictional town of Tara in the Po valley, it's not as visually opulent as The Conformist - though that may just be the RAI TV rip I got (is there a DVD of this? doesn't seem clear) - and the principal protagonist isn't as complex or charismatic as Trintignant, but it's well worth several attentive viewings.
Maybe I should give it another try, I remember seeing it soon after The Conformist and being underwhelmed. I shouldn't expect a sequel, it's another movie but still it's hard not to compare them. I'm almost sure it wasn't meant to be so visually "attractive" as The Conformist (I saw it on TV but the print itself was pretty good).

BTW, could you send me this pdf of Boulez-Rivette?

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Alastair
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

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Dan Warburton wrote:Image
I have had tea

Lots of tea

Indian tea

...and biscuits

Hayao Yamaneko
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

Post by Hayao Yamaneko »

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Wendy and Lucy
- Kelly Reichardt

This manages to retain some of the restrained, observant, visual style Reichardt turned on the forest in Old Joy, while being a much tougher film, and eschewing the wilderness for a small town setting. Reichardt has a real talent for keeping the viewer at the exact right distance from her characters. She renounces the easier pleasure of straight identification (the central mechanic, and pleasure, of Rounders, above), but never gives us too much space from the protagonist. Our relationship to Wendy is close to that of the characters she meets: we don't know her from the inside, and we've not known her outside this particular set of circumstances. We have to deal with what we have. Which is interesting in itself - the way this film deals with sociality where most films deal with identity.

But that quality is tightly intertwined with the plot - an encounter with a person on the fringes of society, on the cusp of falling out of it. Michelle Williams does a great job of making the character ordinary. Sympathetic in some ways, but also withdrawn. Somewhere between asking "too much" and giving back too little - as much in social encounters as economically etc. because, presumably, having too little in these circumstances to give. When you're sufficiently tired and somebody helps a little, showing perhaps real generosity in stepping outside their bubble, you can only step so far back towards them, only manage to be so grateful. So Wendy here is not winningly "good" and deserving, not allegorically deserving of our kindness; she is more mixed, or neutral than that. So as a few reviews and, Reichardt herself, note, you have to decide for yourself how far you're willing to go towards understanding her situation. How far are you willing to empathise, how much inclined to judge? Impossible to react in any way other than a mixture of the two.

Though the film is political purely by virtue of its subject matter it is not moral, it is not a parable or an allegory, and though it doesn't eschew emotionality (in Wendy's relationship with Lucy) it is not on the whole mobilising emotion to make a point. It is like the best Carver shorts - an unresolved situation into which you enter, and of which you have to make some kind of sense.
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Re: Recently Watched Films 2016

Post by Piotr Tkacz »

I thought I should let you know about this great website called Festival Scope which streams selections of movies from (yes, you guessed it) festivals around the world (registration is free, there is no spam or anything like that; the only thing is that the number of viewers for each movie is usually limited).

Now it's time for Locarno - https://www.festivalscope.com/all/festi ... carno/2016
I've seen four so far, I'll list them here starting with a favorite one:

Viejo Calavera by Kiro Russo - dark, hard-edged but also subtle and enchanting, with a great sensibility for light (some nice ideas for placements and movements of light sources) and sounds (the director took part in editing both visual and aural components) not only for those of machines - melody of human speech, cries, laments (were they first songs of mankind?) also have a strong presence.

Gorge Coeur Ventre by Maud Alpi - not for everyone, I couldn't honestly say if I "like" it but I surely appreciate how focused and restrained it is.

Pescatori di corpi by Michele Pennetta - free-floating documentary/essay about migrants and fishermen who are together on the same, excuse the pun, boat because they have to circumvent the law to live with dignity.

L'Indomptée Caroline Deruas - wholeheartedly unrecommended, a series of artsy-fartsy missteps on a bumpy and narrow path of a movie about art(ists).

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