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 elixir's film journal, and nothing more... 
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MrCarmady wrote:
I don't like the look of Perceval after downloading it recently, but will watch it soon; I know people who claim it's his best,


sup

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Thu Jul 25, 2013 7:05 pm
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elixir wrote:
do u hate gus van sant or larry clark more


i haven't seen larry clark movies, i think gus van sant seems like the creepiest guy but i have no problem with the movies i've seen of his other than that they're mainly bad

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Thu Jul 25, 2013 7:51 pm
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If snapper watches a Larry Clark movie, his need to be outraged will take over almost immediately since Clark isn't interested in rose-colored glasses.

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Thu Jul 25, 2013 7:54 pm
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I love Gus.


Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:07 pm
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B-Side wrote:
If snapper watches a Larry Clark movie, his need to be outraged will take over almost immediately since Clark isn't interested in rose-colored glasses.


more in pointless excess that has nothing to do with what happens in real life ever anywhere despite what he claims, apparently

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Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:19 pm
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from what i've read

believe it or not, as incensed as watching young people fucking on screen makes me, nothing offends me more than bad filmmaking

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Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:21 pm
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snapper wrote:
more in pointless excess that has nothing to do with what happens in real life ever anywhere despite what he claims, apparently


there's nothing in his films that is outside the realm of reality for many american teenagers

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Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:24 pm
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how many times have you murdered your grandparents and contracted AIDS

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Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:30 pm
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so wait these things not only have to happen in real life, but they have to be common?

jesus

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Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:33 pm
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Kids is obvious and terrible, not too bothered about seeing any of Clark's other stuff. Only seen Drugstore Cowboy from Van Sant, definitely much more promising cinematically.


Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:43 pm
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MrCarmady wrote:
Kids is obvious and terrible


no

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Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:50 pm
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jade_vine wrote:

sup

:up:

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Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:41 am
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B-Side wrote:
so wait these things not only have to happen in real life, but they have to be common?

jesus


I feel like presenting them with the equivalent of the 60s educational movie sloganeering ie "THIS IS WHAT IS HAPPENING TO OUR CHILDREN!" is kinda asinine. I hear from a lot of corners that's what Clark does. I don't have any prejudice against actually seeing the films, I just haven't gotten around to it.

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Fri Jul 26, 2013 5:20 am
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he's never making moral judgements, he celebrates and empathizes with people who pretty much can't even do that for themselves or their peer group

his stuff since Ken Park also has a very warm humanity towards a few of the parents and their genuine connections with the kids which contrast sharply with the bad parents

plus his photography (and Lachman's in KP) is so immediate and tangible, he's really great, especially when collaborating with a good writer or co-director

also he banged Bijou Philips at age 64, major props brobro :up:


Fri Jul 26, 2013 6:43 am
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Clark's interest is often in the humane - not nessecarily in the act of filming people fucking, but the tangible connection made by sex between people who don't really have another way of expressing those feelings.

As a side note, shame on Snapper for belittling Pasolini for how he uses sexuality - his entire filmography isn't Salo for fuck's sake. That aside, religious and social themes are often more central to his work than sexuality most of the time, athough sex is at the center of a number of his films, but certainly not in a 'seedy' way.


Fri Jul 26, 2013 7:20 am
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looove pasolini's sex and nudity

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Fri Jul 26, 2013 7:51 am
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Those giant fake cocks at the end of Salo are terrifying

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Fri Jul 26, 2013 8:15 am
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"hear from a lot of corners" ughh

pasolini. there's an embarrassing blindspot.


Fri Jul 26, 2013 8:51 am
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Salo is one of my favourite films

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Fri Jul 26, 2013 9:34 am
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I hate it, it's really the only feature film Pasolini made I actively dislike.

But its one of the ones where his treatment of sexuality is actively seedy, that's intentional of course, central to give the film a more scathing tone of condemnation - in his other work, sexuality is treated with either a lightness (The Decameron), or imbued with a strong thematic relevance (Teorema).


Fri Jul 26, 2013 9:55 am
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Larry Clark doesn't strike me as a very empathetic filmmaker. Kids, in particular, comes off very critical. I mean, wasn't that one of Korine's biggest complaints about that film was that he thought Clark was far more critical than Korine intended? Korine would never treat his characters the way Clark does with his films. I'd be curious to hear BS's thoughts on Kids though. I'm not especially set in one position on the film, my feelings tend to be more mixed, so I can be moved on it, but right now my immediate reaction tends to be unfavorable.

I can see that Clark may have become a little less judgmental with his later films (especially with the help of Korine's hand again on Ken Park), but I felt Bully struck about the same kind of tone as Kids to me. His films also still feel very pervy and I just don't really see what I'm supposed to glean from closeups of some kid's crotch (as in Ken Park). But beyond all that, I just don't find him very insightful or a particularly dynamic artist (his films all look pretty bland to me), especially when he's compared to Korine.

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Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:43 am
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He's not as good as Korine, definitely, but I think he definitely is empathetic. I don't think he shows as much fondness for his characters as Korine does, and that probably makes his empathy a bit harder to glean, but like Korine, I don't think he's serving these kids up as a horror story for parents. It's been too long since I've seen Kids to defend it properly, but I remember finding it totally engrossing.

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Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:36 pm
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Kids is both critical and empathetic of the figures within, Clark's not foolish, or idealistic enough to believe that Telly's totally unaware of the potential consequences of his actions, and of the moral character - but Clark also smartly realizes that the young man is short of judgement, and in a youthful way, feels like nothing can come down on him - and injects that into his character as well, as reckless as the behavior of the teenagers in Kids is - Clark relates to the logic (or lack thereof) behind the group's decisions, and isn't really terribly interested in moralizing, or preaching a lesson about what just occurred, it happens, and Clark lets the audience draw their own conclusion - he doesn't make monsters out of Casper, and Telly, even though what they did is clearly wrong.

He's not the artist Korine is in that regard at all - but that doesn't make him unsympathetic towards the people he portrays in his films.


Fri Jul 26, 2013 5:33 pm
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yeah

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Fri Jul 26, 2013 5:50 pm
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elixir wrote:
Red Desert | Michaelangelo Antonioni | 1964 | [87]
Even as it somehow feels less "substantial." less of a weight than some of his others, this is still just magnificent and obviously gorgeous beyond belief. I knew about the colors going in, but not all the out of focus stuff. Also, honestly, there is some good (if droll) humor here, particularly in the shed (?) or whatever. Vitti is the best. Um, good comments. The truth is, while I sometimes enjoy, now and then, reading "analysis" of Antonioni's cinema, it's just a thing I really feel more than anything and find a lot of conclusions drawn to be like "oh" and like I've even read the dude's own comments on the film, and it makes sense, but thankfully film can't really be pared down that way and it's the experience of watching it that remains immeasurable. So in conclusion, fuck criticism.
Was it droll humor when the camera went up the walls during the laborers' meeting and followed the wires around? I heartily dislike all the analysis I've read about Antonioni. I'm not saying "they are wrong," or "I'm the only one who gets it," or anything stupid. But, yes, the experience is the thing, and I'll just go watch it again and forget all the talk. :)

Quote:
Koridorius | Sharunas Bartas | 1994 | [74]
There's a scene where a kid is repeatedly pushed into this muddy puddle of sorts and this film kinda feels like that by rather than being miserablist it's hauntingly gorgeous and yet also matter-of-fact despite this attribute. It's just consistently engaging and ugh let's not use tone poem but um can I use mood piece but yeah that's how it exists, and the beauty of the close-up and Golubeva, and clearly I should watch more Bartas!
Did you think the kids were in the past? I'm glad you enjoyed this! A Casa is just like this, but more beautiful and mysterious, and sooo much sadder, so of course I love it.

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Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:13 pm
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
I'll just go watch it again and forget all the talk. :)

:heart: i think ur a badass


Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:07 pm
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I feel like film analysis is catching a lot of flack in here. The reason people want to analyze Antonioni so much is because they love his films and they're so complex and powerful. It's not really so much about whether you agree with a given analysis or not. I find analysis interesting regardless of whether I agree with it, and I do a lot of it myself (especially on Antonioni), but not with the expectation that everyone will think I'm right, or that my interpretation is definitive. It's just a part of the culture of art and cinema to try and explore meanings through discussion and analysis, where a great work of art generates a large body of ideas that over time, helps canonize the greatness of that director and provides rich layers of thought for newcomers to encounter, react to, and reflect on with their own ideas. I love the vast scholarship on Antonioni's films precisely because it's an ongoing conversation and provides many vessels of meaning for me to take with me each time I revisit and encounter his work, searching and discovering new understandings and meanings. I still approach Antonioni from a purely visceral and emotional standpoint, but I don't think I do a disservice to those feelings by trying to articulate them, even though I might fail, as I am sure I often do. I still enjoy the effort.

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Sat Jul 27, 2013 12:50 am
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no, fuck off

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Sat Jul 27, 2013 12:55 am
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Antonioni films are really easy to badly analyze though. if anyone's read Seymour Chatman's book on him it's unbearably shitty. enough so that i wrote a 2500 piece on it, to emerge at some point in the near future.


Sat Jul 27, 2013 1:12 am
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I'm not against film analysis, haha (the "fuck criticism" is wholly a joke). I just more wanted to emphasize "the visceral and emotional standpoint" of watching--and reflecting, and heck even articulating about (whether written or otherwise)--the film. You know I'd read anything you'd write Izzy (I've already read the thing on your blog) :D

I don't care for Kids, but I'll watch Bully at some point probably.


Sat Jul 27, 2013 1:52 am
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I see. And thanks! But yes, I agree with you about the visceral aspect. That component can be under appreciated. Film-going shouldn't just be some cerebral exercise.

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Sat Jul 27, 2013 3:15 am
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Trip wrote:
no, fuck off

:(

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Sat Jul 27, 2013 3:15 am
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Izzy Black wrote:
It's just a part of the culture of art and cinema to try and explore meanings through discussion and analysis, where a great work of art generates a large body of ideas that over time, helps canonize the greatness of that director and provides rich layers of thought for newcomers to encounter, react to, and reflect on with their own ideas.
All true, and I would normally agree wholeheartedly. It's not like I'm some anti-intellectual epistemophobe. I love to read about film, and don't get me started about film discussion! It's just that, in this particular case (Antonioni) I feel out of step with most of what I read. Or, to paraphrase: they're wrong, and I'm the only one who gets it. :P

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Sat Jul 27, 2013 3:40 am
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mystery meat wrote:
Antonioni films are really easy to badly analyze though. if anyone's read Seymour Chatman's book on him it's unbearably shitty. enough so that i wrote a 2500 piece on it, to emerge at some point in the near future.


This is very true. Most critics I encounter have no idea what Blow Up is about and resort to really surface conclusions. And the essay included with the Criterion of Identification of a Woman is dreadful. The critic completely misses the point of the film and makes some flat out ridiculous statements (he describes the excellent electronic score as "eurotrash" music that Antonioni was using ironically and mockingly, and says the film isn't in the class of his 'High Masterpieces,' which allegedly are theses about 'the human condition.' There's a lot wrong here, but to be fair, the essay actually isn't entirely worthless). On the other hand, Senses of Cinema has some nice pieces on Antonioni, but the emphasis on "spiritual isolation" I think is often read a little too much in Antonioni, along with the observation that his films are about the "inability to communicate." In the case of the latter, I think the problem really isn't so much a failure of communication as it is the irrelevance of communication in a modern world, that it serves its function as a solution to traditional problems rather than contemporary ones and is no longer relevant or effective. The question often isn't whether his characters can communicate, but it's rather, why bother? (Which in a lot of ways anticipates Bartas and Tarr, but in subtle gestures). In many cases, his characters simply prefer silence. Or, to be silent. (This is at least especially true of the men in his films and I think even Vittoria and Claudia. But at the same time, in Guiliana's case, the problem seems twofold; she does seem genuinely unable to articulate her neurosis, but this isn't her most pressing problem, since it's not as if articulating her feelings would help rid her of her condition.) In many ways, I certainly position myself against the orthodox perspective in regard to the Antonioni literature, which obviously affects how I evaluate his overall filmography. For instance, I think La Notte is arguably lesser Antonioni, Blow Up is one of his weakest films, Zabriskie Point is excellent, and that Beyond the Clouds and Identification of a Woman are major works rather than minor late works of an aging, out of touch auteur (I prefer them to Blow Up and La Notte).

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Sat Jul 27, 2013 4:09 am
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Now, that was worth reading. :heart:

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Sat Jul 27, 2013 4:23 am
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Izzy Black wrote:
:(

:heart:

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Sat Jul 27, 2013 4:25 am
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:)

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Sat Jul 27, 2013 4:38 am
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whether it's indifference to communication or inability, i do agree with the common analysis that his films are about the disjunction between internalized feelings and behavioral signifiers, or like that the surface of behavior isn't close to transparent. i think you're right in that a lot of his silences suggest the futility of rather than the failure to communicate. i think spiritual isolation way oversteps things, cuz i don't think Antonioni saw the 'modern condition' or whatever in such grandiloquent terms, and it's pretty eye-roll criticism to harp on that stuff (as if Antonioni wasn't also riveted by modernity while acknowledging its challenges).

i also love Zabriskie Point. the Chatman book makes the dumbest assessment of the film i've ever read and misconstrues all its abstract aesthetic choices and defamiliarization tactics as Antonioni's inability to understand American culture. booooo. also i think The Passenger is arguably his greatest, next to L'Avventura and L'Eclisse. Identification was probably the most challenging of the ones i've watched as far as my ability to comprehend/recall it. i'll have to give it another shot sometime.


Sat Jul 27, 2013 4:53 am
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mystery meat wrote:
also i think The Passenger is arguably his greatest, next to L'Avventura and L'Eclisse.
My top three, as well. I still have a few to see, though.

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Sat Jul 27, 2013 5:03 am
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I agree with Izzy, isn't analysis the root of film discussion? Otherwise, why are we here? I don't want to have endlessly cyclical conversations on how nice the experience was; all movies deserve to be intellectualised even if you're just explaining how and why the experience may or may not have been "nice".

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Sat Jul 27, 2013 5:20 am
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I don't think anyone really disagrees (generally speaking).


Sat Jul 27, 2013 5:21 am
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Antonioni in particular is interesting for this because in a lot of ways his films discourage active emotional involvement and "immersion" and ask you to question why you are left disconnected from characters and events on screen. I'm My Fair Lady-ing one of my best friends who didn't like L'avventura because it "didn't move him", which imo is the film's objective - remove you from identification with characters and require that you identify with them as existential and social symbols. The ending becomes more powerful when Anna is "women", Sandro is "men" and both of them are "people".

He did really enjoy Zabriskie Point which baffled me because it's the closest I've gotten to really disliking an Antonioni.

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Sat Jul 27, 2013 5:24 am
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I agree with the communication problems thing, but I think Antonioni consistently creates an image of the world that exists relative to some past, idealised golden age or romanticism where emotions and introspection meant something, people and personalities weren't expendable, emotional connection was the objective of human interaction and art had a role in peoples' lives. He thinks that the processes that developed this 'new world' are failures in communication or integrity or 'humanity' but that the end result is the irrelevance of communication, a society where everyone lives in their own little bubbles and can only interact with brief, indifferent and accidental emotional violence.

This gives his entire filmography, but especially the Trilogy as a unit, a sort of creeping dread and suspense. They're like a horror film where the monster is Communication Failure and it stalks the characters, getting closer and closer until it overtakes them (which it does in different ways at the end of each film).

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Sat Jul 27, 2013 5:32 am
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mystery meat wrote:
whether it's indifference to communication or inability, i do agree with the common analysis that his films are about the disjunction between internalized feelings and behavioral signifiers, or like that the surface of behavior isn't close to transparent. i think you're right in that a lot of his silences suggest the futility of rather than the failure to communicate. i think spiritual isolation way oversteps things, cuz i don't think Antonioni saw the 'modern condition' or whatever in such grandiloquent terms, and it's pretty eye-roll criticism to harp on that stuff (as if Antonioni wasn't also riveted by modernity while acknowledging its challenges).


Exactly! People forget that Antonioni was coming from a place of utter fascination and curiosity. This isn't to say that he didn't have concerns, but his concerns were motivated more by confusion and perplexity than idealism. Indeed, it's for much of this reason that Antonioni distanced himself from the socialist realism of his early career and the post-war Italian cinema of his predecessors. With L'Avventura, he hung up the ideology to step back and observe. He became a listener and a watcher rather than an activist. This isn't to say that his 'alienation trilogy' isn't motivated by Marxist concerns and considerations, because I think Antonioni in a sense remained a committed Marxist for his entire career (which is also to say that I don't think he ever stopped being an economist or putting his economics degree to use), but the difference is that his middle and late work employ a Marxist critique from a purely dialectical standpoint rather than a theoretical one that advocates the Marxist positive call for social change. This is, perhaps, because he was skeptical that such a change was possible or that it could be achieved through Marxist type revolutions, and moreover, because he was skeptical that a purely Marxist critique was at all sufficient to diagnose the problems of modernity. In other words, he identified a particular social problem with his camera and the tools of traditional Marxist analysis, but refused to engage in neorealist idealism because he was willing to engage the wonders of technology and capitalism.
Critics of Identification of a Woman think the ending is Antonioni's whacky late-career attempt at European arthouse ambiguity, but in reality, it's a reflection of the fact that Antonioni had been trying to make a science fiction film his entire career, as Niccolò qua Antonioni's stand-in tries to do in the film, and which Antonioni practically achieved twice with L'Eclisse and Il deserto rosso). It's true the space ship in the ending suggests a kind of escape from the modern world, but it's an escape only made possible by technological wonder, and rather than mere escape, it reflects, like 2001, a form of Nietzschean transcending or overcoming of modernity's perils and by utilizing its very resources. This is consistent with Antonioni's remarks throughout his career, which dates even to his speech at the 1960 Cannes premiere of L'Avventura where he said we must come to terms with modernity by evolving and relinquishing our impoverished traditional moral concepts. The problem isn't modernity so much as it is our failure to adapt to it. The call isn't for a revolutionary change of society and its institutions from the outside so to accommodate the inner needs of woman/man, but a call to change woman/man from the inside so as to cope with an inevitably progressive society. The responsibility falls on us to adjust. If it's a sink or swim world, then we must learn to swim. The ending of Identification of a Woman poetically envisions just such an evolution.


In the end, I do think the standard line that Antonioni's films deal with alienation and isolation is correct, but the problem with using that as a kind of catch-all criticism (or 'eye-roll' criticism as you adequately describe it) is that it doesn't tell the whole story. Antonioni's thoughts on the matter and his relationship to modernity were far more complicated than that. There's alienation and the erosion of traditional conceptions of romantic love, and even personal responsibility, but there is also utter awe at the (post)industrial majesty of modernity. In a way, this is a somewhat postmodern attitude toward modernity (Jia Zhangke's Still Life also displays this schizophrenic attitude toward alienation, capitalism, industrialization, and modernity; it presents a developing industrial world as at once both alienating and a marvelous modern spectacle by deconstructing the line between realism and science-fiction).

mystery meat wrote:
i also love Zabriskie Point. the Chatman book makes the dumbest assessment of the film i've ever read and misconstrues all its abstract aesthetic choices and defamiliarization tactics as Antonioni's inability to understand American culture. booooo. also i think The Passenger is arguably his greatest, next to L'Avventura and L'Eclisse. Identification was probably the most challenging of the ones i've watched as far as my ability to comprehend/recall it. i'll have to give it another shot sometime.


The Passenger is excellent. It's not my favorite, but that's no mark against the film. As for Zabriskie Point, yes, too often critics gathered Antonioni's decisions as completely unintentional and without self-awareness. Antonioni was aware as anyone that he was an outsider looking in.

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Sat Jul 27, 2013 6:14 am
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I have the chance to see Blow-Up and Zabriskie Point back to back during MIFF, both 35mm. It'll be the first time for the latter.

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Sat Jul 27, 2013 6:26 am
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I'll be seeing L'Avventura with the new 35 mm print. I'm hoping Janus releases the poster for sale to the public and CC picks up rights to the Blu-Ray.

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Sat Jul 27, 2013 6:27 am
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snapper wrote:
I agree with the communication problems thing, but I think Antonioni consistently creates an image of the world that exists relative to some past, idealised golden age or romanticism where emotions and introspection meant something, people and personalities weren't expendable, emotional connection was the objective of human interaction and art had a role in peoples' lives. He thinks that the processes that developed this 'new world' are failures in communication or integrity or 'humanity' but that the end result is the irrelevance of communication, a society where everyone lives in their own little bubbles and can only interact with brief, indifferent and accidental emotional violence.


Yes. I actually consider Antonioni's middle period as a polemic, an attack on the reactionary/conservative ideals of neorealism. He was in dialogue with his predecessors as much as he was in dialogue with himself on this, though. Obviously, I don't think this is explicit or the main thing going on, but I think his films have this kind of effect and Antonioni clearly sensed the tension between these two worldviews or sensibilities.

snapper wrote:
This gives his entire filmography, but especially the Trilogy as a unit, a sort of creeping dread and suspense. They're like a horror film where the monster is Communication Failure and it stalks the characters, getting closer and closer until it overtakes them (which it does in different ways at the end of each film).


It's true. His films are very pessimistic in this way, shrouded in a foreboding sense of doom, disappointment, and failure, even flirting with an air of nihilism, but where he rises above it is that I think he genuinely thought the modern world was as beautiful as it was ugly.

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Sat Jul 27, 2013 6:35 am
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Well, he shoots it like an alien landscape. His films are gorgeous. I think his thesis is that it is modern, but it isn't 'the world' any longer.

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Sat Jul 27, 2013 6:51 am
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But in the end I do think Antonioni's films are ultimately pessimistic (and depressing) because he rarely shows the successful adjustment his characters need in order to cope with modernity, and even rather shows their explicit failure in this task. I think L'Eclisse's ending is the greatest example of this and arguably his darkest film. (But take my interpretation with a grain of salt; Antonioni himself believes L'Eclisse has a hopeful ending, that Vittoria somehow achieves an overcoming. Needless to say, I'm not convinced, but I intend to revisit the film on projection soon to reassess the matter.) He's not an outright miserablist though because he does provide gestures or glimpses at the possibility of successful adjustment to modern living (depending on how you interpret the the beach scene and ending of Il deserto rosso, and the endings of L'Avventura, La Notte, and Identification of a Woman). For my money, L'Avventura has the most promising/hopeful conclusion on this front.

But he's still pretty dark given that it seems we're only given hints at a possibility, and it's often a dream, a fleeting moment, or an illusion. We never see the actual resolve, and in most cases, we're completely denied it (The Passenger, L'Eclisse, Blow Up, Zabriskie Point), leaving us only with emptiness and decay.

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Sat Jul 27, 2013 6:55 am
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snapper wrote:
Well, he shoots it like an alien landscape. His films are gorgeous. I think his thesis is that it is modern, but it isn't 'the world' any longer.


Absolutely. It's a strange, new world. We're just visitors passing through, out of place, looking for home.

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Sat Jul 27, 2013 6:57 am
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