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 Maiden's Voyage 
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Post Maiden's Voyage: Bastards

Image Image

    Ah, I've missed Claire Denis! Bastards is very, very good. Though I watched it in pretty much the worst (legal) way possible, it still looked beautiful, with that glow beneath the surface that Bartas sometimes has, so smooth you could almost drink it. It's a L'intrus-like trip into the heart of darkness, while the family element gives the whole a theme of contamination, of infection, that reminds me of Trouble Every Day. This is a noir in the classical sense, dark and convoluted, but through a typical Denis lens of empathy for all the iconic players: the ingenue, the villiain, the femme fatale, the doomed detective who's emotionally involved and repulsed by the layers of corruption he reluctantly peels back. It's great to see Denis back with her entire team, and everything works perfectly here. The story is told in faces and small connections, like jigsaw pieces; and, before you know it, you're deep in the darkest places of humanity, looking—in vain—for a way out.

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Wed Nov 06, 2013 12:26 am
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:up:

I think it's a top 3 Denis for me

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Wed Nov 06, 2013 12:37 am
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me too, just after L'intrus and Beau travail I think

I loved the bronze-ness she got in the night shooting but then also had really clear and colorful daylight or like the closeup of that cake being decorated

i kinda wish the ending wasnt what it was altho technically/tonally it was amazing and eerie and haunting, maybe i did like the ending...


Wed Nov 06, 2013 1:18 am
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Yeah I think going digital helped her get that wicked clarity. But that she still managed to keep things so dark and amber was incredible.

I loved the ending. Sealed it for me. She has the best endings in cinema.

I probably put it after The Intruder and I Can't Sleep. I had Beau Travail at around 2 or 3, but it's slipped down for me.

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Wed Nov 06, 2013 1:27 am
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i still havent seen I Can't Sleep, I have some holes in her early work


Wed Nov 06, 2013 1:34 am
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It's probably one of her least well-liked among Denis fans, but it's one of the first Denis films I saw and to me it's still one of her most contemplative, challenging, and fascinating films. I love it.

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Wed Nov 06, 2013 1:43 am
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Quote:
I Can't Sleep
has been moved to the top of your Queue


aside from shorts and Vers Mathilde it's just that and No Fear No Die i have left


Wed Nov 06, 2013 1:45 am
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:up: Awesome. I really look forward to hearing your thoughts, so report back!

And I actually just completed Denis myself with the viewing of Vers Nancy not long ago. As of now, here's how I would rank her films:

The Intruder
I Can't Sleep
Bastards
Beau Travail
35 Shots of Rum
Friday Night
US Go Home
No Fear No Die
Nénette et Boni
Trouble Every Day
White Material
Chocolat
Vers Mathilde
To the Devil
Vers Nancy

The thing is, I love the top 5 so much that they're almost entirely interchangeable. I go back and forth on the order of these like every week lol.

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Wed Nov 06, 2013 1:50 am
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::would sex Chiara Mastroianni's mole::

great movie, top 5 denis for sure.

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Wed Nov 06, 2013 2:16 am
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plain wrote:
::would sex Chiara Mastroianni's mole::

great movie, top 5 denis for sure.

ahaha... she's a beautiful woman. Great genes.

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Wed Nov 06, 2013 2:24 am
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There are actually some shorts (Nice, Very Nice, Keep It for Yourself) and documentaries (Man No Run and she has one on Rivette) I still need to see, but I don't know that any of them are available online or otherwise save for the Rivette and Nice, Very Nice.

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Wed Nov 06, 2013 2:31 am
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She pretty much just does camerawork on the Rivette doc afaik but it's so good regardless. Rivette intimidates me but in good ways.

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Wed Nov 06, 2013 3:21 am
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Rivette is so much fun!


Wed Nov 06, 2013 3:22 am
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charulata wrote:
She pretty much just does camerawork on the Rivette doc afaik but it's so good regardless. Rivette intimidates me but in good ways.

Have you seen the others I mentioned? Should I even bother with those?

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Wed Nov 06, 2013 3:33 am
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I've only seen the ones available online as you mention. The Rivette doc is really great. Nice, Very Nice is good but mostly allows Denis to shoot Gregoire Colin navigate this crowded parade and so y, visually fun but that's about it I think.

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Wed Nov 06, 2013 3:43 am
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hirtho wrote:
I loved the bronze-ness she got in the night shooting but then also had really clear and colorful daylight or like the closeup of that cake being decorated
Izzy Black wrote:
Yeah I think going digital helped her get that wicked clarity. But that she still managed to keep things so dark and amber was incredible.
Yeah, it looked incredible. I used only dark pictures above, but, as wig said, the daylight stuff was really lovely, too:

Image


And, in case anyone's interested, I updated the last page with my ranking of her films.

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Fri Nov 08, 2013 6:05 am
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Post Maiden's Voyage: Computer Chess

Computer Chess was a lovely surprise! This really is a film where the less you know going in the better, but if anyone is hesitating, for reasons of mumblecore or computer geekery, don't worry. From the very first speeches, full of stumbling enthusiasm and well-timed elipses, I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. Bujalski's clever script makes the most of the inherent comedy of the subject matter and our ironic distance, and his non-actors are all scarily perfect. (It's well worth reading the cast information on the official page, to see who's who.) But, what I love most is how, despite the stringent restraints of his project, he manages to give us something so visually creative, bittersweet, surreal, and very funny. I don't normally do this, but I have to include this quote from Kent Jones, in FilmComment:

    [Computer Chess has been mistaken for one kind of movie—a narrative about an introverted young man named Peter Bishton (Patrick Reister) enjoying an awkward coming-of-age experience—when it is, finally, a series of touchingly rhapsodic variations on communion and aloneness, desire and repression, control and chaos.

Image Image

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Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:49 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
Image


Bill Gates?

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Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:26 am
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Hope I can see it at the Mar del Plata Film Festival. :)


Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:52 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
Image

Should I expect a submission?

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Wed Nov 13, 2013 7:11 am
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That picture's kind of deceptive, though. The rest of that shot is more from the side, if I'm remembering it right.

EDIT: Oh, well. I submitted and you can decide.

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Wed Nov 13, 2013 7:18 am
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Thanks, Maiden. <3

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Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:45 pm
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And now that I'm thinking in these terms, I find it interesting that these point-of-view shots are from her perspective, not his. (At least, I don't remember third persona shots from Marco's point of view.) I know charu's report from the Q&A at TIFF emphasized Denis's empathy for all the characters, but I'm sort of surprised by this, regardless.

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Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:51 pm
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
And now that I'm thinking in these terms, I find it interesting that these point-of-view shots are from her perspective, not his. (At least, I don't remember third persona shots from Marco's point of view.) I know charu's report from the Q&A at TIFF emphasized Denis's empathy for all the characters, but I'm sort of surprised by this, regardless.

That's how I remember it as well although it has been a while for me. So my memory of specific images is fuzzy at best. But isn't that also because so much of the film is her being watched by him? Her routines etc. And in so many ways Chiara and her son are endangered from our perspective. So we too watch (over) them .. I am not putting this very well but I've been trying to revise a paper since 4 am and I can't form sentences any more it seems.

Going back to that Q&A I did my best to transcribe whatever I could recall but I think if anything I came away with the impression that Denis has even more sympathy for Marco's character than she does for Chiara. She said something along the lines of Chiara having made a choice whereas she thinks Marco was pulled into this mess by familial ties. (That sentence in particular reminded me of James Gray which is perhaps why I remember it so well).

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Thu Nov 14, 2013 12:58 am
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OK, yes. That makes sense, and I watched the film thinking of Marco as the protagonist. Thus, my surprise that these shots follow her. I like your idea that we're being made watchers, equivalent to him, but those shots Jedi loves normally put us in the watched person's head, right? Though, now that I think of it, that's too restrictive.

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Thu Nov 14, 2013 1:29 am
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I think it definitely has to do with the empathizing role of Denis' camera. On paper, Chiara's character is the femme fatale type and Marco the virtuous, world-weary protagonist, but Denis makes a great effort to have us identify with Raphaëlle - to make us want to understand her, to even like her. In fact, I wasn't even entirely sure who the protagonist was until half way through the film. I think that was on purpose. This is why the film's ending is so effective. What she does at the end has a truly shocking effect, heightened by moral ambiguity, all because we have these complicated feelings about Raphaëlle, who in another director's hands, would've been made to come across as the duplicitous, two-timing femme fatal out for her own ends and survival by any means necessary. Denis' approach to the type is more delicate, subtle, and nuanced.

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Thu Nov 14, 2013 1:42 am
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Ah, well said. Yes.

:heart:

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Thu Nov 14, 2013 1:54 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
OK, yes. That makes sense, and I watched the film thinking of Marco as the protagonist. Thus, my surprise that these shots follow her. I like your idea that we're being made watchers, equivalent to him, but those shots Jedi loves normally seem to be putting us in the watched person's head, right? Though, now that I think of it, that's too restrictive.


Without having thought about it too much, these "Jedi shots," I suspect, have two different effects. I usually talk about them in relation to videogames. In such a case, we are inside the watched person's head, since we very nearly share that person's point of view (we're almost facing the same vanishing point as that person, tracing similar perspective lines). However, and without necessarily contradicting the videogame comparison, we are also looking beyond the watched person. The watched person becomes a watcher and begins to adopt our disembodied gaze (disembodied in the sense that we introduce ourselves into the projected fiction as ghosts, immerse ourselves into the drama without actually leaving our seats). As in videogames, the watched person becomes nearly invisible, a vessel, a vehicle for our gaze, and this is emphasized because the watched person is walking, going somewhere, and the where is what's important (or the nowhere, as in Antonioni). At the same time, and here we move away from the videogame comparison, since this is cinema, we almost expect to see the character's face, the window into her soul. The watched person is hidden from us, their emotions hard to gauge behind the mop of visible hair. So, in that sense, we're not inside the watched person's head at all, since she remains mysterious, distant. We might share her point of view, her line of sight, but that doesn't necessarily mean we're feeling what she's feeling. In such cases, we're not following the watched person in her journey, so much as watching her as she journeys on her own. This would coincide with the idea that we're watchers watching Chiara.

That's my contribution to the analysis of a movie I haven't seen, though I'm looking at the technique in a broader way. None of the above might apply to Bastards.


Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:03 am
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:up:

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Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:07 am
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Beau wrote:
At the same time, and here we move away from the videogame comparison, since this is cinema, we almost expect to see the character's face, the window into her soul. The watched person is hidden from us, their emotions hard to gauge behind the mop of visible hair. So, in that sense, we're not inside the watched person's head at all, since she remains mysterious, distant. We might share her point of view, her line of sight, but that doesn't necessarily mean we're feeling what she's feeling. In such cases, we're not following the watched person in her journey, so much as watching her as she journeys on her own. This would coincide with the idea that we're watchers watching Chiara.

That's my contribution to the analysis of a movie I haven't seen, though I'm looking at the technique in a broader way. None of the above might apply to Bastards.

Love you, Beau. Thank you for articulating what I was trying to say via my blubbering. And I agree on these shots having these two different effects. I've sent 5-6 images from the same film to Jedi's tumblr and they've often included a mixture of these two types of shots/effects.

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Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:08 am
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The interesting thing about Bastards is the use of various perspectives. A third person point-of-view gives us perspective, but also keeps a certain level of distance between the audience and character like Beau points out (since we literally see/watch them and they don't see/watch us).

But we also get first-person perspectives. One of my favorite shots in the whole film is when Denis' camera gives us an intimate close-up of the muscular arch in Marco's back to mirror the perspective of Raphaëlle's sexual longing. (I was so happy to see Trip reference this scene in his review.) This has a significant effect. Because typically in film noir what we see are the seductive effects of the femme fatale on the hero rather than the other way around. There's no question of a role reversal in this film. Marco is actively seducing her, disrupting her life and trying to lure her in. He's, in a way, the femme fatale, and we are to identify, at least at some level, with the wants, desires, and emotional conflict of Raphaëlle.

But the camera moves back and forth between these close-up POV shots and these third-person POV shots while shifting between character perspectives that a straightforward emotional identification becomes complicated. The overall effect is kind of disorienting by the end. We've been completely sucked into this world and it seems there's no way out.

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Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:18 am
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Izzy Black wrote:
But we also get first-person perspectives. One of my favorite shots in the whole film is when Denis' camera gives us an intimate close-up of the muscular arch in Marco's back to mirror the perspective of Raphaëlle's sexual longing. (I was so happy to see Trip reference this scene in his review.) This has a significant effect. Because typically in film noir what we see are the seductive effects of the femme fatale on the hero rather than the other way around. There's no question of a role reversal in this film. Marco is actively seducing her, disrupting her life and trying to lure her in. He's, in a way, the femme fatale, and we are to identify, at least at some level, with the wants, desires, and emotional conflict of Raphaëlle.

:fresh:
Quote:
But the camera moves back and forth between these close-up POV shots and these third-person POV shots while shifting between character perspectives that a straightforward emotional identification becomes complicated. The overall effect is kind of disorienting by the end. We've been completely sucked into this world and it seems there's no way out.

The power of cinema!!

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Thu Nov 14, 2013 4:11 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
OK, yes. That makes sense, and I watched the film thinking of Marco as the protagonist. Thus, my surprise that these shots follow her. I like your idea that we're being made watchers, equivalent to him, but those shots Jedi loves normally put us in the watched person's head, right? Though, now that I think of it, that's too restrictive.

Not necessarily! It just tends to line up perspective with whichever figure happens to be on screen at a particular time, but without providing a face and the emotion/expression a face would communicate to us. All we have is the back of a figure; the back of a head, and as such our whole effort is spent observing the observer and observing whatever the observer is observing, rather than absorbing or translating the complex messages of a face.

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Thu Nov 14, 2013 5:25 am
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Beau wrote:
Without having thought about it too much, these "Jedi shots," I suspect, have two different effects. I usually talk about them in relation to videogames. In such a case, we are inside the watched person's head, since we very nearly share that person's point of view (we're almost facing the same vanishing point as that person, tracing similar perspective lines). However, and without necessarily contradicting the videogame comparison, we are also looking beyond the watched person. The watched person becomes a watcher and begins to adopt our disembodied gaze (disembodied in the sense that we introduce ourselves into the projected fiction as ghosts, immerse ourselves into the drama without actually leaving our seats). As in videogames, the watched person becomes nearly invisible, a vessel, a vehicle for our gaze, and this is emphasized because the watched person is walking, going somewhere, and the where is what's important (or the nowhere, as in Antonioni). At the same time, and here we move away from the videogame comparison, since this is cinema, we almost expect to see the character's face, the window into her soul. The watched person is hidden from us, their emotions hard to gauge behind the mop of visible hair. So, in that sense, we're not inside the watched person's head at all, since she remains mysterious, distant. We might share her point of view, her line of sight, but that doesn't necessarily mean we're feeling what she's feeling. In such cases, we're not following the watched person in her journey, so much as watching her as she journeys on her own. This would coincide with the idea that we're watchers watching Chiara.

I mean, what this guy said. :D

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Thu Nov 14, 2013 5:26 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
Not necessarily! It just tends to line up perspective with whichever figure happens to be on screen at a particular time, but without providing a face and the emotion/expression a face would communicate to us.
Right, and I like the idea that it can add or remove distance, depending how its used. Also, there's the Something to Remind Me/Vertigo walk, where the shot indicates another (stalker) point of view.

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Thu Nov 14, 2013 8:18 am
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Your words on Denis are beautiful, and inspired me to take Nenette et Boni out of the library. I watched it in about 4 sittings so didn't get the full experience out of it, but the lyricism is undeniable, especially that Beach Boys scene. Can't believe I haven't watched anything of hers in the 3 years since White Material came out. Beau travail and 35 Shots of Rhum next, unless I can recover I Can't Sleep from my hard drive.


Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:44 am
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MrCarmady wrote:
Your words on Denis are beautiful, and inspired me...
Best post ever in this thread! :)

I'm really glad you're exploring her; she's wonderful, and you have her best yet to see.

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Wed Nov 20, 2013 4:50 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
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Russian Ark – I’d read a lot about this one, so I knew it was one long shot through the Hermitage, with historical re-enactments along the way. What I didn’t know about was the strange conversation that goes on between the two ghosts who serve as our guides, as they cover topics like Russia’s obsession with European culture and loss of religious context. It's weird and fascinating, and the main reason I want to watch it again. Of course, the historical re-enactments are true spectacle. The way the scenarios wrap around and through each other is astonishing, and the final ball is full of life, its ending haunting and thought-provoking. And, I’m not sure why, but the little scene in the middle, where Catherine the Great runs through the snow, took my breath away.


i just watched this and it was good and it was my first Sokurov and i liked the parts you liked and as soon as i finished it i thought of your voyage ok bye bye.


Sat Nov 23, 2013 5:41 pm
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Eminence Grise wrote:
i just watched this and it was good and it was my first Sokurov and i liked the parts you liked and as soon as i finished it i thought of your voyage ok bye bye.

:heart:

So, what is going to be your second Sokurov?

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Sun Nov 24, 2013 2:02 am
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Post Re: Maiden's Voyage

Shieldmaiden wrote:
:heart:

So, what is going to be your second Sokurov?

I wasn't sure if Russian Ark would be a good start, but Netflix just put up an HD version, so I went for it. The Sun is the most easily accessible, but anything on Netflix works. What do you recommend?


Sun Nov 24, 2013 3:00 am
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The Sun is a pretty good next step. Then watch The Second Circle, or Dolce (on the "Three Films by..." disc), or Moloch, or Elegy of a Voyage. Ha. What I really mean is, watch them all!

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The Red Snowball Tree ▪ Sheer Madness ▪ Women in Love ▪ The Witches ▪ The Legend of Hell House ▪ The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane ▪ Seven Blood-Stained Orchids ▪ The Addiction ▪ Creepy

Voyage | Female Gaze | MACBETH | Sokurov | Fassbinder | Greenaway | Denis | Sono | my bookshelf


Sun Nov 24, 2013 3:08 am
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Post Re: Maiden's Voyage

And don't forget that Faust is now playing in select cities across the US!


Sun Nov 24, 2013 3:11 am
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I'm so jealous of all of you who live in select cities. :(

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Voyage | Female Gaze | MACBETH | Sokurov | Fassbinder | Greenaway | Denis | Sono | my bookshelf


Sun Nov 24, 2013 3:14 am
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Don't be, it's expensive and polluted and full of phonies. Movies are nice, though.


Sun Nov 24, 2013 3:31 am
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Derninan wrote:
Don't be, it's expensive and polluted and full of phonies. Movies are nice, though.
But, for every ten thousand or so phonies, there's a Derninan. And, yeah, movies. :)

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The Red Snowball Tree ▪ Sheer Madness ▪ Women in Love ▪ The Witches ▪ The Legend of Hell House ▪ The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane ▪ Seven Blood-Stained Orchids ▪ The Addiction ▪ Creepy

Voyage | Female Gaze | MACBETH | Sokurov | Fassbinder | Greenaway | Denis | Sono | my bookshelf


Sun Nov 24, 2013 3:54 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
The Sun is a pretty good next step. Then watch The Second Circle or Dolce (on the "Three Films by..." disc) or Moloch, or Elegy of a Voyage. Ha. What I really mean is, watch them all!

:D

The Sun it is! The others look incredibly interesting as well, though! Thanks for the recs!


Sun Nov 24, 2013 5:30 am
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Post Maiden's Voyage: Inland Empire

    Image Image

        Oh, wow, this movie!! I already wrote a bit about Inland Empire in the horror thread, but I've since watched it again, and admired it even more this time around. It has all the things you'd expect in a Shieldmaiden pick – overwhelming sound, delicious colors, painful (extremely painful) regret – plus, a new favorite, a mega-dose of dread. The layered structure is appealing, also, and enormously satisfying. The doubling (and tripling) of narrative elements seems to have an exponential impact on emotional resonance. As has become my habit lately, I don't feel a need to work out an all-encompassing theory; I simply enjoy catching all the places where it folds in on itself, revealing its truths through small glimpses of memory and nightmare. And the vital code, that of an actress digging down through her character to the truth underneath, is magnified and heightened by a sort of fun-house distortion, adding twisted black humor but also a constant, horrifying sense of dread. All this would be enough to captivate me; it has been in other Lynch films. But, then, we reach the bittersweet euphoria of the ending, shot through with dazzling beams of sacrifice and atonement, which makes this the best of his films and one of my favorites of all time.

        Oh, yeah, and Laura Dern deserves Best Actress Forever for this role.

    Image Image

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Sun Dec 01, 2013 3:19 am
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I could post caps of this all day, but I'll limit myself to just a few more:

Image Image
Image Image

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Voyage | Female Gaze | MACBETH | Sokurov | Fassbinder | Greenaway | Denis | Sono | my bookshelf


Sun Dec 01, 2013 3:20 am
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Masterpiece

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In a word, I think that, far from favoring directors’ formal inventiveness, widescreen, instead, stifles it. It is, I’m more and more persuaded, if not the only, at least the main culprit for the expressive poverty of the image today. - Eric Rohmer
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Sun Dec 01, 2013 3:37 am
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It really is. :heart:

I love the way it takes everything he's done before and perfects it. He knows it, too, hence the end credits scene.

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Voyage | Female Gaze | MACBETH | Sokurov | Fassbinder | Greenaway | Denis | Sono | my bookshelf


Sun Dec 01, 2013 3:55 am
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