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 Maiden's Voyage 
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Bandy Greensacks wrote:
Any filmmakers you can think of whose work is as intimate/sensual as Denis'?


Ferrara.

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Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:22 pm
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Brightside wrote:
Ferrara.


I remember The Addiction fitting that description, but I don't remember a whole lot about the other Ferrara I've seen.

How's Ms. 45?

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Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:26 pm
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Bandy Greensacks wrote:
How's Ms. 45?


Wonderful. Doesn't really fit the adjectives you spoke of, but it's still awesome. His 90s and 2000s work fits that description better.

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Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:30 pm
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Bandy Greensacks wrote:
Any filmmakers you can think of whose work is as intimate/sensual as Denis'?
I've been thinking this over, but I don't really know of any. She's incomparable. :P

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Thu Aug 11, 2011 1:10 pm
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Days of Eclipse is my favorite Sokurov.

First, I need to talk about the way this film looks and sounds. It’s so alive – with crowds dancing
in the streets, women praying, children fighting, workers toiling in a factory, patients muttering
in the hospital – all filmed, sometimes in sepia tones, sometimes in muted colors, against the
background of a vast desertscape. I always love the sound in Sokurov’s films. But the music in
this one is particularly amazing, from the droning, other-worldly theme, to the constant diegetic
soundtrack provided by the loud radios and TVs. This radio soundtrack is wide ranging, from
Bach to folk songs to club music, all of it interesting. It has a strange effect on scenes where
it’s completely inappropriate, providing rousing patriotic uplift to a frightening scene, for example.
And, I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever heard three pieces of music played
simultaneously over the credits!

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Now the story. Dmitri is the heart of the film, a young Russian doctor doing obscure research
on juvenile hypertension in Turkmenistan. He’s charming and kind, people remark on his
handsomeness, he’s almost too perfect. But, his outsider status and inexperience keep him
human, our sometimes baffled surrogate in this odd place. Some very weird things start to
happen around and to Dmitri, involving strange lights and blackouts, a crazy gunman, a talking
corpse, and a very unfortunate dog. But, the most important is a brief, beautiful encounter with
a mysterious little boy who’s obviously not just a boy. We see many people try to discourage
Dmitri, tell him not to write, threaten him, steal his papers. But this boy reads the research in
Dmitri’s typewriter and solemnly nods his head. It’s an affirmation.


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I don’t know the answers to any of the questions people ask about this movie. Where does the
boy come from? How does the dead man speak? What happened to Sasha’s dog? We can’t know.
But, I think something amazing has happened to Dmitri, something mystical and strengthening,
after all the strange, frightening incidents. I don’t know what he’s gained or learned. But, at the
end of the film he seems to be at peace; and so am I.

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Thu Aug 11, 2011 1:10 pm
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Angelopoulos’s The Weeping Meadow is a beautiful example of my 'mournful nostalgia' subgenre. The story is one of constant loss,
terrible longing, bottomless sorrow, for Eleni, for all of Greece. But, if that sounds overwhelming, it’s also filled with gorgeous images
as haunting as dreams, and steeped in the bittersweet sounds of the accordion. I love the way that, even though the story is illogical,
impossible, it always has a solid underpinning of emotional truth; I don’t think any graphic war special effects could be as devastating
as the strange scene where the mothers wander the battlefield to find their dead sons. I'm not sure why, but unlike his Landscape
in the Mist
, Meadow’s power is primarily intellectual for me, rather than emotional; still, it fills me with inchoate longing, even as
the insistent artificiality insulates me from despair.

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Thu Aug 11, 2011 1:18 pm
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Great thread Maiden. I have a question regarding Sokurov, but I have to quote myself :P. From a thread I made on MUBI:

"I have been exploring Sokurov’s work since the beginning, mostly his feature films, and ever since Mournful Unconcern there is a rather distinct homoerotic tension present between characters in his films. This continued on Days Of Eclipse, Stone, and Whispering Pages, in which the main character fondles a rather evil, but masculine statue of an animal. I began exploring on the internet to see if more people have also seen this constant imagery. Sadly, nothing on those films, but rather on others! Confession, Spiritual Voices and Father and Son are apparently very homoerotic, yet the director has dismissed these claims. This boggles my mind. I have seen neither Confession or Spiritual Voices, but maybe, from what I’ve read, those films are an ode to Eisenstein? But that still doesn’t explain his early work.

From KinoKultura on Father & Son:

“Father and son play children’s games on the rooftop, enhancing their closeness and their infantile state of mind, or maybe their purity. The physical closeness makes their relationship appear homoerotic, even if Sokurov disputes this interpretation as a purely Western invention of sick minds. Clearly, though, the film rejects the role of the female figure in life and history, making bondage possible only between men. Visually, the film contradicts Sokurov’s statements: the relationship between father and son is homoerotic, but there are also homosexual overtones in the relationship between the father and the other boys who visit.

Sokurov’s stern reaction of the homoerotic qualities which are clearly present in the film as inventions of sick European minds is contradicted when, in the press conference, he claims to draw on the rich European and Russian cultural heritage of the 19th century. He claims that he wanted to make film about Russian culture, traditions and moral superiority, and show human relationship as ‘beskonechno nezhno i teplo’. Any coldness and distance in a relationship between father and child would be criminal. Sokurov complains about the poshlost’ of European culture, having shot his film in Lisbon, a city that is, according to Sokurov, not yet spoilt by the wave of globalisation and has not yet become a global village."

Anybody feel like adding a piece to the puzzle? I find it fascinating, and it adds yet another layer to Sokurov’s masterpieces."

The responses to this question were brilliant, but not enough people commented. As a person who loves Sokurov, what say you on that matter?


Sun Aug 14, 2011 3:02 am
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Sokurov’s stern reaction of the homoerotic qualities which are clearly present in the film as inventions of sick European minds is contradicted when, in the press conference, he claims to draw on the rich European and Russian cultural heritage of the 19th century. He claims that he wanted to make film about Russian culture, traditions and moral superiority, and show human relationship as ‘beskonechno nezhno i teplo’. Any coldness and distance in a relationship between father and child would be criminal.
I'm no expert on the historical context, but, personally, I take him at face value when he says it's not homoerotic. The quote above seems to dismiss the possibility of a close, physical representation of father/son love, but why? Physical affection doesn't have to be sexual. That's partly what I was trying to get at when I wrote that the the relationship seemed "timeless"; our society accepts physical closeness between a father and son only when the son is very young, but I don't have any trouble believing that another society could have a different threshold. His films depict idealized relationships (not just father/son, but also between friends, between a grandmother and her grandson) and, obviously, to him, an ideal love is physically affectionate. I can totally understand why people 'read' the relationships as sexual, but since I know it's not his intent, I don't have any problem seeing them in a different light.

johnson wrote:
Great thread Maiden.
Thanks! I'm glad to see that not everyone here is tired of my Sokurov obsession.

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Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:13 am
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I'm taking notes.


Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:24 am
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I'm taking strokes.

Ugh, bad joke.


Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:44 am
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Epistemophobia wrote:
I'm taking strokes.

Ugh, bad joke.

That joke was so Jedi.


Sun Aug 14, 2011 5:00 am
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ban jedi

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Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:59 am
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Epistemophobia wrote:
I'm taking strokes.

Ugh, bad joke.
Golf humor.

I'm almost caught up now. Just a few more...

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Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:58 am
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Oriental Elegy – I was hoping for another Elegy of a Voyage, and
while this one isn't quite as fascinating, it is beautiful and moody,
and more explicitly dream-like than Voyage. The ghosts have
some moving things to say about life. But the best moment is the
narrator's panic when he can’t remember where he’s from, his
identity nearly lost, absorbed in the ghost island. By the end,
though, all such worries have disappeared: “[T]his island is
enough for all my dreams…I shall stay.”


Image

A Humble Life – This one tested my patience, and I think I failed.
No dream effects, no dialogue, no music to help me through; just
an old woman, often in extreme close-up, sewing all day long. But,
don’t give up on it. It does have some emotional payoff at the very
end, when she finally speaks and we learn how she actually feels
about her humble life.


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Dolce... was such a pleasant surprise. It’s the only one I hadn’t read about before I watched it, so I had no idea what to expect. It begins as a rather standard documentary about a writer and his family; but, when the writer’s widow unexpectedly appears, it becomes something more. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone open up to the camera the way she does, as she talks about every loss she's faced in a lifetime of quiet sorrow. It's almost unbearably intimate and truly moving. And, the sound is Sokurov at his best. I wish I could get more people to see this one!


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Alexandra – Visually, this story of a woman visiting her soldier grandson
looks a lot like Father and Son, but without the golden hue. It’s also
missing the golden feel of nostalgia so strong in that film. I enjoyed the brief
scene when the grandmother and grandson open up to each other; their love
is complicated, like most family love. And there’s some power in the way
she charms the most rebellious soldiers with her aura of home. But, I didn’t
have any sound- or image-inspired epiphanies this time. And, I thought the
subplot about the women from the nearby village was heavy-handed and,
in the end, kind of silly.


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Moloch – This strange, almost farcical look at Hitler is the first of Sokurov’s ‘men in power’ series, which also includes Taurus and The Sun. Although the camera focuses on Eva Braun, she serves as as a sort of human lens through which we attempt to see, and maybe to understand, the most infamous man of the 20th century. Sokurov's Hitler is a petty, ridiculous lunatic, whose mundane life in his mountain retreat seem to belie his deeds in the outside world. I'm making it sound light-hearted, though, but it's not. The war is there, in offhand conversations, and, more powerfully, in the iconography of history. His tantrums may be clownish, but they're shot through with horror.

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Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:00 am
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is astonishing. I can’t believe it took me this long to discover it. If I’d known it was about memory and loss and
nostalgia, that it was simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking, I would have watched it long ago. It sounds simple: a
womanizing filmmaker, very much like Fellini himself, has a bad case of writer’s block, which triggers a series of vivid
memories and fantasies. But the way the memories and fantasies build on each other isn't simple at all.

I’ve seen Mastroianni in a few other films, and, while he’s a very handsome guy, he’s never been as charming as he is here.
When Guido reads the vicious comments on his script, when he runs away from the people pestering him, when the phone
rings in the bathroom… exasperation suits him; he’s ridiculously charming. Still, when he fantasizes about Luisa as a
Stepford wife, mopping floors and cheerfully supporting his affairs I can't stand him. Eventually the self-satire and silliness
work their magic and his ridiculous charm reasserts itself and I love him again, even as I watch him fail at everything – his
marriage, his profession, his life.

While every minute of this film is extremely entertaining, the ending is even better! A character says: “There’s no need to
leave behind an entire film like the deformed footprint of a cripple. How presumptuous to think that others may benefit
from a narration of all the errors you’ve made. Why piece together the tatters of your life, the vague memories, the
faces, the people you never knew how to love?”
But, at that very moment, the exact thing he’s describing is turning
into something, not just beneficial, but transcendent and fantastic, a few feet away. Because, though Guido’s story ends
in failure and despair as he loses his movie, his reputation, and (maybe) his life, the film isn’t over. We’re treated to the
strange excitement of the parade scene, the “sudden joy” he experiences (and, I do, too). Obviously, if he could start over
and make a movie now, after these moments of catharsis and enlightenment (if he were alive, of course), it wouldn’t need
the costly “space ship” set; instead, it would look a lot like the movie we’re watching, with the self-deprecating humor, the
acceptance of and appreciation for all the different pieces of his life (even the failures), and a renewed sense of what
makes life worth living. I have to admire Fellini, who could take his own life and weaknesses and anxieties and turn them
into cinematic magic. I feel lucky to have finally seen it, to have benefited from his deformed footprint.

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Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:06 am
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I've been trying to work out lately why women don't get more annoyed at Fellini's representation of their gender.


Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:14 am
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Epistemophobia wrote:
I've been trying to work out lately why women don't get more annoyed at Fellini's representation of their gender.
Well, in this one, at least, he's very upfront about it. It's hard to get too annoyed when he's already saying, "I'm a selfish, shallow jerk." And there's nothing wrong with his representation of Luisa, is there?

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Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:22 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
Well, in this one, at least, he's very upfront about it. It's hard to get too annoyed when he's already saying, "I'm a selfish, shallow jerk." And there's nothing wrong with his representation of Luisa, is there?

I think this is the key.

Everyone must love Anouk Aimée. :)


Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:27 am
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*mod posts about brosens again*

I would love to know what you'd think of Brosens. I recently realized how similar his work can be to Soku's.

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Tue Aug 16, 2011 11:10 am
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Mod Hip wrote:
I would love to know what you'd think of Brosens. I recently realized how similar his work can be to Soku's.
I don't have access to him. Sorry.
Epistemophobia wrote:
Everyone must love Anouk Aimée. :)
She's adorable.

Oh, and I'm working on some actual new material for this thread, believe it or not!

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Thu Aug 18, 2011 1:29 pm
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I have no reason not to believe it.


Thu Aug 18, 2011 1:33 pm
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I highly doubt it.

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Thu Aug 18, 2011 1:35 pm
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Trip wrote:
I highly doubt it.
Just because you finally updated your blog, you think you can come in here and act all superior. (Good read, by the way.)

Epistemophobia wrote:
I have no reason not to believe it.
:heart:

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Thu Aug 18, 2011 1:47 pm
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At the start of this year, I’d seen only one Fassbinder, the amazing The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant. But, since then, I’ve watched another 13 of his films and they’ve had quite an effect. I find that if I go too long without watching a new one I start to crave his crazy, German-speaking universe. Why do I find these films so addictive? Maybe it’s the melodrama, or his over-the-top characters. Or, could it be the crazy camera angles? All those things help, certainly. But, mainly, I think it’s his unique tone, the way he balances harsh criticism with surprising sympathy, melodrama with over-the-top black comedy. Anyway, time for some thoughts:

The first half of Martha (pictured above) is amazing, with absurd characters, crazy sets, fantastic camera things. There’s a wedding dinner straight out of a Greenaway film, and I thought I picked up a Wes Anderson vibe at one point, too. (I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that all my favorite directors were disciples of Fassbinder!) The scene in thecourtyard, where she meets her future husband (and time stops and the camera circles) is one of the best things I’ve ever seen! And the title character is great – goofy, neurotic, adorable. But the second half (the Peril-of-the-Week part) is kind of silly. I suppose that's a strange criticism when the first half is silly, too (deliriously silly). It’s hard to explain, but the villain is all camp, no nuance. And it's hard to build a sense of danger when the weapons are ugly furniture and classical music. Part of the problem may be that I just really missed her personality, which, I realize, is a crucial piece of the plot. But, I’ve had some personal experience with control freaks, and I still can’t take that guy seriously.


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Marriage of Maria Braun – I love the way Fassbinder’s films feel staged, artificial, at every point, but still manage to seem more real than reality. And, have there ever been opening credits as great as the marriage/bombing scene here? Then, there’s that scene at the train station, where the camera swoops through the lost-looking crowd, and from there it just gets better and better. The sound in this one is particularly good. (All that radio static!) And the supporting characters are exceptionally well-drawn; no one-dimensional enemies, no cartoon villains, just real people trying to survive. But the heart of the film is Maria – such an amazing character! Her story, with all its twists and betrayals, is more purely entertaining than four or five normal movies. Of course, I know it’s political allegory, with the pictures of the Chancellors, etc. (though I’d need to know more about German history to fully understand it). But, does it really matter? I love the way the story’s told, no matter what it means!


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The Third Generation is a very, very dark comedy about people who 'play terrorism’ like they play Monopoly. It goes through all the motions of a mad-cap farce, but the subject matter is rape and treachery, corruption and murder. There’s so much going on every minute, with the unwieldy cast, the graffiti, the way each scene starts right on top of the last. But the best part is the sound. From the first moments of the opening credits, it’s clear that the sound is going to be exciting, and it is: simultaneous translation, overlapping dialogue, TVs in the background (and foreground), singing, reading, typing, doorbells... It’s crazy information overload – Fassbinder’s Prospero’s Books – completely amazing every minute.


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In a Year with 13 Moons – This may well be my favorite! Some days it’s Maria Braun, but I love this one at least as much. Of course, the intense regret (more like horror, really) at the heart of the film is a very close cousin of the mournful nostalgia I look for, and it has its share of over-the-top craziness (the slaughterhouse, Anton Saitz’s office). But I also love the storytelling; from the fairytale at the center, through the slow reveal of Elvira’s history, to the problems complete strangers share with Elvira, all the stories pile up, layer upon layer of pain and sorrow.

Volker Spengler is simply astonishing as Elvira. I went from bafflement – how could I ever understand this character? – to total, heartbroken empathy. Yet, Fassbinder seems to be doing things constantly to keep me at arm’s length; would it have been even more devastating if he hadn’t? Actually, this wouldn’t be the first time I’ve felt that Brechtian techniques have had the counter-intuitive effect of making me more emotionally involved. And, I guess that’s exactly what I’m talking about when I say the artificiality of Fassbinder’s milieu takes on a hyper-real quality.

A couple of his films have been too bleak for me to truly love them. (I found Fox and His Friends and Mother Küsters Goes to Heaven unremittingly harsh, their misanthropy undiluted with even one redeeming character.) But 13 Moons, despite its overwhelming sadness, is not, which is due, I think, to its real warmth, felt in the humanity of several characters, but especially in the genuine affection shown by Zora, Irene, and Marie-Ann. Of course, in true Fassbinder fashion, even these women are hardly perfect, and fail to save him in the end.

More thoughts on this one here.


ImageImage

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Sun Aug 21, 2011 9:09 am
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Very nice. :)

His films are little miracles considering the conditions in which they were made and his general attitude towards directing. Rush it through, don't worry about the camera! You'd never think it.


Sun Aug 21, 2011 9:14 am
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Fassbinder is great. Maria Braun is my favorite.


Sun Aug 21, 2011 9:20 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
In a Year with 13 Moons – This may well be my favorite!


:heart:

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Sun Aug 21, 2011 9:51 am
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Wasn't a huge fan of 13 Moons, but I probably owe a rewatch. Really want to see The Third Generation, however.

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Sun Aug 21, 2011 10:29 am
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boobs

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Sun Aug 21, 2011 11:18 am
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Epistemophobia wrote:
His films are little miracles considering the conditions in which they were made and his general attitude towards directing. Rush it through, don't worry about the camera! You'd never think it.
He's obviously a genius of the first order. I haven't read enough about him, though I did see somewhere that 13 Moons and Third Generation are the only two shot himself!

Brightside wrote:
:heart:
13 Moons is the only one I rewatched in its entirety for this thread, and it was even better this time. I'm ready to watch it again! The first few scenes change drastically once you know the character. "I see myself loving you." My god.

Magic Fister wrote:
Really want to see The Third Generation, however.
The sound!

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Sun Aug 21, 2011 11:49 am
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Oaktown wrote:
Fassbinder is great. Maria Braun is my favorite.


Mine too until I watched Berlin Alexanderplatz. They both have Schygulla. :heart:

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The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal/Levin, 1962) 6/10
The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
New Rose Hotel (Ferrara, 1998) 3/10


Sun Aug 21, 2011 12:09 pm
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dreiser wrote:
Mine too until I watched Berlin Alexanderplatz. They both have Schygulla. :heart:

Berlin would be my second favorite of his.


Sun Aug 21, 2011 1:18 pm
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dreiser wrote:
Mine too until I watched Berlin Alexanderplatz. They both have Schygulla. :heart:
Oaktown wrote:
Berlin would be my second favorite of his.

OK, I guess this one will be next! It's been in my queue forever, but... 16 hours, etc.

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Mon Aug 22, 2011 4:49 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
OK, I guess this one will be next! It's been in my queue forever, but... 16 hours, etc.


It goes by fast. Just as if you were renting any other television show on dvd.

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Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2012) 4/10
Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal/Levin, 1962) 6/10
The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
New Rose Hotel (Ferrara, 1998) 3/10


Mon Aug 22, 2011 4:51 am
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dreiser wrote:
It goes by fast. Just as if you were renting any other television show on dvd.
I don't do a lot of TV, though... Well, I'll start it and see how it goes.

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Mon Aug 22, 2011 5:04 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
I don't do a lot of TV, though... Well, I'll start it and see how it goes.


Enjoy.

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Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2012) 4/10
Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal/Levin, 1962) 6/10
The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
New Rose Hotel (Ferrara, 1998) 3/10


Mon Aug 22, 2011 5:10 am
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So I watched those four Fassbinder films which acted as the initiators of this ancient thread concerning directors and monthly batches of their work, and my reaction was largely one of indifference or a belief that inexperience was hampering my attempts to understand what I was watching. All in all, it was, as they say, a little meh. Fast-forward a year and a bit more, however, and...no, I'm not going to supply the ending you might have expected, since all I've seen since then is Satansbraten, but I found that film, unheralded though it may be, to be quite brilliant, and while watching it I finally felt that I was somewhere close to being on the same wavelength as the so-called enfant terrible. I apologise for not having seen the ones that people think are awesome and I congratulate you on your successful thread (I don't think I'd done that yet).


Mon Aug 22, 2011 7:54 am
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Circus Freak wrote:
So I watched those four Fassbinder films which acted as the initiators of this ancient thread concerning directors and monthly batches of their work, and my reaction was largely one of indifference or a belief that inexperience was hampering my attempts to understand what I was watching. All in all, it was, as they say, a little meh.
I thought Fear of Fear and Merchant were interesting, but not good starting points and nowhere near my favorites. But somehow you saw The Third Generation and didn’t find it fantastic. I’m forced to conclude that you were suffering from swine flu or some variant and therefore couldn’t fully appreciate it. I need to find a way to see Satan’s Brew. It sounds entertaining.

Quote:
…and I congratulate you on your successful thread (I don't think I'd done that yet).
Thanks. :)
Your turn.

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Mon Aug 22, 2011 11:14 am
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
But somehow you saw The Third Generation and didn’t find it fantastic. I’m forced to conclude that you were suffering from swine flu or some variant and therefore couldn’t fully appreciate it.

I'm also confused. I think I might force myself to believe your explanation in order to protect myself from the disturbing truth. Or I could just watch the film again. Let me think it over.


Mon Aug 22, 2011 9:46 pm
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Circus Freak wrote:
I think I might force myself to believe your explanation in order to protect myself from the disturbing truth.
Haha! If you watch it again let me know.

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Tue Aug 23, 2011 4:17 am
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Post Maiden's Voyage: Sokurov entry

Image
Image

Spiritual Voices: From the Diaries of War. This is apparently a TV miniseries for which
Sokurov lived for a time with a unit of Russian soldiers in or near Afghanistan. There’s some
beautiful stuff here, but it’s almost as slow-moving as the sewing in A Humble Life. The first
segment is a fascinating long shot of a snowy Russian landscape with a distant fire, while
Sokurov talks about Mozart (that famous war diarist, haha) and gives us only a small glimpse
of sleeping soldiers. In the second segment, soldiers ride in trucks and do laundry in the
desert, like a very rough sketch of Beau Travail. The third segment is much easier to
watch. He was in one place long enough plan his shots and accumulate enough footage that
he could edit it into something almost like a narrative, with interesting ‘subplots’ involving
individual soldiers. In the fourth section, the camp is attacked. And, for once, his use of music
rubs me the wrong way, as he adds a piece by Wagner to the footage. Why? To add drama?
Maybe I’m misinterpreting; but, in the voice over, he says importantly, “There can be no
aesthetics in war,” while all the time there’s the orchestra going “boom, boom” in the
background. In the final segment, some of the soldiers are being sent home, and the camera
follows them as they say their goodbyes.


Image

Robert. A Fortunate Life. This is more of a placeholder than anything else, since
I failed to write about it at the time, but I still want to acknowledge it. For some reason this
portrait of a minor French painter starts in Japan, with dream-like images of cherry blossoms
and a small theater. When it moves to the titular subject, Sokurov shows the paintings and
talks about Hubert Robert’s strange popularity in Russia. What struck me the most was the
fact that Robert’s specialty was ruins – not the actual ruins of history, but romantic ruins
of the imagination, fantasies of a former glory that never existed.


Image

The second film in his ‘men in power’ series, Taurus is a sympathetic but irreverent look
at the post-stroke Lenin, as he worries (and sometimes panics) about his slipping mental
powers. Despite a fantastic scene where his handlers get him under control by throwing
napkins and tablecloths over him, it’s not as crazy as Moloch. And it’s not as fascinating
or insightful as The Sun, but it’s still an interesting look at a powerful man who has
lost his power. It’s also green. I have no idea why this movie is so frustratingly murky. I
wonder if theater audiences could see what was going on. I felt like I was going blind.

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Fri Sep 02, 2011 4:32 am
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Post Maiden's Voyage: Perhaps Love

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Perhaps it’s love… but it’s not blissful.

I love movies about making movies. I guess every cinephile does. And, this year I’ve seen some truly great
ones, including La Femme Publique, , and Sex is Comedy. This next one is not especially clever in the
manner of those I just named, but it’s filled with an enthusiastic love of cinema that endears it to me
nevertheless.

It’s not a popular movie. In fact, it’s possible that Perhaps Love is so tailor-made for me that no one
else could like it! It’s almost a musical (but not quite), without much in the way of choreography. It’s a
love story, without happiness, or even love. What it does have is love’s aftermath – painful memories,
mournful nostalgia. (See what I mean by tailor-made?) It’s beautiful to look at. The flashback story has a
lovely, poignant look, courtesy of Chrisopher Doyle, who shot only those segments. The three leads are
excellent. And, if the musical numbers are edited past any attempt at actual choreography, they still have
energy and spectacle and emotion. Also, Jacky Cheung is an amazing singer. Who knew?

There’s a lot going on here. The main story’s love triangle is precisely mirrored in the film-within-the-film.
When the actors watch the dailies and their own memories appear on the screen, the lines are deliciously
blurred. There’s also a touch of It’s a Wonderful Life-type fantasy thrown in. I said it’s not quite a musical,
because the musical numbers are (almost?) all in the film-within-the-film. But, because of the layered
narratives, they’re quite effective anyway. The emotional weight of the film definitely rests on Takeshi
Kaneshiro’s shoulders, and he carries it off. Love turns out to be more bitter than bittersweet, a realistically
complicated mix of sorrow, and longing, and anger. In the end, the characters come to an -like
acceptance of their pasts, without the comedy or joy of that film, but with catharsis of another kind,
and a surprisingly satisfying conclusion.

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Fri Sep 02, 2011 4:35 am
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Almost want to see that...


Fri Sep 02, 2011 6:25 am
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Loved the trailer for that one... have been dissuaded by nothing but poor word of mouth since... still plan to check out eventually...

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Fri Sep 02, 2011 6:41 am
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What made you seek out that film? I've only seen his latest, which had CSI-like stylistic tendencies and was fairly inane.

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Fri Sep 02, 2011 10:50 am
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Epistemophobia wrote:
Almost want to see that...
Haha. At least no one can say I didn't warn them.

Trip wrote:
What made you seek out that film? I've only seen his latest, which had CSI-like stylistic tendencies and was fairly inane.
I don't remember! Some review. I'm not a fan of The Warlords or Comrades. And I think I saw his American movie, too, but I may have blocked it out of my memory. :P

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Fri Sep 02, 2011 11:16 am
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I saw Breillat's Barbe Bleue a few days ago, it was beautiful.

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Fri Sep 02, 2011 11:22 am
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kiddo in space wrote:
I saw Breillat's Barbe Bleue a few days ago, it was beautiful.
:) What did you think of the framing story?
Gratuitous dead sister, am I right?
Just kidding. I liked it a lot, but that part was sort of surprising.

OK. This next one is the very last of the catch-up posts...

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Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:00 pm
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Post Maiden's Voyage: Mournful Unconcern

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Image

Mournful Unconcern is a loose adaptation of Heartbreak House, George Bernard Shaw’s tribute to Chekhov.
It’s not at Days of Eclipse-levels of awesome, but it’s endearing in its craziness. The Shaw play is quite silly
to start with, but Sokurov really turns up the dial. First, he tosses most of the plot and politics, but keeps
all the romantic subplots. Then, he adds a fake-looking boar, some extremely gratuitous nudity, the Three
Little Pigs, and a lot of silly dancing (see above). Finally, George Bernard Shaw himself wanders around the
house, poking at the characters and reading his own books! Then there's all that odd, interspersed
documentary footage. I wasn’t completely baffled since it seems to pick up topics and themes found in
the play, and might actually be a representation of the old sea captain’s thoughts. It’s still plenty crazy,
though, stretched out to fit the screen, and I do not want to know what those sailors are doing to that
polar bear. :(

Again, it's a bit hard to explain why I like this one. The craziness doesn't hurt, but it's not exactly masking
anything more serious. (In Shaw's play, it's an indictment of a social class, but I'm pretty sure that's all been
lost here, along with plot and context.) What makes it work for me is the sensory overload – the images
and textures and atmosphere piled up in an extravagant heap, and matched by his strange collage of sound.

It was hard to get screen caps that capture the craziness, since they tended to have a lot of action blur,
but I did my best. Perhaps it would help to tell you that the man in the picture below is dead.

Image

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Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:51 pm
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
:) What did you think of the framing story?
Gratuitous dead sister, am I right?
Just kidding. I liked it a lot, but that part was sort of surprising.


Yeah, that part felt off to me but I decided to forget it happened as soon as the movie ended.

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Fri Sep 02, 2011 10:12 pm
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