A noob's journey through cinema

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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Thief » Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:32 pm

I only have three Wes Anderson films under my belt (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox). I liked all of those, but I just don't feel that drawn to his style and aesthetics.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Mon Jun 22, 2020 4:16 pm

MrCarmady wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:19 pm
Rushmore and Fantastic Mr Fox is my Wes top two as well (and Isle of Dogs is my least favourite) and I just re-watched Grand Budapest for the first time. It's really good fun but I can't really connect with it because Fiennes just plays such a caricature and due to the film's run-time, the whole Agatha thing isn't really developed and just feels like a minor sub-plot.
It's more than likely that F. Murray Abraham does all the heavy lifting, emotionally speaking.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by MrCarmady » Mon Jun 22, 2020 7:27 pm

Yeah, can't disagree with you there. What a voice.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Wed Jun 24, 2020 9:19 am

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946, Lewis Milestone)

As a kid, Martha Ivers (Barbara Stanwyck) murders her abusive aunt, with her childhood friends Walter (Kirk Douglas) and possibly Sam (Van Helfin) as the only witnesses. Sam, a kid from a poor family, goes away with the circus, while Martha and Walter grow up together in Iverstown and eventually marry. Now, she is a cold businesswoman and he is the district attorney with a drinking habit. Then, by sheer coincidence, Sam unexpectedly returns to the town and unwittingly threatens to expose everything.

I didn't realize this until I finished the movie, but apparently this is Kirk Douglas' feature film debut. Still green behind the ears, he ends up playing a weakling without a spine while Van Heflin gets to be the self-confident hero, the kind of character Douglas would specialize in later in his career. He's excellent though. You can literally see a star being shaped.

I really enjoyed this movie, it's a great piece of noir-ish melodrama that doesn't rely on dominant plotting but opts for something more natural. One character will do something or make a decision (often the wrong one) and the other characters will react to that, propelling someone else to respond to that in turn and so forth. None of the characters are that smart to begin with but shouldn't be underestimated anyway. It's the kind of story that wouldn't even take place in the first place if the characters themselves would not have jumped to the wrong conclusions about the others. It's a deceivingly minor history in that way, but with a big impact nonetheless.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Wed Jun 24, 2020 3:41 pm

Au Revoir les Enfants (1987, Louis Malle)

At a provincial Catholic boarding school in Nazi-occupied France, rich kid Julien Quentin befriends a mysterious young kid named Jean Bonnet, who is secretly Jewish and hiding from possible prosecution.

The movie shines brightest when it allows itself to not focus solely on the hiding-from-Nazis drama and instead let all that linger in the background, underlining everything until it unavoidably explodes in the final. In the end, this is not nearly as interesting a look on France during World War II as Lacombe Lucien was, nor does it work as well as a coming-of-age drama as Murmur of the Heart did (I can totally understand why this got all those Academy Award nominations and something as salacious as Murmur didn't though). Malle seems to have a firm grasp on how kids really are and act, being both cruel yet loyal towards each other, smarter than adults think they are but also no way as smart as they fancy themselves.

I'm not Catholic myself but it was nice to see a movie where for once clergy are portrayed as compassionate and eager to help others (even those who are not part of their own religion) and not judgmental and oppressive as they are often depicted in media, even in movies where they function as some sort of voice of reason and decency they are still rarely allowed to be open-minded. I was really scared for an abusive priest plot (which, again, did occur in Murmur) but luckily that moment never came.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Wed Jun 24, 2020 7:53 pm

The Structure of Crystal (1969, Krzystof Zanussi)

An accomplished scientist named Marek comes to visit his old friend from the university, Jan, supposedly as a sort of vacation, but actually he is there to convince Jan to return to the city and continue with his academic career which he abandoned years ago to live in a tiny house in a small village with his wife and kids, doing work that, as Marek puts it so bluntly "a monkey could even do".

"Has it ever occured to you that 'catching a breath' may be the right way to live?" This single quote, in a movie filled with philosophical musings, is the movie in a nutcase. In its essence, it's a battle between two different perspectives on what it means to be succesful, or happy or living life basically. In the end, neither of these two friends have come to an agreement on this, but I like to think they can understand the other's position better now.

For a movie that features a lot of talking, it's at its best when it just let these characters exist along each other. Both their joy and their boredom are palpable, as well as the frustration that comes when too many people live under one small roof for an extended period of time.

I was surprised to learn that there was no script before filming. Not that the movie feels plotted or even overtly constructed in any way, but it's so balanced and economical in what it does that I never would've thought this was entirely improvised.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Thief » Wed Jun 24, 2020 9:01 pm

Slentert wrote:
Wed Jun 24, 2020 3:41 pm
Au Revoir les Enfants (1987, Louis Malle)

At a provincial Catholic boarding school in Nazi-occupied France, rich kid Julien Quentin befriends a mysterious young kid named Jean Bonnet, who is secretly Jewish and hiding from possible prosecution.

The movie shines brightest when it allows itself to not focus solely on the hiding-from-Nazis drama and instead let all that linger in the background, underlining everything until it unavoidably explodes in the final. In the end, this is not nearly as interesting a look on France during World War II as Lacombe Lucien was, nor does it work as well as a coming-of-age drama as Murmur of the Heart did (I can totally understand why this got all those Academy Award nominations and something as salacious as Murmur didn't though). Malle seems to have a firm grasp on how kids really are and act, being both cruel yet loyal towards each other, smarter than adults think they are but also no way as smart as they fancy themselves.

I'm not Catholic myself but it was nice to see a movie where for once clergy are portrayed as compassionate and eager to help others (even those who are not part of their own religion) and not judgmental and oppressive as they are often depicted in media, even in movies where they function as some sort of voice of reason and decency they are still rarely allowed to be open-minded. I was really scared for an abusive priest plot (which, again, did occur in Murmur) but luckily that moment never came.
I saw this back in the 90s and remember loving it, but I haven't seen it in 15-20 years. Should probably rewatch it.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Thu Jun 25, 2020 4:48 am

Slentert wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:12 pm
Hausu (1977, Nobuhiko Obayashi)

This movie has acting that comes straight out of an after school special, features effects that look like they were made with MS Paint, if such a thing would've existed at the time, makes barely any sense on a story level but it's also genuingely creepy, upsetting and awe-inspiring.

Hausu is awesome.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Thu Jun 25, 2020 4:51 am

My favorite Anderson is The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:06 am

Destry Rides Again (1939, George Marshall)

The crooked saloon owner Kent (Brian Donlevy) basically runs the small Western town of Bottleneck, cheating poor farmers out of their land while killing the lawmen who try to stop him. After getting of the town's sheriff, Mr. Keogh (Joe King), he and the corrupt mayor (Samuel S. Hinds) appoint the town's drunk, Washington Dimsdale (Charles Winninger) as the new sheriff, assuming he will be easy to push around. However, once Dimsdale, a deputy who once served under the famous lawman Tom Destry, hears about his new job he promptly swears off drinking and hires his former boss' son, Tom Destry Jr. (Jimmy Stewart) to help clean up Bottleneck.

Only, the young Destry upholds the law a little bit different than his old man did. He refuses to wear any fire arms, and he gives the impression of being kind of a silly man. Kent and his girlfriend Frenchy (Marlene Dietrich) think it will be easy to boss him around and openly make fun of him, though the latter will quickly fall for his charms, and Destry might not be as gullible and dull-witted as he might seem at first.

In a weird way, James Stewart in this movie kind of reminds me Elliot Gould in The Long Goodbye. Both characters are repeatedly understemitated by their opponents because of their doltish posture, which they gladly use to their advantage. Their relaxed and no-nonsense attitude allows both of them to look at everything from a distance, they exist a little bit outside of the story and its genre conventions, but take them out of the movie and the whole things falls apart.

Stewart's character doesn't even wear firearms, which makes him the butt of several jokes among the town's folks, yet he is the coolest person in the entire movie. He carries this enormous self-assurance, he couldn't care less when people make fun of him, which is why he often ends up on top whenever he is faced with an obstacle. There is a disarming quality to the man that allows him to de-escalate certain situations without having to resort to violence. For a minute I thought this was the perfect movie to rediscover during these times, when there is a lot of talk about demilitarizing the police, but sadly, near the end, when everything comes to a boil, Destry briefly betrayes his pacifist ways and takes up a firearm and eventually even shoots Kent, but not before the latter shoots Frenchy first, assurring the audience that our hero won't marry the woman with a dubious morale but rather the boring girl next door instead who he had no real, tangible chemistry with like he did with Dietrich's character. This isn't a Pre-Code movie after all. To be honest, that ending kind of takes it down a notch for me. However, this is still a pretty great movie.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Sat Jun 27, 2020 7:43 pm

Milou en Mai (1990, Louis Malle)

A rather dysfunctional family gets together once the mater familias passes away and they have to say goodbye to the body and decide what to do with the estate. Up till now, Milou (wonderfully played by the recently deceased Michel Piccoli) had lived there with his mother, sort of taking care of the place but in reality it was more of an excuse for him to never have to really work and actually earn his own living. Now that the other inheritors are considering to sell the entire domain and everything that comes with it, the life he has always known seems to come to an end. He tries to bring the family closer together to save his own skin, but around them the entire country seems to be on the verge of a revolution. The time of date is May 1968, and as we all know, a general strike is going on around France.

The problem with a lot of movies centered around an entire ensemble, is that in the end often nobody is really fleshed out and you end up with a whole lot of nothing. That is not to say that Milou en Mai has nothing of value to offer, it is very pleasant, yet slight. Though you have to give credit to Malle for depicting such an important and iconic period in modern history without taking a clear stance on it. You could call that cowardice, of course, but I think he made a very deliberate choice not to. Even when the news reports about the events play on the radio, they are more often than not interrupted by a power cut. Malle does not want us to dwell on the big picture too much. It's about how these small changes affect this family that otherwise likes to think they stand outside of it all.

There is one really inspired moment near the end where the film moves into the territory of farce. It's an almost Bunuelian gag where, going off on very little information, the entire family, afraid of becoming a possible target for the rioters, hides out in the woods and takes shelter in a frickin' cave during very nasty weather. They go through all that while in the end nothing of real consequence happens, except that they get a cold. It's the moment that saved the picture for me.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Tue Jul 07, 2020 9:40 pm

‘Faisons un rêve...’ (1936, Sacha Guitry)

Based on a 1916 play written by Guitry himself, this movie exists out of three long scenes involving three characters, the husband (Raimu) the wife (Jacqueline Delubac) and the lover (Sacha Guitry) taking place in that lover's appartment. It opens however, with a short little scene taking place at a dinner party featuring many little bit players that I assume wasn't in the original play yet, if I may be frank, that might be the best and funniest moment out of the entire movie, with its rapid fire one-liners and zippy attitude. Once the movie settles entirely on our three main characters, it noticeably slows down, even while clocking in at only 86 minutes.

The real problem is Guitry's depiction of the lover, an off-puttingly needy and annoyingly loquacious character who often seems more like an assembly of aggravating mannerisms than the charming presence he is supposed to be. Perhaps that was the joke, but it wasn't a particularly funny one.

I must admit however, being mostly used to the Hollywood cinema of that time period, where, by 1936, the Hayns Code was already being enforced, I wasn't expecting the movie to end the way it does. Though, being somewhat familiar with this kind of boulevard comedy, it really shouldn't have surprised me at all.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Tue Jul 07, 2020 9:41 pm

Better Off Dead... (1985, Savage Steve Holland)

Lane Meyer gets suicidal after his girlfriend Beth leaves him for the captain of the ski team and with the help of his goofy friend tries to bounce back and eventually finds new love in the French exchange student Monique who lives across the street.

Not sure if this is actually a parody of high school movies or just a very heightened, crazy example of one. It has a handmade quality to it, and I'm not merely talking about the animations, but rather the general, distinctively idiosyncratic tone. John Cusack apparently dislikes this movie which is a shame considering how I don't think Better Off Dead... would've worked as well without his performance at the center of it. Very few actors this young are capable of so perfectly portraying a complete geek with this much charisma and confidence.

Sometimes a litte bit too broad for my taste, but I have that problem with most 80s comedies to be honest.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Tue Jul 07, 2020 9:48 pm

Slentert wrote:
Tue Jul 07, 2020 9:41 pm
Better Off Dead... (1985, Savage Steve Holland)

Lane Meyer gets suicidal after his girlfriend Beth leaves him for the captain of the ski team and with the help of his goofy friend tries to bounce back and eventually finds new love in the French exchange student Monique who lives across the street.

Not sure if this is actually a parody of high school movies or just a very heightened, crazy example of one. It has a handmade quality to it, and I'm not merely talking about the animations, but rather the general, distinctively idiosyncratic tone. John Cusack apparently dislikes this movie which is a shame considering how I don't think Better Off Dead... would've worked as well without his performance at the center of it. Very few actors this young are capable of so perfectly portraying a complete geek with this much charisma and confidence.

Sometimes a litte bit too broad for my taste, but I have that problem with most 80s comedies to be honest.
Seriously, Cusack doesn't like this movie? What an idiot.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Tue Jul 07, 2020 10:12 pm

Wooley wrote:
Tue Jul 07, 2020 9:48 pm
Seriously, Cusack doesn't like this movie? What an idiot.
To be fair, he only saw it back when it originally screened for cast and crew and he was like 18 years old. Apparently, he imagined a completely different movie when reading the screenplay. Who knows what his opinion on it might be if he rewatched it now. Can't be much worse than the stuff he's doing now.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Thief » Wed Jul 08, 2020 2:32 pm

Slentert wrote:
Tue Jul 07, 2020 9:41 pm
Better Off Dead... (1985, Savage Steve Holland)

Lane Meyer gets suicidal after his girlfriend Beth leaves him for the captain of the ski team and with the help of his goofy friend tries to bounce back and eventually finds new love in the French exchange student Monique who lives across the street.

Not sure if this is actually a parody of high school movies or just a very heightened, crazy example of one. It has a handmade quality to it, and I'm not merely talking about the animations, but rather the general, distinctively idiosyncratic tone. John Cusack apparently dislikes this movie which is a shame considering how I don't think Better Off Dead... would've worked as well without his performance at the center of it. Very few actors this young are capable of so perfectly portraying a complete geek with this much charisma and confidence.

Sometimes a litte bit too broad for my taste, but I have that problem with most 80s comedies to be honest.
Maybe it's nostalgia, but I don't care. This is a gem :D
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Thief » Wed Jul 08, 2020 2:36 pm

Re: Cusack, here's a bit of info/trivia about the film and about Cusack's feelings toward it.

13 Better Facts About 'Better Off Dead'
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Thu Jul 09, 2020 6:41 pm

Thief wrote:
Wed Jul 08, 2020 2:36 pm
Re: Cusack, here's a bit of info/trivia about the film and about Cusack's feelings toward it.

13 Better Facts About 'Better Off Dead'
They missed the most important one.
Actress Amanda Wyss, who plays ex-girlfriend Beth, played Tina in A Nightmare On Elm Street, having the honor of being the first person Freddy Krueger ever kills on-screen.
In a scene in Better Off Dead, she is briefly followed by a guy in a red and green striped sweater.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Tue Jul 28, 2020 8:58 pm

Ema (2019, Pablo Larraín)

This is it. The arthouse favorite that everyone is going gaga over that I not only am unable to connect to, but actually am flabbergasted that other people don't have the same problems with it that I have. There is at least one of those every year.

Of course, there is a lot to admire about Ema. Its astonishing visuals, the raw and effective performances at the helm of it. Sadly, those are all in service of a story and character choices that rarely feel "human" or "believable" in any way. I can only assume that there is some political allegory at play that I'm just too dumb for to pick up on, that I shouldn't take all of this at face value. Because when I do, it's an aggrevating and antagonizing mess that is a bit too impressed with itself for my liking.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Tue Jul 28, 2020 8:59 pm

Good Morning (1959, Yasujirō Ozu)

My first Ozu and not a bad place to start I gathered. This is really cute, but that cuteness is just a mask for various forms of generational and cultural struggles that, or at least I assume so, mark the man's filmography. A light-hearted, but never trivial movie.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Tue Jul 28, 2020 9:01 pm

The Marriage of Maria Braun (1978, Rainer Werner Fassbinder)

'This is not a good time for feelings".

A melodrama drained of all emotion, set in a world where the only way to survive is to have cold blood.

This movie wouldn't work as well without Hanna Schygulla's Marlene Dietrich-like star performance at the center of it. Her Maria Braun is a walking paradox, the living embodiment of Ingsoc's "Freedom is slavery". She is callous yet in complete control, fiercely independent yet servile, progressive yet weirdly conservative. She is one of my favorite movie characters and this is one of my all-time favorite movies, and this most recent rewatch only cemented that fact.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by MrCarmady » Tue Jul 28, 2020 9:52 pm

Was just wondering where you went! Haven't seen any of those though.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Tue Jul 28, 2020 10:22 pm

Regarding Ozu, I recommend watching Late Spring next. Glad to see you're back here, btw.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Tue Jul 28, 2020 11:40 pm

About Endlessness (2019, Roy Andersson)

My second Andersson (I saw Songs from the Second Floor a few years back) and I've come to the conclusion that his work just isn't for me. With Songs I assumed the problem was not with the movie itself but with the way I watched it (on my laptop and not in a theatrical setting). Now, having experienced the latter with his latest, I can safely say I just can't connect to his style at all.

As is his usual approach, the movie is constructed out of several vignettes, sometimes those are narratively connected but most of the time they are not. Andersson's staging is impeccable, shooting entire sequences from one single perspective and never moving the camera, almost giving the impression of a painting brought to life. These vignettes, however, often lack an actual punchline, a real point. The major themes in About Endlesness are obvious: mortality, desperation, regret... But most of them often lack a certain "oompf", some sort of specifity to make them stand out. Now they are just loosely drawn sketches that fade out as quickly as they started, rarely making that much of a lasting impression.

It's a little bit ironic that the sequence that I enjoyed the most is the one that fits in the least with the rest of the movie. There is a small little scene somewhere halfway through featuring three girls arriving at a bar where music is playing. Still standing outside of the establishment, the girls start dancing. It's such an unexpected burst of joy and spontaneity (as far as that is possible in an Andersson film) because the girls clearly are not professional dancers of any kind but seem to really go with the moment. I guess I would like the man's movies more if they would allow for this kind of light-heartedness more often, his trademark desolate tone becomes monotonous pretty fast otherwise.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Tue Jul 28, 2020 11:43 pm

MrCarmady wrote:
Tue Jul 28, 2020 9:52 pm
Was just wondering where you went! Haven't seen any of those though.
I've been busy and somewhat lazy with my reviewing. Also, my internet was out for nearly a week and I'm only just now catching up.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Tue Jul 28, 2020 11:44 pm

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Tue Jul 28, 2020 10:22 pm
Regarding Ozu, I recommend watching Late Spring next. Glad to see you're back here, btw.
Thanks, I'm glad to be back too! My second Ozu was A Story of Floating Weeds, actually, which I still need to write about. I will keep Late Spring in mind.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by MrCarmady » Wed Jul 29, 2020 8:29 am

Songs from the Second Floor is one of my favourite movies ever but even if you don't like it, I would urge you to check out A Swedish Love Story, which, despite the terrible title, is also a masterpiece and radically different from Andersson's later work.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Wed Jul 29, 2020 9:07 am

MrCarmady wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 8:29 am
Songs from the Second Floor is one of my favourite movies ever but even if you don't like it, I would urge you to check out A Swedish Love Story, which, despite the terrible title, is also a masterpiece and radically different from Andersson's later work.
Yeah, I've been meaning to see that one. I'll probably watch You, the Living as well since people always tell me that is his funniest outing.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Wed Jul 29, 2020 9:22 am

Fox and his Friends (1975, Rainer Werner Fassbinder)

"Cash. Cash. Cash. Say a word enough times and it stops meaning anything."

Fox gets by as a circus performer until he wins the lottery one day and is suddenly DM 500,000 richer. He is cautious with his money at first, but his desire to climb up the social ladder attracts a lot of people eager to exploit him and his newly found wealth.

My fifth Fassbinder and I'm slowly starting to consider him to be one of my favorite directors. I'm less in love with him as a lead actor however, but he still brings a certain nuance and believablity to Fox that prevents him from becoming nothing more than a victim, a vessel to generate outrage. This also made me laugh several times, which I can't say of any other Fassbinder film that I've seen.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Sat Aug 01, 2020 10:53 am

Phantom of the Paradise (1974, Brian De Palma)

An imaginative and singular piece of work, glaringly lifting from major classic works like Phantom of the Opera, Faust and The Picture of Dorian Gray to create this horror comedy rock musical hybrid.

I sometimes can have some problems with De Palma's work, I often find his work to be a little bit too goofy and cheesy for my taste and from time to time he seems to lose track of his own story, muddling certain character beats in the process. Both of these things can also be said of his work in Phantom of the Paradise, but this time that seemed somewhat... appropriate? The messiness of his storytelling seemingly fit in perfectly with the wacky expressionistic nature of the movie, and a less outrageous and more disciplined approach might've just made the entire thing feel far more dull. Now it's a hotchpotch of a movie, but also an incredibly fun one, the kind of movie that would be perfect to play at parties to get everyone riled up and in a good mood.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Sat Aug 01, 2020 10:58 am

A Story of Floating Weeds (1934, Yasujirō Ozu)

An emotionally devastating and beautifully nuanced movie. This is only my second Ozu but I really admire how he is able to treat his characters with highly detailed sentimentality without it ever becoming trite or dull.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Sat Aug 01, 2020 3:22 pm

Slentert wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 10:53 am
Phantom of the Paradise (1974, Brian De Palma)

An imaginative and singular piece of work, glaringly lifting from major classic works like Phantom of the Opera, Faust and The Picture of Dorian Gray to create this horror comedy rock musical hybrid.

I sometimes can have some problems with De Palma's work, I often find his work to be a little bit too goofy and cheesy for my taste and from time to time he seems to lose track of his own story, muddling certain character beats in the process. Both of these things can also be said of his work in Phantom of the Paradise, but this time that seemed somewhat... appropriate? The messiness of his storytelling seemingly fit in perfectly with the wacky expressionistic nature of the movie, and a less outrageous and more disciplined approach might've just made the entire thing feel far more dull. Now it's a hotchpotch of a movie, but also an incredibly fun one, the kind of movie that would be perfect to play at parties to get everyone riled up and in a good mood.
I agree. I do love PotP. I wish it was easier to sell to my friends who often have trouble getting over the lackluster soundtrack (which really only has a couple of memorable songs while other major numbers are a chore to sit through). In a film where the whole fulcrum of the plot is the genius, amazing music that was so great it inspired theft and murder and obsession, the music actually has to be good.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by crumbsroom » Sat Aug 01, 2020 5:00 pm

While I would never sit down and listen to the soundtrack of Phantom removed from the movie, I think the songs function really well inside of it, synthesizing all of the different music genres of the time. They are functionally good.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Sat Aug 01, 2020 8:56 pm

crumbsroom wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 5:00 pm
While I would never sit down and listen to the soundtrack of Phantom removed from the movie, I think the songs function really well inside of it, synthesizing all of the different music genres of the time. They are functionally good.
I second this.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Sat Aug 01, 2020 8:57 pm

Crash (1996, David Cronenberg)

This is an interesting one. Disturbing for sure, compelling even, but also fairly ridiculous at times. It's not unusual for Cronenberg to be this cold and detached, but sometimes it makes his characters feel less like real human beings but rather vessels for his ideas and fixations. The obvious throughline here is Spader and Unger recontexualizing their relationship after Spader's traumatic car accident opens up his sexuality in very unexpected ways. But the bond between them never felt tangible, nor was Unger particularly well developed as either a character or even a presence in the movie.

What I really like about Cronenberg movies though, is how they almost never focus on so-called "normal" people who are driven towards the edge. Usually, his characters are already on the fringes and are just being pushed a little bit further down their own darkness. Spader and Unger aren't exactly your typical, straight, monogamous dream couple, they actually seem to have an open relationship, telling each other frankly and extensively about their extramarital sexual exploits (with strong exhibitionist streaks), going as far as spicing up their own sex life with these anecdotes. Unger even seems willing to go along with her husbands new kinks and obsessions at first, until it becomes too transgressive even for her.

In the end, Crash really just plays one note over and over again. It's a deeply compelling and sensational note, I have to admit, but ultimately it just chases its own tail into a dead end. You can only show so many extremities until the audience becomes desensitized by them, though I do admire the effort and appreciate its intense and explosive nature.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Melvin Butterworth » Sat Aug 01, 2020 9:04 pm

Slentert wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 8:57 pm
Crash (1996, David Cronenberg)

This is an interesting one. Disturbing for sure, compelling even, but also fairly ridiculous at times. It's not unusual for Cronenberg to be this cold and detached, but sometimes it makes his characters feel less like real human beings but rather vessels for his ideas and fixations. The obvious throughline here is Spader and Unger recontexualizing their relationship after Spader's traumatic car accident opens up his sexuality in very unexpected ways. But the bond between them never felt tangible, nor was Unger particularly well developed as either a character or even a presence in the movie.

What I really like about Cronenberg movies though, is how they almost never focus on so-called "normal" people who are driven towards the edge. Usually, his characters are already on the fringes and are just being pushed a little bit further down their own darkness. Spader and Unger aren't exactly your typical, straight, monogamous dream couple, they actually seem to have an open relationship, telling each other frankly and extensively about their extramarital sexual exploits (with strong exhibitionist streaks), going as far as spicing up their own sex life with these anecdotes. Unger even seems willing to go along with her husbands new kinks and obsessions at first, until it becomes too transgressive even for her.

In the end, Crash really just plays one note over and over again. It's a deeply compelling and sensational note, I have to admit, but ultimately it just chases its own tail into a dead end. You can only show so many extremities until the audience becomes desensitized by them, though I do admire the effort and appreciate its intense and explosive nature.
I remember Ebert commenting that it is a film about a sexual fetish that no one has.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Sat Aug 01, 2020 9:09 pm

Melvin Butterworth wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 9:04 pm
I remember Ebert commenting that it is a film about a sexual fetish that no one has.
That's a good way to put it.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by crumbsroom » Sat Aug 01, 2020 9:16 pm

I have no doubt that Crash is better than I remember it. Cronenberg movies for me are always better a second time around. But I really loathed it the first time. And while I do give it credit for how much it ultimatley bothered me (it tapped into something that I was angry at the film for, even if I wasn't sure exactly what it was) I still did not like it.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by MrCarmady » Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:28 pm

Yeah, just watched it (maybe subconsciously influenced by seeing it here, though it's been sitting on my hard-drive, staring at me accusingly, for months), and you've got it spot on. Along with a fantastic acting ensemble and some of Howard Shore's best work, it just kinda gets trapped in a loop, and it's hard to glean anything from the later sex scenes that the early ones didn't already reveal about the characters and the concept.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:26 am

The Arrival of Joachim Stiller (1976, Harry Kümel)

Writer/journalist Freek Groenevelt's life gets thrown over once he receives a letter by one Joachim Stiller, a man he has never met and has no idea who he even is, but becomes a strong, invisible influence on everything he does and happens around him. In his search for the real identity of this messianic figure, Freeks unravels something that might lead to the end of the world...

One of those movies where the journey ends up being more interesting than the destination. The central mystery is build up so well and really speaks to the imagination, but by the end everything gets resolved a bit too tidy and neatly for my taste. Nonetheless, whenever it allows itself to be more vague, this is a brand of magic-realism I rather enjoy.

The style and tone reminds me a bit of another movie I saw recently, Jacques Rivette's Duelles. Only this one is a little bit more grounded and Kümel's style is a little bit less consistent, he likes to indulge in some gaudy psychedelic imagery, which isn't necessarily a bad thing as I do enjoy the artisan feel this movie has.

There are multiple cuts of this movie in existince, the most commonly available one out there right now being the 153 minute final cut, which is the one I watched of course, and I can't help but feel like it could've been edited down at least a little bit. It somewhat drags at times.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Tue Aug 04, 2020 10:51 pm

Basic Instinct (1992, Paul Verhoeven)

A truly moronic Eszterhas script gets elevated by Verhoeven's flair and the relatively strong performances on display, especially Stone's star making turn here. Everyone involved is genuinely doing their hardest to not let lines likes "I think she's the fuck of the century!" drag them down.
In its entirety, the story nor the characters' decisions make much sense, but on a scene to scene basis, it definitely works. It's an insanly "watchable" movie (I don't mean this as a pejorative term) even though it probably takes on a longer running time than it can sustain.

Most of the fun in this movie stems from seeing Stone's femme fatale continuously fool with and repeatedly embarras this horde of heterosexual male agression that is investigating her. Looking back on it now, from a 2020 perspective, it's hard not to see this as a subversion, if not a full-blown satire, of the erotic thriller. It certainly wouldn't be above everyone's favorite Dutch pervert to pull a trick like that. Not saying he also doesn't like to push the envelope for the mere sake of it, but I don't necessarily see that as a bad thing.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:12 am

crumbsroom wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 5:00 pm
While I would never sit down and listen to the soundtrack of Phantom removed from the movie, I think the songs function really well inside of it, synthesizing all of the different music genres of the time. They are functionally good.
I think a couple are, but not most, which is problematic in a movie about music. Even the best song, easily, in the film, "Life At Last" doesn't compare to the least song from Rocky Horror, for example.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by crumbsroom » Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:24 am

Wooley wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:12 am
I think a couple are, but not most, which is problematic in a movie about music. Even the best song, easily, in the film, "Life At Last" doesn't compare to the least song from Rocky Horror, for example.
Rocky Horror has a much better soundtrack. I do listen to that independantly.I really like almost all of it.

I think at least half of the songs in Phantom are shitty songs. But in context of watching the movie, I'm fine with them. I don't think I have to be enamored with them to think the movie is great. Which it is. Would it be better if the songs were uniformly solid? Of course. But it doesn't worry me. I like watching the songs, which is good enough with DePalma.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Wed Aug 05, 2020 7:00 pm

Beanpole (2019, Kantemir Balagov)

Iya works as a nurse in a Leningrad hospital not long after World War II ended, taking care of the soldiers who returned from the battlefield. Some will recover soon, some are dismembered for the rest of their life, some have lost all reason to exist. She has a 3 year old son, Pashka, but he dies. Then Masha, a former soldier, close friend and the actual mother of Pashka returns to Leningrad and the two of them have to cope with this unspeakable trauma on the heels of an entire nation’s coping with an unspeakable trauma.

That makes it sound like this is the kind of movie where its characters function merely as vessels for the director's convictions on an entire time and place in history, something many other people actually have accused it of, but I found the personal drama to be equally as evocative as the national one. It's not a case of either/or, but rather a perfect culmination of the two where both motifs inform and elevate each other, instead of one overshadowing the other.

My second favorite movie of the year as it stands now.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Thief » Wed Aug 05, 2020 7:17 pm

Slentert wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2020 10:51 pm
Basic Instinct (1992, Paul Verhoeven)

A truly moronic Eszterhas script gets elevated by Verhoeven's flair and the relatively strong performances on display, especially Stone's star making turn here. Everyone involved is genuinely doing their hardest to not let lines likes "I think she's the fuck of the century!" drag them down.
In its entirety, the story nor the characters' decisions make much sense, but on a scene to scene basis, it definitely works. It's an insanly "watchable" movie (I don't mean this as a pejorative term) even though it probably takes on a longer running time than it can sustain.

Most of the fun in this movie stems from seeing Stone's femme fatale continuously fool with and repeatedly embarras this horde of heterosexual male agression that is investigating her. Looking back on it now, from a 2020 perspective, it's hard not to see this as a subversion, if not a full-blown satire, of the erotic thriller. It certainly wouldn't be above everyone's favorite Dutch pervert to pull a trick like that. Not saying he also doesn't like to push the envelope for the mere sake of it, but I don't necessarily see that as a bad thing.
Back in the day, I remember liking it for *ahem* different reasons, but on subsequent viewings, I really appreciated the story and execution. However, I haven't seen it in a long, long time. Not sure how it would fare now.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Wed Aug 05, 2020 7:47 pm

crumbsroom wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:24 am
Rocky Horror has a much better soundtrack. I do listen to that independantly.I really like almost all of it.

I think at least half of the songs in Phantom are shitty songs. But in context of watching the movie, I'm fine with them. I don't think I have to be enamored with them to think the movie is great. Which it is. Would it be better if the songs were uniformly solid? Of course. But it doesn't worry me. I like watching the songs, which is good enough with DePalma.
You make a good point, it really isn't important to the story that the music be good. But I think I would enjoy it a lot more (and I already enjoy it a lot) if the music was better since it is a musical about music.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Thu Aug 06, 2020 12:44 pm

Long Weekend (1978, Colin Eggleston)

A suburban couple goes on a camping trip at a remote beach near a forest. They take their frustrations out on each other and their surroundings. Only, this time, nature fights back.

A nice piece of ecological horror, featuring some decent scares and two lead characters that are just despicable enough that you don't mind seeing them get punished, but also believable and real enough that you don't want to step into the screen and strangle them yourself. Though I can't help but feel that there is too little variation within these confrontations, it being both the ones between the two lovers themselves or them against the environment. Even when clocking in at only 92 minutes, the central premisse isn't enough to fill an entire running time.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Captain Terror » Thu Aug 06, 2020 12:56 pm

Slentert wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2020 10:51 pm
Basic Instinct (1992, Paul Verhoeven)

A truly moronic Eszterhas script gets elevated by Verhoeven's flair and the relatively strong performances on display, especially Stone's star making turn here. Everyone involved is genuinely doing their hardest to not let lines likes "I think she's the fuck of the century!" drag them down.
In its entirety, the story nor the characters' decisions make much sense, but on a scene to scene basis, it definitely works. It's an insanly "watchable" movie (I don't mean this as a pejorative term) even though it probably takes on a longer running time than it can sustain.

Most of the fun in this movie stems from seeing Stone's femme fatale continuously fool with and repeatedly embarras this horde of heterosexual male agression that is investigating her. Looking back on it now, from a 2020 perspective, it's hard not to see this as a subversion, if not a full-blown satire, of the erotic thriller. It certainly wouldn't be above everyone's favorite Dutch pervert to pull a trick like that. Not saying he also doesn't like to push the envelope for the mere sake of it, but I don't necessarily see that as a bad thing.
A couple of years ago I watched this and Total Recall for the first time. Both left me impressed with Stone and wondering why her career wasn't bigger.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:01 pm

Captain Terror wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 12:56 pm
A couple of years ago I watched this and Total Recall for the first time. Both left me impressed with Stone and wondering why her career wasn't bigger.
Yeah, especially if you also look at her incredible performance in Casino. I think a lot of people disregarded her as merely a lust object, while not recognizing her obvious talents and powerful presence. I think the controverse surrounding the "beaver shot" overshadowed her actual performance, and I got the sense she was kind of embarassed by the movie (probably because of the media judging her for it).
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Captain Terror » Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:20 pm

Slentert wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:01 pm
Yeah, especially if you also look at her incredible performance in Casino. I think a lot of people disregarded her as merely a lust object, while not recognizing her obvious talents and powerful presence. I think the controverse surrounding the "beaver shot" overshadowed her actual performance, and I got the sense she was kind of embarassed by the movie (probably because of the media judging her for it).
Yeah, I can definitely say that that was my impression throughout the 90s, not actually having seen any of her stuff. Her career seemed to have stalled so I assumed she mustn't be very good, and was only famous because of the one scene. When I finally got around to watching the films I was pleased to find that she had quite a presence. Could be that Verhoeven's deliberately-trashy thing makes it hard to take the work seriously. (See: Liz Berkley/Showgirls)

EDIT: "not having seen her stuff" sounds inappropriate. That's not what I meant, you perverts!
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