A noob's journey through cinema

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MrCarmady
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by MrCarmady » Mon May 11, 2020 12:28 pm

Cheadle's accent is hilariously bad. Completely with you on the film, the score, the editing, and the cinematography (done by Soderbergh himself under a pseudonym) are just top notch, the script is super-funny, the heist is well-executed, and the ensemble is unreal. I also re-watched it recently, not sure if I wanna continue with the sequels as I remember them being quite average.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Thief » Mon May 11, 2020 2:30 pm

Slentert wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 11:46 am
Ocean's Eleven (2001, Steven Soderbergh)

Rewatch

This is pretty much my platonic ideal of what I want a Hollywood blockbuster to be like. Thrilling, funny, with genuine panache, smart but never talking down to its audience, and all of this while rocking an all-star cast that is firing on all cylinders. This has such a nice flow to it, no real lulls to be found.

The Big Three (Clooney, Pitt & Damon) generally get the most love but I think Gould and Cheadle are the most fun, making me laugh every time they open their mouths. Though I must admit Damon is always entertaining when playing a dumb yet endearing schmuck, which he is far better suited for than being the action star he is most known as. Maybe it is because his big, round potato head makes him look like a Peanuts character, he is even called Linus in this for God's sake.

The only real gripe I have with this movie is how the narrative treats Julia Roberts' character as just another item to be stolen. I never really buy the ending for that storyline, even though I love all the early scenes between her and Clooney. While it is already established early on that she still has feelings for Danny, by the end he is so obviously manipulating her that her immediately running back to him just doesn't sit right with me.
Otherwise, it is a perfect piece of escapism.
Love this one. I echo what you said on the first sentence.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Mon May 11, 2020 4:41 pm

Slentert wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 11:46 am
Ocean's Eleven (2001, Steven Soderbergh)

Rewatch

This is pretty much my platonic ideal of what I want a Hollywood blockbuster to be like. Thrilling, funny, with genuine panache, smart but never talking down to its audience, and all of this while rocking an all-star cast that is firing on all cylinders. This has such a nice flow to it, no real lulls to be found.

The Big Three (Clooney, Pitt & Damon) generally get the most love but I think Gould and Cheadle are the most fun, making me laugh every time they open their mouths. Though I must admit Damon is always entertaining when playing a dumb yet endearing schmuck, which he is far better suited for than being the action star he is most known as. Maybe it is because his big, round potato head makes him look like a Peanuts character, he is even called Linus in this for God's sake.

The only real gripe I have with this movie is how the narrative treats Julia Roberts' character as just another item to be stolen. I never really buy the ending for that storyline, even though I love all the early scenes between her and Clooney. While it is already established early on that she still has feelings for Danny, by the end he is so obviously manipulating her that her immediately running back to him just doesn't sit right with me.
Otherwise, it is a perfect piece of escapism.
I would parse the Julia Roberts part.
I've seen the movie at least 10 times and I always felt that the whole point is that to Benedict she is exactly what you say but to Danny, he loves her, desperately, enough to risk everything to get her back. He's pretty sure his plan will work but he puts his freedom and his life and really everyone else's too on the line for her. The reason she chooses him at the end over Benedict is because it becomes clear to her that for Danny this was all love and for Benedict it was all possession.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Mon May 11, 2020 5:06 pm

MrCarmady wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 12:28 pm
Cheadle's accent is hilariously bad. Completely with you on the film, the score, the editing, and the cinematography (done by Soderbergh himself under a pseudonym) are just top notch, the script is super-funny, the heist is well-executed, and the ensemble is unreal. I also re-watched it recently, not sure if I wanna continue with the sequels as I remember them being quite average.
It is bad, but in this case I'm willing to overlook it because it also makes me laugh.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Mon May 11, 2020 5:16 pm

Wooley wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 4:41 pm
I would parse the Julia Roberts part.
I've seen the movie at least 10 times and I always felt that the whole point is that to Benedict she is exactly what you say but to Danny, he loves her, desperately, enough to risk everything to get her back. He's pretty sure his plan will work but he puts his freedom and his life and really everyone else's too on the line for her. The reason she chooses him at the end over Benedict is because it becomes clear to her that for Danny this was all love and for Benedict it was all possession.
I agree that Danny loves her, but I also think he is kind of manipulating her. While it's not exactly wrong to expose Benedict for who he truly is, he also perfectly orchestrated the entire moment so that Tess would be watching the moment when he is basically daring Benedict to say those words. He is basically conning his way through it, while Tess' entire problem with him was that he always lied.

Like, the moment where he says goodbye to her almost immediately before starting the heist is another example of him manipulating her to feel a certain way towards him. He is able to do all of this because he knows people so well, especially Tess, but he still playing her essentially.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Mon May 11, 2020 5:21 pm

Slentert wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 5:16 pm
I agree that Danny loves her, but I also think he is kind of manipulating her. While it's not exactly wrong to expose Benedict for who he truly is, he also perfectly orchestrated the entire moment so that Tess would be watching the moment when he is basically daring Benedict to say those words. He is basically conning his way through it, while Tess' entire problem with him was that he always lied.

Like, the moment where he says goodbye to her almost immediately before starting the heist is another example of him manipulating her to feel a certain way towards him. He is able to do all of this because he knows people so well, especially Tess, but he still playing her essentially.
I'm not saying he doesn't have to work her into the right place to be able to see how much he's willing to sacrifice for her and that she is with the wrong man, but I am saying that she is NOT a possession to him. I feel like it's very important to the movie and Danny's character that the audience understands the difference between his capacity for love and emotion and his genuine lover for her versus whatever Benedict is (likely a Narcissist) and I felt like the movie conveyed that.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Mon May 11, 2020 5:29 pm

Slentert wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 5:06 pm
It is bad, but in this case I'm willing to overlook it because it also makes me laugh.
I agree. I've seen the movie so many times now, and I actually like Cheadle and the character so much, that I've come to think of the bad accent as one of the movies' charms.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by MrCarmady » Mon May 11, 2020 5:46 pm

Wooley wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 5:29 pm
I agree. I've seen the movie so many times now, and I actually like Cheadle and the character so much, that I've come to think of the bad accent as one of the movies' charms.
Yeah, I'm with you both here, it's a fun Easter egg in a way. There are so many great comic performances in the film, in general - Mac, Caan, Affleck, Pitt, Gould, Reiner!
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Mon May 11, 2020 5:50 pm

Wooley wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 5:21 pm
I'm not saying he doesn't have to work her into the right place to be able to see how much he's willing to sacrifice for her and that she is with the wrong man, but I am saying that she is NOT a possession to him. I feel like it's very important to the movie and Danny's character that the audience understands the difference between his capacity for love and emotion and his genuine lover for her versus whatever Benedict is (likely a Narcissist) and I felt like the movie conveyed that.
I don't think Danny sees her as a possession either, but I still think he is conning her like he is almost everyone else in this movie, and I would have far less of a problem with that if there was at least some sort of an acknowledgement of that from the movie or Robert's character.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Mon May 11, 2020 5:52 pm

MrCarmady wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 5:46 pm
Yeah, I'm with you both here, it's a fun Easter egg in a way. There are so many great comic performances in the film, in general - Mac, Caan, Affleck, Pitt, Gould, Reiner!
Yeah, I should've given a shout out to Reiner in my review (I did on Twitter though) who is really funny but also probably has the most emotional grounding performance in the entire movie I think.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by MrCarmady » Mon May 11, 2020 5:52 pm

Slentert wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 5:50 pm
I don't think Danny sees her as a possession either, but I still think he is conning her like he is almost everyone else in this movie, and I would have far less of a problem with that if there was at least some sort of an acknowledgement of that from the movie or Robert's character.
He cons Rusty as well, though, and they're still best friends. The movie has a gender problem in that it's obscenely male-dominated but it's also a movie that knows how to operate on charm and star power, none of the relationships in it seem that deep or meaningful, and Danny's just depicted as being unable to help himself, in a lovable way.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by MrCarmady » Mon May 11, 2020 5:53 pm

Slentert wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 5:52 pm
Yeah, I should've given a shout out to Reiner in my review (I did on Twitter though) who is really funny but also probably has the most emotional grounding performance in the entire movie I think.
Yeah, he gets a couple of juicy scenes alright. Forgot to mention Topher Grace and the rest of the celebs playing themselves, great comic cameos there as well.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Mon May 11, 2020 6:05 pm

MrCarmady wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 5:52 pm
He cons Rusty as well, though, and they're still best friends. The movie has a gender problem in that it's obscenely male-dominated but it's also a movie that knows how to operate on charm and star power, none of the relationships in it seem that deep or meaningful, and Danny's just depicted as being unable to help himself, in a lovable way.
I'm mostly with you guys, and I might indeed just be reading too much into these relationships that weren't all that deep to begin with. Again, it's just that, because early on it is established that her reason for the divorce was that he was lying all the time, I always found it odd that he wins her back by basically conning her. It doesn't ruin the movie, and I still enjoy most of their scenes together, so I'm probably making a bigger deal out of it than necessary.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Mon May 11, 2020 6:10 pm

MrCarmady wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 5:53 pm
Yeah, he gets a couple of juicy scenes alright. Forgot to mention Topher Grace and the rest of the celebs playing themselves, great comic cameos there as well.
I have a weird fondness for Topher Grace, he isn't a particularly great actor but occasionally he throws out these pretty strong comedic performances (like recently in BlackKklansman). I also have a certain affection for that movie he did called Take Me Home Tonight, which will probably only be remembered as the movie set where Anna Faris and Chris Pratt met each other, but that I think is quite funny.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Mon May 11, 2020 7:01 pm

MrCarmady wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 5:52 pm
He cons Rusty as well, though, and they're still best friends. The movie has a gender problem in that it's obscenely male-dominated but it's also a movie that knows how to operate on charm and star power, none of the relationships in it seem that deep or meaningful, and Danny's just depicted as being unable to help himself, in a lovable way.
Well, I don't think that being extremely male-dominated is a gender-problem, as we were discussing in one of these threads the last couple days, it is ok to have movies that tell men's stories or women's stories as long as those films don't treat the other gender badly in them. Even then, maybe there are legitimate (not just misogynistic) reasons that that treatment could exist in a story as long as it is for the story and not for the titillation of the misogynists in the audience.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by MrCarmady » Mon May 11, 2020 7:09 pm

Wooley wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 7:01 pm
Well, I don't think that being extremely male-dominated is a gender-problem, as we were discussing in one of these threads the last couple days, it is ok to have movies that tell men's stories or women's stories as long as those films don't treat the other gender badly in them. Even then, maybe there are legitimate (not just misogynistic) reasons that that treatment could exist in a story as long as it is for the story and not for the titillation of the misogynists in the audience.
Yeah, I don't want to re-litigate that whole thing and Soderbergh does have female-centric films, obviously (Erin Brockovich, Haywire, Unsane, to name a few) so I'm not accusing him of anything, but it's just a strikingly lopsided script which couldn't fail the Bechdel any harder if it tried. It's still a great achievement and no singular film owes female representation to anyone. Shame the sequel/reboot wasn't up-to-scratch, it had some of the charm but the heist was extremely stupid which brought the whole thing down for me.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Mon May 11, 2020 8:29 pm

MrCarmady wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 7:09 pm
Yeah, I don't want to re-litigate that whole thing and Soderbergh does have female-centric films, obviously (Erin Brockovich, Haywire, Unsane, to name a few) so I'm not accusing him of anything, but it's just a strikingly lopsided script which couldn't fail the Bechdel any harder if it tried. It's still a great achievement and no singular film owes female representation to anyone. Shame the sequel/reboot wasn't up-to-scratch, it had some of the charm but the heist was extremely stupid which brought the whole thing down for me.
But does every movie have to pass the Bechdel Test? I mean, I love The Devil Wears Prada. If you reverse the Bechdel Test, it fails as badly as any male-centric movie ever made. But it still should have been made and it should have been made as it is. No back-story or arc or greater depth to the male characters serves the film and if those things had been introduced, it would actually hurt the film and detract from the arc of the main character and from the impact of the relevant supporting characters. It is ok to have narratives that skew one way or another. What is not ok is that almost all of the movies have. Don't change the films, change the problem. More diverse voices getting to sing as loudly.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Takoma1 » Mon May 11, 2020 10:03 pm

My issues with Ocean's 11 in terms of the Julia Roberts character isn't so much about representation. I mean, the fact that she goes from one charismatic liar to another is . . . . something. She's the only female character with a name. I would think that when putting together a heist it would be useful to have a woman on the team because it broadens what you can access, but whatever.

My issue with her character (and the dynamic of the relationship) is (1) I really dislike the whole concept of "I know what's best for you". Doesn't matter if it's a male character or a female character. The whole "you aren't smart enough to realize you're with the wrong person" thing always rubs me the wrong way. (2) The idea that love is the main thing that matters. I mean, sorry, no. If someone you're with repeatedly lies to you. Repeatedly participates in activities that put you in danger without always letting you know. Participates in illegal activities that mean they may suddenly be away from you for months or even years. Is that all something you ignore because that person loves you? I know that the whole movie is very "Hollywood rules", so it's not a huge sticking point, but the romance angle (despite it being the "heart" of the film) doesn't do it for me.

Luckily that isn't most of the film, and the rest of the story is fun enough that you can ignore it and just go along for the ride.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Mon May 11, 2020 10:57 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 10:03 pm
My issues with Ocean's 11 in terms of the Julia Roberts character isn't so much about representation... She's the only female character with a name. I would think that when putting together a heist it would be useful to have a woman on the team because it broadens what you can access, but whatever.
That actually sounds like it's about representation. Also, Holly and Charmaine are both characters in the movie.
And for what it's worth, my ex-wife lied to me all the time and I loved her to death and the truth is she loved me too. The things people do to get other people to fall for them or to get people back...
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Takoma1 » Mon May 11, 2020 11:39 pm

Wooley wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 10:57 pm
That actually sounds like it's about representation. Also, Holly and Charmaine are both characters in the movie.
I don't remember who either of these characters are.
And for what it's worth, my ex-wife lied to me all the time and I loved her to death and the truth is she loved me too. The things people do to get other people to fall for them or to get people back...
I'm not saying it's unrealistic for people to be in flawed relationships or relationships with unhealthy aspects to them. I'm just saying that her getting back with Danny being portrayed as a pretty unambiguous happy ending is kind of dumb. But it's Hollywood dumb, so kind of who cares?
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Fri May 15, 2020 11:00 am

Kiki's Delivery Service (1989, Hayao Miyazaki)

I recently watched Howl's Moving Castle for the first time, a movie that apparently is considered "lesser Miyazaki" by many, but that I loved so much that it made me go "Wait? Is this my new favorite out of his movies?". Obviously, this meant I had no choice but to return to Kiki's Delivery Service, the one I always considered to be my number one up to this point, to really know for sure. It only took me a couple of minutes, but from the moment Kiki flies out into the world for the very first time and "Rouge No Dengon" starts playing on the radio, I was reminded why this movie is the absolute best again.

I know this is an animated movie about a teenage witch who flies a broomstick and talks to her cat, but it might be one of the most relatable movies I've ever seen, in the way it depicts the struggle of a young woman with her first taste of adult responsibilities and occasionally dealing with depression/burnout while also acknowledging how, when you turn something you love into your profession, it might start to feel like just another job to you.

The other kids in Kiki's village might envy her for being allowed to go out into the world by herself, but the brutal truth is that all that freedom and independence you crave as a teenager can actually be very scary and overwhelming once you finally receive it. And it can be very lonely, even if you are surrounded by people who care about you and only have the best intentions. In the end, you're the only person who can earn (rather than merely find) your own self-confidence and realize your own potential.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Fri May 22, 2020 2:41 pm

Shoot The Piano Player (1960, François Truffaut)

Truffaut's first crime movie, only the characters often forget they're in one. In the opening scene, Albert Rémy (who people will remember for playing Antoine Doinel's dad in The 400 Blows) is being chased through the streets by two men, only to suddenly stop and start a random but surprisingly frank conversation with a complete stranger. Once they part ways, he abruptly remembers again he is in a crime movie, and continues where he left off. He enters a bar through the backdoor and there he meets his brother, Charlie Kohler (Charles Aznavour), a pianist and the actual, reluctant protagonist of this story.

Truffaut is obviously drawing from Hitchcock and the noir genre here, but there are some silent comedy influences in here as well. It's an extremely playful film, though I never really found it particularly funny, if that was even the intention. But I was mostly surprised that the more serious scenes (which occur more frequently than I was initially expecting) are genuinely moving, and perhaps work even better than all the post-modern stuff.

You follow Shoot the Piano Player is it were a jazz improvisation, you just go with the flow, let it wash over you, no matter how unpredictable and perhaps even inconsistent the melody might be
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Fri May 22, 2020 2:42 pm

The Fire Within (1963, Louis Malle)

Alain Leroy is a recovering alcoholic who decides to leave the rehabilitation center he has been hospitalized in for the past few months and go visit some of his old friends in Paris for one last time, in an attempt to find any kind of reason to continue living. If not, he will kill himself the following day.

A depressing movie for sure, but far too humanistic to ever be called bleak. Very rarely have I seen a movie that was able to capture one's inner turmoil so truthfully and authentically without having to rely on phony melodrama or even a voice-over narration. Maurice Ronet's impressive lead performance plays a big part in that, he perfectly translates the sickly and pitiful nature of this character both in his skinny, pale face and just his mannerisms in general. He and the movie truly understand that depression is not just sadness or a need to cry, it's an aching nothingness, a big gaping hole, devoid of all meaning and purpose.

While Alain wanders through Paris on a seemingly aimless yet very personal journey, it becomes clear that this is not a man who was disliked or even unloved, yet among his many friends and lovers, he was never able to truly connect to anyone. Now, in his last days, he has finally become the shadow he always felt like inside, a ghost among men, merely a silhouette where there used to be a lively and exuberant man. You might hope he will eventually find meaning in life again, but he is doomed from the outset. You can read it in his eyes.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by MrCarmady » Fri May 22, 2020 2:45 pm

Two of my favourite films of all time right there. I'd recommend Zazie dans le metro if you haven't seen it, even though apart from being directed by Malle and having a central character cover a lot of ground in Paris, the two films couldn't be more diametrically opposed to each other.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Fri May 22, 2020 3:02 pm

MrCarmady wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 2:45 pm
Two of my favourite films of all time right there. I'd recommend Zazie dans le metro if you haven't seen it, even though apart from being directed by Malle and having a central character cover a lot of ground in Paris, the two films couldn't be more diametrically opposed to each other.
I'm watching a lot of Louis Malle films lately because so much of his stuff is on Mubi currently. Sadly, Zazie already left before I signed up for the service, but I'm sure I can track it down somewhere else (I believe my library even has it).
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Sat May 23, 2020 2:06 pm

It Felt Like Love (2013, Eliza Hittman)

Fourteen year old Lila spends her summer vacation hanging out at the beach with Chiara, her slightly older, more experienced best friend, and Patrick, Chiara's dumbheaded boyfriend. Feeling like the third wheel on the wagon, Lila pressures herself into finding a lover of her own. Uncertain how to navigate herself in this new, dangerous world of sex and relationships, she goes through a lot of pain and humiliation to get what she thinks she wants.

I love the way the camera here often lingers on a shoulder or a hand and lives within textures of contact. It feels both sensual AND intimidating. Being not that much older than the characters in this movie myself, this was a very painful, though worthwhile, watch. Hittman perfectly captures the redundant and often crude way teenagers express themselves. While the movie is clearly rooted in a specific environment (Brooklyn, to be precise), all the characters remind me of some people I know in real life. The conversations depicted in this movie sound like ones I overheard, or even had myself.
Long summers as a teenager can be very exciting, yet also boring and even a real test on your personal relationships once the usual social structure of regular school life falls away, as this movie shows. Again, this was incredibly painful to watch, but I also feel like that any director who doesn't depict adolescence as a hellscape of some kind at least is just being dishonest.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Sun May 24, 2020 2:21 pm

A Farewell to Arms (1932, Frank Borzage)

From what I gather (I have never read the original novel) this seems to exchange Hemingway's well-known cynicism for full-blooded romanticism, however still entirely rooted in ultimate tragedy. The scenes taking place on the battle field are appropriately nightmarisch, while the moments between the two lovers excel in their quiet tenderness. Sometimes a little bit too melodramatic for my taste, but still highly effective, with moments of pure brilliance (the first-person shot of Cooper in the hospital immediately springs to mind).
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Thief » Mon May 25, 2020 1:28 pm

Slentert wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 3:02 pm
I'm watching a lot of Louis Malle films lately because so much of his stuff is on Mubi currently. Sadly, Zazie already left before I signed up for the service, but I'm sure I can track it down somewhere else (I believe my library even has it).
I should really get on his filmography. I've only seen Au revoir les enfants, which I loved... and even that one I haven't seen in a good while.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Tue May 26, 2020 7:43 pm

Deadlock (1970, Roland Klick)

After pulling off a heist a young but wounded criminal called The Kid (Marquard Bohm) hides out at a deserted mining town while he waits for his older partner Sunshine (Anthony Dawson) to split the loot. An old miner (Mario Adorf), who saved The Kid's life mostly out of opportunism but also some sort of empathy, tries to manipulate his way into a share of the haul, but it is he who ends up being played by the two bandits.

I love the western genre, and especially western iconography is just like catnip to me, even when the movie is set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland (I almost forgot to mention that, didn't I?). The endlessness of the desert can feel very oppressive and suffocationg, and this movie perfectly understands that. There is only a handful of characters, some cranky, worn-off buildings, a whole lot of dust and a suitcase full of money: a perfect minimalist set-up for a meditation on (a)morality.

Does not reach the heights of certain other Euro-Western classics, and it's not nearly as psychedelic as some reviews I've read claimed it to be, but definitely worth a watch if any of this piques your interest. The only other Klick movie I've seen, Supermarkt (1974) is also pretty good though totally different.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Tue May 26, 2020 7:43 pm

Duelle (1976, Jacques Rivette)

My first Rivette. Starts out as an earthbound detective story but rapidly evolves into something that I can only describe as a fairy tale of some kind. A surreal game of chess where these celestial beings battle for some sorth of earthly permanence, with a couple of mere mortals thrown in there as pawns to be manipulated and played against each other. At least I think so, because if I'm being honest I was often quite confused while watching this. It's less noir-ish and more talkative than I initially expected, though every scene has this underlying intensity that keeps you on the tip of your toes.

Aesthetically pleasing without necessarily being visually stimulating. Compelling but too opaque for me to have any kind of real emotional or even intellectual connection with it. Will definitely return to this somewhere in the (near?) future though.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Fri May 29, 2020 10:39 am

Le Cercle Rouge (1970, Jean-Pierre Melville)

When criminal Corey (Alain Delon) is released from prison, he swears to never return. However, he is quickly pulled back into the underworld after he crosses paths with escaped convict Vogel (Gian Maria Volonté), and the two partner up. Along with former cop and recovering alcoholic Jansen (Yves Montand), they start planning an intricate and near impossible to pull off jewel heist, while simultaneously Police Commissioner Mattei (Bourvil), a former colleague of Jansen and the person who is assigned to track down Vogel after losing him in custody, is on their heels.

I think it might be hard to understand for anyone who didn't grew up with him as a comedic icon, but seeing Bourvil play such a serious and vital role in this is almost like Don Knotts showing up in a Michael Mann film. The casting, though unconventional, does end up working in the movie's favor because Bourvil is able to insert some of that specific humanity that distinguished his more jocular performances into a character that might otherwise have very little of that, making us care, if not root, for the detective almost as much as for the criminals.

The biggest star of the movie though is Melville's near-silent direction, where he is able to create suspence without the need for deafeningly loud music, nor by doing a zillion cuts to make it seem fast-paced and swift. Rather he guides the viewer through the scenery with meticulous care, relying on the audience's prior knowledge of genre conventions and the language of cinema to understand everything that is happening without depending on too much dialogue or even real context. Pure economical storytelling at its finest.

Slightly disappointed with the ending which could've been so much more impactful if it didn't feel so rushed, especially considering how carefully Melville already builded up the story to that point. Still, one of the best heist movies, if not just crime movies in general, I have ever seen.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Fri May 29, 2020 10:40 am

Apocalypse After (2018, Bertrand Mandico)

A 35-minute short film made up out of several smaller short films, all involving self-proclaimed tribal pornographer Joy D'Amato (played by Elina Löwensohn) and her film crew, mostly consisting out of young women.
Filled with magneficent, delirious colors, phallic obelisks and pseudophilosophical babble which ranges from "inspired" to "annoying". I saw Mandico's sole feature film, The Wild Boys, on the big screen about two years ago at a film festival and I think that might be the weirdest movie I've ever seen in a theater. I'm not sure if his movies are actually good or just really fascinating. Either way, I'm a fan.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Fri May 29, 2020 5:32 pm

Antoine and Antoinette (1947, Jacques Becker)

An otherwise quite happy married couple struggles to make ends meet in a post-war France, when it turns they have won the lottery. However, when the husband plans on cashing their winnings, he loses the ticket on his way and it seems like they're back at square one.

Becker makes up for what would otherwise be a rather predictable plot by putting immense detail and care into his characters and their surroundings, to a point where even the smallest bit players can leave enough of a lasting impression that it makes the audience wonder how their lives continue whenever they're offscreen.

It's always fun to look back at what the political and social environment was like during a film's production and to think about how that informed the final product. In this post-war landscape of rationing and poverty, the so-called "villain" of of the movie is the predatory grocery store owner, who, as the person with access to the most basic of everyday goods, upholds the most power out of anyone in this small, lower-class community, which he gladly abuses.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Mon Jun 01, 2020 11:45 am

Mr. Freedom (1968, William Klein)

A pro-America superhero is assigned to save France from Communism, and if he can't do that, to destroy it. Switch France with Vietnam, and you basically have exactly what the US was doing to that country at the time when this movie was made.

This movie nearly makes Idiocracy seem subtle, but you would be hard-pressed to find a more brash and bonkers satire of American jingoism. So many years later, it also inadvertently comments on the destruction porn and military glorification in modern superhero movies. A bit too loud and over the top for my taste but at the same time I can appreciate how unrelentless it is. But in general I prefer my satires to be more subtle. Except for maybe Network, which is incredibly preachy but also perfect.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Mon Jun 01, 2020 11:46 am

Boro in the Box (2011, Bertrand Mandico)

A surreal, completely fictitious portrait of filmmaker Walerian Borowczyk, wherein the famous controversial filmmaker is depicted as being born inside a box with a hole in it, as if he were himself a movie camera.

Slightly more structured and far more emotionally resonant than the other movies from Bertrand Mandico that I've seen, this 40-minute short film is one of my favorite things I've seen from the past decade. It has a naive yet benign bend to it, which makes it both incredibly moving but also really funny at the same time.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Mon Jun 01, 2020 11:47 am

Le Bonheur (1965, Agnès Varda)

The first of quite a few Varda movies I've seen over the past weekend. Being the philistine that I am, I had only watched Faces, Places of hers before now.

I really wasn't prepared for how much this movie would fuck me up, honestly. This movie accomplishes to make beautiful, sunny colors and serene happiness seem oppressive without trying to be overtly scary to the point where it becomes ridiculous. An incredible paradisiac deconstruction of the nuclear family as it is envisioned by the patriarchy. Just wow.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Mon Jun 01, 2020 11:48 am

Vagabond (1985, Agnès Varda)

A young woman is found frozen to death in a ditch in the French countryside. From this, the film flashes back to what happened to her during the winter leading up to her death, intercut with narration by the people she met along the way.

I truly admire Varda for how complex she allowed this character to be, she understands that in real life, people defy easy explanations and what drives them remains largely a mystery, to themselves as well as others. And while the performances by the non-professional actors are not that great, lead actress Sandrine Bonaire gives a vibrant performance that is both ferocious and vulnerable.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Mon Jun 01, 2020 3:39 pm

Uncle Yanco (1967, Agnès Varda)

I never realized before how much Wes Anderson was influenced by Agnès Varda, especially in the use of colors. This might be one of the most aesthetically pleasing documentaries I've ever seen.

Clocking in just under 20 minutes, it is able to toy with a lot of different ideas, like the fabriced nature of documentary filmmaking, the relationship between men and nature, the near impossibility to escape capitalism in a modern world, even when you seem to have dropped out of society...
Also, isn't Uncle Yanco exactly what you would imagine a long lost relative of Agnès Varda to be like?
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Mon Jun 01, 2020 3:40 pm

Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962, Agnès Varda)

This might be my favorite out of the 6 Agnès Varda movies I saw last weekend. Not something I was expecting during the first 15 minutes or so but it started to grow on me and by the end I was completely in love. Despite the very dramatic tension that underlines every moment in the movie, it's a very joyous and enchanting experience.

In its essence, it's a film about a day in the life of the main character who, during a limited time span, comes to terms with her own mortality, but that doesn't do justice to all the beautiful little characterizations and just overal lively attitude of it.

A great movie to watch at this point in time, since we all can use a little bit of distraction right now to forget all the scary things that are happening around us, even if it is only for two hours.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Mon Jun 01, 2020 3:41 pm

Jane B. par Agnès V. (1988, Agnès Varda)

The synopsis Letterboxd provides simply states "A portrait of actress Jane Birkin" which is both accurate and makes it sound far more conventional than it actually is. I mentioned previously how my introduction to Varda's work was Faces, Places, but to be honest, while I enjoyed the movie, I kinda struggled with the approach it took to the documentary format, the personal yet also very experimental and artful bend it had. I didn't understand it. Now, having seen a couple more Varda films, especially het fiction work, I can really appreciate what she is doing here. Since her fiction work already has a documentary streak to it, it is only logical that her documentary work carries some influences from fiction. Werner Herzog does this as well, though in a completely different way.

Also, if you have not fallen in love with both Jane Birkin AND Agnès Varda by the end of this movie, I don't know what to tell you.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Mon Jun 01, 2020 3:42 pm

Jacquot de Nantes (1991, Agnès Varda)

Jacquot Demy is a little boy when World War II starts and the Nazis occupy his beloved home country, bruskly interupting his otherwise idyllic childhood. Still, he finds comfort and warmth in the movies and theater, which spark his imagination and creativity, and once he is a little older he buys a camera to shoot his first amateur film.

Jacquot de Nantes is an evocation of legendary French filmmaker Jacques Demy's childhood and passion for cinema and musicals especially, brought to life by his wife Agnès Varda, intercut with present day footage of the man himself and passages from his own films.

This was the surprise hit out of my little Varda binge, which shouldn't be as much of a shock since these kind of movies, where you take a look at the past through the eyes of a child, are like catnip for me, especially if that specific childhood is driven by creativity and perseverance and just an all-around devotion to the arts.
It's as delicate and sweet a gift someone could ever give to their loved one, especially considering Demy was already gravely ill by the time of production and would pass away before the film even got finished.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Wooley » Mon Jun 01, 2020 4:49 pm

Slentert wrote:
Mon Jun 01, 2020 3:40 pm
Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962, Agnès Varda)

This might be my favorite out of the 6 Agnès Varda movies I saw last weekend. Not something I was expecting during the first 15 minutes or so but it started to grow on me and by the end I was completely in love. Despite the very dramatic tension that underlines every moment in the movie, it's a very joyous and enchanting experience.

In its essence, it's a film about a day in the life of the main character who, during a limited time span, comes to terms with her own mortality, but that doesn't do justice to all the beautiful little characterizations and just overal lively attitude of it.

A great movie to watch at this point in time, since we all can use a little bit of distraction right now to forget all the scary things that are happening around us, even if it is only for two hours.
I've been meaning to watch this movie for like 13 years and have never gotten around to it. I believe it was 2007 when I added it to my queue and I've still never seen it. Hopefully, due to your write-up, I will be spurred to finally get it done.
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Re: A noob's journey through cinema

Post by Slentert » Mon Jun 01, 2020 5:02 pm

Wooley wrote:
Mon Jun 01, 2020 4:49 pm
I've been meaning to watch this movie for like 13 years and have never gotten around to it. I believe it was 2007 when I added it to my queue and I've still never seen it. Hopefully, due to your write-up, I will be spurred to finally get it done.
Well, I believe someone recently mentioned on Twitter that this one is on the Criterion Channel, so if you are a subscriber to that service...
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