Maiden's Voyage

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Izzy Black
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Izzy Black » Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:07 pm

Trip wrote: fuck you izzy that's when
noob
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Izzy Black
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Izzy Black » Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:11 pm

Trip wrote:You def said something to the effect of "All Wong that isn't ItMfL can suck my dick".
Rofl doubtful. I know that my love for Wong has waned over the years, as he was like one of my top 5 working, but I've still written a lot about him, and with The Grandmaster, he's cemented his place for me. He still doesn't crack my top 10, but I think he's a fantastic filmmaker. And ItmFL is top 20 all time.

Anyways, you're a dick. :D
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Macrology » Fri Dec 20, 2013 7:09 pm

I have the Chinese blu-ray of The Grandmasters coming to me in the mail, but the postal service is having a hell of a time delivering it. Can't wait to watch it, though. I'll let you know what I think. (I haven't seen any other version, incidentally.)
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Vasco » Fri Dec 20, 2013 8:05 pm

B-Side wrote:
Can we get gay married already or are you still beholden to that evil wench?
Sir, now you made me cry.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Fri Dec 20, 2013 8:09 pm

Macrology wrote:I have the Chinese blu-ray of The Grandmasters coming to me in the mail, but the postal service is having a hell of a time delivering it. Can't wait to watch it, though. I'll let you know what I think.
Oh, excellent. Do!

I'm liking this more as time goes by. Think it might rank up there with Days of Being Wild and Fallen Angels (high praise from me). I want to see it again!

Can anyone who's seen both confirm this?
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Trip » Fri Dec 20, 2013 8:24 pm

Shieldmaiden wrote:as time goes by
:P
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Fri Dec 20, 2013 8:37 pm

Haha. Time > tears.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Derninan » Sat Dec 21, 2013 12:32 am

I love several Wong films, but The Grandmaster just felt lacking. I do think the American cut feels incomplete, and I have no way of knowing this, but I'm pretty sure I would've felt that way even if I didn't know of the longer international cut. It has moments, and it's a stunning watch, but I forgot about it pretty quickly.

I will watch the international cut one day, hopefully soon.

And gimme all the Fallen Angels, In the Mood for Love, 2046, even As Tears Go By, love that film, that pool hall sequence <3
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Circus Freak » Sat Dec 21, 2013 12:44 am

The Grandmaster seemed to be comprised entirely of austere conversations, brooding faces and slow-motion fight scenes. Tedious.
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Izzy Black
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Izzy Black » Sat Dec 21, 2013 1:07 am

all u wrong
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Trip
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Trip » Sat Dec 21, 2013 3:21 am

Didn't know about the colour changes though, Maiden. Requires further investigation, once I get my hands on the other versions. I rather prefer the warmer palette.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Sat Dec 21, 2013 3:40 am

Circus Freak wrote:The Grandmaster seemed to be comprised entirely of austere conversations, brooding faces and slow-motion fight scenes. Tedious.
I thought the fight scenes were far from tedious, but, I don't know anything about fight scenes, so. The conversation was right up my alley, though. Mournful nostalgia, etc. I'm strongly considering paying Amazon another four bucks to watch it again.
Trip wrote:I rather prefer the warmer palette.
Oh, yes, same here.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by B-Side » Sat Dec 21, 2013 6:09 am

Vasco wrote:Sir, now you made me cry.
<3
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Wed Dec 25, 2013 3:49 pm

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Merry Christmas, Corrierino!
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by wigwam » Thu Dec 26, 2013 3:13 am

Merry Christmas, Maiden! is that Death in Venice?
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Trip » Thu Dec 26, 2013 3:16 am

Looks like Despair.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by wigwam » Thu Dec 26, 2013 3:19 am

oh yeah, i thot he had a mustache in that tho or a beard
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Sat Dec 28, 2013 5:29 am

Whoa, you're both right. I mean, Trip's right, it's Despair, but he does have a mustache in the middle of the movie for no discernible reason, as well as the beard at the end.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Trip » Sat Dec 28, 2013 10:02 am

Do you reckon Bogarde was a bottom or a top.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by B-Side » Sat Dec 28, 2013 10:18 am

Power bottom.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by snapper » Sat Dec 28, 2013 10:40 am

bottom, treasure island media style
Latest notable first-time viewings:

* The Sun in a Net / Uher
** The Seashell and the Clergyman / Dulac
The Tales of Beatrix Potter / Mills
* A Flood in Ba'ath Country / Amiralay
Times and Winds / Erdem
Most Beautiful Island / Asensio
* Japanese Girls Never Die / Matsui
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by snapper » Sat Dec 28, 2013 10:41 am

i don't find him sexy at all
Latest notable first-time viewings:

* The Sun in a Net / Uher
** The Seashell and the Clergyman / Dulac
The Tales of Beatrix Potter / Mills
* A Flood in Ba'ath Country / Amiralay
Times and Winds / Erdem
Most Beautiful Island / Asensio
* Japanese Girls Never Die / Matsui
* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston


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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Sat Dec 28, 2013 11:39 pm

Dirk Bogarde is sex personified. Just his name alone: Dirk! How do you get sexier than that?!
I've had a crush on him forever.
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Maiden's Voyage: Best of 2013

Post by Shieldmaiden » Sat Dec 28, 2013 11:40 pm

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Best films first seen in
2013

I saw 174 films for the first time this year, which won't seem like many to most of you, I know. Still, for the most part, they were a carefully chosen bunch from some very reliable sources, making this end-of-year ranking tougher than you might think. But, enough dithering! Here's an approximate top 30. (Starred links take you out of the thread.)

1. Inland Empire
2. Russian Symphony
3. Three Days
4. Holy Motors
5. Strange Circus
6. Nachmittag*
7. Gespenster*
8. The Tenant
9. Post Tenebras Lux
10. La vie de bohème

11. The Grandmaster
12. Bastards
13. Kamen
14. Computer Chess
15. Don’t Look Now
16. Vive l’amour
17. Sleeping Sickness*
18. Whispering Pages
19. Ran
20. Barsaat

21. Claire's Knee
22. May*
23. The Days Between*
24. Berberian Sound Studio*
25. Celebration in the Botanical Garden
26. The Damned
27. Orly*
28. The Corridor
29. Kathapurushan
30. I Hired a Contract Killer

My other year-end lists: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2012, 2011, 2010.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Trip » Sun Dec 29, 2013 2:17 am

I might go ahead and watch all the ones I've not seen.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Sun Dec 29, 2013 2:33 am

All the ones? There can't be more than one or two. Russian Symphony, Kamen... ?
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Trip » Sun Dec 29, 2013 2:34 am

those two
Strange Circus
La vie de bohème
Barsaat
Kathapurushan
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Sun Dec 29, 2013 2:49 am

Ah, right. I know you're not a Sono fan... but you'll love La vie de bohème and Kathapurushan, I'm pretty sure. :)
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by B-Side » Sun Dec 29, 2013 7:25 am

all the sokurov
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by snapper » Sun Dec 29, 2013 1:03 pm

Shieldmaiden wrote:Dirk Bogarde is sex personified. Look at his name alone: Dirk! How do you get sexier than that?!
I've had a crush on him forever.
there's something... oily and and clammy about him
Latest notable first-time viewings:

* The Sun in a Net / Uher
** The Seashell and the Clergyman / Dulac
The Tales of Beatrix Potter / Mills
* A Flood in Ba'ath Country / Amiralay
Times and Winds / Erdem
Most Beautiful Island / Asensio
* Japanese Girls Never Die / Matsui
* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston


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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Sun Dec 29, 2013 6:16 pm

I think he played oily really well. Look at all his bad-guy roles!

I love his goofiness, among other things...

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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by snapper » Sun Dec 29, 2013 6:52 pm

i mean he played oily well, yeah, but it seemed like his default switch. made him less sexy to me
Latest notable first-time viewings:

* The Sun in a Net / Uher
** The Seashell and the Clergyman / Dulac
The Tales of Beatrix Potter / Mills
* A Flood in Ba'ath Country / Amiralay
Times and Winds / Erdem
Most Beautiful Island / Asensio
* Japanese Girls Never Die / Matsui
* Birth Certificate / Różewicz
Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston


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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Mon Dec 30, 2013 3:47 pm

Image
Final question of 2013: Just how dissuasive is Shieldmaiden?

This was a year for blockbuster comedies about the end of the world, and they were good and all, but Lopushansky’s version from 1994 is better – both funnier and way more cynical. Watch Russian Symphony before the new year begins and help me break the curse!
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Circus Freak » Mon Dec 30, 2013 6:04 pm

But I haven't even seen Dead Man's Letters yet.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage: Best of 2013

Post by Epistemophobia » Mon Dec 30, 2013 9:41 pm

Shieldmaiden wrote: 9. Post Tenebras Lux
:fresh:
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Macrology » Wed Jan 08, 2014 5:41 pm

Hey, Maiden. After reading Schulz's Sanatorium under the Sign of the Hourglass a while back, I feel like I promised to tell you when I got around to the film adaptation. In any case, I have, and I wrote way more about it than I intended to:

My post in the Recently Seen thread.

But this gives me the opportunity to reinforce the fact that you should read the book if you enjoyed the film, because they inform and expound upon each other in compelling ways.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Thu Jan 09, 2014 10:28 pm

Macrology wrote:Even now, with each text illuminating and broadening the other, the works both remain slippery, obscure, inaccessible. I know on some basic level what they're about, and the approach Schulz and Has both utilize, but there is such a profound strangeness in them that I find it hard to connect with any of it emotionally -- not that a work requires such a connection, but these works are so intensely personal they seem to want it. Instead, I am left in awe of their artistry, and musing in wonderment over the mysteries they hold. There's a lot I don't understand, but they leave me with an intense yearning for understanding of some kind, and perhaps that's all they intended.
Wow, Mac, this is great! I love that you saw the film to compare, and I read all your thoughts with great interest. Bruno Schulz has been high on my list since I read Bolaño’s Distant Star, and you’ve just bumped him higher, so I’ll get back to you properly, eventually. For now, I can only comment on things from the film side.

I think the deeply personal nature of the works probably keeps the reader/viewer at arms' length. At least, I agree that I was left with a merely wistful feeling of mystery and mourning. Of course, that's a feeling I love, and yearning for understanding only seems to add to that.

Despite the fact that the actor is a grown man, I definitely had the feeling of being lost in childhood memories, being sort of mentally stuck at a certain age. He acts like a child (and is treated as a child) throughout.

The cobwebby decay in the film seems like a visual way to represent loss that could be left to our imagination in a book. You describe the memories of the stories as bright and enthusiastic, but even your excerpt (“Then she will talk to me about the sweetest, quietest, and saddest things. No comfort will be possible.”) reveals a mournfulness under the surface. But, yeah, it’s primarily a reference to the war, I'm sure. By the time of the film, a whole culture has been destroyed, dwarfing lost innocence, dying parents, adding well-deserved pessimism to every frame.
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Maiden's Voyage: Soul Frieda and Schopenhauer

Post by Shieldmaiden » Sun Jan 19, 2014 12:20 am

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Image Image
I've wrestled with the question of why In a Year with 13 Moons is so profoundly moving. I'm usually invulnerable to tear-jerkers, even to well-acted tragedies like this one, but this movie tears my heart out, bit by bit. That this should happen in a Fassbinder film seems doubly surprising, considering his roots in Brecht's epic theater, the formal elements of which should (and normally do!) relieve the emotional impact. But, I think I may have found the key. On a re-watch recently, I found myself fascinated by the scene in Soul Frieda's golden lair. Zora has promised Elvira a respite, and it does provide a sort of hallucinatory calm, though sadness is as thick as smoke in the air they breathe. Still, it seems that this small island of absolute acceptance gives Elvira the mental room to think. She tells a piece of her story, and Frieda responds with a casual snippet of philosophy, which turns out to be Schopenhauer... and that's when it clicked for me.

All the techniques of epic theater are here, yes, as in so many of his films: the artificial sets, songs, quotations, the jarring layers of sound. But, instead of using them to create discontinuity or distance, he buries them in the narrative. The journalist's tapes of Elvira's interview become a diegetic voice-over; Elvira takes Zora to the slaughterhouse, so we see "steaming blood and death" as she narrates her history. In the same way, Volker Spengler uses theatrical gestures, yet these are essential elements of Elvira's troubled dual nature, in what amounts to a realistic portrayal of her daily struggles to perform. All of which results in a unique structure which gives us the intellectual benefits of the epic forms, but without the emotional relief of the distancing effect. It's extremely clever, and – not surprisingly – emotionally devastating. I can't help but wonder if Fassbinder's decision to integrate the pieces, to forego his usual distance, has something to do with the personal nature of this film. It's an interesting idea, anyway, that he would choose to immerse the audience so deeply in a film inspired by a tragedy that touched his own heart.

But, let's go back to that Schopenhauer quote. As Elvira describes her agonizing struggle to adjust to her new body, Soul Frieda muses:
  • What, in expressive terms, I regard as my body, if I can be aware of it in another form, is in fact my will. Or, my body is the objectivization of my will. Or, apart from it being a concept of my imagination, my body is merely my will.
Here it is, in context, from The World as Will and Representation:
  • [The identity of the will and of the body] is a knowledge of quite a peculiar nature, whose truth cannot therefore really be brought under one of the four headings by which I have divided all truth in the essay On the Principle of Sufficient Reason, § 29, namely, logical, empirical, transcendental, and metalogical. For it is not, like all these, the reference of an abstract representation to another representation, or to the necessary form of intuitive or of abstract representing, but it is the reference of a judgement to the relation that a representation of perception, namely the body, has to that which is not a representation at all, but is toto genere different therefrom, namely will. I should therefore like to distinguish this truth from every other, and call it philosophical truth par excellence. We can turn the expression of this truth in different ways and say: My body and my will are one; or, What as representation of perception I call my body, I call my will in so far as I am conscious of it in an entirely different way comparable with no other or, My body is the objectivity of my will, or, Apart from the fact that my body is my representation, it is still my will, and so on…
I'm no philosopher. I don't have the patience to tease out the complex ways we have of knowing our bodies and wills, so I make no attempt to agree or disagree with the above. But, I can clearly see the irony. Elvira has undertaken to will herself into a new life with a new body, not from yearning or a search for happiness, but from tragic physical necessity, survival in the face of an unthinkable mistake. And, though we're probably turning Schopenhauer inside-out here, in the end, Elvira's body and her will are not one, her will is not equal to the task.

And, now, the intellectual interlude is over. The scene in Soul Frieda's apartment ends on a note of discord, as Frieda breaks down in tears, and the essential hopelessness of someone who never leaves home destroys the illusion of golden calm. Elvira has been reminded of things she'd forgotten and needs to move on in an attempt to come to terms with her past. And, though what comes next will be almost unbearable, we have no choice but to follow her. Our defenses are down, useless in the face of all this tragedy, as Fassbinder – that genius of chaos and dark comedy – quits his usual haunts to turn grief and regret into a transcendent work of art.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by B-Side » Sun Jan 19, 2014 7:55 am

Well now. I'm officially eager to rewatch this. Been a little scared to since my first experience with it was so transcendent, but I want to revisit it and better come to terms with what about it exactly made it resonate above all other Fassbinders.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by charulata » Sun Jan 19, 2014 1:11 pm

That was a really great read, m. Thank you for posting and for talking about it on my podcast :D <3
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Sun Jan 19, 2014 4:19 pm

B-Side wrote:Well now. I'm officially eager to rewatch this. Been a little scared to since my first experience with it was so transcendent, but I want to revisit it and better come to terms with what about it exactly made it resonate above all other Fassbinders.
You definitely have nothing to worry about. I love it more every time I watch it!
charulata wrote:That was a really great read, m. Thank you for posting and for talking about it on my podcast :D <3
I'm getting tired of constantly hitting refresh on that page. :D
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by charulata » Sun Jan 19, 2014 4:38 pm

Shieldmaiden wrote:I'm getting tired of constantly hitting refresh on that page. :D
Done editing the first two parts already! I took so long only because I was having so much fun listening but also, thanks to your post and our conversation, I watched that scene again last night and got all engrossed.
Btw, I haven't had time to really think about this more but I found some reading material last night that indicates that Elvira's monologue at the slaughterhouse includes a direct quote from Goethe's play Torquato Tasso. Just reinforces your epic theater idea and perhaps sheds some light on how it works differently here.. I have to read more to figure out.

http://books.google.com/books?id=Ks5cUL ... so&f=false
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Sun Jan 19, 2014 7:27 pm

charulata wrote:I took so long only because I was having so much fun listening but also, thanks to your post and our conversation, I watched that scene again last night and got all engrossed.
Perfect. :heart:
Btw, I haven't had time to really think about this more but I found some reading material last night that indicates that Elvira's monologue at the slaughterhouse includes a direct quote from Goethe's play Torquato Tasso. Just reinforces your epic theater idea and perhaps sheds some light on how it works differently here.. I have to read more to figure out.
Wow, great find. I want that book!
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Re: Maiden's Voyage: The Grandmaster

Post by Macrology » Mon Jan 20, 2014 7:55 pm

Shieldmaiden wrote:
Wong Kar-wai's The Grandmaster is delicious and fun, though not up there with my favorites from him. Still, its quite a relief after My Blueberry Nights. The question of the hour is "which version?" I saw the American cut, apparently a thoughtful alternate by Wong himself, with extra footage as well as cuts. According to the screencaps I've seen online, he must also have played around with the color, Ashes of Time-style, and I loved those golden filters. Much of the film worked for me – the melancholy tone, gorgeous sets, those fights! – but, the romance is 2046-light, and the story never quite ignites, though the fire is always just off-screen, illuminating faces. And, though I hate to think like this, how much of it was written for the mainland government? Ip's reasons for going to Hong Kong have been airbrushed, along with, for some reason, his son. But, forget history! Like all of Wong's films, this one is primarily about memory and loss, a woman's intense regret and a man's wry sympathy, the pallid present eclipsed by a more vivid past.
Maiden, you should definitely check out the Chinese version when you get the chance. I can't compare it to the American version, which I haven't seen yet, but from what I saw and from what I've read, the story in the Chinese cut is more complex and satisfying, and less restricted to the romance that they tried to centralize in the American cut.

Much more in my post in the Recently Seen thread.
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:11 pm

Replied in Recently Seen, but I'll repost here because I don't post frequently enough for proper conversations in the megathreads.
Macrology wrote:That's not to say the film is a traditional kung fu movie. Far from it. The film luxuriates in sorrow and lost opportunities, and the kinetic fights are offset by the meandering pace found elsewhere in the film. But where most Kar-Wai films focus on romantic longing, in this film romance is only one amid a great array of themes, and it takes a back seat to honor, loyalty, filial devotion, and the kung fu ethos.
Love this. Yes. One of primary themes is preserving the art of kung fu for posterity, and the inevitable failures, techniques lost to time, are bathed in the same type of golden regret he normally uses for lost loves. Also, everything you mention fits the American cut as well, it seems to me, but obviously I'll need to see the Chinese version to properly compare.
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Shieldmaiden
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:12 pm

Going back to In a Year with 13 Moons for a moment, I just found a fascinating piece in The Anarchy of the Imagination: Interviews, Essays, Notes – nineteen pages in which Fassbinder lays out Erwins's backstory, including his childhood, his marriage to Irene, and his friendship with Anton, some of which made it into the film, but much didn't.
Erwin often had the impression that it wasn't Anton talking but that something was talking through Anton. They were always the same stories. Anton had spent almost all of this childhood in a concentration camp, and it was pure chance that he had survived, at least it was chance in one of Anton's versions. There was another version in which Anton owed his survival to his own skill, and in other versions there were other reasons, and somehow, in spite of the large discrepancies, everything seemed to be at least a little true. At any rate Anton had survived, and had come out into freedom with one wish in his head, to go to America, and on the way to America he got hung up in Frankfurt and there succeeded in a relatively short time in acquiring a respectable name in the so-called underworld. Besides, he realized one day that there was probably no difference between the city of Frankfurt and America, and Anton had learned another important thing in the years of freedom, and he kept coming back to it: he had learned that there was no great difference between life outside and what he had lived and seen in the concentration camp.
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Shieldmaiden
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Maiden's Voyage: Catching up with 2013

Post by Shieldmaiden » Sat Mar 01, 2014 5:07 pm

      • I've been making an effort lately to catch up with recent releases, and a few of them deserve mention. And, yes, I know that a couple of these were released somewhere in 2012, making my subject line a despicable lie, but... I don't really care!

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      • I was impressed with Shortland's Somersault from a few years back, but Lore was still a surprise. Here she takes her gift for texture to the next level, telling a complex story of historical events and moral awakening almost entirely through sensation – through small glances and sound and touch. I could have sworn I smelled and tasted things as well. Very, very impressive!

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      • A Field in England really caught me off guard. I expected a surprise or two, but... yeah. I liked the clever dialogue, the occasional Greenaway/tableau thing they did and the sound! I was alternately grossed out and engrossed by the weirdness. Actually, it's wrong to separate them like that; the most horrifying moment was the point I started to think, "This is great," and by the end I was completely entranced. I wish I'd seen it on the big screen!

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      • Inside Llewyn Davis is lovely storytelling, seemingly aimless like its protagonist, but with an almost musical structure that makes circling back feel right, like a question answered, or a chord resolved. Though Llewyn doesn't fix anything, or even change in any way, he has had glimpses of knowledge, of humility and catharsis, that might eventually lead to something else. He has a bit of growing up to do and I would love to see it happen, but I'll settle for just watching this again.

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      • I was no fan of Sweetgrass, but Leviathan is a fascinating demonstration of the cinematic. The filmmakers deliberately set themselves a steep challenge here, aiming for a kind of found cinema, accidental images of churning water, dead fish, upside-down birds, late night tedium. It's not surprising that there's rhythm or color or pathos in unlikely places. But it's astonishing just how audacious and visceral this particular parade of images turns out to be.
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Trip
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Trip » Sat Mar 01, 2014 5:10 pm

Lore is wonderful. Pacing problems in the last stretch aside.
Please TRIP and Die
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MrCarmady
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by MrCarmady » Sat Mar 01, 2014 5:18 pm

Yeah, the Coens have outdone themselves on this one. Still got loads to see but will be pleasantly surprised if something will dislodge it as my favourite of the year. Such bitter humour, full of regret, but while Llewyn is definitely self-centred and oftentimes an asshole, he is the most human character in any of their films. Great performance from Isaac, who doesn't seem to have the greatest filmography otherwise (he was OK in Drive, but still)
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Shieldmaiden
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Re: Maiden's Voyage

Post by Shieldmaiden » Sat Mar 01, 2014 9:43 pm

MrCarmady wrote:while Llewyn is definitely self-centred and oftentimes an asshole, he is the most human character in any of their films.
Hm, I think I agree. He's the least overtly comic, anyway. Larry Gopnik manages to transcend it, but he's cut from essentially comic cloth.
Still got loads to see but will be pleasantly surprised if something will dislodge it as my favourite of the year.
Have you seen A Field in England? The top of my 2013 list looks something like this, so far...

A Field in England
Inside Llewyn Davis
Bastards
Computer Chess
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