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Thread: Oscar's Cinema Journal 2005

  1. #31
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    I've seen most of the new movies you mention--you're ahead of me in reviewing them here. I haven't seen the older ones. I've seen Rust Never Sleeps and Year of the Horse as well as Greendale, and enjoy all his efforts but consider Young's greatest contribution to films to be probably his music for Dead Man.

    pmw's entry:
    quote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Originally posted by oscar jubis
    pmw, I don't know enough to tell an interesting artist (outside of film) from a great one. I go to the occasional exhibit (last one happened to be mum's) or museum, and I know what I like. But I don't have the background to get into a deeper discussion about art. I am attracted to the "purity" of Goldsworthy's art and his creative process. Maybe his creations lack the necessary social dimension to be great art? (I'm trying pmw).
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    pmw's comment:

    Yeah, im not sure what i know either. But I think youre on to something that bothers me a little ("Maybe his creations lack the necessary social dimension to be great art?"). His work is fairly self-involved and a bit precious....dont know what else to say really. It's beautiful nonetheless. I really enjoyed the movie.
    I saw this some time ago, after it had already been showing for ages in Berkeley and I posted a review of it: http://www.chrisknipp.com/writing/viewtopic.php?t=74. The thing that's fake about the movie is that everybody but Goldsworthy is mere furniture in it, including his wife and his many assistants. This appeared to be a perfect date movie for fifty-somethings. I watched it patiently. I think it was okay. But why people raved about it I have no idea. Some proclaimed themselves bored to tears. Goldsworthy is like that Indian artist who makes things covered in raw pigment, Anish Kapoor (who got to do an installation in the huge Turbine Hall of Tate Modern in London -- rather mediocre, not up to his smaller stuff): Goldworthy's like Kapoor's work is very pretty and impressive, and he has successfully cultuvated an international reputation, bolstered for the average Joe by heaps of lavish art books commemorating his various temporary pieces. If you're doing a searching evaluation, they're both superficial, Kapoor and Goldsworthy, and utterly without content. The film does show Godsworthy's patience with his failures, which is impressive, but it doesn't question enough or delve deeply enough to be interesting as a documentary. It's like a long promo piece.

    I too loved Festival Express and the glimpse of Janis Joplin's "giving" quality in her songs, truly an amazing performance and a magical time; but I did not envy them all the drinking.

    Want to comment on Beyond the Sea later in more detail. It seems to combine campy fun/deft nightclub performance/mediocre movie/creepy self-absorption in a rather unforgettable way.

  2. #32
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    *Muchas gracias. 10 Mizoguchis por solo 75 euros? Que viva Espana! Que viva arsaib4!

    **Festival Express is extremely valuable as an honest document of an era, partly because of it's willingness to show "the kids from the 70s being portrayed in the wrong"(pmw). Janis steals the show. Never captured on film to such effect, says Hoberman. I watched her two scenes several times; the dvd includes two bonus songs.

    Wed. January 12th

    Code 46 on rental dvd. Michael Winterbottom's latest film is primarily a romance set in the future. The world is divided in two kinds of zones, one is a highly regulated environment in which people have given up their rights to privacy and personal freedom in exchange for comfort and security. Other areas as simply called "afuera" (Spanish for "outside"). The film opens with titles explaining that code 46 is a law that limits procreation to those who are genetically compatible. Then we are introduced to Tim Robbins as an insurance investigator and Samantha Morton as a woman forging "papeles" (documents) needed to access these secure zones. Code 46 is stylish, compact, and compelling in its examination of the consequences of technological advancements. But it's highly predictable, and the heartbreak doesn't achieve the required impact.

  3. #33
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    Thursday Jan 13th

    A Very Long Engagement (SoBe Regal)
    Comments on the film's thread.

    Bush's Brain: Who's Really Running the Country?
    Agenda-driven doc based on the book by Texan journalists James C. Moore and Wayne Slater. The central thesis is that, more so than Cheney, political consultant Karl Rove is the puppetmaster pulling the president's strings. The film details Rove's political career dating back to 1970 through a combination of news footage and interviews (mostly Republicans). Plenty of evidence is presented to characterize Rove as an intelligent heir to the legacy of Lee Atwater. A winner-at-all-costs with a bag full of dirty tricks. At one point, Slater calls Rove the former co-Governor of Texas and current co-President of the United States. The story of a patriotic Vietnam vet's son who died during the first days of the occupation of Iraq seems manipulative and superfluous.

  4. #34
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    Code 46

    thread:

    http://www.filmwurld.com/forums/show...=7503#post7503

    Potentially, there are a couple of drawbacks to a thread like this. Some might become hesitant to start a new thread if you've already talked about a particular film here, and, say if there was an existing thread on a film and you went ahead and posted your comments here then the next person wouldn't know where to respond. What do you think?

  5. #35
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    As you'll infer from my previous post, I plan to list all the films I watch here but post any comments on a given movie's thread if one already exists. I didn't realize a Code 46 thread already existed. To prevent this oversight, I plan to use the search feature available on this website. My apologies to Mr. tabuno, Code 46's thread starter.

  6. #36
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    We can't all have our personal film diary threads but Oscar earns the right to his by the range of his cinematic interests and the intelligence of his comments, and his not composing full-length reviews of things he's seen as Howard and I and some others do, makes it sensible for him to post shorter reactions.

    It's an idea for one of us regulars to chronicle their viewings for a while and let everybody look over their shoulder, so to speak; maybe after a while Oscar can step back and somebody else can come to the fore. Once a thread gets too long, nobody is going to review all of it. That's happening with my own website's movie reviews, and I need an indexing system, but haven't got one figured out yet.

  7. #37
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    Uzak

    I want to go back to this film for a moment if I can. You mentioned Mr. Liang, and rightfully so, as his films certainly popped into my head on a few occasions while watching Uzak--especially Vive L'Amour, and I wouldn't be surprised if Ceylan has watched it a few times himself. I expected Yusuf to break into a house at any moment and start living with people he was following much like what Liang's alter ego did.

    Ceylan has spoken about Kiarostami and how much his work has had an influence on him and it clearly shows. Even though he has chosen to foreground the action before the quite, wintry and disconnected Istanbul (far away from the bustling metroplis Yesim Ustaoglu showed in Journey to the Sun--see this film if you get a chance), the overhead metaphorical shots of the industrial wasteland certainly go back to Taste of Cherry. Not to mention the pacing and character develpment.

    So, I wanted to like this film more but I just saw too much of what I've seen earlier in various other films. To Ceylan's credit he did end up finding a unique way to close his film on a hopeful note.

  8. #38
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    *Watching Uzak, the Kiarostami influence doesn't register as strongly with me. Vive L'Amour certainly does. I find that it's Carlos Reygadas' Japon that strongly evokes Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry (not that A.K. would ever have the freedom to include a sex scene).

    *The hopeful note at the end of Uzak is rather subtle, isn't it arsaib4? They finally catch the pesky mouse, Mahmut goes outside and it's no longer winter. Cut to Yusuf smoking. Back to Mahmut at the harbor lighting one of Yusuf's cigarettes, which can be interpreted as a sign of acceptance.

    *Journey to the Sun is one of about 100 discs on my shelf awaiting their turn.

    Friday Jan. 14th

    Talked Chelsea and Dylan into going to the Cosford Cinema tonight. This is a beloved space where I learned about silents and classics back in '79-'81, while I was a student at "The U" (of Miami, for those that don't follow football). We watched an animated film from Argentina called Mercano el Marciano (Mercano the Martian). I'll give it a try: Mercano gets stranded on Earth. He manages to hook up an internet connection but his friends back home don't seem interested in coming to get him. Consumed with grief and longing, he creates a virtual Mars in cyberspace where he befriends a nerdy kid named Julian. The kid's dad works for a major corporation. He wants to buy it for profit. The businessmen promise to build Mercano a spaceship. Instead they capture him and extract all types of advanced techno information with the aim of global domination. Julian and a bunch of anarchist hackers come to the rescue. The film is subtitled, the website is not but it contains trailers.
    www.mercanoelmarciano.com
    (click on "avances")
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 01-15-2005 at 02:30 AM.

  9. #39
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    Sat. January 15th

    The latest film from writer/director/editor John Sayles, Silver City, received little attention upon release, grossing barely over a million. I think it's worth a rental, now that the dvd has come out. Silver City is basically a mixture of political expose and Ray Chandler-style murder mystery_it's central character reminicent of Elliott Gould as Marlowe in Altman's The Last Goodbye. John Sayles has a reputation for being able to weave several subplots and numerous characters into narratives with novelistic detail (You must watch Lone Star and City of Hope). He is particularly aware of the interdependency between business, politics and the media. Skills he puts to use in this tale of a man running for Governor of Colorado, which is meant to remind the viewer of Bush II at an early stage of his political career. His campaing manager is clearly modeled after Republican pitbull Karl Rove. Problem is Mr. Sayles seems here too enamored of ready-made styles and over-expository dialogue, despite his good intentions. Silver City will remind you of older, better movies like Chinatown. But the film has plenty to offer in its plot twists, interesting performances (Daryl Hanna, Miguel Ferrer, Kris Kristofferson) and sober political analysis.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 01-16-2005 at 12:09 AM.

  10. #40
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    Uzak

    Originally posted by oscar jubis
    They finally catch the pesky mouse,...
    It was also interesting that Ceylan allowed us a brief glimpse of Mahmut looking out his window at Yusuf when he went to dispose the rat; Yusuf makes sure that the rat is dead after he sees bunch of cats hanging around the garbage ready to feast.

    I'm not sure if you've seen his 2 earlier films; Kasaba (The Small Town) and Clouds of May, because with Uzak Ceylan concluded this trilogy. It started with the depiction of seasonal changes in rural Turkey as an insight into human behavior and at the end went onto to discuss the merits of family, love, loss, ambition etc. in an urban setting.

    It was sad to hear that Mehmet Emin Toprak (Yusuf/Saffret), present in all 3 films, died not long after finishing Uzak.
    Last edited by arsaib4; 01-16-2005 at 06:19 PM.

  11. #41
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    I haven't seen Ceylan's previous features but I'd like to, very much. While doing a bit of research, I came across this comment from J. Rosenbaum: "Clouds of May, the second feature from Nuri Bilge Ceylan, struck some viewers as belonging to the school of Kiarostami, a mistake they wouldn't make with his masterful third feature."

    Sunday Jan. 16th

    Warriors of Heaven and Earth, a "noodle western" directed by He Ping, overestimates viewers' ability to absorb and comprehend information during its first few minutes, which include no less than three voice-over narrators. Although somewhat muddled, a narrative emerges involving an imperial agent with a mission to travel west to kill a fugitive general who disobeyed orders to massacre Turk women and children in 8th century China. The plot expands to include ruthless bandits, enemy Turkish troops, a Buddhist priest on a secret mission, a general's daughter, itinerant warriors, etc. But the reason to watch the film is its majestic vistas and the magnificent images crafted by cinematographer Zhao Fei (Raise the Red Lantern, The Emperor and the Assassin). The dvd raises the issue of dubbing vs. subtitles, as both are available here. I make the unusual recommendation of selecting the English-dubbed track so your eyes are free to feast on the pretty pictures.

  12. #42
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    Monday Jan 17th

    Lewis Milestone (born Lev Milstein in Russia) had won two best director Oscars by 1930 for Two Arabian Knights and All Quiet in the Westrern Front. In between, he directed The Garden of Eden(1928), recently released on dvd and broadcasted on TCM. The talented and charming Corinne Griffith plays a girl who's had enough of her uncle's Viennese bakery so she boards a train to Budapest, where she's been offered an audition as an opera singer. Turns out to be all about dancing wearing skimpy outfits. No sob story, she soon gets rescued by a sympathetic rich woman who takes her to Montecarlo, where this romantic comedy takes flight. It's a top notch production in every respect. Milestone got his start making training shorts for the U.S. Army (The Toothbrush!) and directed many well-know films in a variety of genres such as The Front Page, Mutiny on the Bounty, Ocean's Eleven, Of Mice and Men, and my favorite, the Al Jolson vehicle Hallelujah, I'm a Bum!. I've seen it so many times I almost know the lyrics and dialogue by heart.

    Part one of Undeniable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, directed by Ken Burns, broadcasted on PBS.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 01-18-2005 at 05:38 AM.

  13. #43
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    N.B.C

    J. Rosenbaum: "Clouds of May, the second feature from Nuri Bilge Ceylan, struck some viewers as belonging to the school of Kiarostami, a mistake they wouldn't make with his masterful third feature."

    It almost seems like J.R. is chiding the viewers who dismissed Clouds of May as a clone of Kiarostami's early-90's work; and I agree that it's not simply A.K's influence that's omnipresent, but, one can also easily see Tarkovsky and of course Chekhov. So, it's not all or nothing with me in Ceylan's work as I see traces of Kiarostami throughout. Both J. Hoberman ("But Distant is the opposite of visionary mysticism. Its reserve takes on a hard, gemlike quality. The filmmakers to whom Ceylan seems closest in his use of repetition and droll understatement are contemporaries like Abbas Kiarostami and Tsai Ming-liang, both of whom adapted the old-fashioned cine-modernism of Michelangelo Antonioni to urban Asia.") and Geoff Andrew/Time Out ("Not that Ceylan's work could adequately be described as in any way “realist”. Agreed, there is an honesty, an authenticity that serves as a wonderfully sturdy foundation for the artifice he creates, but as with Kiarostami's beguiling blends of “reality” and “fiction”, Ceylan's methods are essentially poetic. Both his narrative and his visual style might be termed “impressionistic”; he favours ellipsis, discreet metaphor, repetition, rhyme and rhythmic flexibility; and he is acutely alert to place and time, as expressed by the seasons, by changes in sound and light, and to how they affect our moods.") have referred to such intellection.

    Here's a great website--most likely established by Mr. Ceylan himself. (Links are available to purchase his earlier films on DVD with English subs.)

    http://www.nbcfilm.com

  14. #44
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    Thanks for these reminders. Wasn't Uzak AKA Distant shown in NYC and reviewed in the New Yorker by Anthony Lane last year? Yes, it was, and Land made its grumpiness sound fascinating http://www.mat.upm.es/~jcm/anthony-lane--distant.html I want to see it.

  15. #45
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    Yep, New Yorker released Uzak here early last year. Unfortunately, it almost made no money in NY and opened in L.A. about 6 months later. Metacritic gave Lane's review an 80.

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