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Thread: Oscar's Cinema Journal 2005

  1. #46
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    I see. Too bad there was no further distirbution.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-19-2005 at 01:48 PM.

  2. #47
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    Tuesday Jan. 18th

    Spartan on rental dvd. Shame on you, Mamet! Comments:http://www.filmwurld.com/forums/show...=&threadid=842

  3. #48
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    That's funny Oscar. What prompted you to partake in the dvd after such a scathing reaction the movie?! Actually, I would be interested in hearing a director's commentary that tried to decipher the film in some way. What a weird (alas, thats probably too generous) one.

    P

  4. #49
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    What I don't understand is the love affair between this film (Spartan) and the editors at "Film Comment." Both Gavin Smith and Kent Jones have raved about it, both included it in their end-of-the-year lists; while mostly everyone else who has seen it is less than pleased. I haven't seen the film but I'm certainly intrigued.

  5. #50
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    I'd like to read those comments by Smith and Jones. America's best known crit gave it four stars. A couple members here liked it too. I should've read Knipp's review before renting Spartan. Good thing is I didn't really spend $ on it specifically since I payed the $15 for one month of unlimited rentals at Blockbuster. I'll be busier in February with the Miami fest and career-related stuff so I'll cancel the so-called "Movie Pass". Besides, the monthly charge goes up to $25 for subsequent months. Anyway, I truly hated Spartan.

    Wed. Jan. 19th

    Second viewing of Won kar-wai's 2046. Review: http://www.filmwurld.com/forums/show...=8467#post8467
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 01-20-2005 at 04:54 PM.

  6. #51
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    Thursday Jan 20th
    House of Flying Daggers at SoBe Regal
    Comments:http://www.filmwurld.com/forums/show...&threadid=1163

  7. #52
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    Friday, Jan. 21st

    Fear and Trembling at the Cosford Cinema.
    Alain Corbeau (All the Mornings of the world) brings to the screen this adaptation of Amelie Nothomb's autobiographical novel set in 1991 Tokyo. Belgian Amelie (Sylvie Testud) returns to Japan, where she spent the first five years of her life, with a 1 year contract to work as translator for a big company. Culture clash ensues, as Amelie is forced into a confrontation with Japanese corporate manners. The color of this comedy darkens perceptibly as it progresses, particular in the central relationship of Amelie and Fubuki (Kaori Tsuji), her immediate supervisor. As it's "de rigeur" in this genre, characterizations are usually exaggerated to ellicit easy laughs. Comments such as "it renders its Japanese characters as a bunch od screeching ninnies"(Village Voice) are not baseless. The film does provide at least some insight into a foreign culture though. And the Cesar for best actress given to Ms. Testud is well-deserved.

  8. #53
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    Father and Son on dvd.

    "A sort of erotic puzzle. What they share is well outside the conventional bounds of paternity" (Boston Globe)

    "Posits a wildly eroticized filial relationship." "His ruggedly handsome dude of a dad seems scarcely 15 years older". "Outraged by questions of the movie homoeroticism after its 2003 Cannes premiere, Sokurov lectured the press on the dirty-minded preoccupations of the decadent West. Such patriotic defensiveness mirrors the film's." (Hoberman, Voice)

    "Unintentional but unmistakeable homoerotic subtext" (Variety)

    "Sokurov disavows any homoerotic intent, but it's hard to attach any other theme to the lyrical shots of intertwined male bodies at the beginning (accompanied by heavy breathing), or protracted close-ups throughout (conspicuously few of which involve the son's girlfriend). I prefer Beau Travail." (Rosenbaum)

    "I hear the word homoerotic for the second time today. In Russia, it's hard to see such associations. I believe this is the outcome of the impasse facing European society, which is looking for a single element that can be reduced to an interpretation...Tell your friends, colleagues, to be very attentive. Don't try to put your own complexes on to the movie. Let it live! Be kind! Homoerotic? For the movie you have seen, there's no such meaning. In a cruel world, nothing can be accepted but a homoerotic view. I don't see a place for it. I'm not interested in discussing it."
    "There's no father, no son, but one human soul that can look at itself in a magic crystal" (Alexander Sokurov, Cannes 2003)

    I don't think it's Wellspring's regular practice to reprint a long review on the insert of their dvds. They have wisely included Armond White's long review of Father and Son published on New York Press. It's the only review of the controversial film that I've come across that facilitates one's understanding of what Sokurov is attempting to convey. And just like Mr. White apparently needed the remarks from Sokurov I quoted and others included in his essay to formulate his views, most viewers will need to be educated regarding Sokurov's intentions in order to access the film's mysteries. The images and text more often confound than elucidate. Yes, it's a beautiful, poetic film that must be seen. But it's clearly flawed and it's not the fault of western audiences.
    This is the second of his human relations trilogy, and like its predecessor, the film opens with an appropiation from Christian iconography, namely La Pieta. In Mother and Son, it's the son that cradles the parent as the film deals squarely with the son's pain as he anticipates his ailing mother's death. There were no questions about eroticism at its premiere despite the frequent physical contact and tenderness between the characters. But here Sokurov miscalculates and stages the scene in a way that such interpretation becomes practically unavoidable. Why cast a father so young that the son "looks like his younger brother" (Knipp)?, why the heavy breathing and the extreme close up of intertwined limbs?, why do they appear to be naked?, why not film it in medium shot, or show it at a point in the film when the characters have been established?
    There are also certain concepts that Father and Son fails to explore. The phrase "A father's love crucifies..." is repeated at least twice, for instance, but your humble viewer had difficulty applying the obvious Christian reference to the characters on screen.
    I'm glad there are filmmakers out there like Mr. Sokurov attempting to create films with an original vision, but this beautiful film is less than what its maker intended.

  9. #54
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    All I can say is that although this film (seen in a theater, not on dvd) seemed highly affected, murky (in its movement, not in its individual images, which are soft but not unclear), and with all the vaguenesses that you point out, I couldn't get it out of my head for days afterward, and I knew I'd seen something wholly original and memorable. I can't say that I really object to the homoerotic feeling at all. At the same time as I seem to recall noting in my review, we need to acknowledge the validity of Sokorov's dislaimers of any homoerotic element because in Russian culture, as in some others, male-to-male physical contact is conceived differently than in the US, where any suggestion of it can freak people out and make them think it's gay. Rather than thinking the director miscalculated, why not consider that the treatment translates badly culturally? I also think you have to view the film as a meditation on a theme, the whole trilogy presumably to be seen that way. I can connect that with Russian Ark, also a meditation, a ramble, a hypnotic mood piece. "A father's love crucifies" obviously is not to be taken so literally, but to mean that the father of the film smothers his son with love, and hence fixes his son on a "cross" of love. He's 'nailed down" to his relationship with a man who, being older and more powerful than him, dominates him and smothers him, while at the same time his love nurtures him. It made sense to me. It doesn't have to parse or be visualized as some kind of Christ thing. Original and haunting, and, as you acknowledge, beautiful. Also I hate to harp on this, but here is a case where the big screen of a theatrical projection is essential to appreciate the power of the filmmaking.

  10. #55
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    I am certainly not complaining about the lack of power of the filmmaking and I'm not one to "freak out" over gay subject matter. Original and beautiful indeed, but there are reasons obvious to me that explain why critics and audiences gave a warmer reception to the slower, almost silent Mother and Son. The unintended but unavoidable homoerotic impression left by the opening scene of Father and Son runs counter to Sokurov's objectives. That's why he reacted so strongly to such interpretations at Cannes that his comments verge on homophobic. Besides, Father and Son hints at ideas but fails to fully explore them.

    Saturday Jan 22nd

    Million Dollar Baby at SoBe Regal
    Comments:http://www.filmwurld.com/forums/show...=8496#post8496

    La Puta y la Ballena (The Whore and the Whale) at Cosford Cinema.
    Argentine director Luis Puenzo directed Jane Fonda and Gregory Peck in The Old Gringo and won a Best Foreign Film Oscar with La Historia Oficial, the only film from Argentina to receive such honor. After a 12-year absence, he returns with this expensive Spanish/Argentine co-production. La Puta y La ballena stars Aitana Sanchez-Gijon (A Walk in the Clouds,The Machinist) as Vera, a one-time author with a bad marriage and a breast tumor. Her former editor and lover approaches her with a new commission: travel to Argentina to research the life of an Argentine photographer who was killed during the Spanish Civil War. A chest has been found containing the Argentine's film reel, photographs, and a letter to a chorus girl named Lola. The film expertly weaves two engaging stories happening 70 years apart. Increasingly, we learn of several parallels in the lives of Vera and Lola. This literary, wise, Old World narrative sustains one's interest for well over two hours. The location cinematography (Patagonia and Buenos Aires mostly), performances and production values are excellent. The script includes perhaps one coincidence too many and the symbolism is heavy at times, but overall I recommend La Puta y La Ballena and hope the film gains wider distribution.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 01-23-2005 at 02:12 AM.

  11. #56
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    Sunday Jan 23rd
    Kitchen Stories on rental dvd.
    Scandinavian charmer about the relationship that develops between a Swedish Home Research Institute employee and the rural Norwegian eccentric whose kitchen habits he's supposed to document. Deadpan, sardonic and poignant but not at the same time.

  12. #57
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    Certainly deadpan is the word. I found this lowkeyed to the point of catatonia, though it was nonetheless watchable. You?
    The effect of looking down from on high was the most interesting thing to me, a variation on pov that worked well in a theatrical projection but might get lost on a home screen.

  13. #58
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    Main theme seems to be the naivete of the institution (SHRI) to expect the observers to supress their human need to socialize. I found the role reversal amusing and the jealousy of the neighbor touching (he moves Folke's little trailer onto the train tracks!). The verbal jab at Swedish neutrality doing WWII was informative. You can live without this movie but I can't think of anyone who'd walk out thinking it was a waste of time or money.

  14. #59
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    Monday Jan. 24th

    Bill Cosby introduced this TCM broadcast of Steamboat Bill, Jr., a well regarded Buster Keaton feature, one of the major gaps in my knowledge of movies. This is only the second of his films I've watched, along with a doc about his stellar career during the silent era and how alcohol and Hollywood screwed him up during the 30s.
    A dandyish college boy travels to the banks of the Mississippi to visit his long-lost father, the captain of a dilapidated steamboat. The bearish Bill disapproves of his son and his interest in the daughter of his rival, a banker with a spanking new riverboat. The long, final sequence in which a violent storm literally rearranges the town provides Junior with a chance at glory and redemption. Its power to amaze undiminished by the passage of time.

    Time of the Wolf (Le Temps du Loup)
    I'll be happy if a single person decides to rent it after reading this post. I realize saying anything about the plot would interfere with the element of surprise and discovery. So I'll just say Michael Haneke (Code Unknown, La Pianiste) directs the great Isabelle Huppert. Horrific, bleak, then rays of light stream through at the end of the tunnel. Has anyone seen it?

  15. #60
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    Yes, I talked a little about Time of the Wolf in the "Favorite films of 2004" thread earlier. A masterpiece in my opinion. I plan to write about it in more detail soon.

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