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Thread: Oscar's Cinema Journal 2005

  1. #61
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    damn how did I not notice this thread?

    I know I haven't been active recently but, this has been going on for three weeks

    I'm always motivated to do something like this, and had a Last film you've seen thread running on another board, but I constantly forget to add. I appreciate your discipline with this.

    All I can really work on is today I watched the extended cut of Return of the King, and am currently going through the supplimental features. This concludes my objective of watching the whole trilogy again, or rather listening to the whole trilogy with director and writer commentary. I still think that ROTK took too long to end, and The Two Towers is still the best of the bunch in my opinion.

  2. #62
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    TO ARSAIB4--ONE ENTRY BACK

    I might have kept Time of the Wolf in my Ten Best Foriegn list as it was at first if I had discussed my lists with you and Oscar before I made them and hashed this out, but there were so many good candidates I moved it down to my Shortlisted, All Categories list. I also have MOOLAADÉ, THE MOTHER, PRIMER , and THE WOODSMAN in the Shortlisted category, so TIME OF THE WOLF is in good company. I guess I just decided it was too hard to watch and follow for most people, but I'm a big Haneke fan and also a big Isabelle Huppert fan--this is really a title I could put in the top list. I really find it hard to rate films I like or limit the lists to ten.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-24-2005 at 11:39 PM.

  3. #63
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    Certainly, this film isn't made for casual viewing; but then, none of his films are. Haneke has sacrificed a common central narrative to have the viewer focus on other elements and issues he has put forth. Obviously, the most important one being how the Western world would cope with an apocalypse. I'm not surprised that it didn't make your top list because 2004 was a strong year for foreign releases in the U.S. I'll have a tough time fitting some of them in, but this one will surely be there.

  4. #64
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    I find Chris Knipp's comment explaining Time of the Wolf's absence from his foreign list interesting: "I guess I just decided it was too hard to watch and follow for most people...". I think this illustrates the difference between making a "Best" list and a "Favorites" list. Both approaches are valid. Basically, the lists I post every year don't take into consideration whether anyone would like the movies I like. I do try to make such observations in my comments about a given movie, and I always try to provide the information one would need to decide on his/her own. I'm not ready to use the "M word" to refer to this movie, but it's one of 2 or 3 European movies in my foreign language top 10, as of today.

    Tuesday January 25th

    Hotel Rwanda at SoBe Regal.
    http://www.filmwurld.com/forums/show...=8542#post8542

    Au Hasard Balthazar on Import dvd
    This film became a personal favorite on the basis of a viewing 25 years ago of a bad print with subpar subs. This 1967 film didn't really had a proper run in the USA until 2003 when it played for two weeks at Film Forum in October 2003.

    "The supreme masterpiece by the greatest narrative filmmaker since D.W. Griffith. Bringing together all of Robert Bresson's highly developed ideas about acting, sound, and editing, as well as grace, redemption, and human nature, Balthazar is understated and majestic, sensuous and ascetic, ridiculous and sublime. It would be a masterpiece for its soundtrack alone."
    J. Hoberman

    "Everyone who sees this film will be absolutely astonished because this film is really the world in an hour and a half"
    J.L. Godard

    Unlike the Bresson films that preceded it, Diary of a Country Priest, A Man Escaped, Pickpocket, Trial of Joan of Arc, their is no central character as such, except the titular donkey. Balthazar is shown from birth to death as he interacts with a variety of people in a small French town. He is a catalyst for action and an inmutable observer of the human condition, as Bresson comes closest than anyone at getting at the essence of what living means. Balthazar provides a unity that a film of such ambition demands, along with formal aspects such as Bresson daringly elliptical editing, and the rhythm between his trademark close-ups and medium shots.
    If you've seen a Bresson film you know he is as far from sentimentalism as a humanist can possibly get, mostly because of his insistence on a style of acting that has been called "deadpan". Bresson is said to have instructed his actors to try to sound the same, to not do anything that would make each character more differentiated than necessary. Bresson is not interested in psychology and I wasted a lot of my time in the past looking for psychological explanations for his characters behaviors. Their actions are realistic, but they exist to illustrate a point, to advance ideas about the why and how of humanity.

  5. #65
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    I find Chris Knipp's comment explaining Time of the Wolf's absence from his foreign list interesting: "I guess I just decided it was too hard to watch and follow for most people...". I think this illustrates the difference between making a "Best" list and a "Favorites" list. Both approaches are valid. Basically, the lists I post every year don't take into consideration whether anyone would like the movies I like. I do try to make such observations in my comments about a given movie, and I always try to provide the information one would need to decide on his/her own. I'm not ready to use the "M word" to refer to this movie, but it's one of 2 or 3 European movies in my foreign language top 10, as of today.
    It's a point of honor for some to have choices that distinguish them from the mainstream. My hope is that the best films will be -- or become -- mainstream, and that the mainstream audience will readily appreciate -- or if necessary learn to appreciate -- the best films. But when I said Hour of the Wolf was "hard to watch for most people," that is a rough approximation of my feelings about it. You can partly understand my opinion from my first two sentences. On the other hand, a movie that strikes me as brilliant and powerful I put on my Best lists, regardless of its chances of reaching any kind of audience. There are ways in which Hour of the Wolf misfired, bearing in mind that as I said I'm a big fan of Michael Haneke. I've mentioned that I don't like limiting lists to ten or any other particular number, thiis was a good year, and Hour of the Wolf is in my runners-up "Shortlisted" category. In contrast to it however I would put for example Haneke's La Pianiste, which had a clarity the newer film lacks, while nonetheless being in arsaib4's words very far from "for casual viewing." Your centerpiece in this discussion is a movie I've not seen, Au hazard Balthazar, though I have seen most of Bresson's work, I haven't seen that one.

    As for "Best" lists vs. "Favorites" lists, I consider my "Favorites", insofar as they wouldn't go on my "Bests," to be a matter of personal prejudice--stories that relate to my own experience or satisfy my own fantasies, or represent my obsession with certain directors or actors whether their projects that year are a complete success or not. A "Best" list involves more the concept of shared cultural and aesthetic values, the idea that while "doing your own thing" is fine, we are talking about a public experience, a popular art, a highly accessible medium that, even at its most challenging and outré, can seduce an audience whose size conceivably may grow, and grow, and grow. This is a lot different from conceptual art that is exhibited only in galleries or museums. But it may be that I should see the art house or the foreign-import dvd as the equivalent of the gallery and museum -- accessibility to the few, "the happy few," the select, elite audience. Successes that remain forever in this sphere may be seen as limited successes.

  6. #66
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    C.K "My hope is that the best films will be -- or become -- mainstream, and that the mainstream audience will readily appreciate -- or if necessary learn to appreciate -- the best films."

    "Hope" is the key word here, but I wouldn't make my personal list based on that. I have a feeling that films like Sideways andGoodbye Lenin are on your list because of what you said.

    I think you guys know where I stand when I talk about films or make my lists. Maybe I need to be more considerate of the mainstream audience...I'm not sure.

    Oscar "Au Hasard Balthazar on Import dvd"

    So, I guess you went ahead and bought the Nouveaux version; I've ordered mine from Bensons and it should be here soon.

  7. #67
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    I hope I have some influence on you and you have influence on me; else we're just baying at the wind.

    I wouldn't say I put Sideways and Goodbye Lenin on because of public favor. I do think the former is vastly overrated by now, but I think both are very well made and involving and entertaining and have something to say. I'm more sure Goodbye Lenin has something to say than Sideways, but Sideways is so well acted and containssuch keen social and sociological observation it stands out for those reasons alone.

    You're right, though, "''Hope' is the key word here." It's an ideal, not a reality; sometimes the two come together, but not often. I'd give Tarantino as an example of a place where they do come together. He must have something of the zeitgeist in his bones, and so his films have been highly popular, and are great too.

    I like your word "personal" about your lists. I would distinguish that from "favorites." (Sure, you can have "personal favorites," but I'm trying to make a fine distinction, here.) You have a deep personal commitment behind your choices of what films are the best ones; hence your lists of what's best are very pesonal, but are also assertions of what's truly best, aesthetically, intellectually, perhaps morally, and not just private "favorites" that emphasize your personal hobbyhorses.

  8. #68
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    Got lucky arsaib4. Guy from Ohio put a mint copy of Balthazar up for auction on Ebay with a "Buy It Now" price at a mere $16.

    Wednesday Jan 26th

    Springtime in a Small Town is a remake of a classic of Chinese cinema released in 1948 and directed by Fei Mu, who according to knowledgeable sources was the greatest director in Chinese Cinema and never directed again once the Communists came to power. Tian Zhuangzhuang (Horse Thief, Blue Kite), who directs the remake, was blacklisted himself. This Venice award winner marks his return to cinema after a 9-year absence. It's a chamber drama about a man who returns to his hometown after a long absence ;) to visit his childhood buddy and finds him married to a girl he once loved. Splendid, perfectly modulated performances, careful framing of wide compositions, evocative but restrained score, seemingly a perfect work of art. At least some of credit has to go to DP Pin Bing Lee (A Time to live and a Time to Die, The Puppetmaster, Vertical Ray of the Sun, In the Mood for Love).

  9. #69
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    I cited the information about Springtime (2002) in my Purple Butterfly review in the House of Flying Daggers thread, http://www.filmwurld.com/forums/show...threadid=1163, but I have not seen the original or the remake.

    I wish you'd give the release year of the films that you watch that are not current.

    IMDB page on it: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0332831/

  10. #70
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    Originally posted by Chris Knipp
    I wish you'd give the release year of the films that you watch that are not current.

    Will do. I'll use year of US theatrical release, if there is one, for recent films, and year of world premiere for "oldies" and films that don't have official distribution.

    Thu. Jan 27th
    Mean Creek. Came across this indie with a metacritic score of 74 and an Independent Spirit Award for its ensemble of teen actors and decided to watch it with Chelsea (14). Two thumbs up for Jacob Estes debut feature about a group of kids who scheme to humiliate a bully. Script depicts kids realistically, we thought, and at under 1 1/2 hours, it's never tiresome or repetitive. What makes it special are the moral complications and group dynamics that ensue when bully also shows a vulnerable, needy side. There's a perfect little scene of a kid inside a car full of peers smoking weed who insists on abstaining.

  11. #71
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    Mean Creek

    Sounds like Larry Clark's Bully.

  12. #72
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    It's not as harsh and sensationalistic as Bully. It's a pity everybody including me seems to have forgotten it.

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    Friday Jan. 28th

    Exhibition Cut: Film as Found Object at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami. Several visual artists have taken existing footage, most of it quite familiar, and manipulated it in every way possible to create something entirely different.

    *Omar Fast's "CNN Concatenated" involves the network's talking heads taking turns saying a single word each time, each snippet assembled so that the content of the resulting broadcast is exactly the news the artist wants them to deliver.
    *Christian Marclay's "Telephones" npresents clip upon clip of Hollywood stars having phone conversations, along with the accompanying buzzing, ringing, and beeping. From those monster black phones from old movies that relied on this cumbersome form of connection to create suspense_to touchtones_to one-tap cellphone immediacy.
    *Even better is Marclay's "Video Quartet", in which four screens lined next to each other show clips of characters playing musical instruments and singing for one to six seconds per clip. At times the sounds and images are complementary, other times the effect is quite the opposite.
    *Douglas Gordon's "24-hour Psycho" slows down the film so that it lasts exactly one day and gets rid of the soundtrack.
    *Pierre Huyghe's "L'Ellipse" is the only piece that adds footage to highlight the importance of the jump cut. Three screens next to each other. First screen shows a scene from Wender's The American Friend in which Bruno Ganz is at a Paris hospital getting confirmation of his being terminally ill. In the film, Wenders cuts to Ganz at an apartment blocks away agreeing to kill a man in exchange for money so that his family can live well after his death. At the artist's request, the actor, now 21 years older, agreed to be filmed walking from the hospital to the apartment in real time. This new footage is shown on the second screen, thus eliminating the jump cut.
    *Another interesting installation shows three Ali fights in which the boxers have been digitally erased leaving spectators watching a sort of shadow play, and a ring that seems to vibrate on its own.

    Producing Adults at the Tower Cinema in Little Habana. First of a series of press screenings I will be attending as part of my coverage of the Miami International Film Festival. My deep appreciation to Peter (pmw) for making it possible for me to attend. I will be posting reviews and comments on a festival thread beginning on 2/3/05. Tonight's film is Finland's submission for the Foreign Language category of the Academy Awards.

  14. #74
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    Thanks for all these descriptions. Sometimes these things are better to read about than to actually see. The Ali one sounds very clever...
    First screen shows a scene from Wender's The American Friend in which Bruno Ganz is at a Paris hospital getting confirmation of his being terminally ill. In the film, Wenders cuts to Ganz at an apartment blocks away agreeing to kill a man in exchange for money so that his family can live well after his death. At the artist's request, the actor, now 21 years older, agreed to be filmed walking from the hospital to the apartment in real time. This new footage is shown on the second screen, thus eliminating the jump cut.

    That is of course the same Patricia Highsmith novel from which Caviani' s Ripley's Game (the actual book title) with Malkovitch the brilliant evil incarndation of Ripley. This piece also makes one think of Before Sunset, because of seeing the actor older than in the original film.

  15. #75
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    Originally posted by oscar jubis
    Cinemabon, thanks. ... I wish my Chelsea were a bit more interested in films and writing and less interested in boys and singing :)
    Hmmm,
    maybe some day you can have a father and daughter production. You will write the script and direct, while she will "go after" boys in the movie and sing ... ha ha ha

    * just kidding *

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