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Thread: the LAST FILM YOU'VE SEEN thread

  1. #901
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    Thanks for this information, this sounds interesting and important though perhaps a bit creepy. You perhaps make fewer judgments than I would. But you are right, that it is an unusual view, and an unusual thing that he was allowed in at all.

    Have been watching a lot of DVD's myself, never so many as so far this year.....Just finished Millennium Mambo and then Good Men, Good Women, followed by Amelio's Lamerica. But I can't write about them yet.

  2. #902
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    Chris, Im so glad you were able to see Unknown Pleasures. It's an incredible film. The characters as you say are aimless, hopeless and ultimately simple witnesses to an indifferent world spinning around and around with or without them. It's incredibly sad and incredibly real. Surely these kinds of people are more in number than the greats we see depicted in film over and over again. Dare I say most of the world is this way?

    The snow continues to fall and all the stores are closed here in Waltham, MA. So today I eat soup and drink water. Thanks for reminding me of Jia Zhang-ke! Have you seen Platform yet?
    P

  3. #903
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    I am going to see The World shortly; it's coming. I don't know about Platform yet. I'm sorry you're snowed in. Sounds like fun but I guess after a day or so it isn't. Stay warm.

  4. #904
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    HOU HSIAO-HSIEN: TWO FILMS

    Reviews posted on my website

    Hou Hsiao-hsien: Good Men, Good Women (1995) Netflix

    Puzzling multilayered picture of Taiwan's past and present


    [Excerpt:]

    Hou's concept is an interesting one: instead of a straight linear narrative either about the White Terror period in Taiwanese history or about an actor with a dead gangster boyfriend, he overlaps the two, and adds a further layer by putting the gangster a couple of years ago, and the actress now getting ready to act in a historical film about the White Terror, while being bugged in the present by somebody who sends her faxes of a stolen diary about the gangster, and calls and breathes into the phone. Hou isn't trying to spoon-feed us, and that's admirable. He is also allowing us to ponder complex inter-historical relationships. But the effect of the spliced layers is jarring and doesn't always work.

    Hou Hsiao-hsien: Millennium Mambo (2001) Netflix

    Such beautiful angst

    [Excerpts:]

    Atypically for Hou, the camera moves around quite a bit too in this film, following the people and hugging their faces and bodies -- but also lingering, in his old style, statically observing doorways, walls, light fixtures, or windows with a train going by outside. . .as always for Hou and for many Chinese directors, the visuals are lush and beautifully lit. . .This is a remake of Antonioni's L'Avventura, in winter, with young attractive Asians -- and Qi Shu as the new Monica Vitti -- but without the world-weariness or awareness of any sort of fading cultural heritage.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-13-2006 at 03:30 AM.

  5. #905
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    Gianni Amelio: Lamerica(1994)

    An overwhelming transformative journey

    Review on Chris Knipp website.

    [Excerpts:]

    In his 1994 Lamerica Gianni Amelio raises traditional linear Italian filmmaking to new heights using the methods of neorealism to carry his audience along on a dreamlike, ironic mythologizing journey whose mood and methods are all his own. This very powerful film, which is as fantastic as it is vividly concrete and sad (imagine Kafka with a Sicilian accent), tells the story of two Italians, Fiore (Michele Placido, director of the recent Romanzo criminale) and his assistant Gino (Enrico Lo Verso) who come to the impoverished, wrecked post-communist Albania with the scam of setting up a shell shoe factory as what they -- or Fiore, at least, because he alone is the mastermind and evil genius of the scam -- thinks will be a profitable tax shelter. . . .Like the great Italian neorealist filmmakers of the Forties and Fifties from whom he has learned so much, Amelio uses real places and real people with almost miraculous skill. His desolate landscapes and teeming busses and truckloads and shiploads of Albanians are so intense you're swept away by them scene after scene and the film flows with a sense of inevitability that's at once troubling and beautiful. You just have to let it flow over you and follow.

  6. #906
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    Tian Zhuangzhuang The Blue Kite (1993) Netflix DVD

    Tian depicts the destructive and painful period of Mao's "Great Leap Forward" and "Social Education Movement" in China from 1953 to 1966 -- the spying, the public beatings and humiliations, the months of forced farm labor, families ripped apart, years of being sent away to gulags without explanation -- which led up to the beginning of the even more destructive "Cultural Revolution" by which Mao disrupted the old orders. And the director depicts this period in this movie so realistically that it got him blacklisted and he couldn't make another till the very arty somewhat western-influenced and theatrical (but subtle and beautiful) depiction of psychological conflicts of his 2002 Springtime in a Small Town, which takes place before the coming of communism and Mao in China and so avoids the whole pressing issue. In The Blue Kite Tian depicts political and social events through showing how they impinge on the life of a single famlly, mainly a small boy who narrates and his mother who has three husbands. The story makes for an exhausting and exhaustive two hours and 18 minutes. Maybe it's best to watch in segments of 45 minutes or so and then you'll see how beautiful some of the images are and how distinctive the boy and his mother become, despite typecasting of some of the family members (brave uncle going blind, mannish female party hack, fussy old grannies, etc.). While the large social and historical canvas covered in such a short period of time may wear you down, it shouldn't keep you from noticing the fine psychoclogical observation of the main characters, and the many little choice moments. This is a must-see, since it's got to be considered pretty much as significant artistically as it is politically.

  7. #907
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    Thanks for this information. I hadn't heard of this doc, and have put it in my Netflix queue now.

  8. #908
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    Yasujiro Ozu, Tokyo Story (Tokyo monogatari), 1953 Netflix DVD/Criterion

    An old couple from the provinces go to visit their various children, and a daughter-in-law who is the only loyal and loving younger person, in Tokyo; they return, and taking ill on the long train ride, the wife dies, with all of the children but one present for her death, but relatively indifferent, except for the daughter-in-law, who is stricken.

    One may remember the indifferent children of Mr. Watanabe, in Kurosawa's Ikiru; his solution of course is dynamic--he becomes almost a secular saint, by returning to his old city hall job and spending his remaining months of life stopping at nothing to get a park built in a poor part of town. Ozu's old couple is more ordinary and static, wiser than Watanabe was at first, but passive observers, essentially dignified victims, without Watanabe's desperately intense desire to make worthwhile use of a short remaining time to live. Notably, though, Ozu called this film "melodramatic," because however restrained the old couple's observations are, the film plays extremes against each other and tugs forcefully at our heartstrings.

    Obviously a masterpiece, Tokyo Story has a typically slow, almost casual plot construction -- a sequence of virtual "non-events" native to Ozu -- which nonetheless are momentous in their implication. It would be hard not to be moved by Tokyo Story's rueful comments on the ungratefulness of children, the separation of generations in a modernized world, and the transitory nature of all life. Visually it's striking how boxed-in the people look in all the domestic interiors, with the low-centered camera positions and the square format -- corresponding to the way the visiting parents are confined in Tokyo because they don't know their way around and their children don't bother much about entertaining them. It's also striking how the old man Shukishi (Chishu Ryu) and woman Tomi (Chieko Higashiyama) both look kind of dorky and have great inner stillness, dignity, and sweetness (part of this is good manners: they represent traditional courtesy). This duality of appearances somehow helps make them more universal. The "melodrama" is in the way the hairdresser daughter Shige (Haruko Sugimura) is a little too shrill and nasty, and the widowed daughter-in-law Noriko (Setsuko Hara) is a little too sweet at the opposite pole. (But Hara's face is marvelous with its beaming smile and sad knowing eyes -- a contrast that provides essential commentary on her reply that life is indeed disappointing.) Perhaps these emphatic contrasts have to be there in a plot that otherwise is so subtle. The middle son Keizo (Shiro Osaka), who lives in Osaka midway between Tokyo and the parents' place, arrives late when his mother has already passed away, and he is very upset: but you can't be sure this isn't just because of a loss of face in front of his siblings, rather than real caring.

    A lot of credit for the marvelous construction of the story must go to the author or co-writer with Ozu, Kôgo Noda. Ryu was only 49 when this was made, but he was still acting in a couple of movies when he was 88, a couple of years before he died. Higashiyama, who plays the old "oka-san," was a much older 63.

    Sam Adams of the Philadelphia City Paper makes the interesting comment apropos of this film, "It's hard to think of a filmmaker whose work at once eschews so many of the tools of cinema and is yet so cinematic." Agreed: Tokyo Story is nothing like a play or novel, and in it, the camera is the central player, while the actors seem astonishingly real, preserved forever in every detail on film.

  9. #909
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    Thanks Chris.
    Tokyo Story is definitely a masterpiece.


    Just got invited to the press screening of Hou's Three Times on March 6th. My first Hou on the big screen...
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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  11. #911
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    Rize (2005) - David LaChapelle

    I'm not sure exactly if this is nominated for best documentary this year, probably not, but nevertheless. This film was quite a catastrophe for me to see. When I went to the ghetto ass theater that played it, the power failed, and two days later when we tried to catch it again, they already took the film out, so I had to wait many more months. Perhaps however it is for the best to check this out on a small screen. The film is shot in standard ratio, so it's perfectly formatted for the small screen. Sure it loses a little in that setting, but it is an intimate film.

    LaChapelle has his background in music videos and photography, and it is very obvious here. He has a strong sense of composition, and the editing is brisk and very familiar for people who have seen his work. He tries at times to put this dance movement into a larger context, and I think he succeeds. Arguably the best moment in the film comes from a scene of the crumpers intercut with native African tribe dancing, uncanny how similar the movements are.

    Hustle and Flow (2005) - Craig Brewer

    The last of the best actor nominees I needed to see, Brewer's film features a remarkable Terrence Howard fresh off the heals of his turn in Crash. The plot is somewhat simple, of a pimp trying to make it in the rap game, the film parallels many others of the era, but is balanced by all around fantastic acting. Howard may be getting the most credit, but I think that Taraji Henson and Taryn Manning both do fantastic work here. The music is pretty damn good too, much of it written by unknown rapper Al Kapone. The DVD special features just constantly repeat how no one wanted to make the movie, but that's very typical of this sort of thing. Not the best movie of the year, but Howard is fantastic, and I support his nomination.

  12. #912
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    Arguably the best moment in the film comes from a scene of the crumpers intercut with native African tribe dancing, uncanny how similar the movements are.
    I'd agree. In general this seemed a sloppy effort to me otherwise; I was disappointed. He got too distracted with the personal material and neglected the dancing.

    Agreed on Hustle and Flow, and the moment-of-inventing-the-song had some life in it.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 02-24-2006 at 12:09 AM.

  13. #913
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    Originally posted by Johann
    Just got invited to the press screening of Hou's Three Times on March 6th. My first Hou on the big screen...
    Congratulations! Looking forward to your comments. I think Three Times is also receiving a limited run in Toronto so I might just go up there to watch it again (I initially saw it at the TIFF); the film truly deserves to be seen on the big screen.

    By the way, great post on The New World.

  14. #914
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    Thanx Bro.

    I'll post about it as soon as I'm outta the theatre...

    I'm pretty excited about it.
    It played at the VIFF but the schedule prevented me from getting in to see it. ( I couldn't miss The Quays for it).
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  15. #915
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    Claude Sautet: Classe tous risques (1960) Theatrical revival.

    This revival with a new print and subtitles doesn't quite justify raves by John Woo and other s who call it a noir "masterpiece" and "recovered cinema treasure" or even "better than Melville." It is not as good as Melville, not as stylish or as studded with memorable scenes. Jean-Paul Belmondo is unusually sunny and warm hearted as the loner who comes in to save out-in-the-cold Lino Ventura (usually a secondary character and not a very appealing dude) who loses his wife in a gunfight while escaping from Italy, and is saddled with two young boys. He mourns the lost wife; but what was he doing robbing banks with a wife and kids in tow all over Italy? And why don't the kids shed a tear when mom's shot down on the beach? A bunch of old mates betray Lino, failing to own up to their debts to him; this is where Belmondo comes in. But the plot has a tendency to drift -- Belmondo settles in with a new girlfriend met on the rescue mission, and Lino continues to flounder. Instead of some dramatic finale with a speech like Belmondo's in Godard's noir homage Breathless, Ventura walks off into a Paris street crowd and the stern voiceover announces he soon got caught, sentenced, and executed. It's certainly fun to see a new black and white French "polar noir" from 1960 aftrer all these years. There are the usual flavorful noir trappings of trenchcoats, little dark suits, cigarettes, guns, and cars and the fatalistic attitudes to go with them, and there are atmospheric scenes in bars and cafes and on the Paris trottoirs, and Belmondo gets one or two nice lines like "my best feature is my left," but fans of Melville must have forgotten the master if they think this is as good as it gets. Nor is this anywhere as good as Claude Sautet gets. He excels in relationship films and psychological studies like Les choses de la vie, César et Rosalie, Vincent, François, Paul, et les autres, and of course the more recent Un cœur en hiver and Nelly et Monsieur Arnaud.

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