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Thread: 2006 Repertory

  1. #31
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    It's also one of those films with highly elaborate art direction and overstuffed images (streets teeming with people and vehicles, different concentric levels of gambling den) that can only be properly appreciated in a theatre. The bigger the screen the better but you'll know it is special under any viewing circumstances.

  2. #32
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    I've hot to hand it to you, Oscar. You've found some very obscure gems and made it worth reading your column to find out more about them.
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

  3. #33
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    I'm glad you find the thread worth reading. Some of these titles are obscure and I feel they shouldn't be. All but two (Naruse's Mother and Assayas' Cold Water) are available on dvd at major rental outfits. My big hope is that my posting here will motivate someone to check them out. More film posts to come.

  4. #34
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    CAMILLE (George Cukor/1936/USA)

    La Dame Aux Camelias, a novel and play written by Alexander Dumas in 1852 has become a seminal love story. It has seen numerous incarnations as opera, play, film, even TV show. Verdi used it as the basis for his opera La Traviata; more recently, Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge injected pop songs into its basic plot. Irving Thalberg, the MGM producer, hired George Cukor to direct Greta Garbo as Marguerite Gautier. She is a witty and beautiful woman who makes a living in 1847 Paris by charming wealthy men out of their money. Then, Armand (Robert Taylor) slips into her opera box by mistake and Marguerite unexpectedly and most truly falls in love. She dares to dream of a pure and honest life with the simple and virtuous Armand but her past catches up with her. Armand's Father (Lionel Barrymore) convinces her she'd only ruin his career and family name. Marguerite leaves him, sacrificing her chance at true happiness, a change that won't come again because she is, secretly, dying of tuberculosis.

    Camille was the great Greta Garbo 's favorite role; one in which she was allowed to channel her own persona and put her own stamp on a classic character. Camille is worth seeing for her unforgettable performance alone, but the high production values and Cukor's nimble direction make Camille one of the best melodramas of Golden Era Hollywood.

  5. #35
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    Surprised you had not seen this before.

  6. #36
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    I watched a lot of old movies on late-night TV in the 70s and early 80s, shown with commercial breaks of course. It was so far from ideal viewing circumstances, and besides I was probably high on thc and maybe even doing chores or homework at the same time. Camille felt quite familiar at times, I think maybe it's one of those many films watched under those circumstances that I failed to properly appreciate at the time.

    On the other hand, I know I have seen and became mesmerized by clips from the first film I posted on this thread, The Great Dictator, decades ago and promised myself I would soon watch it in its entirety. I never got to do that until 2006.

  7. #37
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    Getting it right this time?

    I take your point that viewing conditions are important, and televison with commercial breaks tends to cheapen and ruin films or at least make it hard to maintain one's concentration and sense of continuity. As a young teenager I saw Camille shown in the rose garden of the Baltimore Museum of Art in the summer, where they also used to have concerts. It was quite memorable. We did not have TV in our house. But I think I do know what THC is, though I don't use that as an excuse for not remembering. Usually I remember things I saw, even when high. One movie I remember very vividly seeing on television during the daytime at home as a graduate student when I was very high was Nicolas Ray's Bigger Than Life with James Mason. Since it is about the effects of drugs on the personality the experience of watching it while high on drugs became really intense., epiphany-like. Apparently this movie is a hard to-find-item nowadays--not on DVD or tape. I wonder if you have seen that? Amazing. It has some of the intensity of Sam Fuller's movies. I never did any academic work while high. If I had maybe I wouldn't have my degrees. I couldn't do homework and watch TV. I used to listen to the radio while doing my homework as a kid though. That's one of the main ways I first became acquainted with jazz and classical music. Also the Sunday broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic concerts which my grandmother tuned in to. She got the programs in the mail. You could subscribe and get them.

  8. #38
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    Chris indulging in the herbal tea?
    Chris and chronic?
    Chris packin' a bowl?
    Chris and a chonger?

    No...it can't be. You're makin' it up.

    Kidding

    I keed, I KEED!
    Last edited by Johann; 10-12-2006 at 12:16 PM.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  9. #39
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    It was. It is no more.

  10. #40
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    Originally posted by Chris Knipp
    One movie I remember very vividly seeing on television during the daytime at home as a graduate student when I was very high was Nicolas Ray's Bigger Than Life with James Mason. Since it is about the effects of drugs on the personality the experience of watching it while high on drugs became really intense., epiphany-like. Apparently this movie is a hard to-find-item nowadays--not on DVD or tape. I wonder if you have seen that? Amazing. It has some of the intensity of Sam Fuller's movies.

    I've never said it before but, based on the Nick Ray films I've seen and the reviews I've found of the ones I haven't seen, he was the best American director between 1948 and 1958. I've actually seen Bigger than Life but I disregard the viewing because it's a Scope film by a director who knew how to use a canvas that long and I watched it "formatted to fit your TV screen" a long time ago. The print and the sound quality were likely poor. It's out on dvd in both Spain and France but I am convinced it's only a matter of time before it comes out here. Someone called it "the American Beauty of 50s cinema" which jives with my recollection of the film.

  11. #41
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    It's also a remarkable performance by James Mason. Up to then I didn't know he was that good. I just thought he played the suave English gentleman type. He was also good in Kubrick's Lolita, but that wasn't really as challenging a role for him. I hope Ray's films become available. Maybe they show them in special presentations in some rep houses? I don't know. This was just by chance that I saw Bigger than Life, but it was amazing.

    We should note for the record that Bigger Than Life was 1956.

  12. #42
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    I was surprised to learn Mason never won an Oscar or a Bafta. Then again he lost to Brando in On The Waterfront and O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia.

  13. #43
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    Now I'm surprised too. I always thaught Mason to be one of the most talented actors of his generation.

    You started a great thread Oscar. I had lots of fun reading through it, and I'd like to see some of the films you mention.

    Interesting that you've seen and appreciated the Taiwanese gem "The Personals". I also caught it on TV a couple of years ago and found it fascinating. I'd like to revisit it, butit's difficult to get hold of a copy.
    www.foreignfilms.com/boards

  14. #44
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    CHRONICLE OF ANNA MAGDALENA BACH (Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet/Germany-Italy/1968)

    The European art film may have never come this close to being a non-movie—and to summoning the nascent force of cinema as a primal concentration of experience. Jean-Marie Straub and Daniéle Huillet's famous, hard-to-see meta-thing, their first feature, is now on DVD, and it's a living demonstration of less-as-more. Period-dressed performances of J.S. Bach's music—in their entireties—are interpolated against a handful of static dramatic exchanges and glimpses of Bach's manuscripts and publications. All of it is contextualized by narration spoken out of the eponymous diary. That's it: But the restrictive form of the film liberates rather than limits, and, as in the movies of Warhol, Snow, and Sokurov (among others), our demands for distractive progression are slapped down and we're given pure sensual intimacy instead. Marital love is not expressed but is inherent in every word and note; history is fastidiously resurrected, but only for its sounds. The net effect is not having seen a film but having lived a real moment, in the presence of monumental music. Is this a documentary, or a biopic, or something else we've never named?
    (excerpt from Michael Atkinson's Village Voice review)

    This whatsit took ten years to get made, mostly because of Straub's difficulty raising the money to make it. How to get anyone to give you close to a million dollars to make your first film when given film is unlike anything ever seen before? Some of the best Bach interpreters in Europe worked for half of their regular fee. Straub and his wife Daniele lived for a decade withour car, phone, and other conveniences to raise some of the money. They managed to get permission to shoot in the cathedrals and palaces where Johann Sebastian Bach actually played. The film is quite experiential, most of the pieces are observed from a single, static vantage point, usually a place offering a side view of the musicians, as one would if one was attending the performance. Whenever Straub decides to move the camera, the pan is slow and discrete but the effect is earth-shattering.

    The dvd features a serviceable transfer of this 16mm black and white film. The dvd includes a making-of doc shot at the time of shooting, and some printed essays. My only unanswered question is why b&w stock if the aim is complete realism?

  15. #45
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    Wow, you sound like you've just seen your first film by Straub/Huillet :-) I liked the film very much when I saw it for the first time this year on a Japanese DVD and immediately wrote a review, (which i found difficult to compose, btw). Unfortunately this seems to be the only film by the couple that is being distributed at the moment. If you get a chance, you should try to see the masterful Kafka adaptation "Class Relations" from 1984, and another delight for your ears, "Othon" from 1969.

    Btw, I don't think the aim is to achieve maximum realism at all. What they aim at is imho a purity of the experience that transcends everyday realism. They use abvious stylisation to achieve an effect that transcends the everyday life as usually experienced (especially in those oppresive times) to arrive at a deeper truth and understanding of the beauty of the music in which Bach (and his wife) obviously put everything they had emotionally as well as intellectually. To me, the film is also very political - like all of their work.
    www.foreignfilms.com/boards

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