Page 3 of 5 FirstFirst 12345 LastLast
Results 31 to 45 of 75

Thread: 2008 REPERTORY: Oldies but Goodies

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    4,636
    EL CID (USA-Italy-UK/1961)
    PATTON (USA/1970)

    These war epics constitute two of the most glaring gaps in my film viewing. I was too young to watch Patton in a theater when it was released. Whenever either were shown on TV, they were "formatted to fit the TV screen" and often abbreviated. El Cid and Patton belong to the Hollywood epic genre that must be watched on a big screen to be fully appreciated, especially because they were filmed on 70 mm stock. Realizing they're unlikely to be re-released theatrically and given that they've become available on state-of-the-art dvd which preserves their correct aspect ratio, I decided it was finally time to check them out.

    Both films revolve around protagonists who are famous warriors at the moments in history which defined them. Both Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar (alias El Cid) and Gen. George Patton were well versed in military history and excellent field commanders. El Cid is set in Spain in mid-11th century when Christians and Moors were in constant battle for territory in the Iberian peninsula. Patton is set in the North African and European theaters of war between 1943 and 1945.

    Similarities aside, what makes each film essential viewing is completely different. Patton is biography that provides a complex and multifaceted portrait of a man who was brilliant, sadistic, patriotic, arrogant, loyal, irreverent, confident and a bit eccentric (he was convinced he was the reincarnation of a number of famous historical leaders, for instance). The excellent script co-written by a young Francis Ford Coppola and performance by a perfectly-cast George C. Scott add up to one heck of a character study. El Cid was decidedly a less controversial figure, especially as portrayed here. He gets basically the "hero treatment" in this film. The performances by Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren (as his beloved Ximena) are based solely on the iconic public image of the stars. What makes El Cid special are the production values, and the masterful compositions and choreography of the action sequences characteristic of director Anthony Mann (his 50s westerns are the equal of Ford's).

    Both films are thoroughly engaging and entertaining. They feel shorter than their almost-3 hour duration. I would say they are just a notch below the historical epics I consider to be the best of the genre: Griffith's Intolerance, Kubrick's Spartacus, Lean's Lawrence of Arabia, Beatty's Reds, and Bertolucci's The Last Emperor.

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    1,537
    The opening shot of Patton is completely lost on video. I remember going to the Town and Country Theater (one screen!) and seeing it in 70mm with my mother, a big fan of Scott. She lived through WWII.

    When the film opens, an American flag fills the screen from corner to corner. At the very bottom of the frame, a tiny man, dwarfed by the gargantuan image, walks up and we hear (in surround sound) men coming to attention. I thought it was a brilliant way to open a film. No music. No credits. Just George C. Scott delivering a brilliant speech as if addressing a large silent group. We, the audience, became the troops, listening to Patton as he sends his men in battle. The speech is honest, short, and rousing, just the kind you want to hear from a general.

    Next, we hear that haunting echoing horn and the first refrains of the march composed by Jerry Goldsmith. In 70mm, this film was incredible to watch, for its attention to detail and for its incredible use of frame, Fred Koenekamp a long time Hollywood veteran.

    Edmund North penned a straightforward script that adhered to the facts, while Coppola added the great twists based on conversations with Omar Bradley (such as the face slapping incident, toned down to slapping his helmet) that got Patton into trouble. He died right after the war in a car accident, strange irony to a man that lived life on the edge and often engaged the enemy close to the front lines. His belief in reincarnation and his devotion to literature and poetry were only briefly touched on in the film. He came from a wealthy family and did possess Ivory handled revolvers.
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    4,636
    Lucky you, having had a chance to watch it in 70 mm. As far as cinematography, I was even more impressed by El Cid. It was lensed by Robert Krasker (Odd Man Out, The Third Man).

  4. #34
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    1,537
    "El Cid" was one of those films that came out at the wrong time. Perhaps five years earlier, it would have gained more praise and box office. (BSC did give their annual prize to Robert Krasker) As it was, people began to grow tired of seeing Heston in yet another religious epic. Reportedly, he and Loren fought continuously on the set and refused to ever work together again, hence Heston turned down the role in "Fall of the Roman Empire" that went to Stephen Boyd instead.

    I remember going to the first run of "El Cid," though I saw it in 35mm. I recall being thrilled by the weepy "twist" at the end. I even remember the nuns in our Catholic school recommending we go (a sure sign it must be a bad movie... they actually took us to "The Ten Commandments," probably why I hate the movie to this day).

    Some people have very strong attachments to religious epics, as I found out when I attacked TTC on IMDB regarding the over-the-top performances and what I consider to be poor direction by DeMille at the end of his career (he died shortly thereafter in1959, never winning an Oscar except as Producer). Several people came after me personally, invading my background, breaking into my private files, and printing my name and address! I withdrew from IMDB and pulled the nearly two hundred reviews I'd written over ten years from their site, having to delete every one of them. I no longer post or write any comments on that site... too hostile and vindictive!

    Also, note that I removed a post I created regarding Hillary Clinton. I recieved so much flak, especially from NY women, that I pulled my comments for fear of another such attack. So much for freedom of the press!
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

  5. #35
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    4,636
    I agree with your comments about the IMDb boards but, in general, many folks are unreasonable when it comes to discussion of politics and religion.
    Not a big fan of The Ten Commandments but it provides quite a spectacle if you manage to watch it in a theater. As far as Christian epics, the one I really like is King of Kings. Scorsese's Last Temptation doesn't qualify as an epic, right?

  6. #36
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    1,537

    Jesus was a goy?

    Well... we all know that in a region where people generally have dark curly black hair, brown eyes, and dark skin, giving birth to man with light brown hair, blue eyes, and being Caucasian would certainly make him stand out in the crowd. Perhaps that is why everyone stared at him. Although, during Shabbat, the Rabbi may have encountered difficulty attracting a following. ("Who is that guy?" one says. "I don't know," his friend replies, "but he isn't Jewish!")

    At any rate, what happened to Jeffrey Hunter after "King of Kings" certainly should not happen to anyone so nice. Type cast as "Jesus" Hunter could not find work in America and ended up doing cheap westerns in Europe where he suffered from a stroke. He later died of a secondary stroke only eight years after his performance in "King of Kings."

    While I find the film totally incredulous (as you can tell from my cynicism above), I did like the score by Miklos Rozsa, one of his best. I have him conducting a suite from the score on a rare vinyl recording that I have yet to transfer to digital (one of these days). Only the score from the film received any official recognition (Golden Globe nomination).
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    4,636

    Re: Jesus was a goy?

    Originally posted by cinemabon
    Only the score from the film received any official recognition (Golden Globe nomination).
    Not quite. At the Golden Globes, King of Kings was also nominated for Best Drama and Best Director. Samuel Bronston received a Special Merit Award for producing it. The film was completely snubbed by Oscar. This agnostic prefers King of Kings to 4 of the 5 movies nominated for Best Picture that year: Fanny, Guns of Navarone, Judgement at Nuremberg and West Side Story. The other one was the best American movie that year: The Hustler.

    I've seen a number of repertory films the past month besides practically Hitchcock's entire oeuvre. Standouts: the very good Samurai Rebellion (1967), a historical drama (not an actioner) by Masaki Kobayashi and starring Toshiro Mifune, and two excellent Antonioni features from the 1950s. Whether or not Story of a Love Affair (1950) and The Girlfriends (1955) qualify as works of Neo-realism is open to debate. What is clear is that Antonioni was a already a master a decade before he became world-famous with L'Avventura. Antonioni was in his late 30s when he released Story of a Love Affair, his first fictional feature, and had spent most of the 1940s directing documentaries. It's the work of a seasoned filmmaker and a mature, thoughtful person. I couldn't possibly recommend these two films with more enthusiasm.

  8. #38
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    12,700
    There's a well-informed comment on CRONACA DI UN AMORE by a User on IMDb
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042355/#comment. Maybe you would care to say something about the "over-zealous" digital restoration of sound he alludes to. The title has a resonance of the period due to maybe the fame of Vasco Pratolini's novel CRONACE DI POVERI AMANTI, also made into a movie in 1954. LE AMICHE actually has a distinguished literary source, a story by Cesare Pavese. It too has a highly literate and informative User Comment on IMDb http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047821/#comment I haven't seen either one o these as far as I recall, but from the descriptions I don't know why anybody would discuss their relationship to "neorealism", especially after 1952.

    Pratolini's novel CRONACA FAMILIARE was also made into a ilm in 1962 by Valerio Zurlini (IL DESERTO DEI TARTARI), maybe you've seen it.

    If you have seen nearly all Hitchcock's oeurvre, that would be over sixty films.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-03-2008 at 12:20 AM.

  9. #39
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    4,636
    Originally posted by Chris Knipp
    Maybe you would care to say something about the "over-zealous" digital restoration of sound he alludes to.
    Reviews of the dvd of the restored print hail the sound quality of the Italian track and disparage the English one. I only payed attention to the former and have no reason to complain.

    I haven't seen either one o these as far as I recall, but from the descriptions I don't know why anybody would discuss their relationship to "neorealism", especially after 1952
    You seem to be alluding to most film historians' identification of 1952 as the year when Neo-realism ended and the fact that The Girlfriends was not released until 1955. As you know, most art epochs or movements don't have clearly delineated chronological barriers. One can argue, for instance, that Fellini's La Strada (1954) is a neorealist film. One can argue also that Antonioni's The Cry, not released until 1957, has more neorealist traits than 1950's Story of a Love Affair. I think it would be incomplete to regard these films, and many others made in Italy post-1952, without considering how they adhere and depart from Neo-realism.

    Pratolini's novel CRONACA FAMILIARE was also made into a ilm in 1962 by Valerio Zurlini (IL DESERTO DEI TARTARI), maybe you've seen it.
    I haven't. I know it was never released theatrically in the US and it's now available on dvd. Seems like a must-see. It also seems like the type of epic, widescreen-format film that loses impact when viewed at home.

  10. #40
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    12,700
    Interesting material for discusssion, but I think the other Italian movies you mention depart quite clearly from neorealismo though some of the methods of course carried over with both positive and negative results. Classification is something you can discuss in your classes, if you become a film teacher. Yes, no doubt Cronaca familiare would look better on a big screen. You might have to either get a big screen for home or use your imagination, for now. Have you seen Tarkovsky's Ivan's Childhood, which shared the Venice prize that year with Zurlini's Family Diary?
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-06-2008 at 01:20 PM.

  11. #41
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    4,636
    This is what I wrote about it on 3/23/2005:

    Ivan's Childhood (1962) on import dvd.
    My second or third viewing of Andrei Tarkovsky's debut feature, also known as My Name is Ivan, is an adaptation of a WWII story by Vladimir Bogolomov. The project was offered to Tarkovsky when pre-production was already underway. He had little time to make any changes to the script he deemed necessary. The film won the Golden Lion at the Venice FF. Ivan's Childhood the only one of his features that is not a "head scratcher" in the sense that there's little open to interpretation, yet his visual style, his fractured concept of time, the primacy of the natural landscape and water imagery were already in evidence from the outset of his career. The film is concerned with a boy whose childhood was stolen by war, and the tensions experienced by the soldiers who become his surrogate family. Scenes at the war front are contrasted with idyllic pre-war scenes that may or may not be Ivan's dreams or memories. Toward the conclusion, Tarkovsky artfully incorporates newsreel footage from the days immediately after Germany's defeat, providing added historical context and a sense of closure that his subsequent six features don't provide so concretely.

    **I anticipate that this thread is going to acquire a French emphasis during the fall as I'll be taking part in a Survey of French Cinema course. Main assignment is a 20-page essay. I already have four potential topics from which to choose. Dr. Rothman gave me a copy of the tentative syllabus and it seems to focus primarily on films from 1930 to the mid-1970s. I personally feel a need to address my inadequate exposure to French silents. Or attempt to address since so many key works of the era are hard to access.

  12. #42
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    12,700
    Aha. I guess the correction would be it co-won the Golden Lion if my information is correct.

    i hope you enjoy your French film course. I think film studies would just take the fun out of movies the way art school would have taken the fun out of making art, but that's just me.

    I have taken art courses at various times in my life but only to learn techniques and to do the work and get encouragement. If your film studies get you some kind of encouragement for what you want to do in relation to film then that will make them worth while. What skills will you learn, do you think?

  13. #43
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    4,636
    Your information is correct. Lamentably, like most American film lovers, the only Zurlini I've seen is The Girl with a Suitcase, starring Claudia Cardinale. Actually, I own the dvd. I hope to get to know him better in the future.

    The more I know about cinema the more I enjoy it. I learned a lot from the Hitchcock course, including the readings, lectures, discussions, and the research process involved in writing my essay. I don't want to think ahead too much as far as academic and career goals and such. I have serious familial and financial obligations that will probably keep me from putting the time and effort required to complete the Masters (which would require final written and oral exams, and a thesis). Rather than be disappointed, I'm taking a very here-and-now approach and focusing on getting the most out of the present opportunity. And that would be the abovementioned French course in the fall.

  14. #44
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    12,700
    Well I'm glad that given that you have to limit your choices you have selecdted a course in French film since I am fond of French film as well, which you may realize by now.

    My misgivings reflect a disenchantment with the academic world that has grown since I gave it up to become an artist and have been happy that I did. Maybe it's a psychological tic that we make up exaggerated justifications for the choidces that life has pitched us so we don't feel regreat. Much was great about college and graduate school and I do not regret that I havenot exactly used my so-called education as much as I've used stuff I learend more or less on my own or by accident. As long as it doesn't take the fun out of it for you that's awesome. By the same token in a smaller way i try to tell people that knowing how a movie ends is not going to "spoil' it for them. However, I do feel that the academic approach to the arts can be deadeninng in the wrong hands. I hope you don't run into that prob lem

  15. #45
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Ottawa Canada
    Posts
    5,498
    Great to hear that your courses are going well Oscar.
    I don't like being in a position of disappointment with my choices either.
    At this point of my 33 years I have some regrets, but too few to mention. (Sinatra rules!)


    I read the "Philosophy of Stanley Kubrick" at Ottawa U and it mentioned the question of life having meaning despite the arbitrariness of our decisions. It made me think really heavy about the meaning of each of our choices.
    Kubrick was asked if we as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment in our lives even though our choices are completely arbitrary.
    He replied YES, as long as you can deal with your own mortality.
    (paraphrasing- I'll try to find the exact quote).

    Stanley Kubrick is just as intelligent as Bob Dylan in my opinion..
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

Page 3 of 5 FirstFirst 12345 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •