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Thread: Foreign Favorites

  1. #61
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    I, too, have put my my foot in my mouth.

    I apologize if I offended anyone. Oscar, you are a class act. I appreciate it. Let's get back to movies!

  2. #62

    Apologies 2

    I'll apologize as well, since offending anyone was never my intent. There's something to be said for an inability to convey sarcasm (or NOT convey sarcasm) on message boards. I imagine that's why emoticons *shudder* were invented...

    And since I partially derailed us from foreign film, I'll attempt to get us back on track: what's the going opinion on the Dogme 95 scene? I've only seen two Dogme films thus far, Festen (The Celebration) and Mifune, and I found Festen to be far more engaging than Mifune. Maybe it had something to do with Festen having more sympathetic characters and (to me) a more compelling storyline.

    Regardless, whether Dogme 95 is just another stunt or not, I'm a fan of getting away from the Hollywood filmmaking style as long as the means support the story and vice versa. That may also be why I wasn't a big Mifune fan, since it's essentially a Hollywood "ugly duckling romantic comedy" with a twist. (Then again, Festen isn't exactly novel either...)

  3. #63
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    Dogme 95

    I'm glad somebody mentioned Dogme 95- i was going to touch on it at some point, just nobody spoke.

    SO

    Lars von Trier & his "gang" feel that cinema is lacking excitement, huh? They create a new "manifesto" for film. A new "Magna Carta" if you will... Did it work?
    You bet your bibby it worked. Do yourself a favour. Rent Trier's "The Idiots". See a group of performers that are no different from the 60's Living Theatre. They are actors of such high calibre & dedication that they deserve medals of honor.

    Then, after you take a shower after THE IDIOTS, dare to rent the 80 min. documentary on the making of the film. After taking yet another long hot shower-involving lots of sobbing & screams of "why?", write yo mama you saw history in the making- a cinematic team of warriors smashing the gates of conventional moviemaking- and doing it so casually you SHOULD be afraid.

    Lars von Trier's name should evoke a certain type of respect. The kind of respect given to men of honor like Welles, Lean and Lang.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  4. #64
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    I believe that whenever artists face limitations(technical,political,financial) the potential for creativity increases. Dogme 95 films have a unique facility to evoke the texture and rhythm of everyday life. I get a voyeuristic kick out of them. The approach sometimes results in uneven, even indulgent, movies. I have seen 7 out of 25 dogme films so far. My favorite is the above-mentioned Festen, probably because the story is ideally suited to this style. I'd probably pick Julien Donkey-boy second, a spotty film that reaches lofty heights. At worst these are interesting and worth-watching: The Idiots, Mifune, Kira's Reason, The King is Alive and Fuckland (last 2 show up on Sundance and IFC). The Idiots has a mischiveous energy that reminds me of Vigo's Zero in Conduct and Renoir's Boudu saved from drowning. Johann's observation about the 60s Living Theatre is right on. The Idiots feels like a late-60s counterculture movie, with communal living, sex scenes allegedly featuring real penetration, frontal nudity, and mayhem.

    Incidentally, there are two films, not designated Dogme but quite similar in approach, which I love and consider superior to Festen. To these eyes, the Dardenne brothers' Rosetta abides by Dogme 95 and Lynn Ramsay's Ratcatcher is minimally stylized. Both are engaging, psychologically detailed portraits of working-class European urban youth.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 01-23-2003 at 11:40 PM.

  5. #65
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    The Brothers Quay

    Anybody see the astounding shorts by the brothers Quay? I have serious admiration for these two ARTISTS. They make animated stop-motion films that exist in a world all their own. I have the Kino vhs that has all of their shorts on it, and it is an enthralling view. (I find it compliments my Greenaway films)

    Their best? Street of Crocodiles- 1986. Each short is a surreal composition that just have to be seen to be believed...
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  6. #66

    Brothers Quay, and...

    I believe I've seen some Quay works -- I must have, among the many shorts they showed us while I studied animation in college, but I don't recall the names of all the stop-motion folk. There was one, which may or may not be a Quay film, called "Balance" or something similar, in which a bunch of black figures (as I recall) each stood, City of Angels style, on a level platform, and then something occurred that caused an imbalance in the platform, and they began falling off and rushing around to save themselves... Fuzzy memory. Is that a Brothers Quay film?

    Incidentally, to trudge up some Godard musings, I rented Band of Outsiders this weekend and couldn't get through it. I like Godard, I admire what he did and the influence he had, but of the films of his I've seen thus far, I've only enjoyed two (Jules et Jim and Alphaville), if you really can "enjoy" a Godard film, I've been underwhelmed by one (Breathless, which probably deserves a second viewing), and two haven't made it past the halfway point before I've ejected them (Band of Outsiders and Pierrout le Fou). He may be a genius and a savior of cinema, but there's a real undercurrent of presumptuous disrespect for his audience that rankles my nerves...

    I did see The Girl on the Bridge recently, and liked that much more than much of Godard's work, even though it probably wouldn't be here without Godard.

  7. #67
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    Balance

    Balance was the winner of the 1989 Academy Award for Best animated short. It was made by Christoff and Wolfgang Lauenstein of Germany. It can be found on "The best of the 22nd International Tournee of Animation" LD which I own.

  8. #68
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    FRENCH NEW WAVE

    Originally posted by miseenscene I like Godard, I admire what he did and the influence he had, but of the films of his I've seen thus far, I've only enjoyed two (Jules et Jim and Alphaville), if you really can "enjoy" a Godard film. He may be a genius and a savior of cinema, but there's a real undercurrent of presumptuous disrespect for his audience that rankles my nerves...
    I take advantage of your mention of Jules et Jim to contrast the careers of its director, Francois Truffaut, and monsieur Godard. At the start of their careers they shared a common aesthetics and philosophy, then gradually, Truffaut and Godard personified opposing poles within the French New Wave. Truffaut films cultivated a certain continental charm and adhered to certain, primarily literary and audience-friendly, narrative conventions. Godard tweaks and prods narrative to create a "film essay" full of ideas and cultural references. Truffaut became a movie director while Godard conducted his image+sound experiments. Cinema needed them both. Godard never pandered or condescended to his audience. Godard never sold out to the forces of commerce. MUST all art seek a mass audience?

  9. #69
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    My sentiments exactly

    Wow, oscar. I think that's the best post I've read on these boards.

    Girl on the Bridge was an art-house film noir to me. Vanessa Paradis will get me into a theatre any day of the week-I even have her 1992 album-produced by Lenny Kravitz-. BUY IT! (no, I get no royalties)
    Last edited by Johann; 02-11-2003 at 07:44 PM.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  10. #70

    ironic...

    Hmm... Jules et Jim vs. Godard... Classic non-film school blunder on my part, thinking Godard had done Jules et Jim. But here's the true irony: that means I enjoyed even fewer Godard films than I'd thought...

    True, cinema needs both Truffaut and Godard, almost yin vs. yang in the French New Wave... No, all art need not necessarily find a mass audience; in fact, I distrust most art that DOES, since mass audiences are rarely discerning judges of quality and insight. But both of those directors have carved out fairly canonized niches in the film world, and each has influenced modern cimena immensely.

    I wonder how much of Godard's seemingly greater influence is due to his actual cinematic genius as opposed to the proliferation of cinephiles that preach his word as gospel. For example, as a somewhat casual foreign film fan, I can name a handful of Godard films off the top of my head, but I know of far fewer Truffaut films. Is this the result of a film-school gang mentality when it comes to Godard, or have his films legitimately earned their status?

  11. #71
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    if I may

    It's a double-edged sword with Godard.
    I can see how a "film-school gang mentality" can trumpet him as a genius, but I really feel he's the real deal. It's the way his films are made i think that separates him from the pretentious tag. (If only a few feet).

    If anything, the bravery (yes I said bravery) in his projects makes him compelling. As oscar jubis has said, Godard has never sold out. This alone makes him a hero to me. I'm sure he's had Hollywood offers. He knows who he is and what he's done. Jean-Luc ain't no dummy.
    As I was watching Alphaville, I couldn't help but think "I love this, but I know people will HATE this movie". People hear about Godard and rent one of his films and then they get indignant when his detached, vacuum-like celluloid has no payoff.

    Video stores should have warning signs over the Godard section-

    "These films are NON-LINEAR. For a definition, see dictionary at the check-out desk. You will not get sympathy for your ignorance if these films are not to your liking. Thank you for your consideration."
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  12. #72
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    The greatest artists affect all of humanity

    Michelangelo. Tchaikovsky. David Lean. Frank Capra. The themes and works of these artists carry a universal appeal. Just a point to remember when we are throwing around "genius" labels. If it takes a film school audience to appreciate your films, I would submit that you might be trying too hard as a director. The truly great directors take the best elements from "experimental" cinema and use it to tell human stories. Spielberg is a good example with his use of black & white and handheld in "Schindler's List".

  13. #73
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    Cinema need not be limited to "telling human stories". Cinema is not simply a conduit for narrative. Cinema is flexible and open enough to embrace Sergei Paradjanov's dream of translating 18th century Armenian Sayat Nova's poems and musings into images. Incidentally, The Color of Pomegranates cost Paradjanov 4 years and one month in the Soviet Gulag. A film is not a novel. Cinema has a right to exist independent of literature. Cinema needs no shackles, so I 'm not denying that accessible,populist cinema like Lean's and Capra's can also be great art. As far as "proliferation of cinephiles", I can only wish; the 70s are over.Damn!

  14. #74

    Populist Cinema

    Interesting to note: I'm not sure there IS a populist cinema when it comes to world cinema. After all, what's mainstream here may be incendiary elsewhere, and vice versa. I'm amazed that any film finds an international audience, since so (comparatively) few people seem to actually be open to ideas from other nations. I think the average moviegoing American can't comprehend the concept that a foreign film may express ideas that are either radically different but still interesting or ironically similar to one's own experience. I wonder if the rest of the world has that stigma attached to ideas from other cultures, or are we just that much more isolationist in our exchange of culture. That's probably a self-answering question...

    But for a film to transcend the film school audience and hit the person on the street, I suppose it has to deal with subject matter everyone is interested in, involve us in the characters, and tell its story simply enough to not isolate a viewer through technique alone. Thus, experimentation in film almost necessitates losing a potential audience. I imagine it's the same in film and music, but moreso in film, which is almost a subconsciously basic form of communication that Joe Average doesn't like to see screwed with too wildly... Much less subtitled...

  15. #75
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    Great rebuttal. I've never heard the word "cinephiles" before.
    I think I know what it means.
    Last edited by Johann; 02-13-2003 at 12:33 AM.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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