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Thread: Swimming Pool: two takes

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    Swimming Pool: two takes

    In my view Swimming Pool is a movie that simply dissolves when one sees through its premise, and I think there is something suspicious, even fishy, about a movie that is so made to be "spoiled." This does not mean that Charlotte Rampling isn't quite wonderful and that Ozon hasn't perfected the glossy post-Chabrol-with-an- existential-twist style that he first tried out in Sous le sable (Under the Sand), also with Mme Rampling. She is better here and this is a more cohesive, faster-paced movie.

    Swimming Pool cries out to be "spoiled," so I did, on the UK website The Spoiler, q.v.: http://www.niam.co.uk/community//mod...content&id=145 (or just go to www.thespoiler.co.uk and look it up alphabetically).

    But I also wrote a respectful description of the movie and Rampling's graceful presence on it in a regular review:
    http://www.chrisknipp.com/writing/viewtopic.php?t=130

    As I said there, though, I still prefer Ozon's edgier Les amants criminels (Criminal Lovers). If you observe carefully the trajectory Ozon is following, you will not fail to conclude that he is getting slicker and emptier each time. Swimming Pool gives pleasure, but it's like the old joke about Chinese food, that it makes you feel empty a few hours later -- all that's left is how pretty the South of France is and how slinky and suave Miss Rampling still can be at fifty-eight.

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    Re: Swimming Pool: two takes

    [QUOTE]Originally posted by Chris Knipp
    In my view Swimming Pool is a movie that simply dissolves when one sees through its premise. If you observe carefully the trajectory Ozon is following, you will not fail to conclude that he is getting slicker and emptier each time.

    At the end, you realize you've been watching a character study. Since what you've seen is Ms. Morton's creation, it reflects her concerns and preoccupations, with sex and middle-age being foremost in her mind. The film illustrates how art can have a therapeutic effect, when you contrast Ms. Morton's stance towards her publisher before and after the writing of the novel.

    In UNDER THE SAND(which I prefer) and SWIMMING POOL, Ms. Rampling and Mr. Ozon get inside the mind of middle-age women, with sensitivity and insight. These mature yet entertaining films are superior to hip banalities like Criminal Lovers.

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    SWIMMING POOL in part but only in part deserves all the attention it is getting. I strongly feel that Charlotte Rampling is wonderful in it, and better than she was in Under the Sand, for which she was also very highly praised and not without justification.

    But I wish WITH A FRIEND LIKE HARRY had gotten as much attention as this film is getting. It has more of an edge to it and, to my mind, so do the "hip banalities" of CRIMINAL LOVERS.

    Slickness rules. And the Mediterannean sun and nice bodies by the pool in summer and a safe dip into the brain of a slick writer who, somehow, gets muddled with a detective, as mystery writers no doubt do, at least in the popular mind.

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    According to Hitch Ozon is doing fine

    Hitchcock famously said: "If a movie is worth the price of the ticket AND dinner, it's a good movie".

    Swimming Pool is a great night out at the movies, and it certainly pays for dinner, parking, key lime pie afterwards.

    So what if it seems "empty" or "slick" or "It cries out to be spoiled"- that's something we need today: good films like The Game, A Perfect Murder, et al that "dissolve" after one viewing.

    They stay with me longer than any other type of film- look at Eyes Wide Shut. Once you discover that Tom's "sex odyssey" was needless, the film collapses into a "why make it" pile of confusion.

    Those are the films that have a genius behind the camera.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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    Your title is a falsification: Hitch has no view on Ozon

    I don't at all agree -- with you, I mean, not Hitchcock, who's just trying to be witty, not saying anything profound there . Good movies, no matter how light and entertaining, do not dissolve after one viewing.

    I think I made it clear that I feel Swimming Pool is (up to a point anyway) quite entertaining, that the film has a glossy beauty, and that Charlotte Rampling is marvellous in it. Nothing that finally goes wrong in it is her fault. (Hitchcock also famously said something about actors and livestock. . . that applies here: she's being moved around; she cannot save the ending). The fault is in the superficiality and arbitrary cleverness (in my view) of Ozon's overall design. That leaves me with a bad taste, and doesn't make me want to see the movie again. It hasn't dissolved! I wish the ending would dissolve, and another one would come in its place, a better one! It keeps coming back, and haunting me, and annoying me with its superficiality and false cleverness. The girl's murder isn't motivated, as in Patricia Highsmith, and it isn't believable. At that point the whole thing falls apart and one loses interest. I've talked to other people and I'm not at all alone in feeling this way.

    With Swimming Pool, once you know the payoff, it's ruined, and you don't want to watch it again.

    I'd prefer the Marx Brothers. Their movies one can watch literally dozens of times. This is true of classic comedy. It just stays funny. Good scary movies just stay scary. And so on.

    As for your citing of Eyes Wide Shut, one's own personal dislike of a particular movie is never clearcut proof of any particular point, because somebody else will have loved it. I simply don't agree on your interpretation, as stated. Tom's sexual odyssey wasn't "needless." No odyssey is ever needless. The journey to the treasure is the treasure. And there is a compelling, hypnotic quality about his "odyssey" that shows how inevitable it is for him. But many people find Eyes Shut difficult to watch, as they find other Kubrick movies difficult to watch. That doesn't make them unsuccessful, only challenging. Swimming Pool doesn't seek to be challenging; it only seeks to be entertaining, and clever. And ultimately it falls short, though it comes tantalizingly close. It's Ozon's tinkering with convention -- or more realistically his inability to use convention well -- that sinks him.

    Let's leave Hitch out of this!

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    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-11-2003 at 01:57 PM.

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    Re: Your title is a falsification: Hitch has no view on Ozon

    Originally posted by Chris Knipp
    Good movies, no matter how light and entertaining, do not dissolve after one viewing.

    What do you mean by "dissolve"?
    Do you mean "the story" or the film as a whole?

    I'm talking about the film as a whole leaving an impression.
    You say that "the treasure" is paramount in an odyssey. Well, I seem to recall a Kubrick film in which the "treasure" sought after at a racetrack ends up being blown all over an airport tarmac...The "odyssey" was needless. It landed sterling hayden in the slammer. He brought it on himself. Just like Cruise in EWS. He didn't have to act like a jealous man-beast after Alice's devastating monologue. But he did. For what? He was back at square one when she says "fuck" in that toy store.

    Swimming Pool has the same elements. That's all I'm saying.
    I enjoyed it way more than you did. (But then I'm on the Ozon bandwagon)

    Of course Hitch has no actual thoughts on Ozon- I was illustrating that Ozon matches his quote on a movie being worth the price of admission- not "actors/cattle" which is parroted far too often. Hitch had many far more interesting quotes. I would rather read his interviews/quotes than see one of his films..

    It's also too bad that people find Kubrick's films "challenging".
    There is nothing more comforting to my cranium than a Kubrick film
    Last edited by Johann; 09-11-2003 at 04:31 PM.
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    .
    So what if it seems "empty" or "slick" or "It cries out to be spoiled"- that's something we need today: good films like The Game, A Perfect Murder, et al that "dissolve" after one viewing.
    In using the word "dissolve," I was quoting this, your previous entry. What did you mean? You tell me. It sounds to me like forgettable. But if we love movies, do we really want to forget them? I want to remember them all, the good ones and the bad ones and those in between, the better to appreciate the best ones when they come along and the better to be able to discuss them intelligently. The unexamined life is not worth liviing, and the unexamined moviegoing life isn't either. Your idea of "dissolve" is a bit of a put-on, or you wouldn't be in these discussions. You obviously love movies and they don't dissolve. Or did I completely misread you? I could say that I enjoyed Dude, Where's My Car and forgot it, but that's largely because none of my "sophisticated" friends went to see it and talked about it. When I read about moments from it, I remember them. What one wants is not to have anything dissolve -- it won't -- but to have a pleasant and an interesting memory. But one can learn from mistakes too. "An utterly forgettable film" -- people say that. And they hope that it turns out to be true.

    Yes, you enjoyed the movie Swimming Pool more than I did. "Far more"? I don't know. I did enjoy it, most of the way through.

    I'm sorry you prefer Hitch quips to Hitch flicks. Poor Hitch. All that wasted time in the studio.

    It's in the nature of an odyssey that it ends up "back at square one." That doesn't invalidate it. But this wasn't the main topic.

    I understood you to be saying that you want films that "dissove" after one viewing. Actually you said that's "something we need today," but I prefer not to be told what kind of movies "we" need, and I doubt that you would be adamant about the way you put it. Usually isn't it true that we don't know what we "need" in the way of movies till we get it? That we want to be surprised?

    P.s. The Secret Lives of Dentists -- now there's one that has dissolved.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-11-2003 at 07:05 PM.

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    You Understand Swimming Pool

    It is painfully obvious that you understand Swimming Pool, but the problem I have is with your dismissal of it.

    At the very least, when Ozon's film is over, you think as a filmgoer "That was an interesting film". Is this not enough? You seem to feel cheated, played, misled even. This bothers me.

    Ozon had only the best intentions with Swimming Pool and you outright say he is suspicious. Suspicious of what? manipulation?
    Godard did it much more brazenly- with huge doses of pretention. Ozon is just stretching his muscles. I'm following his career with great interest.

    I see what you're saying about a "square one" ending to an odyssey. No it doesn't invalidate it, but it certainly puts the film in proper perspective: i.e. the character's journey was needless. Kubrick loved stories like that. Look at his canon. It's clear cut Kubrick loved characters in intolerable situations.

    Yes, Hitchcock doesn't impress me all that much. His arrogance is something I cannot embrace. He's a serious talent but as a man he's nothing more than a grouchy auteur.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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    I think there is something suspicious, even fishy, about a movie that is so made to be "spoiled."
    That is my own critical assumption, about which I think I'm consistent (I may not be): that I don't like movies with trick endings. Actually I liked Identity with its totally trick ending, but it isn't an arty film, it's just sleazy fun pop stuff. So context is important. If people think there's some high flown significance, something post-modern or deconstructionist or profound -- or just something artily elegant -- about Ozon's ending for Swimming Pool, I don't like it. I recognize that you don't claim that at all, you're just saying it's lightweight fun--aren't you?

    About Odysseys--I taught Homer's, repeatedly, at one time, and I think of that when I think of them, not Kubrick or anybody else. If Ulysses' (Odysseus') "odyssey" was a "waste of time" then Homer was a waste of time, ancient Greek culture was a waste of time-- and it'd be silly and mean to claim that. The concept of an odyssey, to me, is of a long wandering that takes the hero far from his goal and his main purpose in life, but that is essential because it leads to a reaffirmation of his goals and purpose that would not otherwise --not by any other process-- have been possible. That's what I meant by saying that the journey is the treasure: by getting lost, you find yourself. I don't agree with the idea that an "odyssey" is ever a waste of time, just because it takes you back to "square one." It may be a physical "square one" but in terms of moral and intellectual development, it is never "square one." When you use the word "odyssey," you automatically communicate the idea of a journey of rediscovery of self. How did we get into this? It doesn't have anything to do with Swimming Pool.

    As for Ozon, I have not seen his earliest movies. He's obviously talented, but I agree with Oscar Jubis in not thinking his work very profound or very artistically significant, and to me, Swimming Pool is the give-away that he is superficial, and yet unfortunately not really a great entertainer, because his trickster ending isn't satisfying when you think about it a bit. His other films that I've seen were either edgy and designed to shock, or boring, or both.

    You are out of bounds when you declare what Ozon's intentions were; we simply don't know what they were. I suspect him of pretention, but not as brazen -- or as justified -- as Godard's.

    I would not say that my evaluation of Swimming Pool is a "dismissal," either. Over and over again I have said that Rampling is wonderful in it and that it is glossily beautiful and that for a lot of the way through it is interesting and entertaining. How can that be a "dismissal"?
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-12-2003 at 04:03 PM.

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    Difference of opinion

    Swimming Pool was in more ways than one a "discovery of self" for Rampling's character. And I would most certainly call it an odyssey. (Odysseys don't have a time limit)

    I don't feel the ending was a trick at all. I predicted what was going to happen long before the real Julie appeared.

    I also don't feel that odysseys are a waste of time- especially Homer's. That epic should be read by every living human. Glad you taught it. The appeal of odysseys for me are the end of them.
    Was it needless, was it needed, was it bullshit?
    You are right about it being a discovery of self, but what kind of discovery?

    I have seen all but one of Ozon's films now multiple times and I feel I am well within my bounds in declaring his intentions. The proof is in the pudding. How many times have you seen Swimming Pool Chris? You said you don't want to see it again.

    You are out of bounds for pigeon-holing a master director.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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    You are out of bounds for pigeon-holing a master director.
    Thought I was echoing you.

    You can certainly look upon Rampling's character's trip to her publisher's house in the south of France as a personal odyssey. I believe Oscar thought the movie was a study of her inner self. I thought of it more as a faux murder mystery.

    The fact that you anticipated the ending doesn't exempt it from being considered tricky: tricks can often be quite obvious; that's what makes them mere tricks and not astonishments.

    Now, why should multiple viewings of Ozon's movies qualify you to proclaim the director's intentions in them? Only he knows what those intentions are. You cannot read them into the work. If he has stated them somewhere in print or in an interview or something, that's another story. But intention isn't something you can read into a movie. That would be the purest guesswork, after no matter how many viewings, and has no value in an argument.

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    [QUOTE]Originally posted by Chris Knipp
    Now, why should multiple viewings of Ozon's movies qualify you to proclaim the director's intentions in them? Only he knows what those intentions are. You cannot read them into the work.

    We ask ourselves after watching a film: What was the message or point of view? Why were the filmmakers interested in this narrative? What does the film say about the subject? What did the director intend? The answers are fit for discussion but they remain our own. An interpretation based on our experiencing the film and subject to all kinds of biases and prejudices. The more aware one is of one's own biases, predilections, prejudices, etc. the richer the experience of watching and discussing movies becomes. Right??

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    Interesting dialogue here

    I'm just glad there is discussion about good movies on this site.

    I certainly don't expect people to agree with everything I say, but I know what I know, and Oscar Jubis' interjection is quite appropriate & accurate. I feel the only way you're going to get a grasp on what a director's intentions are is to read quotes, interviews, see featurettes, and most importantly: WATCH THE FILMS. OVER and OVER. Without meeting the person, how the hell else are you gonna do it? The only option is to assimilate the work thru repeated viewings. If you made a film, would you not want the public to see it as many times as possible to really appreciate what you wanted to do? I would.

    The trouble is explaining one's opinions with words. They are so open to misinterpretation. I'm amazed that I get my thoughts out as clear as I do. (Not being a writer) Words are just sounds- utterances. What someone is
    actually trying to say is difficult to read. Feelings/emotions are the greatest way to communicate. Hard to do with just a keyboard with people you've never met..
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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    Reply to Oscar

    We ask ourselves after watching a film: What was the message or point of view? Why were the filmmakers interested in this narrative? What does the film say about the subject? What did the director intend? The answers are fit for discussion but they remain our own. An interpretation based on our experiencing the film and subject to all kinds of biases and prejudices. The more aware one is of one's own biases, predilections, prejudices, etc. the richer the experience of watching and discussing movies becomes. Right??
    Of course I’m in sympathy with your general outlook, but not on “intention.” I am influenced in my previous statements about “intention” by the literary “New Critics’” concept of the “intentional fallacy,” which I think is a useful and valid one. Below I give several definitions from the Web of the term. The value of the “intentional fallacy” concept is that it frees us from the self-imposed limitations of thinking that the author or artist or filmmaker is the Oracle whose Word determines what our response to his work must be; it opens the movie or other work up to more interpretations, and keeps the makers from determining the outcome of a critical examination of the work when we accept that the work doesn’t mean just what the artist meant it to. A filmmaker’s job is to make the film. It’s our job to interpret and evaluate it. That is what Wimsatt and Beardsley, the original inventors of the term, “intentional fallacy,” said: a poem or play – and by extension a movie, painting, etc. – belongs to us, once it’s out in the world. Even if the poet or director came back at us and said “That’s not what I meant,” the answer is, “Tough, because it’s what you said.” For a detailed discussion of their orignal essay, see http://www2.cumberlandcollege.edu/ac...y/wimsatt.htm.


    Also here are some good short summaries:

    http://www.english.upenn.edu/~jlynch...tentional.html


    Intentional Fallacy
    The intentional fallacy is a term used by two important New Critics, Wimsatt and Beardsley, to describe what they considered the error of assuming a text means what its author intended it to mean.
    For Wimsatt and Beardsley, meaning was to be determined solely from close reading of a text: since we have no way of knowing what an author (at least a dead one) meant to say, we can only assume that the meaning of a text must be derived from reading it closely. They suggested that even when we have statements about the author's intention (such as diary entries, critical essays, or new works from living authors), the text means only what it says. Even if Keats were to rise up out of his grave and tell us "That's not what I meant," the New Critic would be able to respond, "But that's what you said, so that's what it means."


    http://www.sou.edu/English/IDTC/Terms/terms.htm

    [Intentional Fallacy]
    The name the New Critics gave to the belief that an author's intentions (stated or inferred) is the final court of appeal about the meaning of a text. There are two main objections to this commonsense belief: 1> How do you determine an author's intent, especially if they are dead? 2> People often express things they don't intend to; subconscious or other meanings may slip out. This is not to say that an author's intentions are irrelevant to the text, but that any statements about her or his intent must be subjected to the same scrutiny and are subject to the same interpretive process as the text itself. (Hedges)



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    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-13-2003 at 01:52 PM.

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    [second reply, this time to Johan:]

    I certainly don't expect people to agree with everything I say, but I know what I know, and Oscar Jubis' interjection is quite appropriate & accurate. I feel the only way you're going to get a grasp on what a director's intentions are is to read quotes, interviews, see featurettes, and most importantly: WATCH THE FILMS. OVER and OVER. Without meeting the person, how the hell else are you gonna do it? The only option is to assimilate the work thru repeated viewings. If you made a film, would you not want the public to see it as many times as possible to really appreciate what you wanted to do? I would.
    I completely agree with you that repeated viewings of a movie are very desirable if you want to discuss it intelligently, always bearing in mind that some people observe and remember movies better than others, and may not need to see one fifteen times to know it almost by heart, while others of us may have to have a tape of DVD of it constantly front of us to talk about details with confidence.

    But if you read my previous comment, you'll understand why I don't see any need to "get a grasp on what a director's intentions are." That doesn't mean we should ignore what he's said about his intentions, if he's said something: it's all useful. So yes, watch a movie many times, but don't slavishly seek the director's intentions in the belief that discovering them is going to be some magical key to the interpretation and evaluation of the movie.



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    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-13-2003 at 01:52 PM.

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