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Thread: The Longest Post On Filmwurld

  1. #31
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    I haven't read the previous conversation on this topic between you (Chris) and Oscar so I can't truly comment on what Oscar prefers but I do not think that someone as knowledgable as Oscar would totally disregard reading reviews.

    What i specifically don't like is when a ' top whatever' topic comes up, certain poeple reach back to their massive databases and start posting these huge lists which frankly only helps them. Even when i start out reading these lists, about half way down i think to myself 'what am i doing?' as the interesting names i've read before start to fade. As one Times critic recenty denounced the 'endless credits' in films as death of cinema, these dreaded top ten lists have become part of the american culture in every aspect, and they aren't helpin' either.

  2. #32
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    Also, when it comes to reading books on and about films i'd much rather read something like The Dream Life by J.Hoberman which incorporates the films and the politics of a certain era (the sixties in this case) than a book just put together with bunch of reviews and lists.
    Last edited by arsaib4; 08-17-2004 at 01:49 AM.

  3. #33
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    I agree, and I wasn't addressing Oscar but Xpqx, who was expressing a common viewpoint that reviews "spoil" a film. Agreed, a long review collection is also numbing. But people pour over lists when it's their guru who's made it. Thanks to Howard Schumann for referring me back to this discussion: it's interesting because the leader of the discussion actually got Jonathan Rosenbaum to answer their questions about his "essential cinema" list. If you wade through the long thread, you may find something. It's helped me see the status Rosenbaum enjoys these days:

    http://www.imdb.com/board/bd0000010/flat/8771093

  4. #34
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    Originally posted by Chris Knipp
    I may overdramatize our differences at times to spur discussion and debate.

    Well, I realize that. But I've thought at times, when debating others less familiar with your methods, that the quality of the debate would have been enhanced by acknowledging commonalities rather that taking an entirely confrontational approach.

    I was also trying to get some kind of manifesto out of you, in which effort I have so far failed.

    I provided a link (which I've tested) to a post in which I do precisely that.

    I thought I did explain how somebody's list can potentially alienate. It makes one realize how different everyone is from oneself and one feels more alone!

    Yes, you did explain. I guess I've always taken for granted how different everyone is from oneself. So much so that I react with surprise at what I perceive as a relatively high level of consensus between us. And between myself and Howard, and Johann, who has even called me a "kindred soul".

    I had a feeling Rosenbaum would have reared his head somewhere. When you find that there are 2/5 of his "essential" but "personal" list that you haven't seen, isn't that daunting, or discouraging? don't you ever think that you'll never "catch up"?

    You make it sound like it's a competition, like a road race. The longer my "to watch" list gets, the more excited I get at the potential for new sources of pleasure and edification.

    I'm sorry you don't answer my question about slighting American films and giving so few favorites for recent years.

    The link provides some answers. But I'll state here, as I've done before, that all my lists (including the 80s list when in my opinion American film was at a low ebb) include more American films than films from any other country. As far as recent films, I am strict as to what I include in my canon. These films need to prove themselves over several viewings. These are the "4 stars" films (to use mainstream media terms) which resonate with me in particular.

    It has come up in discussing Rosenbaum, that he denigrates lists.

    Never heard that before. He's actually spoken at length about how the 1962 Sight and Sound poll was a valuable guide in educating himself about must-see films that never played in the Rosenbaum theatres his family owned in Alabama.
    Last edited by chelsea jubis; 08-17-2004 at 02:20 AM.

  5. #35
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    Re: Lists "instead of" reviews: ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM

    Originally posted by Chris Knipp
    I can't exactly see why film buffs of any stripe would be against review reading, at any stage of viewing. This is a form of anti-intellectualism. the point is that reviews are an essential part of the process of appreciating film and even more so in the case of films we can't see. As a long-time in depth literature student myself who read a lot about books before, during and after the process of reading the books themselves and found that enormously enhanced my appreciation and understanding, I came to understand that you cannot "know too much" about a work before you actually read, watch, or listen to it.

    Of course I don't disregard reading reviews, arsaib4. I agree entirely with this quote from C.K.
    Of course, my dear daughter didn't write this and the post above.
    Last edited by chelsea jubis; 08-17-2004 at 02:22 AM.

  6. #36
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    first of all, is that you Oscar who just responded under someone's log in, your daughter's perhaps?

    ...never mind, i got my answer.

    Informative read to say the least, Chris, i didn't know that you posted there also. Since i've still truly yet to discover Rosenbaum it was an interesting conversation for me, well balanced on both sides. But it seems to be that Rosenbaum is on a similar path like Kael, Sarris and couple others who are popular for their personalities for the most part rather than what they wrote.
    Last edited by arsaib4; 08-17-2004 at 02:32 AM.

  7. #37
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    Thanks arsaib4, for checking out the Rosenbaum thread. I'm going to bring it up again because I've learned a lot from it myself and I hope to share it with others.

    To Oscar: Re your manifesto behind your list:

    (You wrote) I provided a link (which I've tested) to a post in which I do precisely that.

    For quick navigational purposes I wish you'd provided that link again here.

    (You also commented) I've thought at times, when debating others less familiar with your methods, that the quality of the debate would have been enhanced by acknowledging commonalities rather that taking an entirely confrontational approach.

    I will try to do so. My aim is to focus on issues not personalities.

    (And you added:)You make it sound like it's a competition, like a road race

    What may seem an easy ten-miler to you, may be pretty daunting to the neophyte jogger.

    Question: Does Rosenbaum "denigrate" lists (as I asserted)?

    I maybe should have said "expresses reservations about." Here is the exchange between Rosenbaum and IMDb "Classic Film" participant jiankevin on this topic:

    - I was actually quite surprised when I saw that your book argued for the necessity of canons, given your previous criticism of the AFI's top 100 lists and how it institutionalizes popular taste in much the same way as any canon does. Also, you testify to the profound affect that the Sight and Sound top 10 list had on you during your college years (as was the case for me) -- but couldn't one say that this, or any list, may be as limiting in its own way (in the perspective it espouses) as the AFI list? If the goal is to encourage people to see as many things as possible, I wonder if any canon or list alone is up to that task. Would you agree to that the problem is not in these canons or lists but in our attitudes towards them (for example, I don't think it was the virtue of the Sight and Sound list in itself, but your attitude towards it, that made it worthwhile)? Or is there something else that warrants our consideration?

    I'm certainly not arguing that one list is as good (or as limited) as another list or that every canon or list necessarily institutionalizes. (I also am not arguing that it's invariably good to see as many movies as possible.) The criteria used for choosing participants in polls is very important. Sight and Sound knew how to get a representative sample of international critical thought in the 50s, 60s, and 70s; more recently, I think the same magazine has shown a less certain grasp of what's going on in criticism--although they obviously pay a lot more attention to business and market issues. The AFI seemed (and seems) concerned almost exclusively with market issues, not with criticism at all--which is partly what made their list so unsatisfying to me.
    I recommend again perusing this thread on IMDb for anyone interested in Rosenbaum or the making of "definitive" lists of films:http://www.imdb.com/board/bd0000010/flat/8771093.

    At the end of his new book, Essential Cinema, where he introduces his list, Rosenbaum says, "Such a list thus carries an unfortunate ambiguity, one also present in some of Andrew Sarris's critical valuations in The American Cinema, namely, that in many cases it isn't clear whether an exclusion entails a critical judgment." He goes into this a bit more in the whole IMDb "interview" with jiankevin.

    Since Rosenbaum has put out a notable list this year and engaged in some discussion of it, I hope maybe we can have some discussion of Rosenbaum's books on this site.

    Again, issues, not personalities. We're all friends here. But I will not abandon my general aim of seeking to inspire debate.

  8. #38
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    I have added one more film directed by Carl Theodore Dreyer to my personal canon (see page 1). It's called The Parson's Widow and it was released in 1920. Mr. Dreyer is generally associated with serious films often labeled "transcendental", and has often been compared to Andrei Tarkovsky. You wouldn't know it from watching The Parson's Widow, the only one of the Danish master's films to incorporate comedy. It's more of a precursor to the type of films Jean Renoir would later direct. Dreyer stated that a good comedy needs to have "love, heart and warmth" and The Parson's Widow certainly meets those requirements. It's also highly original and visually splendid.

    I had the opportunity to watch this and other rarely seen Dreyer films thanks to Turner Classics Movies. The cable channel is featuring his movies every Sunday in September. Check out your TV listings.

  9. #39
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    Documenting changes to my list of Favorites of All-Time or "Great Films I Love" that inagurated this thread, based on viewings from the past nine months. A title I had simply failed to list due to oversight is Orson Welles's Othello, still my favorite movie based on a Shakespeare play. One film is being removed from the list: the butchered-by-Hollywood The Magnificent Ambersons. I have to own up to the fact that, as it exists, this excellent film is compromised by the footage that was deleted and destroyed by the Studio. My being familiar via research with the content of that footage and the absolute brilliance of most of what's left cannot obscure the fact that the film as it exists feels incomplete and that the coarse shortening of a couple of scenes make me angry.
    Excellent films I've watched in the past months that may merit inclusion in the future: Wanda (USA, 1970), 2046 (China, 2004), Lady of Musashino (Japan, 1951), Funeral Parade of Roses (Japan, 1969), and Jacques Tati's color version of Jour de Fete.
    New Inclusions:
    MOI, UN NOIR (1959).
    My favorite of Jean Rouch's made-in-Africa movies mixing aspects of documentary and fiction films. Unexpectedly funny. Will I ever get to see it again?
    LA NOIRE DE... (1965).
    Ousmane Sembene's debut feature is both a very astute political film about colonialism and a moving character study. Also known as "Black Girl"
    MOUCHETTE (1967)
    Robert Bresson's de-romanticizes rural France in this companion to Au Hasard Balthazar. Highly allegorical and beautifully photographed.
    MELO (1986)
    Alan Resnais' is my favorite living French director and his adaptation of a Henry Bernstein play is absolutely perfect. Compulsively addicting menage-a-trois involving neurotic musicians circa 1926 Paris.
    THE CORPORATION (2003)
    Brilliantly conceived, magnificently edited Canadian doc about the most powerful contemporary institution. Entertaining and edifying.
    ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004)
    I've written a lot already about this masterful visualization of Charlie Kaufman's best script, which concerns aspects of longing and memory rarely treated with such insight and nuance. Watched it at theatre thrice and it still doesn't seem like that's enough.

  10. #40
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    Today, I updated my list of "Favorites of All Time" (or "Great Films I Love") that can be found at the beginning of this thread. The basic criteria is that these movies give me tremendous pleasure and edification over repeated viewings. This thread includes a discussion of the importance or lack of importance of lists or canons. My own experience makes these lists essential. As a teen and young adult, I used Andrew Sarris' yearly lists from 1929 to 1968 and the Sight and Sound's Critics and Directors polls as a guide as to what a film lover cannot miss (not what one must like or love, mind you, don't let anyone tell you that!). The lists were extremely helpful to me. I share my list in that same spirit of discovery that has guided my film viewing since the 1960s.

    Repertory additions include:

    Alfred Hitchcock's Murder! (1930), in my opinion his first masterpiece, in which he goes beyond Griffith in demonstrating via his camera how cinema transcends theater.

    Abel Gance's La Roue (The Wheel) (1923) which was finally restored and released on dvd recently. I was so stunned by this 4 and 1/2 hour film that I rewatched it almost immediately and wrote a 13-page essay about it. Gance is justly famous for Napoleon, as seen by Abel Gance but it's La Roue that made my list.

    La Maternelle

    After rewatching some early Godard films as part of my French Cinema course at UM, I've come to the conclusion that I love his My Life to Live more than his debut (Breathless), which is the more accessible and more influential film. Breathless is too "drunk" on and indebted to the Hollywood films that nourished the young New Wave directors after WWII. My Life to Live seems to me after the latest screening as the more mature, more revealing work. It has more to say to me right now than the more famous Breathless (which I have removed from my list after much consideration). It also has Anna Karina in the role of her life.

    I've also added three films shown in the USA in 2007 (listed as 2006 since my list is based on year of world premiere):

    Fiction (Cesc Gay)

    Away From Her (Sarah Polley)

    Offside (Jafar Panahi)

    I've watched these three times and they continue to impress as much or more than upon first viewing. There are a number of films I've posted about in my repertory threads pending additional viewings to decide if they are great enough to make it into the list.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 10-22-2008 at 11:09 PM.

  11. #41
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    After much pondering and multiple viewings, I've made three additions to my canon or list of personal favorites that started this thread. Two of these three struck me as masterpieces from the first viewing: HARLAN COUNTY USA (1976): Barbara Kopple's Oscar-winning documentary about a miner's strike in East Kentucky in 1973, and my favorite film released last year: CHOP SHOP by Ramin Bahrani, the brilliant American director of Iranian descent. The other film included is Lucrecia Martel's debut THE SWAMP (2001), a film from Argentina's Nuevo Cine movement. Howard Schumann gave it an "A" in his review posted here at FilmLeaf. I resisted it as much as I could, finding little flaws in it. I would have rated it an "A-" if I was to grade it at the time of release. Time has proven me quite wrong. This is a masterpiece of the highest order; one that continues to awe and surprise after every viewing.

  12. #42
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    Three American directors enter the list:

    Frank Borzage with SEVENTH HEAVEN (1927) and STREET ANGEL (1928), two of the most romantic and beautiful films ever made.

    Otto Preminger (born in Vienna, later naturalized) with the melodrama of obsession in film-noir style LAURA (1944) and the nuanced and ambiguous legal procedural ANATOMY OF A MURDER (1959).

    Maya Deren, the godmother of American experimental cinema with her glorious dream film MESHES OF THE AFTERNOON (1943).

  13. #43
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    I continue to add films to my list of favorite films of all time posted first in this thread. This is my personal contribution to a canon of cinema that spans from the first films shown to a paying audience (Lumiere Brothers) to the present. The list now has 300 films that provide justification of sorts for my involvement with cinema. The last film added to the list is FOREST OF BLISS, a documentary about life and ritual in Benares, India shot in 1985 by American documentarian Robert Gardner. He was the director of the Film Study Center at Harvard University for 40 years. Robert Gardner remains largely unknown outside academia and that's a shame. He may be the greatest ethnographic filmmaker alive. Jean Rouch was a definite influence on Gardner (and all ethnographic documentarians) but Gardner is an original. His DEAD BIRDS (1963), shot in New Guinea, may be the ideal introduction to Gardner's work. It provides the voice-over narration that Gardner eschews in Forest, sacrificing explanation for the sake of poetry and mystery. If anyone is familiar with or curious about Robert Gardner's films or ethnographic filmmaking, please post.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 04-10-2013 at 01:15 AM.

  14. #44
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    Thanks for the reference, Oscar. It never fails to amaze me how much I continue to learn about film thanks to this site and to contributors like you, Chris, Tab, Johan, and others. I found this youtube video of Gardner and watched the opening of "Dead Birds" where he explains the title in the opening.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mvzxu3syq_A
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

  15. #45
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    Glad you looked into Robert Gardner. In the video you link, he interviews Robert Flaherty's widow in the 1960s. It's also available in the Criterion DVD of Nanook of the North.

    In this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzKoeFX5Nbg, he explains his decision not to provide any text or voice-over in Forest of Bliss choosing instead to free the viewer to make meaning by providing subjective interpretations based on what they see and hear, no matter how exotic and cryptic it is.

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