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Thread: The Longest Post On Filmwurld

  1. #76
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    Hi Oscar, welcome back to your blog. Filmleaf's first coverage of the excellent and formally inventive The Arbor was a review I wrote as part of the 2011 SFIFF. I saw The Selfish Giant at IFC Center and reviewed it from NYC; I loved it. Since it's extremely rooted in Bradford in the Midlands and in dialect with non actors it's a bit misleading to say it's "entirely fictional." I just called it "more striaghtforward." I wonder what you mean by saying "After repeat viewings,The Arbor has now achieved canonical status." Do you mean with you? But "canonical" is a collectively acquired status, not achieved by one person's repeated viewings. However I do agree it is unique and makes a strong impression, maybe worthy of adding to the "canon" of innovative documentary-fiction hybrids. I was more moved by The Selfish Giant however, if memory serves. Anyway, I'm glad we've moved on from Groundhog Day.

  2. #77
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    Hi Chris, Thanks for the links to your reviews.
    There's an excellent essay about canons here http://toddmcompton.com/infinitecanonsprint.htm#_ftn32
    "A canon is a list of works considered best and exemplary, propounded by an individual or group, often for a communal purpose.[31] This will allow us to include lists of individuals, such as Aristophanes of Byzantium or Harold Bloom (though such canons will be called the Aristophanes canon or the Bloom canon). The term “personal canon” has started to come into general use".
    The introductory post describes my criteria and purposes, if I remember correctly. But anyway, the process involves repeat viewings over a few years before I add a film. Feeling compelled to re-watch a film and being re-warded by my decision is a major criterion.
    I'm going to try to post more frequently here. My comments are usually about films you have long reviewed; so I am glad that you locate the pieces and provide links. You know Chris, a lot of recent films on the list are serious or even grim (Seidl's trilogy for instance). Most are innovative and ground-breaking or sui generis, as you'd say. But I am debating the inclusion of Brooklyn which is none of those things.It's just perfect as is. Favorite romance since "Eternal Sunshine".
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 04-24-2017 at 10:35 PM.

  3. #78
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    I will also add Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest to the list. I have been moved by my late realization of how the film adopts modernist leanings (it's 1959 after all) by providing self-conscious commentary on the Grant persona and a grand summation of Hitchcock's themes and preoccupations theretofore. Moreover, my appreciation for the film has been expanded by a reading of Stanley Cavell's essay on the film. Cavell brings forth the myriad elements in North by Northwest derived from Shakespeare ("Hamlet") and from Saxo Grammaticus, as well as the connection with the genre Cavell coined as "comedy of remarriage". This is the type of film I tended to underrate in my young, hip days. NxNW doesn't have the delicious, delirious gloom of Vertigo but it's nearly as profound, in its own way.
    Best films of 1959: Alphabetical Order.
    THE 400 BLOWS (Truffaut)
    ANATOMY OF A MURDER (Preminger)
    FLOATING WEEDS (Ozu)
    FRITZ LANG'S INDIAN EPIC (Lang)
    HIROSHIMA, MON AMOUR (Resnais)
    MOI, UN NOIR (Rouch)
    NORTH BY NORTHWEST (Hitchcock)
    PICKPOCKET (Bresson)
    Add RIO BRAVO and NAZARIN and you have 10 masterpieces from arguably my favorite year in cinema.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 04-25-2017 at 10:13 PM.

  4. #79
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    Great stuff Oscar. Glad your back posting again!

    You got me thinking about what my favorite year in cinema is. 1959 is pretty damn good, and your picks are stellar.
    I especially love Anatomy of a Murder, Rio Bravo and The 400 Blows. But I agree- all of them are masterpieces. I've never seen Lang's Indian epic. Will have to catch up with that one.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  5. #80
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    Thanks! Is there a movie with more references to booze and getting drunk than Rio Bravo? Maybe Notorious? I hope to post more often here. I just watched Johnnie To's DRUG WAR. This fits into the "action" or "thriller" genre. I am not a good historian of this genre, but I keep my finger on it. To is great, as great as John Woo used to be (I have to check what he's done recently). I need to catch up on classic stuff like the films directed by King Hu in the 60s. Is Paul Greengrass the West's greatest action director? I think so. Is United 93 an action film? The Bourne trilogy helmed by Greengrass certainly meets (and sometimes exceeds) all the conventions of the genre. I also liked one special effects, bloated, loud, profit cow: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. It was more fun and engaging than I expected, based on its predecessor.

  6. #81
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    My review of Johnnie To's Drug War is here. I wrote about two King Hu restorations. Maybe you'vve seen those since you've said you read all my reviews here. And thank you for that. I reviewed Paul Greengrass' Bourn Ultimatum and Bourne Surpemacy and I love them, but his Green Zone was not quite so good. I'm sure there are other good action directors.* I think I am not quite as into making lists and picking bests and winners as you are, perhaps. Last year I slacked off on the annual best list, though if you write a lot of reviews it's hard to escape it. Have you ever checked out Mike D'Angelo's site where he gives every film he sees in the year a precise numerical evaluation and so ranks them all together? I both admire that and think it's nuts. He himself surely knows it's ridiculously nerdy and ADD. But it keeps his watching alert and committed.

    I liked Rise of better than Dawn of Planet of the Apes movies. I'm already very doubtful about the new upcoming one. The best ones were the original ones and it was better to watch them stoned.

    *Incidentally Kathryn Bigelow is a great action director though some of her content is questionable morally and politically.

  7. #82
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    So much to look forward to. Certainly the King Hu restorations among them. The one I feel most rewarding as of late would be the magnificent MOANA WITH SOUND. I met and had a long and rich conversation with Bruce Posner, the guy who spearhead this restoration. IT'S CRAZY THAT BACK IN 1981 THE FILM PLAYED ONCE IN PARIS IN THE ONLY AVAILABLE, crappy 16MM VERSION AND it kind off went underground and then IT TOOK over 30 years for the film to be properly restored. I guess that it's a 1981 release and I should list it as such, perhaps my favorite film of that year given how much pleasure and edification I derive from it.
    Your statement about Bigelow is spot on. My fave film of this year so far is probably Terence Davies' A QUIET PASSION. I still have tons of movies from previous years to catch ut with, including Tangerine and Paterson.

  8. #83
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    Glad we agree on Bigelow.
    Looking forward now to following Cannes from a distance again.
    I like Tangerine and Paterson. Typical of our frequent taste splits, I hate A Quiet Passion. I liked The Deep Blue Sea a lot though.

  9. #84
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    The other 2017 release I have seen that is likely to make my top 10 at the end of 2017 is, perhaps predictably given his excellent and proven dramaturgy, Asghar Farhadi's THE SALESMAN. Currently thinking intensely about Donnie Darko after a recent viewing of the (longer, more coherent) director's cut and about how Richard Kelly may end up being one of those artists who creates something awesome and never manages to produce a worthy follow-up; a kind of one-trick pony (but what a trick), or a one-hit wonder. I don't recall ever discussing that movie here although my memory is a very defective entity.

  10. #85
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    Two films added to the (personal) canon:
    1) A TIME TO LIVE, A TIME TO DIE (1985) (1985)
    Hou Hsiao Hsien's auto-biographical third film begins when he (or his protagonic stand-in) is in elementary school and ends when he graduates from high school and takes his college exams. The film depicts his coming-of-age in rural Taiwan as well as the deaths of his father, mother and grandmother during those years. Hou himself provides a melancholic, hushed voice-over at the beginning and sporadically thereafter that leaves no doubt about who the actor is impersonating. Long takes, no close-ups, no stylization other than a recurring wistful non-diegetic melody. This movie has not been released on DVD in the USA as far as I know.
    2) HEART OF A DOG (2016)
    Laurie Anderson's essay film is enjoyable as a music album and enjoyable as pure cinema but the film marries the image and sound tracks to provide an exaltation of the senses and a provocative cascade of ideas that sometimes coalesce and sometimes disperse but always find a way to stimulate thought and stir emotions.

  11. #86
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    I haven't seen any Hou in a while. This film ought to be brought out by Criterion Collection. But they seem to have given more attention to Edward Yang lately. See one of their columns. I'm not as enchanted with Laurie Anderson's chatty style as some are but this film had interesting info on her neighborhood around W. 11th St., where I walk every morning when I'm staying in the West Village.

  12. #87
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    Thanks Chris. So Hou is an actor in Yang's Taipei Story, released the same year as A Time to Live. I haven't seen Taipei Story yet but I relish the thought of watching it. Did you want Hou's The Assassin?

    I have a little mini film club with 2 professors from U of Miami's Philosophy Dep. and two professors who come here often but live/teach in North Carolina and Brazil (we Skype or phone to get them involved when not here). The ensuing discussions are very substantial. Last week we experienced the art of Victor Erice's El Sur. One professor who participates wrote a book on Erice so I got a lot out of the experience.She called it a "truncated film", meaning a film that was not finished as intended, often because production was stopped before the intended script was realized. A lot of people don't know that Gance's Napoleon is a truncated film. Others? Mulholland Drive, Renoir's A Day in the Country, Welles'The Magnificent Ambersons. These films may be masterpieces but they differ significantly from how they were intended to be. This coming week we are screening Cemetery of Splendor.

  13. #88
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    I was forgetting I saw Hou's Assassin at the NYFF two years ago and reviewed it. I didn't really like it, it's not really the Hou people originally got excited about but something overwrought, like late Wong Kar-wai. I called it "exquisitely leaden." I enjoyed the new Japanese martial arts film I just reviewed more, and it has a humanistic, cultural slant that's at the same time very accessible. Yoshinari Nishikari, Tatara Samurai (2016).

    I wasn't in NYC when Criterion screened the restoration of Taipei Story only for A Brighter Summer Day this time last year, and so I have not seen that one. I think it was shown also as a sidebar of the NYFF last fall. Maybe we could watch it in the new "Filmstruck" Criterion online system but we'd have to sign up to pay $10 a month.Taipei Story's release apparently was spearheaded by Martin Scorsese.

    That's nice that you have a "mini film club" of profs. Do your discussions have a wider audience? Apparently El Sur was rereleased last fall in England and a Guardian writer called it "The unfinished Spanish drama that's perfect the way it is". You could watch it VOD in England expensively via the BFI.

    You could call a lot of films truncated since they so often get cut in the rush to production and distribution.

    Latin America was not in the Competition films list at Cannes this year but there were a number of Spanish and Portuguese language films in the two other major categories. Do you have any comments on them? Actually I don't know which ones are Latin American.

    Un Certain Regard
    La Novia Del Desierto (The Desert Bride) by Cecilia Atan &Valeria Pivato
    Las Hijas de Abril (April's Daughters), Michel Franco
    Directors Fortnight
    Ciambra, Jonas Carpignano
    A Fabrica de nada, Pedro Pinho
    La defensa del dragón, Natalia Santa
    Shorts
    Água mole, Laura Goncalves, Alexandra Ramires (xà)
    Falpões, Baldios, Marta Mateus
    Nada, Gabriel Martins
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-04-2017 at 01:02 PM.

  14. #89
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    I am surprised that the only version of The Assassin I can find on disc is the shortened one.
    For the term to be useful, the label "truncated" should be applied more selectively or strictly rather than include all films "cut in the rush to distribution".
    Both "Un Certain regard" films are from Latin America.I'm not familiar with the filmmakers.
    Scorsese is a prince. His new Word Cinema Project looks super interesting. I'm still catching up with the Polish Cinema set he released or made possible a couple of years ago.
    Last film I watched was KiDuk's Pieta (a winner at Venice if memory serves). South Korean cinema is fun but not a single film comes close to the Taiwanese films from Hou and Yang that I love so much and continue to discover via repeat viewings. Taipei Story here I come!

  15. #90
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    For the term to be useful, the label "truncated" should be applied more selectively or strictly rather than include all films "cut in the rush to distribution".
    Applied strictly to mean what, exactly, Oscar?

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