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: Rate The Last Movie You Saw  ( 4817429 )
dave jenkins
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« #20445 : September 17, 2022, 11:21:08 AM »



Week End (Godard, 1967) - 4/10
I see it more like an incredible toolbox for other filmmakers to steal from than an actual movie.
I think this is a really good observation. I find the film as a whole impossible to sit through, but every once in a while, I take out the disc and play particular scenes (the famous car accident tracking shot, for example).



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« #20446 : September 18, 2022, 07:44:22 AM »

McCabe and Mrs Miller (Altman, 1971) - 7.5/10
Second viewing. Rarely (never?) have I felt so strongly I was seing how a real life saloon was. The flaw of this movie is its main character, who isn't well defined and who is actually quite superficial.

The Long Goodbye (Altman, 1973) - 8.5/10
Second viewing too. I really really liked the whole thing.

Zsigmond doing some of his finest work

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« #20447 : September 18, 2022, 06:40:45 PM »

Every Man For Himself/ Slow Motion (1980) - 6/10. This is a better Godard, with lots of stop-motion and slow-motion gags and an inventive sound design. Supposedly a satire on our consumer society (i.e. We Are All Whores), it features both Nathalie Baye and Isabelle Huppert. It's not as clever as its director thinks but it's started to grow on me.
Another viewing. When I watch it now it is on the Criterion release which also includes Scenario de "Suave qui peut (la vie)" a 20-minute video J-L G submitted in place of a screenplay to secure financing for EMFH. Using photographs, images, and a voice-over, Godard suggests what the film will be about, although there's nothing about a story here. He has his three characters, Isabelle (played by Isabelle Huppert), Jacques (called "Mr. Godard" in the finished film, played by Jacques Dutronc) and Denise (a role apparently intended for Miou-Miou but ultimately performed by Natalie Baye). Just as EMFH would be, the video is divided into chapters. The final chapter is about the music in the film, and here is the essence of what Godard says on the subject:
Quote
For the music, my idea was that from time to time we'd hear music, like film music, at certain dramatic moments, accompanying an emotional moment. But at times the characters wonder, "What's this music we're hearing, following me all the time?" And they're told, "It's next door," or "It's on the radio." That happens from time to time. A secondary character or a main character will occasionally say that in the film. And someone tells them, "It's an orchestra playing on the radio." At the end, when Denise leaves, and Isabelle stays, and Jacques gets back on the train, it might be in a place like that. Jacques has taken the train, and on the road to the left, Denise rides off on her bike, and then there's the music. Then the camera pans and we see the orchestra, the 120 musicians of the Amsterdam orchestra, or the Boston Philharmonic, who are all in the shot, and it's their music we hear. It's as if we were seeing inside of what accompanies us, the things we have faith in, and this will introduce the descent into hell.
The film was changed a lot in production, but Godard did get a final shot with a pan past a performing orchestra (maybe not 120 members worth, though).
And my question is, Jean-Luc, have you never heard of Luis Bunuel? Have you never seen the shot of the orchestra in Los Olvidados? Truly, have you no ideas of your own?

Having said that, though, the final shot in EMFH does give me a chuckle. And I like the way the shot plays: you don't realize it's the final shot of the film until you do.

Visually EMFH is a tonic. The stutter-motion thing holds my attention, and some of the super-impositions are interesting. But the best things are the colors. I would go back to this for those alone.



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« #20448 : September 19, 2022, 12:51:36 AM »

I think this is a really good observation. I find the film as a whole impossible to sit through, but every once in a while, I take out the disc and play particular scenes (the famous car accident tracking shot, for example).

I also really like the scene where two men each give a big political speech to the camera one after the other... but each ones speaks for the other (the black man for the arab one and vice versa). And each monologue is shot in one extended shot in close up... on the one who isn't talking. The movie is filled with such great cinema ideas. But yeah, as a whole, it was an excruciating experience. Mrs Noodles_Leone fell asleep before the last third and for once I didn't hold it against her.

Zsigmond doing some of his finest work

Of course. Probably the two movies that defined the aesthetics of cinematography in the 70's. Someday we will have to solve the big mystery behind this man: how could he be so great and groundbreaking until the mid 80's and then turn into everything that was wrong with Hollywood cinematography in the 90's? It cannot be JUST because of George Miller.

« : September 19, 2022, 01:09:16 AM noodles_leone »

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« #20449 : September 19, 2022, 07:21:59 AM »

Alphaville (1965) - 4/10. A single gag, endlessly repeated. Gets kinda old.



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« #20450 : September 19, 2022, 08:49:53 AM »

I would like to re-watch some Godards too ...


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« #20451 : September 19, 2022, 09:09:25 AM »

You're welcome to 'em. I've about exhausted my patience.



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« #20452 : September 19, 2022, 09:29:08 AM »

Some are way easier to rewatch than others. Pierrot le Fou is a relatively easy watch.


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« #20453 : September 19, 2022, 02:20:03 PM »

You're welcome to 'em. I've about exhausted my patience.
Godard is a lot like Elia Kazan, they were undeniably influential (Kazan --> Scorsese...Godard --> Tarantino) but their work only has academic value in my not so humble opinion. And as for Godard's influence, he sort reworked The Chase (1946) and especially His Kind of Woman (1951) a bunch of times, just in a meta/ironic manner. Yuck.

To add more spice, the FNW isn't even the best new wave of the late 50's/60's. That would go to Japan. I feel like that opinion is becoming less unpopular with each passing year, which is a great thing.

As for Alphaville, it's really hard to make a B&W movie that looks so beautiful but is also so relentlessly tedious and dull.



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« #20454 : September 19, 2022, 05:27:09 PM »

I disagree on Alphaville...

A novel ?The Unspeakable McInch? (1948) part of a series by Jack Vane has been noted as the first SiFi detective novel. Aphaville may just be the first SiFi Detective film, the granddaddy of Blade Runner, Outland, The Fifth Element, etc., etc.

Godard references C?line, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, Jean Cocteau, Jorge Luis Borges, Paul ?luard, Alberto Vargas and Playboy Magazine, Terrytoons, along with hard boiled detectives and American culture while at the same time satirizing it. "Nouvelle Vague" rejected traditional conventions previously used in filmmaking opting for experimentation in camera work, editing, and embracing political and social currents while they explored existential questions. During this same period American independent films free of the MPPC yoke were exploiting their new found freedoms.

Godard also throws in some humorous New Wave touches, one chuckle inducing sequence that comes to mind is when Lemmy is grabbed by four of Alpha 60's goons. They shove him into the elevator and the camera remains stationary while Lemmy is pummeled bouncing like a pin ball back and forth and back and forth from each corner of the lift. 

Eddie Constantine is an iconic piece of work. He's got a puss for the ages with a perennial cigarette jutting out of his mouth.  At times there is almost an reptilian quality to some of his dead pan stares. You expect a giant forked tongue to shoot out towards the screen. Too bad he was not better known to American audiences. Akim Tamiroff provides some cinematic memory to Ameriacn Noir and Anna Karina is excellent as the beautiful almost childlike woman who knows not love. Her performance is very compelling. Out now in a new Blu with English language option. Bravo 8/10


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« #20455 : September 19, 2022, 05:46:06 PM »

Eddie Constantine is an iconic piece of work. He's got a puss for the ages with a perennial cigarette jutting out of his mouth.  At times there is almost an reptilian quality to some of his dead pan stares. You expect a giant forked tongue to shoot out towards the screen. Too bad he was not better known to American audiences.
And yet we didn't need J-LG to make the introductions. Each of the Lemmy Caution films that preceded Alphaville are more entertaining.



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« #20456 : September 19, 2022, 06:23:25 PM »

And yet we didn't need J-LG to make the introductions. Each of the Lemmy Caution films that preceded Alphaville are more entertaining.

Your opinion, I'm digging the visuals on Alphaville. As far as the other Contstanine - Lemmy Caution flicks  So far I've seen four good ones all told and haven't been disappointed in the least. Poison Ivy, This Man is Dangerous, Dames Get Along, and Women Are Like That, are all worth viewing. The one I haven't seen is Diamond Machine which fits in between Dames get Along and Women Are Like That.

After those Lemmy Caution goes the same route that Spaghetti Westerns took Serious to Spoof the next two Caution flicks  Ladies' Man (1962) Your Turn, Darling (1963) was drifting more into burlesquing the character. I haven't seen Panische Zeiten (Panic Time) (1980) but he only has a cameo.


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« #20457 : September 20, 2022, 03:38:24 PM »

3 by Ozu

Late Spring (1949) - 9/10. The film begins with a tea ceremony scene in which we are introduced to the heroine, Noriko (Setsuko Hara), who, if she doesn't wed soon, will have passed her sell-by date. We learn that she lives with her father in Kamakura, a suburb so distant from Tokyo it's actually a suburb of Yokohama. One morning we see Noriko accompany her father on his commute. The train journey from Kamakura to Tokyo, an hour-long trip in real time, is presented in a three-minute sequence. Significantly, all the station stops are elided, so that we get the illusion of a continuous journey without pauses. Yet those missing stops are still implied. The train is crowded, and the pair at first have to stand. Later, after a cutaway to the exterior of the moving train, we see that the father now has a seat--someone got off somewhere--but Noriko is still standing. Another cutaway, and another shot of father and daughter, now sitting side-by-side--there's been another stop. In this way, Ozu announces his technique of narrative through indirection.

Late in the fim, this technique provides a huge pay-off. During a trip to Kyoto, a final father-daughter outing before [SPOILER ALERT] her marriage, Noriko has a kind of epiphany--or apotheosis or catharsis or moment-of-true-feeling or something--as she lies on her futon, beside her father, waiting to doze off. The scene is edited thus: She asks her father a question; he does not answer, and then we see a shot of the father asleep; we get a shot of Noriko looking at him; then we cut to a shot of an empty vase in the alcove; then another shot of Noriko that lasts almost ten seconds; then a cut back to a long shot of the vase; then back to Noriko, with a new look on her face, almost in tears. A change has occurred, but it happened while we were looking away. And somehow the editing communicates the intensity of the moment to the viewer (this viewer, anyway).

The only thing about the film I don't like is that on occasion Setsuko Hara seems a bit more hysterical than is credible.

Ozu sometimes has trouble knowing when to end a film, but not here. A bit of meticulous fruit-paring provides a wonderful final image.


Early Summer (1951) - 10/10. We are introduced to the heroine, Noriko (Setsuko Hara), who, if she doesn't wed soon, will have passed her sell-by date. Hmmm, where have I seen this plot before? This is the better picture, though, because it has so many characters: there are parents, and a brother and a sister-in-law, and nephews, and even a distant uncle who appears briefly at the beginning and then shows up again at the end. Everyone contributes to the plot, some in surprising ways. There are lots of episodes, many of them LOL funny. Did I mention this is my favorite Ozu?

The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (1952) - 8/10. It is generally acknowledged that this is a loose retelling of an earlier Ozu, What Did the Lady Forget? (1936). But has anyone considered that it might also be a response to George Stevens' Woman of the Year (1942)? Consider: both films feature an older married couple who, in spite of genuinely loving each other, have relationship issues due to the fact that they are socially incompatible. In both cases, the woman is the upper crust snob, the fella is the down-to-earth boob who nonetheless loves her. Also, both films place their climactic scenes in kitchens. In Woman of the Year, Kate Hepburn tries to cook Spencer Tracy breakfast and fails. In TFOGTOR, the couple try to find fixings for a meal after their servants have gone to bed and finally succeed. In both cases, the attempt at food preparation and/or consumption is the occasion for rapprochements. The following year, Ozu would steal the premise of Tokyo Story from Leo McCarey's Make Way For Tomorrow (1937). Raiding Hollywood for ideas was an Ozu specialty, it seems.



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« #20458 : September 20, 2022, 06:50:52 PM »

Tokyo Twilight (1957) - 9/10. This has got it all: family strife, an abortion, a mother who once abandoned her children, a police station visit, mahjong, an accidental death (or maybe suicide), lots of smoking and drinking, and finally at the end, an intolerably sad train-platform departure. This is an Ozu film?
What certainly attracts me to Tokyo Twilight is its position as an outlier. It's not just that the film isn't one of the typically "sunny" ones (although that would be enough), but the fact that the world of the film is less insular than usual. What we get in the typical Ozu family drama is a focus on a few characters and their problems and the almost total exclusion of the outside world. At several points in TT, however, Ozu breaks the hermetic seal around his principals and lets in a little air.

My favorite example of this is the episode in the late-night kisaten where Akiko (Ineko Arima) is waiting for her boyfriend who never shows up. In terms of narrative development, the scene runs for the purpose of showing the woman's growing desperation and her eventual conflict with the authorities. Ozu could have accomplished the same thing with an empty coffee shop and an officer who walks in, but he chose instead to populate the scene with a real crowd. This perhaps makes the scene more authentic (I take it that such places were popular because nothing else was open during those hours), but it also allows Ozu to give us glimpses into the lives of others who, except for their brief appearance here, exist outside the film.

The scene begins with a young couple at the bar, the man smoking, the woman leaning on her hand with her eyes closed. The man touches the woman to get her attention but she doesn't react. Who are these people? We will never learn. We cut to an older gentleman, alone, stirring his coffee, thoughtful. He stops stirring, and takes a sip, then a second one. The camera lingers on him just long enough to make us wonder what's on his mind. We cut to a man in a booth who appears to be sleeping (the scene will end on him for its pillow shot). Then we see a woman by herself, smoking. She too is lost in thought. We cut to a couple in a booth sitting side-by-side, and finally hear some words of conversation. The man speaks: "So, what's wrong? Well?" And then, imploringly, "Tell me!" The woman looks at him but says nothing. Cut to the front door: a man enters, looks around. He hails the smoking woman, breaking in on her reverie. She looks up, stubs out her cigarette, walks to the cashier, pays, leaves with the newly-arrived man. Finally we cut to Akiko, also in a booth, smoking. Until this moment, we didn't even know she was in the scene. We go back to the side-by-side couple. The man says, "And what did you say?" Woman: "Nothing." Man: "Like hell." They get up to pay and leave, and it is at this point we first see the plain clothes cop, already in the room, checking people out. Focus returns to the central narrative, but the presence of the background characters has been so well detailed up to that point that we can't help thinking about the fact that we are in a world, that there are many stories, that what we're seeing in the film is one of a multitude.

Following Akiko's apprehension, the next scene is in the police station. Again, we are introduced to several characters that we will never meet again. There is not time or space to do more than to suggest the stories that belong to each. We've got to stick with Akiko's story.

This kind of thing occurs throughout the film. At different times we see groups of people playing mahjong. We get glimpses, hear a phrase, see a reaction. Characters and their lives are no more than suggested. And we move on.

There is also a wonderful moment near the end of TT when Isuzu Yamada and her man are waiting on board the train at Tokyo Station to depart for the north. Yamada is hoping Setsuko Hara will come and see her off but she will be disappointed. Meanwhile, a cheer group from Hosei University has come to wish someone else bon voyage. We don't see them so much as hear them, but the goodbye cheering goes on and on. Of course, this is an ironic counterpoint to what Yasuda's character is experiencing, but at the same time, as a viewer, I keep wondering, Who is this person who is receiving such an effusive send off? What's his/her story?

I don't say that Ozu never has examples of such things in his other late films, but in TT he employs the approach relentlessly. After a while, you have to conclude there's some point he's making. Maybe it's as simple as this: "There are 8--9, 10, 11--million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them."



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« #20459 : September 22, 2022, 07:48:58 AM »

Mirror (1975) - 7/10. Impressions of A.T.'s childhood, presented either as memories and/or dreams. Beautifully photographed by Georgy Rerberg, the use of Margarita Terekhova as Alexei's mother was the greatest casting decision of the 20th Century. The documentary footage interspersed throughout the feature was, though, a mistake--we never want to see anything but Rerberg's images--but it may have been a necessary concession to get the film made. I like the fact that the "memories" never signify more than what they mean on the surface (except maybe to Tarkovsky). We are free to interpret them as we see fit or, as I choose to do, view them without interpretation. A very lyrical film (this is not for anyone requiring a story), where poetic images are sometimes counterpointed with actual spoken verse (from the director's father):

We were taken who knows where:
Cities built by miracles
Would melt like mirages,
Mint was crushed beneath our feet
And birds accompanied us,
Fish leaped, swimming upstream,
The skies parted as we watched . . .
When fate followed our footsteps
Like a madman with a razor.

The film's largest failing is that it isn't long enough--it should run about 4 hours. The new CC home video edition is an impressive package, with wonderful PQ and enough extras to require a second blu-ray disc.

After another viewing, I'm raising my score to a "9".



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