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6801

From: jpcoursodon
Date: Sun Jan 18, 2004 11:05pm
Subject: Re: It's Spinach and to Hell with It! (classics we don't like)
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "joe_mcelhaney"
wrote:
> --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, Fred Camper wrote:
> >
> >
> > I hope that I do not stand alone among this group in thinking
that
> MARIENBAD is not only a great film but, if anything, underrated
> rather than overrated.
>
>
MARIENBAD is of course a great film. People who dislike it are
most of the time people who don't "get" its tremendous humor. They're
invited to play games and they snort.

There may be some valid reasons to hate the film ("chacun a ses
raisons") but most of his detractors make me think of people who say
that proust is unreadable, tedious etc... when Proust is much more
readable than most popular fiction writer, and hilarious a lot of the
time.
JPC
6802


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sun Jan 18, 2004 11:35pm
Subject: Re: Re: Renoir et La Regle du jeu
 
--- jpcoursodon wrote:
> >
> > _______Sure, most French people were anti-semitic
> at the time,it
> seems, but surely it was not quite enough to create
> riots and general
> rejection of the film as "un navet."
>
I would think it would be enough. Everything in the
narrative keeps coming back to Dalio in a way that
wouldsurelyenrage anti-semites. The question is
whether Renoir did this consciously or not. I suspect
he thought of Dalio simply as charming. Luckily
Hollywood beckoned for Dalio ("Your winnings,
Monsieur" ) and then later on he returned to France
and gave superlative performance in Jean-Daniel
Pollet's little-known "L'Amour C'Est Gai, L'Amour
C'Est Triste."


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6803


From:
Date: Sun Jan 18, 2004 11:39pm
Subject: Re: Renoir et La Regle du jeu
 
David Ehrenstein:
> And while I
> know what she means my first thought was "Can we have
> a moratorium on Rules of the Game analogy?" I'm sure
> you recall that Altman's "Nashville" was decreed (by
> Kael I believe) to be another "Rules of the Game," and
> I'm know others on the list can cite further
> rhetorical analogies.

The tendency of critics to relate every new and successful film back
to something older that was there before is annoying as all hell,
frankly. I've probably done it myself on occasion. (I still contend
that HARD EIGHT is a virtual remake of DEATH RIDES A HORSE, so there
you go.) And unless you're talking about films with big plot twists
(so that prior knowledge of a predecessor may actually interfere
with your enjoyment of it), it's a wasted criticism. Just the fact
that a film has a similar bloodline as an older one doesn't make the
later one any worse, necessarily. TAXI DRIVER is a better film than
THE SEARCHERS, in my opinion, though I love both tremendously, and
would never want to choose.

As for Altman, I think he silenced most other comparisons to RULES
OF THE GAME when he made GOSFORD PARK and put several outright
homages to it. Now no one can claim any *other* Altman film is
basically a remake.


> "La Regle du Jeu" not the sine
> qua non of cinema. It's a good movie.

Well, I can certainly agree with that.

>... I trust strapping dynamite to my chest (or around my
> head like Belmondo in "Pierrot le Fou") wasn't
> required to make such a statement.
>

Well, when you toss out that it's a msterpiece for middlebrows, that
sounds like damning with faint praise, which is probably why the
suicide bomber analogy came about. That said, I don't particularly
see what's wrong with "middlebrow" to begin with. Critics love to
use that word to slag off all sorts of films. Was there a director
more "middlebrow" than Minnelli? And yet his films are wonderful.
But for some reason, only "lowbrow" is considered good in the
critical lexicon, it seems. Which is just plain silly imo.

-Bilge
6804


From: Maxime
Date: Sun Jan 18, 2004 11:47pm
Subject: Re: Which Way to the Front? Aspect Ratio
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, ptonguette@a... wrote:
> Does anyone here know the aspect ratio of Jerry Lewis's "Which Way
to the Front"?

1:1.66 I believe.
6805


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sun Jan 18, 2004 11:49pm
Subject: Re: Re: Renoir et La Regle du jeu
 
--- ebiri@a... wrote:
Was
> there a director
> more "middlebrow" than Minnelli?

My favorite Minnelli moment is in "Two Weeks in
Another Town." It's the Roman "orgy" scene (everyone's
fully dressed, this was 1962) and Leslie Uggams is
warbling "Don't Blame Me" (Minnelli's favorite song)
as a wisp of bright Vincente-Minneli-Yellow chiffon
wafts down from above catching the eye of Kirk Douglas
-- who is standing right next to a 60's icon-to-be
Peggy Moffat.This is Kirk's cue to run upstairs and
drag Stephen Peck off off Cyd Charisse (whose ear he's
nibling) and run off to a waiting Ferarri the better
to outdo Lana Turner's auto-hysteria scene in "The Bad
and the Beautiful."

Nothing "middlebrow" here.

You're thinking of Stanley Kramer.

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6806


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 0:06am
Subject: Re: Eisenstein revisited (Re: Renoir and The Rules of the Game)
 
--- samfilms2003 wrote:
> -> Well Nestor Almendros fired the first shot on
> that
> > score. Still waiting for some reaction.
>
> I haven't read that, although I've heard of it. In
> Film Comment ?

Yes it's in "Film Comment" July-August 1991 with
Brando on the cover
>
> Is it available online anywhere ? (I tried google
> once, didn't find it)
>

Guess not.>


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6807


From: jpcoursodon
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 0:43am
Subject: Re: Renoir et La Regle du jeu
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, David Ehrenstein
wrote:
>
> --- jpcoursodon wrote:
> > >
> > > _______Sure, most French people were anti-semitic
> > at the time,it
> > seems, but surely it was not quite enough to create
> > riots and general
> > rejection of the film as "un navet."
> >
> I would think it would be enough. Everything in the
> narrative keeps coming back to Dalio in a way that
> wouldsurelyenrage anti-semites. The question is
> whether Renoir did this consciously or not. I suspect
> he thought of Dalio simply as charming. Luckily
> Hollywood beckoned for Dalio ("Your winnings,
> Monsieur" ) and then later on he returned to France
> and gave superlative performance in Jean-Daniel
> Pollet's little-known "L'Amour C'Est Gai, L'Amour
> C'Est Triste."
>
> But how did people know he was Jewish? I was in my forties
before I knew, and only because I read it.

And it's still not "reason enough".

Of course, outside of "La Regle" Dalio was the ultimate croupier
("Faites vos jeux! Les jeux sont faits, rien ne va plus!") but I'm
glad you mentioned Pollet's film. Has Pollet ever been discussed
here? A wonderful cineaste. Oh by the way, in French we don't
capitalize every word in a title, so it should be "L'Amour c'est gai,
l'amour c'est triste."

JPC
> __________________________________
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> Yahoo! Hotjobs: Enter the "Signing Bonus" Sweepstakes
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6808


From:
Date: Sun Jan 18, 2004 7:46pm
Subject: Last Year at Marienbad
 
"Last Year at Marienbad" seems to create more diverse reactions in viewers
than nearly any other movie. Since it is deliberately trying to be different and
original, maybe that is a sign that they creators are succeeding.
It is one of my favorite movies. But many highly intelligent people loathe
it.

"French Movies have gone from Marienbad to worse"
- a party guest in "Eye of the Cat" (1969), written by Joseph Stephano

Some ideas on Marienbad that might (or might not) kick start a discussion:

Marienbad has no secret meaning.
Some viewers seem to be trying to read the film as a secret code, trying to
decipher some hidden idea. IMHO, there isn't any secret idea. This approach can
drive you nuts, leaving you exhausted at the film's end.

Marienbad does not make sense, considered as a (traditional) plot.
If you try to figure out what "really happened", or turn this into a
logically coherent narrative, you will be really frustrated.

If you are "working" while watching Marienbad, you've got the wrong approach.
This film does not want you to work.

Marienbad is like a Fred Astaire/ Ginger Rodgers dance number.
It is wonderfully beautiful and joyous. You are supposed to relax, enjoy
yourself, and watch all the beauty flowing across the screen. Just like when Fred
and Ginger have fun in the finale of "Roberta". Resnais' camera is doing the
dancing here. Like Fred and Ginger, this film takes you into a fantastic world,
that is full of elegance, grace, charm, fantasy and beauty. One that has
almost nothing in common with everyday reality.

Marienbad has beautifully composed images
You know you are in for a great movie, when the film opens, and gorgeous
curvilinear patterns are spread out over the ceiling shot in front of you. Then
the camera keeps moving, and the beautiful patterns become even more complex and
imaginative. Resnais keeps up this level of visual beauty through the whole
movie.

The camera movements in Marienbad are thrilling.
Resnais is one of the great exponents of camera movement. Watch the camera
move and move and enjoy!

Have fun with the surreal touches.
It's neat when the action suddenly switches from day to night and back, or
when the characters move from suits to evening wear with a cut. Resnais is
playing with the grammar of film. He's witty and imaginative.

The costumes in this film are beautiful
Everybody looks gorgeous. Travis Banton would approve. I love films with
creative clothes. The cinema lets everybody into a world with beautiful clothes.
You can rent this film for free at your public library, and spend time in a
world where everyone is much better dressed than the society swells in your city.

Shouldn't the heroine really know if that other guy is her husband or not?
This sort of ambiguity is a nouveau roman joke. It's not quite as extreme as
the hero of Beckett's "Molloy", who is still unsure whether he's a girl or a
boy. I read Molloy on a terribly turbulent flight out of Pittsburgh. Reading
this book and wondering if we would ever land on safe ground is a potent
combination. (I've been a Beckett fan since a teenager.)

What IS that game everyone is playing?
Its called "Nim". It's an ancient Chinese game. It was completely analyzed by
a mathematician around 1900. You can find details in one of Martin Gardner's
collections of his Mathematical Games columns from Scientific American.

Mike Grost
6809


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 0:53am
Subject: Re: Re: Renoir et La Regle du jeu
 
--- jpcoursodon wrote:

> >
> > But how did people know he was Jewish? I was in
> my forties
> before I knew, and only because I read it.

It was apparently well-known at the time.
>
> And it's still not "reason enough".

It got the audience off on "the wrong foot."
>
> Of course, outside of "La Regle" Dalio was the
> ultimate croupier
> ("Faites vos jeux! Les jeux sont faits, rien ne va
> plus!") but I'm
> glad you mentioned Pollet's film. Has Pollet ever
> been discussed
> here? A wonderful cineaste. Oh by the way, in French
> we don't
> capitalize every word in a title, so it should be
> "L'Amour c'est gai,
> l'amour c'est triste."
>

Pollet isn't really known in the U.S. at all.

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6810


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 0:58am
Subject: Re: Last Year at Marienbad
 
--- MG4273@a... wrote:

>
> Marienbad is like a Fred Astaire/ Ginger Rodgers
> dance number.

It's also like "Gilda." In fact there's a scene
thatcopies "Gilda'shot for shot -- even the dialogue
is similar. Seyrig is lying on the bed and Pietoff is
standing nearby telling her he feels she's going away
from him.

Same scene with Rita Hayworth and George MacCready in
"Gilda."

> The costumes in this film are beautiful
> Everybody looks gorgeous. Travis Banton would
> approve.

Indeed he would have. One of Seyrig's outfits with
feathers is right out of "Shanghai Express."

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6811


From:
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 1:04am
Subject: Re: Renoir et La Regle du jeu
 
David Ehrenstein:

> I would think it would be enough. Everything in the
> narrative keeps coming back to Dalio in a way that
> wouldsurelyenrage anti-semites. The question is
> whether Renoir did this consciously or not. I suspect
> he thought of Dalio simply as charming.

There is actually quite a bit of supplementary material on the DVD
(and probably on the earlier Laserdisc edition as well) about
Dalio's casting. At one point, Dalio himself asks Renoir about it,
and Renoir's response is basically that Dalio looked and acted a lot
more like the aristocrats that Renoir personally knew. It comes up a
couple of times. The film's initial failure comes up a couple of
times as well, and there's little to suggest that Renoir felt it was
because of anti-semitism. (I personally doubt it myself, though I'm
not going to argue it might have had *something* to do with it.)

The thing that kept getting to me in this round of viewings (and
which I discussed a bit in my review, though not as much as I would
have liked to) is just how *angry* this movie is, beneath its placid
and pleasant surface. And the thing about "everybody has his
reasons" that always gets left out is that Octave/Renoir finds this
fact to be an "awful" one (my French is basically non-existent, so I
don't know what the exact translation is). "Everybody has his
reasons" might get taken out of context nowadays and quoted ad
infinitum to express how "generous" Renoir's world-view was, but
RULES is a more judgmental and pissed-ff film than people give it
credit for being. In my opinion.

-Bilge
6812


From: jpcoursodon
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 1:25am
Subject: Dalio/Rules/French audiences
 
Whether you like, dislike, love or hate Rules of the Game, you have
to admit (if you have any familiarity with 1930's French cinema) that
it was a very unusual film for its time, and audiences at the time,
at least in France, were used to react very strongly to anything
unfamiliar and "different". This is what they did when they saw
RULES, and I would wager that Dalio's ethnicity went into the
negative reaction for less than one per cent. People would routinely
hoot and boo and scream and even break their seat when a movie was a
bit different and difficult (for them) to understand. Actually this
kind of reacting continued into the fifties (see the response to LOLA
MONTES). People didn't have television to scream at so they did their
screaming at the movies.

JPC
6813


From: joe_mcelhaney
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 1:29am
Subject: Re: Classics We Do and Don't Like; Resnais; Bergman; Welles
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, ptonguette@a... wrote:

> I wonder aloud if anyone here besides Jonathan and myself
> have seen his wonderful "late film" "I Want To Gome Home"? A
>delightful clash-of-cultures comedy with a script by Jules Feiffer.
(I know Jonathan's seen it because he's written about it.)

I saw I WANT TO GO HOME. I like it the least of any Resnais film I've
seen (and I think I've seen them all except for the new one) but I
still found it fascinating as everything Resnais does is of interest.
Unlike Daney, I am never bored watching the post-HIROSHIMA films. In
fact, after sitting through fairly complete Godard and Resnais
retrospectives in recent years I found that revisiting Resnais's work
was, on the whole, more interesting than revisiting Godard's. I
don't care whether Godard gives a better interview than Resnais.

> "Classics I don't like" is not a category I'm entirely comfortable
>with because I much prefer talking about great films than poor ones
>(or rather: films which I think are great rather than films which I
>think are poor). But sometimes it can help to make a point, I
>suppose.

I agree with all of the above. It's particularly difficult arguing
with someone over matters of style and form since, too often, the
discussion gets bogged down in questions of taste and sensibility and
that's something very hard to argue with, at least within the
relative brevity of these posts. But, of course, we'll continue to
argue nonetheless.
>
6814


From: Tosh
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 1:34am
Subject: Re: Last Year at Marienbad
 
About a month ago I finished reading a book called 'The Invention of
Morel' and it's by Adolfo Bioy Casares. The story is about a man who
somehow comes to an island (he maybe running a way from the law) and
comes across a large hotel on what he thought was a deserted island.
But alas, he runs into a 'party' of sorts at this hotel - that seems
to be high class - and the main character falls in love with one of
the women who participates in the party. The thing is no one on the
island acknowledges him. So you don't know if he's imagining this or
perhaps they're ghosts - we just don't know.

This story, according to the New York Reviw of Books was the model
for Last Year in Marienbad.

This is a movie where I don't like to think logically about it. I
rather sit there and have the images and dialogue wash over me. I
have the DVD, and I like to watch it every 3 months or so. I find
new stuff in it - and I like the fact that this film is basically a
mystery in all its texural level.

Oh, and the novel is really good. NYBR just put it out last year.
Casares was a good friend of Borges. In case anyone is looking for
it, the ISBN is 1590170571.


--
Tosh Berman
TamTam Books
http://www.tamtambooks.com
6815


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 1:34am
Subject: Re: Last Year at Marienbad
 
> Marienbad does not make sense, considered as a (traditional) plot.
> If you try to figure out what "really happened", or turn this into a
> logically coherent narrative, you will be really frustrated.
>
> If you are "working" while watching Marienbad, you've got the wrong approach.
> This film does not want you to work.

I'm not sure I agree with this completely. The first time I saw
MARIENBAD, I was completely confused by it, but was drawn to it anyway.
On a second viewing, I found the plot, and I started to love the film
instead of liking it. So I needed to do a little work.

Certainly the film doesn't let you nail every shot down into a
intelligible continuity. Nonetheless, it has a narrative trajectory,
and one that shares the spirit of old-fashioned melodrama: one character
overcomes the resistance of another character, imposes upon her his
sense of the past, and takes her away from her life.

> What IS that game everyone is playing?
> Its called "Nim". It's an ancient Chinese game. It was completely analyzed by
> a mathematician around 1900. You can find details in one of Martin Gardner's
> collections of his Mathematical Games columns from Scientific American.

After I saw the film, I went back to my college dormitory and spent a
night mapping out every possibility of that game, so that I am now a
perfect player. And, you know what? Sacha Piteoff makes a mistake in
one of the five games in the movie. Albertazzi could have beaten him if
he knew what he was doing.

Peter, I've seen I WANT TO GO HOME - liked it some, but it wasn't one of
my favorite Resnais. I'm pretty wild about ON CONNAIT LA CHANSON,
though. Anyone seen the new Resnais that opened last month in France? - Dan
6816


From: joe_mcelhaney
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 1:33am
Subject: Last Year at Marienbad
 
Thanks for the list of possible ways into MARIENBAD, Mike. Believe
it or not, MARIENBAD is a film I used to show in Intro to Film
classes that I taught at Columbia and, again believe it or not, the
film often found some appreciative students. But I showed it to them
after they had seen (among other things) GIGI and THE SHINING and I
asked them to (among other things) think of the film as a cross
between the Minnelli and the Kubrick.
6817


From: jpcoursodon
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 2:29am
Subject: Re: Last Year at Marienbad
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "joe_mcelhaney"
wrote:
> Thanks for the list of possible ways into MARIENBAD, Mike. Believe
> it or not, MARIENBAD is a film I used to show in Intro to Film
> classes that I taught at Columbia and, again believe it or not, the
> film often found some appreciative students. But I showed it to
them
> after they had seen (among other things) GIGI and THE SHINING and I
> asked them to (among other things) think of the film as a cross
> between the Minnelli and the Kubrick.



I am so glad I have not been one of your students (the mere
thought of "taking a film course" makes me shudder; teaching one even
more). Still I do understand that one has to live (although, as
somewhone said --and you'll have to ask your students to identify
this-- "I don't see the necessity" (it was in French).
6818


From:
Date: Sun Jan 18, 2004 9:41pm
Subject: Re: Last Year at Marienbad: Plot
 
I agree with Dan Salitt's post: Marienbad has a very complex (experimental)
plot. And following that plot is one of the great pleasures of the movie.
What I was trying to oppose were discussions such as: The heroine really knew
the hero last year at Mariendbad (or she didn't) because of 5 clues buried in
the movie... This sort of discussion was apparently common around 1961. It
seems fruitless - the film is not firmly committed to specific scenarios about
the past relations of the 3 main characters, etc. Instead, it seems to explore
whole bunches of interesting, alternative scenarios.
I've never read "Morel". There is an article (in Senses of Cinema, maybe)
which claims Marienbad is really a coherent science fiction movie with a plot
related to Morel. I was not convinced, but then again, maybe this is just cause I
haven't read Morel. Morel's plot has also been linked to Rivette's "Celine
and Julie Go Boating" .
Borges and Casares collaborated on three volumes of mysteries. The one that
has been translated into English, "Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi", is
pretty interesting - especially the first story. Keep hoping that the other two
will make it into English someday...
Everything I think I know about Marienbad might be wrong... The posts were
just to get a discussion going - maybe other people see the film drastically
differently.
Will watch Gilda again. It too takes place in a dream fantasy world, as
artificial and glamorous as the one in Marienbad. Good clothes, too (Jean Louis).
Mike Grost
6819


From: Fred Camper
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 2:51am
Subject: Re: Re: Renoir et La Regle du jeu (the meaning of "middlebrow")
 
ebiri@a... wrote:

>....That said, I don't particularly
>see what's wrong with "middlebrow" to begin with. Critics love to
>use that word to slag off all sorts of films. Was there a director
>more "middlebrow" than Minnelli? And yet his films are wonderful....
>
I'm not a big fan of the use of "middlebrow" as an insult, but I do
think there's a point to it. I don't think my own arguments for what's
great about Minnelli are "middlebrow" arguments. When someone criticizes
a film as "middlebrow" in a way I find credible it usually means that
the film is not very daring, that it doesn't seek to change anyone's
values, that it's not very original formally, and that it kind of
confirms whatever conventional nostrums about culture and art and
society that mainstream viewers held to before they came into the theater.

Now a film can do all of those things on one level plus a lot of other
things on other levels, and then the fact that it may have operated as
"middlebrow" for some viewers doesn't bother me at all, and I would
argue against calling it "middlebrow.". That would be the case with
Minnelli. But a Minnelli script directed by a certain kind of mediocre
director, perhaps George Stevens, might make a "middlebrow" movie in all
senses of the word, and I wouldn't take that to be a good thing.

- Fred
6820


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 3:09am
Subject: Re: Re: Renoir et La Regle du jeu (the meaning of "middlebrow")
 
--- Fred Camper wrote:
But a Minnelli script directed by a
> certain kind of mediocre
> director, perhaps George Stevens, might make a
> "middlebrow" movie in all
> senses of the word, and I wouldn't take that to be a
> good thing.
>
I would only call the George Stevens of "The Greatest
Story Ever Told" and "Cohens and Kellys in Trouble," middlebrow.

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6821


From:
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 3:36am
Subject: Re: Renoir et La Regle du jeu (the meaning of "middlebrow")
 
Fred Camper:
> When someone criticizes
> a film as "middlebrow" in a way I find credible it usually means
that
> the film is not very daring, that it doesn't seek to change
anyone's
> values, that it's not very original formally, and that it kind of
> confirms whatever conventional nostrums about culture and art and
> society that mainstream viewers held to before they came into the
theater.
>

But how does time fit into this? I mean, David accuses LA REGLE DU
JEU of being middlebrow, but no doubt he's talking about the film
*today* rather than in 1939. (Which was why I originally brought up
its initial reception in France.) We obviously don't want art to
become ossified, want it to (on some level) constantly challenge
something...but when you talk about time and class-specific concepts
such as "conventional nostrums" and "mainstream viewers", it becomes
important to determine whether you're talking about these things in
1939, 1956, 1968, 1981, 1999, etc. And then it becomes a
sociological distinction rather than an artistic one, and hence of
relatively little critical value (are you objecting to the film, or
to its viewers?). That's also why I bring up Minnelli -- I'd argue
that to today's viewer he's significantly less "middlebrow" than he
was in the 50s, for example. Seen from 2004, Minnelli's films take
place on another planet; they might as well be science fiction.

-Bilge
6822


From: hotlove666
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 3:42am
Subject: Re: Last Year at Marienbad
 
Last Year at Marienbad is one of my favorite movies of all time. So
is Rules of the Game. Here's something I recently wrote on Marienbad,
including a list of interpretations compiled by writers before me:

"Marienbad introduced to a generation of filmgoers the idea of the
film as a self-contained world where past, present, real and
imaginary images coexist without reference to external reality. Like
the great films of Italian neorealism, Marienbad fractured the flow
of narrative images with a musical gamut of discontinuities that
freed film from the conventions of action/reaction, seeing/seen,
perception/emotion that governed classical cinema, substituting for
a 'common reality' entirely composed of cliches a mental world like
the one we inhabit every day. Turning Bertolt Brecht's 'estrangement
effect' into a source of pleasure, as surrealists like Tex Avery had
done in their seven-minute cartoons, the film's feats of cinematic
legerdemain - vanishing characters, characters who appear to be in
two places at once, changing backgrounds and games with sound and
image, like the uncanny moment when the stage actor's lips begin to
move in time with X's voiceover - revolutionized the relationship of
audiences to cinema.

"In addition, that revolution transformed the once largely
unconscious activity of interpreting films by inviting the spectator
to attach multiple and contradictory meanings to the film's action
and characters. Here are a few: 1) X is lying, trying to seduce A by
describing an affair that never happened. 2) X is telling the truth,
and A is in denial. (These two opposed interpretations were trotted
out for the press as the conflicting views of Robbe-Grillet and
Resnais respectively, a marketing device with a praiseworthy didactic
intent.) 3) X and A are puppets controlled by the masochistic M.
4) As in a Breton legend Resnais knew from childhood, X is Death,
come to claim A after granting her a year's reprieve. 5) A is ill,
and the hotel is a sanatorium. 6) X is Orpheus, come to bring
Eurydice back from the land of the dead, where the cadaverous M is
king. 7) The three leads are figures in the dream of a woman
struggling to liberate herself: A symbolizes the ego, X the Id, M the
superego. 8) X is the only real person in a castle filled with
phantoms like those in Alfredo Bioy-Casares' La invention de Morel -
three-dimensional images mechanically repeating actions that are
registered once and for all, like the images of a film. The question
of conflicting interpretations is raised within the film by the
enigmatic sculpture, which like the film itself has no referent in
reality: Resnais had the sculpture made to match Robbe-Grillet's
description, suggesting that the sculptor model it on minor
characters in a painting by Poussin.

"Marienbad nonetheless tells a story with a beginning, middle and
end: A does leave the hotel with X. For Robbe-Grillet, who sees any
film as a succession of present moments with no past or future,
Marienbad tells the story of all his novels, an attempt to 'make an
annoying void disappear.' 'What happens is just the opposite,' he
told Andre S. Labarthe and Jacques Rivette in 1961. 'The void invades
and fills everything. In Marienbad you think that there was no "last
year," and only later do you realize that "last year" has invaded
everything: you're in it. In the same way, you believe that there's
no Marienbad, only to realize that that's where you've been from the
beginning. The event which the woman refuses ends up contaminating
everything, so that even though she thinks she has never stopped
fighting, and has won since she has always refused, she realizes at
the end that it's too late - she has accepted everything. Just as if
it were all true, even though it probably isn't.'

"For Resnais, however, Marienbad takes place in mythical time, like
the stories of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Orpheus and the Breton
maiden's bargain with Death, because he has constructed his film as a
castle haunted by the great storytellers of cinema: Welles, Lang,
Hitchcock (seen in silhouette in one shot), Cocteau, Pabst, Epstein,
Gance, L'Herbier, Ophuls, Sternberg, Renoir, Disney, Lewton,
Feuillade, Guitry, Bunuel, Bresson, Visconti, Antonioni, Bergman,
Rossellini. Because his film is an original creation within which all
those influences resonate, it is 'open to all myths,' as the director
told Labarthe and Rivette. And although it is as singular an object
as cinema has produced, it will be a long time before we see the last
of its descendants."

Hitchcock, by the way, loved Resnais, whom he described as "almost a
surrealist."
6823


From: Craig Keller
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 3:59am
Subject: Re: Re: Renoir and The Rules of the Game
 
>
> Though I like GRAND ILLUSION very much, it's probably the Renoir
> I've seen with the biggest negative gap between its reputation and
> my affection.  THE RULES OF THE GAME is my favorite Renoir
> ("middlebrow," hmph) but I saw it too long ago to discuss in any
> substantial detail.

I've never quite understood the statement: "'The Grand Illusion' isn't
as great as everyone thinks it is" -- I've read this proclamation
probably more times than I've heard anyone proclaim its greatness (in
fact, I'd almost swear the bulk of my remembrances of testimonials in
favor of the film are flotsam of marketing blurb'age around the time of
its Rialto release in North America [along with its delayed début as
Criterion DVD spine-number 1]). Having said that, my own perception of
the film, which I've "only" seen maybe ten or eleven times, -is- that
it's a supreme masterpiece -- subtle, nuanced, complex, and emotional.
("Qu'est-ce que c'est -- 'CADASTRE'?")

> I'd say THE SEVENTH SEAL deserves it, though if anyone here likes
> the film I'd be happy to hear their thoughts.

This is a very interesting choice. Its reputation probably comes from
its accessibility -- it's a film of "grand" gestures, but one I
treasure nonetheless; it's an incredibly economical film. All these
gestures lack ostentation despite being hurtled from the screen without
reserve like no viewer could ever judge them: why/how is this? It's
not like Bergman regards the audience as a swath of insensate viewers;
the boldness works for the most part because of the pacing -- the
spiritual questions are never far-removed from a plot beat. It allows
to take it all "on faith" -- Sentence One: "I am Death" -- now gambling
for a life over chess -- even taking another life by chopping down the
tree the man is couched in (Death commits murder? no natural cause? the
murder and chopped tree is only 'allegory' for an unseen 'natural
death'?) -- I think it's a great film.

craig.


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
6824


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 4:29am
Subject: Re: Re: Last Year at Marienbad
 
--- hotlove666 wrote:

>
> Hitchcock, by the way, loved Resnais, whom he
> described as "almost a
> surrealist."
>
>
There is a life-size cardboard cut-out of Hitchcock
clearly visible in a shot fairly early on in
"Marienbad."

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6825


From: Tosh
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 4:49am
Subject: Re: Re: Last Year at Marienbad
 
No way?!? Where does this take place in the film? This is too good
to be true. David if this is a tease, I am going to punch you in the
arm next time I see you. But really can you pin-point it when this
happens. I have the dvd.



>There is a life-size cardboard cut-out of Hitchcock
>clearly visible in a shot fairly early on in
>"Marienbad."
>
>__

--
Tosh Berman
TamTam Books
http://www.tamtambooks.com
6826


From: Fred Camper
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 5:49am
Subject: Re: Re: Renoir et La Regle du jeu (the meaning of "middlebrow")
 
ebiri@a... wrote:

>.... And then it becomes a sociological distinction....are you objecting to the film, or to its viewers...
>

Well, to me such an objection is out of bounds. It's fine to observe who
views and likes or dislikes a film, but I don't think such "data" should
have any bearing on the film's merit, unlesss perhaps you can prove,
say, that the film helped lead to the death of millions -- which would,
by the by, cast extreme suspicion on "Patton," since Nixon saw it twice
before deciding to invade Cambodia.
Anyway, to me "middlebrow" is only of use in suggesting that the film as
the viewer using the label sees it is severely limited in thematic,
social, and aesthetic ways. I'm not going to try to guess what David
meant. Minnelli might have seeemed middlebrow to me had I been an adult
at the times the films were made only because I might then have lacked
the sensibility or tools to get intoxicated by his decor and caemra
movements and also see their implications,. since few Americans of the
50s seemed to be able to look at films that way.

- Fred
6827


From: Andy Rector
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 8:01am
Subject: Re: KAPO seen and unseen
 
Adrian Martin wrote:
> Thanks, Andy, for those transcriptions from London in 2001. But
were you
> actually there? If not, maybe you missed Raymond Bellour's body
language
> when he answered Jullier (it's definitely Jullier you have
transcribed) - I
> am not the only person in the crowd that day who thought that was a
tense
> exchange, and that it ended rather abruptly.

I was there but I don't remember exactly how it went down. I should
say that the running translation on my tape obscures the actual
voices of Bellour and, thank you, Jullier, so it is difficult to
judge the tones!

I don't believe that Daney was blind to the fact that Rivette may
have misdescribed the shot, that to actually see KAPO might be
painful, and perhaps, in this case, even useless (I don't know, in
the words of Bellour and Jullier).

I mean to say that the ideas in the article "The Tracking Shot in
KAPO" interest me much more than KAPO itself. Daney vexingly weaves
both the how and the what in his article....now it is hard to know
what we're talking about in this forum; KAPO as a film, the ideas
that spring from Daney's piece, which springs not from KAPO the film
but from history...one could go on and on!

It is an open issue whether or not Pontecorvo is capable of a facile,
abject move as a filmmaker. Based on what I've seen, BATTLE OF
ALGIERS and BURN!, I would say it is not impossible. I'm thinking of
BURN!'s recklessness. And not to discount Jullier (I'm very
interested in his book) but his interpretation of the tracking shot
in KAPO is rather generic, probably stemming from the film, or
Jullier, or my own misjudgement.

There are certainly many different kinds of humanism.
I like the distinction Daney makes: "ashamed to be seen as someone
who has to be aesthetically seduced where it is only a matter of
conscience - good or bad - of being a human and nothing more" and "It
would tell it very carefully but it would sell it to us as another
American story. Holocaust would therefore be the misfortunes that
tear apart and destroy a Jewish family: there would be extras looking
too fat, acting performances, generic humanism, action and
melodramatic scenes."

These quotes give me the impression that there are different
humanisms, those that truly care, and those that simply give the
impression and make a career of it. I reiterate this because I too
would be suspicious of the word "humanist" being used as "abuse",
that is until I read this article, it's clarity like finding
something in your hand that you've been intently looking for.
Precisely, one must make distinctions in this world, like Straub says.

Definately all the factors you mention about film-viewing/going
are rarely taken into account:
>problems of time, opportunity, money to buy tickets or videos,
the country you happen to live in, etc... something a bit more
mysterious and psychoanalytical? ...resistance...to preserve myth<<

When the legend becomes fact, print the legend! I have yet to see
WEEKEND!

My least confused question to you, Adrian, is have you seen KAPO and
what is your opinion of the shot?

A belated thanks, by the way, for your contribution to FOR EVER
GODARD, I wish we would have met there.

Best,
andy r.
6828


From:
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 4:21am
Subject: Gilda and Hitch at Marienbad
 
Y'all -

Ok, after about an hour or so of running through videotapes, I have finally
solved some long-standing mysteries for myself.

Last Year at Marienbad does not copy a scene from Gilda shot by shot; it
would be more precise to say that it copies certain shots from a scene in Gilda.
Assuming I haven't botched the reference entirely, the scenes in question occur
at approximately 1:22:37 in Marienbad and 32:40 in Gilda (there is another
scene of Seyrig lying on a bed conversing with Pitoeff in the room that occurs
about 56 minutes into the film but apart from the first two shots, it bears
little relation to the scene in Gilda). The scene in Marienbad is only four
shots; the scene in Gilda eleven. But the reference is unquestionably there and I
thank David for finally bringing it to my attention.

Now for Hitchcock. He appears approximately 10:15 into Marienbad. I have a
shit videotape copy of it so I'm inevitably going to misdescribe some of these
shots. But hopefully this will help those who want to find him. First off,
the shot comes after that great "Je suis a vous" play. Look for a shot of three
people walking up stairs past two people chatting. Cut to what looks like a
shot in a mirror with an ornate frame around the edges. There are three people
in the mirror - a woman on the left with her back to us, a man in the middle
who appears to be split by a pane (or page - more on that later) and a man on
the right looking left. Cut to a long shot of three people talking in the
distance on the left half of the frame. On the right half is a huge cage or an
elevator or something. Hitchcock is right in front of it. Can't tell if he's
cardboard or wax or whatever but he's there. Did Hitch know about this?

For me, all this just deepens the mystery of Marienbad. Why that particular
scene in Gilda? It seems so flippant on one level but clearly Resnais had some
sort of (hate to drag this horse out but...) fetishistic attachment to it. And
it begs the question of whether or not there are more references throughout.
The gestures in that scene, for instance, are not so unique that they couldn't
have appeared in another movie. Maybe someone could devote their life to
discovering that each scene lovingly pilfers precise movements from cinema's past.

But this also deepens the comedy of the film for me. How can anyone find this
a stuffy, pretentious art film when there's a Hitch doppelganger hanging out
amongst the guests?

For my money, the best piece on Marienbad is Bordwell and Thompson's analysis
of it towards the end of the ubiquitous Film Art textbook (or at least one
edition of it).

I like Mike's idea about the camera as a dancer. It reminded me of the entry
on Marienbad in The 50 Worst Films of All-Time. I think it was there that I
first read that Resnais was a comic strip nut and liked Dick Tracy in
particular. The Medveds went on to state that that is partially how he filmed Marienbad,
as if he were scanning across a comic strip immobilized on the newspaper page
(that man in the mirror sorta looks like he's divided by the center of a
magazine).

Which brings me to my final point. Even though the Medveds are ripping on the
film, their piece not only made me want to see it but is actually an
intelligent bit of criticism that seems to get the point of Marienbad. Much of what
one might need to appreciate the film is right there. So then why the sense of
bewilderment? It reminds me of an IMDb post on Whale's The Old Dark House which
listed all the things I adored about the film as proof of the film's
failures. In both instances, I would say they were reacting negatively to the
discontinuous use of time, space and character motivation. But what is the impasse
between the ability to recognize how differently these films work and taking
pleasure in them?

Off to watch Giants & Toys,
Kevin





[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
6829


From: Gary Tooze
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 0:21pm
Subject: Re: It's Spinach and to Hell with It!
 
> To me its "L'Annče derničre ŕ Marienbad". I dont get it, I never
>will get it, I doubt anyone gets/got it. To me, its empty, pointless
> and pretentious.
>
> Henrik

Yeah... although I share Henrik's sentiments, I certainly can't blame
the film. I understand its critical significance and only think the
fact that I did not like it is... my fault. I find this true of a lot
of "acclaimed" cinema... I don't care for much (most) of Godard... it
just doesn't impact on me. I think the important thing though is to
keep an open mind, as I am sure that one day films that I wasn't
mature enough for will enlighten me and I'll be standing here
pontificating on how wonderful Pierrot le fou is (if I do shoot me)...

Cheers,
Gary
6830


From: joe_mcelhaney
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 0:25pm
Subject: Re: Last Year at Marienbad
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "jpcoursodon"
wrote:
>>
>I am so glad I have not been one of your students (the mere
> thought of "taking a film course" makes me shudder; teaching one
>even more). Still I do understand that one has to live (although, as
> somewhone said --and you'll have to ask your students to identify
> this-- "I don't see the necessity" (it was in French).

But you've taught film courses. What happened? Did you do it badly,
hence the bitterness?
6831


From: joe_mcelhaney
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 1:29pm
Subject: hitchcock & resnais
 
There's another Hitchcock "cameo" in MURIEL. Jean-Andre Fieschi
described the film as "the equivalent of the first hour of THE BIRDS
expanded into a full-length film."
6832


From: Ruy Gardnier
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 2:42pm
Subject: Re: Last Year at Marienbad: diegetic time / alain robbe-grillet
 
there's a really great story I know of related to Last Year in Marienbad.
some people working on the film from the narrative standpoint went to ask
alain robbe-grillet if the diegetic time of the film was 2 days or an year
and two days. he answered it was 91 minutes.
got the chance to see a good deal of robbe-grillet films kinda 10 years ago
in a retrospective held here in rio de janeiro. although i found them
logically interesting. i didn't find them very cinematically intreresting.
could catch trans-europ express, l'homme qui ment, glissements progressifs
du plaisir and others i can't remember the name. all good but that's it. all
paradoxes seem flat, though. nothing here as good as marienbad or cortázar
passim. as if the moebius strip were a straight line.
unlike that, i like very much his novel "projet for a revolution in new
york". couldn't go through page 10 of jealuosy (and i'm not unfamiliar with
joyce, butor, mallarmé)...
ruy

----- Original Message -----
From:
To:
Sent: Monday, January 19, 2004 12:41 AM
Subject: Re: [a_film_by] Last Year at Marienbad: Plot


> I agree with Dan Salitt's post: Marienbad has a very complex
(experimental)
> plot. And following that plot is one of the great pleasures of the movie.
> What I was trying to oppose were discussions such as: The heroine really
knew
> the hero last year at Mariendbad (or she didn't) because of 5 clues buried
in
> the movie... This sort of discussion was apparently common around 1961. It
> seems fruitless - the film is not firmly committed to specific scenarios
about
> the past relations of the 3 main characters, etc. Instead, it seems to
explore
> whole bunches of interesting, alternative scenarios.
> I've never read "Morel". There is an article (in Senses of Cinema, maybe)
> which claims Marienbad is really a coherent science fiction movie with a
plot
> related to Morel. I was not convinced, but then again, maybe this is just
cause I
> haven't read Morel. Morel's plot has also been linked to Rivette's
"Celine
> and Julie Go Boating" .
> Borges and Casares collaborated on three volumes of mysteries. The one
that
> has been translated into English, "Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi", is
> pretty interesting - especially the first story. Keep hoping that the
other two
> will make it into English someday...
> Everything I think I know about Marienbad might be wrong... The posts were
> just to get a discussion going - maybe other people see the film
drastically
> differently.
> Will watch Gilda again. It too takes place in a dream fantasy world, as
> artificial and glamorous as the one in Marienbad. Good clothes, too (Jean
Louis).
> Mike Grost
>
>
>
>
> Yahoo! Groups Links
>
> To visit your group on the web, go to:
> http://groups.yahoo.com/group/a_film_by/
>
> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
> a_film_by-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
>
> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:
> http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
>
>
>
6833


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 2:47pm
Subject: Re: Gilda and Hitch at Marienbad
 
--- LiLiPUT1@a... wrote:
Can't tell if he's
> cardboard or wax or whatever but he's there. Did
> Hitch know about this?

I have iton DVD and it's a carboard Hitch. I would bet
that he knew and was amused.

>
> For me, all this just deepens the mystery of
> Marienbad. Why that particular
> scene in Gilda? It seems so flippant on one level
> but clearly Resnais had some
> sort of (hate to drag this horse out but...)
> fetishistic attachment to it.

Resnais may have been inspired by Bazin who famously
said "If Hollywood can be compared to the court of
Versailles then GILDA is its PHAEDRA."

> But this also deepens the comedy of the film for me.
> How can anyone find this
> a stuffy, pretentious art film when there's a Hitch
> doppelganger hanging out
> amongst the guests?
>

Precisely.

It
> reminded me of the entry
> on Marienbad in The 50 Worst Films of All-Time. I
> think it was there that I
> first read that Resnais was a comic strip nut and
> liked Dick Tracy in
> particular.

Alain resnais' favorite American comic strip is/was
the ow-defunct "The Heart of Juliet Jones." Resnais
was a contributor to a French comic strip appreciation
amgazine called "Giff-Wiff." A stack of comic famous
appears in Resnais' great documentary short about the
Biblitheque nationale "Toute la Memoire du Monde."

The Medveds went on to state that that
> is partially how he filmed Marienbad,
> as if he were scanning across a comic strip
> immobilized on the newspaper page
> (that man in the mirror sorta looks like he's
> divided by the center of a
> magazine).
>
The Medveds are Reactionary Idiots.

> Which brings me to my final point. Even though the
> Medveds are ripping on the
> film, their piece not only made me want to see it
> but is actually an
> intelligent bit of criticism that seems to get the
> point of Marienbad.

Not really.

Much of what
> one might need to appreciate the film is right
> there. So then why the sense of
> bewilderment? It reminds me of an IMDb post on
> Whale's The Old Dark House which
> listed all the things I adored about the film as
> proof of the film's
> failures.

Actually "Marienbad" and "The Old Dark House" have
much in common in terms of their playful spirit.
Whale, of course, is much campier than Resnais and
Robbe-Grillet.



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6834


From: Ruy Gardnier
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 2:55pm
Subject: Re: Classics We Do and Don't Like; Fellini; Bergman
 
Fellini: if some early films can't stand third of fourth viewings (the white
sheik, nights of cabiria), some can (i vitelloni, la dolce vita [despite
some heavy hand sometimes]). 70s fellini is immense. roma, amarcord are
films i'm truly passionate with, and really dense memory-wise.
Ass for Bergman, I excuse myself for prefering Tchekhov as a dramatist. I
like his films in which there's less drama (Silence, Persona, Monika) or
late 70s picks, On the life of the marionettes and mainly Scenes from a
marriage. I'm really glad to notice that I'm not alone in the world and that
someone also thinks as bad as I do of The 7th Seal (my friend Hernani
Heffner being the only one who thinks like me about this film that I know of
in Brazil). Aside from the flashback sequences in Wild Strawberries, I also
dislike it.
ruy
----- Original Message -----
From:
To:
Sent: Sunday, January 18, 2004 8:14 PM
Subject: [a_film_by] Classics We Do and Don't Like; Resnais; Bergman; Welles


> Joe McElhaney wrote:
>
> >I hope that I do not stand alone among this group in thinking that
> >MARIENBAD is not only a great film but, if anything, underrated
> >rather than overrated.
>
> I like "Marienbad," though not as much as some other Resnais films: "Night
> and Fog," "Hiroshima, mon amour," and especially, >especially< the amazing
"Je
> t'aime, je t'aime." I wonder aloud if anyone here besides Jonathan and
myself
> have seen his wonderful "late film" "I Want To Gome Home"? A delightful
> clash-of-cultures comedy with a script by Jules Feiffer. (I know
Jonathan's seen
> it because he's written about it.)
>
> As Fred says, it was perfectly understandable how the early auteurists
> reacted (perhaps overreacted) against the classic staples of "film art" in
order to
> emphasize the great films which existed outside of museum culture. (Even
as
> recently as 1997, Bogdanovich was still talking about the discussions he
and
> Sarris had in the early '60s about the superiority of Hitchcock to
Antonioni!)
> But I think that we can now see that at least some of the museum culture
guys
> had something. I don't like "The Seventh Seal" at all, but some of the
later
> Bergmans - particularly "Persona" and "Cries and Whispers" - are actually
> really great. Fellini is another matter. I guess you just have to take
them one
> by one.
>
> "Classics I don't like" is not a category I'm entirely comfortable with
> because I much prefer talking about great films than poor ones (or rather:
films
> which I think are great rather than films which I think are poor). But
> sometimes it can help to make a point, I suppose. For example, I think
"Citizen Kane"
> is great, but it's also highly overrated, in my opinion, and I'd name it
in a
> "classics I think are overrated" poll in order to draw attention to other
> Orson Welles films which I think are far greater. Ballot-stuffing can be
a
> useful activity; placing Robert Aldrich's "...All the Marbles" at the top
of a list
> will bring the film attention.
>
> Peter
>
>
>
> Yahoo! Groups Links
>
> To visit your group on the web, go to:
> http://groups.yahoo.com/group/a_film_by/
>
> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
> a_film_by-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
>
> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:
> http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
>
>
>
6835


From: Greg Dunlap
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 3:08pm
Subject: Re: Classics We Do and Don't Like
 
I actively dislike both Jules And Jim and Breathless. I appreciate
their place in history but as films that touch and interest me they
fail miserably. There are other films by both directors I prefer far
more. I also thought L'avventura was one of the most boring things I've
ever seen. Give me Blow Up any day.

=====
--------------------
Greg Dunlap
heyrocker@y...

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6836


From:
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 10:52am
Subject: Resnais and Comics
 
Resnais greatly admires Stan Lee (of Marvel Comics fame: Fantastic Four,
Hulk, Spiderman, etc). Resnais has a cherished project since the 1970's to film a
script Lee wrote for him called "Monster Maker". The two men men have never
been able to raise funds.
Lee wrote a delirious spoof of soap operas, as a newspaper comic strip: "The
Virtue of Vera Valiant" (mid 1970's). Most were reprinted in the two little
paperbacks. If you can find copies in used book stores, don't miss them. The
very dull male hero cannot marry poor Vera, because his first wife has been in a
coma with sleeping sickness since their wedding night.
Fritz Lang and Fellini were also great comics fans - see "The White Shiek".
One suspects that many other filmmakers read comics, but the details have
become obscured in history.

Mike Grost

author of the Classic Comic Books web site at:
http://members.aol.com/MG4273/comics.htm
6837


From: Ruy Gardnier
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 4:12pm
Subject: tracking shot in Kapo / humanism
 
I wasn''t asked, but I watched Kapo. I didn't feel abjection when the
tracking shot came out, but it's for sure a --close to inept--
over-aesthetization of a noble gesture (to commit suicide in a camp is to
find freedom after all). There's nothing wrong to the gesture in itself,
it's kind of the exploitation, the profit that the camera gets from the
attitude of the character. Pontecorvo, by getting the camera closer to Riva,
thinks he'll enhance dramaticity and forgets he's talking about human life
and maybe the most difficult moment of it, finding out you have no longer
any life to live so you go kill yourself. It's choosing cheap emotion over
tha magnitude of human life that makes it hideous. Come to think of it,
yeah, it's not the most abject tracking shot in movie history, but it IS
abject.
About humanism, Foucault --I guess, on an interview about his piece "What is
enlightenment?"-- says all humanism is loose. He explains why in the text,
and I'll quote (rather long quote, but I think somewhat necessary to the
comprehension of the concept):
"This permanent critique of ourselves has to avoid the always too facile
confusions between humanism and Enlightenment.
We must never forget that the Enlightenment is an event, or a set of events
and complex historical processes, that is located at a certain point in the
development of European societies. As such, it includes elements of social
transformation, types of political institution, forms of knowledge, projects
of rationalization of knowledge and practices, technological mutations that
are very difficult to sum up in a word, even if many of these phenomena
remain important today. The one I have pointed out and that seems to me to
have been at the basis of an entire form of philosophical reflection
concerns only the mode of reflective relation to the present.
Humanism is something entirely different. It is a theme or rather a set of
themes that have reappeared on several occasions over time in European
societies; these themes always tied to value judgments have obviously varied
greatly in their content as well as in the values they have preserved.
Furthermore they have served as a critical principle of differentiation. In
the seventeenth century there was a humanism that presented itself as a
critique of Christianity or of religion in general; there was a Christian
humanism opposed to an ascetic and much more theocentric humanism. In the
nineteenth century there was a suspicious humanism hostile and critical
toward science and another that to the contrary placed its hope in that same
science. Marxism has been a humanism; so have existentialism and
personalism; there was a time when people supported the humanistic values
represented by National Socialism and when the Stalinists themselves said
they were humanists.
From this we must not conclude that everything that has ever been linked
with humanism is to be rejected but that the humanistic thematic is in
itself too supple too diverse too inconsistent to serve as an axis for
reflection. And it is a fact that at least since the seventeenth century
what is called humanism has always been obliged to lean on certain
conceptions of man borrowed from religion science or politics. Humanism
serves to color and to justify the conceptions of man to which it is after
all obliged to take recourse.
Now in this connection I believe that this thematic which so often recurs
and which always depends on humanism can be opposed by the principle of a
critique and a permanent creation of ourselves in our autonomy: that is a
principle that is at the heart of the historical consciousness that the
Enlightenment has of itself. From this standpoint I am inclined to see
Enlightenment and humanism in a state of tension rather than identity.
In any case it seems to me dangerous to confuse them; and further it seems
historically inaccurate. If the question of man of the human species of the
humanist was important throughout the eighteenth century this is very rarely
I believe because the Enlightenment considered itself a humanism. It is
worthwhile too to note that throughout the nineteenth century the
historiography of sixteenth-century humanism which was so important for
people like Saint-Beuve or Burckhardt was always distinct from and sometimes
explicitly opposed to the Enlightenment and the eighteenth century. The
nineteenth century had a tendency to oppose the two at least as much as to
confuse them.
In any case I think that just as we must free ourselves from the
intellectual blackmail of being for or against the Enlightenment we must
escape from the historical and moral confusionism that mixes the theme of
humanism with the question of the Enlightenment. An analysis of their
complex relations in the course of the last two centuries would be a
worthwhile project an important one if we are to bring some measure of
clarity to the consciousness that we have of ourselves and of our past."
The whole piece can be fond on this link (15-20 pages of reading, not more):
eserver.org/philosophy/foucault/ what-is-enlightenment.html

ruy

----- Original Message -----
From: "Andy Rector"
To:
Sent: Monday, January 19, 2004 6:01 AM
Subject: [a_film_by] Re: KAPO seen and unseen


> Adrian Martin wrote:
> > Thanks, Andy, for those transcriptions from London in 2001. But
> were you
> > actually there? If not, maybe you missed Raymond Bellour's body
> language
> > when he answered Jullier (it's definitely Jullier you have
> transcribed) - I
> > am not the only person in the crowd that day who thought that was a
> tense
> > exchange, and that it ended rather abruptly.
>
> I was there but I don't remember exactly how it went down. I should
> say that the running translation on my tape obscures the actual
> voices of Bellour and, thank you, Jullier, so it is difficult to
> judge the tones!
>
> I don't believe that Daney was blind to the fact that Rivette may
> have misdescribed the shot, that to actually see KAPO might be
> painful, and perhaps, in this case, even useless (I don't know, in
> the words of Bellour and Jullier).
>
> I mean to say that the ideas in the article "The Tracking Shot in
> KAPO" interest me much more than KAPO itself. Daney vexingly weaves
> both the how and the what in his article....now it is hard to know
> what we're talking about in this forum; KAPO as a film, the ideas
> that spring from Daney's piece, which springs not from KAPO the film
> but from history...one could go on and on!
>
> It is an open issue whether or not Pontecorvo is capable of a facile,
> abject move as a filmmaker. Based on what I've seen, BATTLE OF
> ALGIERS and BURN!, I would say it is not impossible. I'm thinking of
> BURN!'s recklessness. And not to discount Jullier (I'm very
> interested in his book) but his interpretation of the tracking shot
> in KAPO is rather generic, probably stemming from the film, or
> Jullier, or my own misjudgement.
>
> There are certainly many different kinds of humanism.
> I like the distinction Daney makes: "ashamed to be seen as someone
> who has to be aesthetically seduced where it is only a matter of
> conscience - good or bad - of being a human and nothing more" and "It
> would tell it very carefully but it would sell it to us as another
> American story. Holocaust would therefore be the misfortunes that
> tear apart and destroy a Jewish family: there would be extras looking
> too fat, acting performances, generic humanism, action and
> melodramatic scenes."
>
> These quotes give me the impression that there are different
> humanisms, those that truly care, and those that simply give the
> impression and make a career of it. I reiterate this because I too
> would be suspicious of the word "humanist" being used as "abuse",
> that is until I read this article, it's clarity like finding
> something in your hand that you've been intently looking for.
> Precisely, one must make distinctions in this world, like Straub says.
>
> Definately all the factors you mention about film-viewing/going
> are rarely taken into account:
> >problems of time, opportunity, money to buy tickets or videos,
> the country you happen to live in, etc... something a bit more
> mysterious and psychoanalytical? ...resistance...to preserve myth<<
>
> When the legend becomes fact, print the legend! I have yet to see
> WEEKEND!
>
> My least confused question to you, Adrian, is have you seen KAPO and
> what is your opinion of the shot?
>
> A belated thanks, by the way, for your contribution to FOR EVER
> GODARD, I wish we would have met there.
>
> Best,
> andy r.
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> Yahoo! Groups Links
>
> To visit your group on the web, go to:
> http://groups.yahoo.com/group/a_film_by/
>
> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
> a_film_by-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
>
> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:
> http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
>
>
>
6838


From: joe_mcelhaney
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 5:01pm
Subject: daney miscellany
 
For those of you who may not be aware of it (most of you probably
are) Tavernier has a couple of fascinating entries on Daney in his "I
Wake Up, Dreaming" journal in PROJECTIONS 2. One of them is a
description of a long phone conversation that took place between the
two of them while Daney was dying; the other is Tavernier's mixed
assessment of Daney's achievements as a critic in the immediate
aftermath of Daney's death. Given that Daney did not think very
highly of Tavernier's work, Tavernier's own opinion of Daney is (not
surprisingly) mixed: "Daney was a brilliant but falacious thinker, a
victim of prejudices...", etc. According to Tavernier, in their
phone conversation Daney also took swipes at Rivette and Godard,
calling Rivette "an autist of feelings." I wasn't sure, though, if
this referred to Rivette as a person or a filmmaker or both.

 


6839


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 5:22pm
Subject: Re: daney miscellany
 
Thanks for mentioning this interview. I'm going to go
look it up. I was just about to ask to group if Daney
ever wrote anything about having AIDS and/or being
gay.

--- joe_mcelhaney wrote:
> For those of you who may not be aware of it (most of
> you probably
> are) Tavernier has a couple of fascinating entries
> on Daney in his "I
> Wake Up, Dreaming" journal in PROJECTIONS 2. One of
> them is a
> description of a long phone conversation that took
> place between the
> two of them while Daney was dying; the other is
> Tavernier's mixed
> assessment of Daney's achievements as a critic in
> the immediate
> aftermath of Daney's death. Given that Daney did not
> think very
> highly of Tavernier's work, Tavernier's own opinion
> of Daney is (not
> surprisingly) mixed: "Daney was a brilliant but
> falacious thinker, a
> victim of prejudices...", etc. According to
> Tavernier, in their
> phone conversation Daney also took swipes at Rivette
> and Godard,
> calling Rivette "an autist of feelings." I wasn't
> sure, though, if
> this referred to Rivette as a person or a filmmaker
> or both.
>
>


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6840


From: samfilms2003
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 6:32pm
Subject: Re: Last Year at Marienbad: diegetic time / alain robbe-grillet
 
> could catch trans-europ express, l'homme qui ment, glissements progressifs
> du plaisir and others i can't remember the name. all good but that's it.

"L'Imortelle" is interesting....

Agree about "Project for a Revolution", also "Djinn"

The guy is nothing if not on track !!!

PS dept:

Delphine Seyrig IS an axiom ;-)

-Sam
6841


From: samfilms2003
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 6:44pm
Subject: Re: Classics We Do and Don't Like; Fellini; Bergman
 
> As for Bergman, I excuse myself for prefering Tchekhov as a dramatist. I
> like his films in which there's less drama (Silence, Persona, Monika) or
> late 70s picks, On the life of the marionettes and mainly Scenes from a
> marriage.

Ruy, I'd sort of agree with you - I think the above three are incredible
films - but I've "made my peace" as it were with Ingmar Bergman partly
by accepting that in a sense, Theater IS where his muses seem to reside,
no less so than Brakhage's from poetry, or Godard's in cinema & philosophy
and so on.

In a sense, it was Fanny and Alexander that showed me how to look at
what preceeded it.

-Sam
6842


From: jpcoursodon
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 7:51pm
Subject: Re: daney miscellany
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "joe_mcelhaney"
wrote:
> For those of you who may not be aware of it (most of you probably
> are) Tavernier has a couple of fascinating entries on Daney in
his "I
> Wake Up, Dreaming" journal in PROJECTIONS 2. One of them is a
> description of a long phone conversation that took place between
the
> two of them while Daney was dying; the other is Tavernier's mixed
> assessment of Daney's achievements as a critic in the immediate
> aftermath of Daney's death. Given that Daney did not think very
> highly of Tavernier's work, Tavernier's own opinion of Daney is
(not
> surprisingly) mixed: "Daney was a brilliant but falacious thinker,
a
> victim of prejudices...", etc. According to Tavernier, in their
> phone conversation Daney also took swipes at Rivette and Godard,
> calling Rivette "an autist of feelings." I wasn't sure, though, if
> this referred to Rivette as a person or a filmmaker or both.


To say that Daney "did not think very highly of Tavernier's work" is
like saying that Hitler didn't like the Jews very much. Daney wrote
absolutely scathing reviews of COUP DE TORCHON and DIMANCHE A LA
CAMPAGNE. Interestingly what motivated Bertrand to get in touch with
Daney was Daney's making the strange statement in a recent
interview: "If I were friend with Tavernier, I know he'd look after
me." (strange considering how he felt about his films).

Bertrand sent Daney a copy of our book (which he calls "my book" but
I forgave him) and Daney said: "I had to lay it on the table to read
it because I haven't the stregth to pick it up." "No self-pity"
Bertrand commented. (the book was the two-volume hardcover edition,
which is indeed heavy...
JPC
6843


From: jpcoursodon
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 7:55pm
Subject: Daney miscellany
 
By the way the PROJECTIONS text of Tavernier's "I Wake Up, Dreaming"
is a translation. The original was published in book form by Editions
du Seuil in 1993 as "Qu'est-ce qu'on attend?"
6844


From: Gabe Klinger
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 9:37pm
Subject: Re: daney miscellany
 
"David Ehrenstein" wrote:

> Thanks for mentioning this interview. I'm going to go
> look it up. I was just about to ask to group if Daney
> ever wrote anything about having AIDS and/or being
> gay.

Check out post 654:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/a_film_by/message/654
It's only a short paragraph I ran through a translator. If you're
really interested, check out Perseverance, or the doc Itineraire d'un
cine-fils (which, incidentally, is showing at Harvard in a version that
has been subtitled recently).

Speaking of Harvard, I'll be in Cambridge for the Daney panel, even if
I hate that these idiots who've never read a sentence of Daney in their
lives are organizing it, so if anyone is going make yourself present.
I'm the guy holding up the sign: "NO, URANUS."

Some fugitive notes on Daney:

-- Edouard Waintrop told me something interesting when I began to ask
people questions about Daney in preparation for a series I curated in
fall '02: It was only in the last two years of his life that Daney
became famous in France.
-- While a lot of people talk about Daney from a theoretical
background, I admired some of the practical examples he set: his
application of the Journal des Cahiers and enforcement of journalism in
general was not unlike his "savage application" of theory; his "buying"
into Cahiers by flying to Hollywood and interviewing famous directors;
his fascination with the gulf war and how media began to change (what
you see, what you don't see) in the short time before his death. The
only thing that doesn't interest me about Daney is his love of tennis.
-- Daney is incomprehensible to me sometimes, but like most of the
Cahiers writing from the period, you have to have seen the film(s). At
La Libe it was a different story. After I saw both Numero deux and Ici
et Ailleurs, going back to Daney's La Therrorize was mindblowing.
-- When I showed my grandmother Daney's text on STALKER, after we had
watched the film together, she cried.
-- Whether or not Daney and the Cahiers crew reassessed Bazin was not
important to me; I was more interested in discovering what the fuss
about Daney was than going all the way back to Bazin. As a result, the
essays I looked for, the important one about Louisana Story,
co-authored by Bonitzer, were only interesting to me historically, as
something from the time, and the later period, at La Libe, was truly
thrilling (even if opaque at certain points).
-- I am afraid of this Harvard thing because academia has already put
Barthes and Deleuze through the spinner and the only thing still
preventing Daney from this treatment is the translation of the majority
of his work into English. But maybe it has already happened in France,
but then even if it has, I don't know anything about schools over
there. Still something about the way film is taught in this country
bugs me.

Gabe
6845


From: hotlove666
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 9:36pm
Subject: Re: Last Year at Marienbad and auteurism
 
I agree with Ruy about the Robbe-Grillet's I've seen.

Marienbad is a fascinating example of the auteur theory,
because the film follows almost to the letter R-G's script, which
gives very detailed descriptions of camera moves, etc., yet it is a
staggering masterpiece, while L'Immortelle is a footnote.

Resnais did do a few "director's rewrites" while shooting - he
also had several discussions with R-G before he went off to
write. Not at all unlike how Hitchcock worked with writers. In fact,
he commented at the time that it was how directors in H'wd
worked with writers.

If there is any film I can think of that proves that the director's
hand makes ALL the difference, it's Marienbad.
6846


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 9:58pm
Subject: Re: daney miscellany
 
Thanks.

That quote is most remindful of Techine's "Wild
Reeds."

--- Gabe Klinger wrote:
> "David Ehrenstein" wrote:
>
> > Thanks for mentioning this interview. I'm going to
> go
> > look it up. I was just about to ask to group if
> Daney
> > ever wrote anything about having AIDS and/or being
> > gay.
>
> Check out post 654:
> http://groups.yahoo.com/group/a_film_by/message/654
> It's only a short paragraph I ran through a
> translator. If you're
> really interested, check out Perseverance, or the
> doc Itineraire d'un
> cine-fils (which, incidentally, is showing at
> Harvard in a version that
> has been subtitled recently).
>


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6847


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Mon Jan 19, 2004 10:01pm
Subject: Re: Re: Last Year at Marienbad and auteurism
 
--- hotlove666 wrote:

>
> If there is any film I can think of that proves that
> the director's
> hand makes ALL the difference, it's Marienbad.
>
>
True but the Robbe-Grillet of "L'Eden et Apres" and
"Glessements Progressif du Plaisir" isn't to be
sneezed at.

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6848


From: Andy Rector
Date: Tue Jan 20, 2004 0:22pm
Subject: Re: daney miscellany
 
I'm far from being an expert on Daney but doesn't the program of
films seem a little toothless? There are definately plenty of the
proper fixtures and I wish I was able to attend every film, but
there's something bland in scrolling over the titles (in that order).
Maybe the abscence of Godard, Mizoguchi, and Straub/Huillet is what
does it.
Am I alone in this feeling? I wouldn't be offended if I was, I'm just
curious.

Best to all,
andy r.
6849


From: Andy Rector
Date: Tue Jan 20, 2004 0:26pm
Subject: daney miscellany/Harvard....
 
I was referring to the Harvard Film Program on Daney.
6850


From: joe_mcelhaney
Date: Tue Jan 20, 2004 0:31pm
Subject: Re: daney miscellany
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "Andy Rector"
wrote:
> I'm far from being an expert on Daney but doesn't the program of
> films seem a little toothless? There are definately plenty of the
> proper fixtures and I wish I was able to attend every film, but
> there's something bland in scrolling over the titles (in that
>order). Maybe the abscence of Godard, Mizoguchi, and Straub/Huillet
>is what does it.
> Am I alone in this feeling? I wouldn't be offended if I was, I'm
>just curious.

I was looking at the list of films yesterday and had the same
response. I wasn't even aware of his enthusiasm for things like BIRD
or ANNIE HALL -- not the first titles that come to mind when I think
of Daney. It would have been helpful had the program notes indicated
what it was that Daney liked about them and perhaps used a quote or
two from him. The program doesn't have much organizational logic that
I can see.
6851


From: Ruy Gardnier
Date: Tue Jan 20, 2004 2:50pm
Subject: Glissements progressifs de Coffin Joe
 
It's funny because I find Robbe-Grillet's films interesting, but Glissements
(which I class as a good film) reminds me a lot of Jose Mojica Marins'
Delírios de um Anormal (Hallucinations of a Deranged Mind), but I prefer the
latter (and it isn't even one of mojica's best 5). I know that Mojica Marins
/ Coffin Joe has a growingly cult following among horror fans in the US. A
guy at Cahiers has ranked a 60s Mojica film in one of his top 10 two or
three years ago (O Despertar da Besta / Awakening of the Beast / L'Éveil de
la bęte, one of his best, if not theee best). I'd like to know if our
anglo-saxon auterists have any thoughts on him.
ruy

----- Original Message -----
From: "David Ehrenstein"
To:
Sent: Monday, January 19, 2004 8:01 PM
Subject: Re: [a_film_by] Re: Last Year at Marienbad and auteurism


>
> --- hotlove666 wrote:
>
> >
> > If there is any film I can think of that proves that
> > the director's
> > hand makes ALL the difference, it's Marienbad.
> >
> >
> True but the Robbe-Grillet of "L'Eden et Apres" and
> "Glessements Progressif du Plaisir" isn't to be
> sneezed at.
>
> __________________________________
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> Yahoo! Hotjobs: Enter the "Signing Bonus" Sweepstakes
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>
>
>
> Yahoo! Groups Links
>
> To visit your group on the web, go to:
> http://groups.yahoo.com/group/a_film_by/
>
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> a_film_by-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
>
> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:
> http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
>
>
>
6852


From: Gabe Klinger
Date: Tue Jan 20, 2004 3:28pm
Subject: Re: Re: daney miscellany
 
Andy R. wrote of the Harvard series:

> I'm far from being an expert on Daney but doesn't the program of
> films seem a little toothless?

Yes -- many of the prints come from Harvard's own collection. So not
only toothless, but tightfisted.

I also don't particularly like the title that Harvard uses for these
series: "People we like". We love Serge, we don't just "like" him. But
the Harvard curators are hard pressed if they even like him.

Gabe
6853


From: Craig Keller
Date: Tue Jan 20, 2004 3:36pm
Subject: Re: Re: daney miscellany
 
Who chose the films specifically? In an earlier post someone slagged
off the organizers, and I'm wondering who specifically they are. Is it
anyone on the panel? I know Tom Conley, who translated Deleuze's 'The
Fold,' teaches at Harvard -- he was on leave one semester and acted as
a sort of auditor/"TA" figure in a class at my school, where he would
on frequent occasion be deferred to by the instructor, Tim Murray.
There was some reference to cinema, but I can't recall what exactly --
generally in the form of spontaneous remarks from Conley (who at the
time was doing "theory work" on the subject of cartography), and then
only if it tied in to Murray's mad thesis on "electronic ghosts /
baroque memory" or "the early-modern milieu." (Ah yes, the name of the
course was: "Electronic Art, Cultural Memory, Baroque Theory" -- make
of that what you will.) I remember there was a -lot- of
giving-a-shit-about Peter Greenaway and Baz Luhrmann (whose most recent
film at that point was 'Romeo + Juliet'). Conley seemed like a smart
enough guy, but I was unable to tell whether he bought in to all the
"drama trauma" flash of Murray's class, though he -seemed- to agree
vigorously with many of his points. (Incidentally, the semester
before, Murray had taught a graduate seminar on Godard whose syllabus
actually dared to set up a roughly 1:2 ratio between pre-'68 films and
post-'68 films/videos.) The latest issue of the English Department
alum-newsletter has a long interview with Murray, whose own ideology
can be summed up in this remark on the subject of a class he recently
taught in which his own students and a class in Australia were
connected live via webcams and simultaneously tag-team-taught by Murray
and the Aussie professor: "...and when interference slowed down the
connection to a crawl or pixellated our respective images, we theorized
that as well."

craig.
6854


From: Gabe Klinger
Date: Tue Jan 20, 2004 3:50pm
Subject: Re: Re: daney miscellany / Coffin Joe
 
> Who chose the films specifically?  In an earlier post someone slagged
> off the organizers, and I'm wondering who specifically they are.  Is it
> anyone on the panel?  I know Tom Conley, who translated Deleuze's 'The
> Fold,' [...]
(whole buncha other things elided)

Oh boy. That all sounds perfectly goddamn delightful. I don't know if
you are saying that because Murray is an eccentric who teaches Godard,
maybe he is the one who curated the Daney series, or that Conley,
because he brought drama/trauma, might be the one, or what we are
trying to get at, but...

The ones who curated the Daney series are on the program, which is the
on the web site if you look at the staff listings. I prefer not to say
their names here. And then, well, I just remembered this is a public
forum and my comments might be read or forwarded.

Ah fuck 'em!

Gabe

P.S. Jose Mojica Marins rules! I saw AWAKENING OF THE BEAST in its
first and probably last showing ever in Chicago, with an audience of
about 15 people -- a midnight crowd, most of them asleep in their
chairs -- and I couldn't believe what I saw unspooling onto the screen.
A friend in another forum who is more of an anglo-saxon than me calls
him "one of the most fucked up filmmakers ever" but I don't even know
if that's based on him having actually seen Marins films.
6855


From: Craig Keller
Date: Tue Jan 20, 2004 3:57pm
Subject: Re: Re: daney miscellany / Coffin Joe
 
>
> Oh boy. That all sounds perfectly goddamn delightful. I don't know if
> you are saying that because Murray is an eccentric who teaches Godard,
> maybe he is the one who curated the Daney series, or that Conley,
> because he brought drama/trauma, might be the one, or what we are
> trying to get at, but...

I just wanted to know who the organizers were, noticed that Conley was
on the discussion panel, and then decided to regale you with my
experience with him in Murray's class, which I knew many here would
find as perfectly goddamn delightful as I did. I don't think Murray is
involved with the Daney thing at all.

craig.


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
6856


From:
Date: Tue Jan 20, 2004 8:32pm
Subject: Torque rules! + Edoardo Ballerini
 
Just saw "Torque" (Joseph Kahn, 2004) last night.
Lots of special effects of motorcycle stunts, all in brilliant color. Not for those who can't stand Hollywood action films. Overpowering, and with too much kung fu, but not without creativity in use of color and motion.
Also enjoyed "Good Night Valentino" (Edoardo Ballerini, 2002) a short drama about a meeting between Rudolph Valentino and H.L. Mencken in 1926. Edoardo Ballerini is a young actor, who plays Valentino here, in his directorial debut. Soothing and quiet.

Mike Grost
6857


From:
Date: Tue Jan 20, 2004 7:42pm
Subject: Re: Torque rules! + Edoardo Ballerini
 
Thanks for the tip on "Torque," Mike! For what it's worth, Armond White
agrees with you in this week's New York Press:

http://www.nypress.com/17/3/film/film2.cfm

I agree with White about the potential cinematic riches the month of January
can offer. Renny Harlin's "Mindhunters" and George Armitage's "The Big
Bounce" are due in a few weeks; to these, I add "Torque" to my list of films to see.

Peter
6858


From:
Date: Tue Jan 20, 2004 10:46pm
Subject: Torque and Color in Films
 
Armond White likes "Torque" even more than I did! It's a fairly modest movie,
but it has an appealing sense of visual style at its best.
The train sequence IS fun. It recalls the big train episode in "Colorado
Territory" (Raoul Walsh, 1949), only with motorcycles instead of horses.
One quibble: do not recall seeing anything remotely "militaristic" about
"Torque", despite what White seems to imply in his review. It is a "biker" movie,
completely without military references, and can be enjoyed by pacifists like
myself.
Just saw "Grease 2" (Patricia Birch, 1982) on TV again. It too has a dazzling
use of color. "Grease 2" might be "just" a musical, and "Torque" just a biker
flick, but both films show a love of color that could be emulated by people
working in more "serious" genres.
Experimental filmmakers have made some of the most creative color movies:
Kenneth Anger's "Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome", Storm de Hirsch's "Peyote
Queen", Paradjanov's "The Color of Pomegranates", Jordan Belson's "Samadhi", and
just about everything by Oskar Fischinger. I'm still waiting for a chance to
see anything by Gregory Markopoulos.
Really like Carlos Saura's musicals too, such as Flamenco and Tango.

Mike Grost
6859


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Wed Jan 21, 2004 6:41am
Subject: Re: Torque and Color in Films
 
--- MG4273@a... wrote:
I'm still
> waiting for a chance to
> see anything by Gregory Markopoulos.

(Sigh!)It may be a long wait. Beavers has the rightst
to them. He arranged for a few screenings of "Twice a
Man" in the U.S. a few years back. But there are many
others seen by precious few:"The Illiac Passion,"
"Himself As Herself" and "Eros O Basileus" being the
most notable, IMO.

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6860


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Wed Jan 21, 2004 6:52am
Subject: Dream a Little Dream of Bertolucci
 
Just in from seeing "The Dreamers," which I expected
to hate but rather liked. Bertolucci managed to spoon
in a tad more homoeroticism under Gilbert's gimlet
eyes. Eve Green is pretty neat. Louis Garrel is a
younger, skinnier version of his Dad with a soupcon of
Louis Hock. And Michael Pitt continues his career as
the male Chloe Sevigny.

Rather moved by the aural cues. No original score,
just Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Doors, Dylan,
Charles Trenet, the scores of "Pierrot le Fou" and
"Les 400 Cent Coups," and for the grand finale (as
one might expect) "Non Je Ne Regrette Rien."

Film clips shown include "A Bout de Souffle," "Top
Hat," "Queen Christina," "Blonde Venus" and "Bande a
Part." And there's a great scene where they watch "The
Girl Can't Help It" at Le MacMahon.

It will doubtless be accused of being a deeply
reactionary work by Jonathan Rosenbaum.

I disagree.



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6861


From: Fred Camper
Date: Wed Jan 21, 2004 6:55am
Subject: Re: Torque and Color in Films (Markopoulos)
 
Beavers has rented Markopoulos films on occasion. Doc Films at the
University of Chicago recently showed "Psyche," "Twice a Man," and
"Sorrows." He charges a lot but does make them available. And he's
planning an outdoor screening in Greece this June, in the site
Markopoulos had always intended them to be shown. See the current "Film
Comment" for an article on Markopoulos by Nathan Lee, who wrote that
laudatory article on the Brakhage DVD for the New York Times. This
article isn't as good, and there are some wrong notes, and it even gets
some facts wrong (Markopoulos died in 1992, not 1993), but it should get
this amazing filmmaker some attention.

- Fred
6862


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Wed Jan 21, 2004 7:11am
Subject: Re: Torque and Color in Films (Markopoulos)
 
Well I'm happy to hear this, Fred. As you may know I
wrote Markopoulos a number of times, hoping to get his
permission to be included in my "Film: The Front Line
-1984" But he turned me down.

A history of Markopoulos' sojourn in Europe needs to
be written. And there's only one person who can write
it -- Beavers.

--- Fred Camper wrote:
> Beavers has rented Markopoulos films on occasion.
> Doc Films at the
> University of Chicago recently showed "Psyche,"
> "Twice a Man," and
> "Sorrows." He charges a lot but does make them
> available. And he's
> planning an outdoor screening in Greece this June,
> in the site
> Markopoulos had always intended them to be shown.
> See the current "Film
> Comment" for an article on Markopoulos by Nathan
> Lee, who wrote that
> laudatory article on the Brakhage DVD for the New
> York Times. This
> article isn't as good, and there are some wrong
> notes, and it even gets
> some facts wrong (Markopoulos died in 1992, not
> 1993), but it should get
> this amazing filmmaker some attention.
>
> - Fred
>
>


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6863


From: Peter Tonguette
Date: Wed Jan 21, 2004 7:35am
Subject: Fringe Benefits, Jack Clayton
 
Bilge Ebiri wrote:

> I believe in the auteurist approach, but
> Sarris's "Strained Seriousness," "Fringe Benefits," and "Less than
> Meets the Eye" chapters could easily be mistaken for lists of my
> favorite directors.

I think that some or many of the "Fringe Benefits" directors were
favorites of Sarris too; they were "fringe benefits" only in that
they
were outstanding foreign filmmakers who worked only very briefly or
sporadically in the American cinema.

> Please put Jack Clayton in the Pantheon where he belongs.
> Thank you.)

Well, as you know, I'm with you here. I think Clayton is a great
filmmaker. His "The Great Gatsby" was recently released on DVD and
I'm more convinced than ever that this is a major film. Visually,
it's a marvel: Clayton achieves a look of characters entrapped in
their enviroments through his use of long lenses and zooms. The
dissolves in the sequence where Daisy walks through Gatsby's home are
simply amazing. My only reservation is related to a regret I have
that Michael Cimino never directed an adaptation of the novel; I've
long believed that he's perfect for it.

Of course, I haven't seen the Clayton film Bilge considers his
greatest, "Our Mother's House." But at the moment, I'd say "Gatsby"
is Clayton at the peak of his powers.

Peter

---------
---------
6864


From:
Date: Wed Jan 21, 2004 4:25am
Subject: Re: Fringe Benefits, Jack Clayton
 
Agree on "The Great Gatsby" (Clayton) - it's a good movie! (The party in
Fitzgerald's original novella was supposedly inspired by a real-life party at
Allan Dwan's in the 1920's. There's a homage to Dwan again in one of Fitzgerald's
Pat Hobby stories.)
Also really liked "Something Wicked This Way Comes" (Jack Clayton, 1983).
This is a memorable poetic fantasy, written by Ray Bradbury. It was dissed at the
time by horror movie fans, for not being "horrifying" or gruesome. True
enough - it is a more a "gothic tale" than a gore festival.
Mike Grost
6865


From: hotlove666
Date: Wed Jan 21, 2004 0:16pm
Subject: Re: Daney miscellany/Angels, Carnivale
 
It is quite true that wider recognition within France came at the
end, and probably had a lot to do with the fact that he had AIDs and
was open about it. I imagine the tiff over Uranus had something to do
with it, too, although Berri said in the Cahiers recently that he
wouldn't have sued Libe if he knew Serge had AIDs - so that was a
little before.

What did everyone - anyone - think of Angels in America? I love the
play, and I thought Nichols blew it, although I like certain
performances (Pacino, Parker, the actor playing Lewis). I wish it had
been Altman.

And what about HBO's Carnivale? Fred, I think the whole series is
directed by Tim Hunter. Kind of Twin Peaks meets The Circus of Doctor
Lao (book).
6866


From: samfilms2003
Date: Wed Jan 21, 2004 4:12pm
Subject: Re: Torque and Color in Films (Markopoulos)
 
>>I'm still waiting for a chance to
see anything by Gregory Markopoulos.

You should see Robert Beavers' films also; not a whole lot easier to
do, though....

-Sam

> Beavers has rented Markopoulos films on occasion.
6867


From: Henrik Sylow
Date: Wed Jan 21, 2004 4:14pm
Subject: stroke of luck
 
Just had to tell it, since it was so curious :)

Here I am at the IFFR, about to check email and this guy next to
me read an email about Sunrise, so I casually noted: "Great
film..."

...and Jonathan Rosenbaum replied: "yes"

Of all the people in the world, what are the odds of running into
the (perhaps) only other member at the IFFR?

This one is for you Spock

Henrik
6868


From: Craig Keller
Date: Wed Jan 21, 2004 4:20pm
Subject: Monteiro coffret
 
Does anyone know whether there is a way (or a place) where the 11-disc
Monteiro set from Gemini in France can be ordered online? At the
Gemini site there's only a Word-doc order form that you have to print
out and send in -- as I'd be ordering from the US, I'd rather not have
to rely on the transatlantic postal gods to ensure smoothness of
transaction. I believe the release date is next week, in any case.

thanks!
craig.
6869


From: Henrik Sylow
Date: Wed Jan 21, 2004 4:22pm
Subject: Re: Jack Clayton
 
Jack Clayton is on hell of a good director - if you ask me. I have
had "The Innocents" as my favorite horror film since I first saw it,
a film which IMO demonstrates what he can do with
mise-en-scene in regards to close ups vs long shots as
transition device.

Wise does this to an even more extrem degree in "The Haunting"
using wideangle lense to distort the relationship between close
up and long shot.

This is a hastely note, just wanting to comment on Clayton, but
having recently seen "The Haunting" again, it seemed to me that
it was very Wellesian in its use of depth and depth compositions.

Henrik
6870


From: Gabe Klinger
Date: Wed Jan 21, 2004 6:15pm
Subject: Re: Monteiro coffret
 
Craig (and anyone else interested): The Integral Monteiro DVD box-set
is available in Portugal and France in the same edition, only its been
available in Portugal since December. I ordered mine from:
http://www.blueplanetdvd.com
The service was fine, only slightly slow because of Christmas time, and
the price is the same I've encountered everywhere (except through the
special Cahiers du Cinema promotion which we North Americans can't
participate in).
This web site has an English language option, though I haven't tried it
yet. I expect it should be fine to navigate.
Everyone should own a copy of this baby.
Gabe
6871


From: joe_mcelhaney
Date: Wed Jan 21, 2004 8:01pm
Subject: Re:Angels in America
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "hotlove666"
wrote:

> What did everyone - anyone - think of Angels in America? I love the
> play, and I thought Nichols blew it, although I like certain
> performances (Pacino, Parker, the actor playing Lewis). I wish it
>had been Altman.

I didn't see the play so have no point of comparison but my
Significant Other saw it on Broadway and hated it -- left after the
first part -- so I avoided it at the time. But we did watch a fair
amount of the TV version although there were times I just had to walk
out of the room to get away from it. I thought the more conventional
scenes worked best, possibly because Nicholas is more comfortable
with this type of material. I didn't like any of the allegorical or
fantasy sequences with all of that Meaning and History shoved at you.
(I don't know if those scenes are Altman's cup of tea either. I kept
thinking of Ken Russell instead.)I thought the entire project was
burdened with a heavy seriousness which I often found oppressive, a
prime example of White Elephant art, although as with a lot of White
Elephant art it did acquire its own strange kind of single-minded
power at times. Some good performances but I'm allergic to late
(mainly post-SCARFACE) Al Pacino. I also liked the guy who played
Lewis and Streep seemed to be having a good time. Emma Thompson was
a bad choice, I thought, working too hard to convince in a project
already overburdened with an excess of ambition. And if I had to see
her come crashing through that ceiling one more time...

Speaking of Nichols, did anyone see his more talented (largely ex)
partner on the Kennedy Center Honors last month? Elaine May gave a
wonderful "tribute" to him. She noted that he takes on these
projects which have enormous social importance. But she also noted
that he makes the films so entertaining, so much fun to watch, "they
could be trash."
6872


From:
Date: Wed Jan 21, 2004 9:22pm
Subject: Mike Nichols
 
Brief negative criticism.
Have not enjoyed the 5 Nichols films seen (The Graduate; Postcards from the Edge; Working Girl; Wolf; The Birdcage). Do not understand the source of his huge reputation as a director. His work seems bland, uncreative, dull, and lacking anything resembling a visual style.
Clips of his old comedy routines with Nichols and May are funny, and cleverer than anything in his directed movies.
I am not offended by Nichols, nor do I object to others enjoying his films. But he is one of dozens of post-1966 directors whose fame seems mysterious and unexplained. Critics keep labelling his work as "prestige".
Have not seen "Silkwood", Nichols' only venture into works of "social significance".

Mike Grost
6873


From: Peter Tonguette
Date: Wed Jan 21, 2004 11:15pm
Subject: Re: Mike Nichols
 
I did see Elaine May paying tribute to Nichols at the Kennedy Center
Honors and all I could think during her (very funny) speech was that
she should be the one being honored. I'd take "A New Leaf," "The
Heartbreak Kid" (her masterpiece), "Mikey and Nicky," and "Ishtar" to
any and all of Nichols' films.

That said, for a few films in the early '70s, Nichols showed great
promise. I mildly like "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (mostly the
first part before Nichols tries to "open it up") and "The Graduate,"
but it's "Catch-22" and "Carnal Knowledge" which do it for me. They
are, in my opinion, superb films which contain the very visual style
which Mike G. finds lacking from his other films: indeed, I think
that
Nichols was, in these films, something of a master of the widescreen
frame. His next, "Day of the Dolphin," is mediocre. The one after
that, the farce "The Fortune," is very good, very funny, very dark;
again, very worthy use of 'Scope. And then he took a decade off and
I
don't know what happened. In the movies he made after his return to
cinema, gone are the long, intricately blocked takes which
distinguished "Catch" and "Knowledge." Gone is any real thought-out
visual design or use of space. Based on what he's said in some
interviews, he came back to the movies wanting very much to connect
with audiences; I think this may be what's to blame. In fact, I
believe he's even said that his abandonment of long takes and return
to more conventional editing is related to this desire.

"Angels in America" seemed to suffer from these problems as much as
any of the other Nichols films from the past 20 years or so. I do
like "Wolf" somewhat - but it ain't a patch on "Catch-22," "Carnal
Knowledge," and "The Fortune."

Glad to hear you like Clayton, Henrik!

Peter

-------
-------
6874


From:
Date: Wed Jan 21, 2004 6:28pm
Subject: Parting Glances (Bill Sherwood)
 
"Parting Glances" (Bill Sherwood, 1986) seemed to me a powerful drama when I
saw it. It is only partially about AIDS; much of it instead focuses on the
personal conflicts of a gay couple. No one ever seems to talk about this movie, a
now forgotten example of "independent American cinema".
"An Early Frost" (John Erman, 1985) and "Longtime Companion" (Norman René,
1990) also seem like creditable films on AIDS.
I did not especially like "Millenium Approaches" when I read the play some
years ago. And never went on to read "Part II: Perestroika". People who saw
these "Angels in America" plays on stage said they were amazing. But I was not
able to get much out of reading the text itself. It is about a very important
subject. But it did not seem to have much new to say about it.

Mike Grost
6875


From: joe_mcelhaney
Date: Thu Jan 22, 2004 0:39am
Subject: Re: Nichols and May
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "Peter Tonguette"
wrote:
> I did see Elaine May paying tribute to Nichols at the Kennedy
>Center Honors and all I could think during her (very funny) speech
>was that she should be the one being honored. I'd take "A New
>Leaf," "The Heartbreak Kid" (her masterpiece), "Mikey and Nicky,"
>and "Ishtar" to any and all of Nichols' films.

Agreed. Her screenplay for Preminger's SUCH GOOD FRIENDS is also
terrific and her sensibility is so strong in the film that she almost
seems to be co-auteur of it.

If any of you don't know the Nichols and May routines, their comic
records are on CD now. Buy them all. They're brilliant. For film
lovers, their parody of BRIEF ENCOUNTER (he's a dentist, she's his
patient and they express their devotion to one another as he's
examining her teeth) and the sketch in which Nichols is a talk show
host interviewing May playing a ditsy movie star are especially
wonderful. May's movie star, Barbara Musk, is promoting her new film,
TWO GALS IN PARIS, "the life story of Gertrude
Stein and in which Sal Mineo plays my lover, Ernest Hemingway."
6876


From: jaketwilson
Date: Thu Jan 22, 2004 0:42am
Subject: Re: Mike Nichols
 
Peter, as you know I agree with you on Elaine May, but I find it hard
to lament Nichols' decline from pretentious Artist to skilful hack.
CARNAL KNOWLEDGE looks fussy and stilted to me -- for entertainment
value (mainly performance-based) I'd take POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE and
PRIMARY COLORS any day. I even quite like THE BIRDCAGE, but
mainly 'cause I'll watch Nathan Lane in anything.

I haven't seen THE FORTUNE, or ANGELS IN AMERICA, but it seems likely
that the Nichols & May routines are still the highlight of his
career...

JTW



--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "Peter Tonguette"
wrote:
> I did see Elaine May paying tribute to Nichols at the Kennedy
Center
> Honors and all I could think during her (very funny) speech was
that
> she should be the one being honored. I'd take "A New Leaf," "The
> Heartbreak Kid" (her masterpiece), "Mikey and Nicky," and "Ishtar"
to
> any and all of Nichols' films.
>
> That said, for a few films in the early '70s, Nichols showed great
> promise. I mildly like "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (mostly
the
> first part before Nichols tries to "open it up") and "The
Graduate,"
> but it's "Catch-22" and "Carnal Knowledge" which do it for me.
They
> are, in my opinion, superb films which contain the very visual
style
> which Mike G. finds lacking from his other films: indeed, I think
> that
> Nichols was, in these films, something of a master of the
widescreen
> frame. His next, "Day of the Dolphin," is mediocre. The one after
> that, the farce "The Fortune," is very good, very funny, very dark;
> again, very worthy use of 'Scope. And then he took a decade off and
> I
> don't know what happened. In the movies he made after his return
to
> cinema, gone are the long, intricately blocked takes which
> distinguished "Catch" and "Knowledge." Gone is any real thought-
out
> visual design or use of space. Based on what he's said in some
> interviews, he came back to the movies wanting very much to connect
> with audiences; I think this may be what's to blame. In fact, I
> believe he's even said that his abandonment of long takes and
return
> to more conventional editing is related to this desire.
>
> "Angels in America" seemed to suffer from these problems as much as
> any of the other Nichols films from the past 20 years or so. I do
> like "Wolf" somewhat - but it ain't a patch on "Catch-22," "Carnal
> Knowledge," and "The Fortune."
>
> Glad to hear you like Clayton, Henrik!
>
> Peter
>
> -------
> -------
6877


From: jpcoursodon
Date: Thu Jan 22, 2004 1:04am
Subject: Re: Mike Nichols
 
The interesting thing about Nichol's reputation is that it is as
lowly and miniscule in France as it is "huge" in the USA. French
Cinephiles and mainstream critics alike have always dismissed him as
below contempt. I am unaware of any "auteurist" ever saying anything
nice about him. In 1979 Lherminier's "Cinema d'aujourd'hui" published
a huge special issue on "Actualite du cinema americain" with a
Dictionnaire des Cineastes (patterned after the Cahiers dictionaries
in their special issues)that included 56 names of directors who
started directing in the sixties. Nichols was not even mentioned. Yet
his remarkable "Carnal Knowledge" had been released in France, where
it met with indifference at best, hostility at worst (one critic
found it "slightly less awful than his earlier films, which are
execrable." He added Nichols was just good for Americans because they
love "facility".)True, "The Graduate" was hugely overrated in the
US. I agree with Peter that Carnal Knowledge and Catch -22 (despite
the latter's messiness; the opening is visually stunning) are his
most interesting films. I also agree that his eighties films are of
little interest and lack the ambition and invention of "Carnal"
and "Catch" Only "Silkwood" is really worthwhile, although flawed and
overlong. (I haven't seen "Wolf", though). I enjoyed The Fortune
where Nicholson and Beatty blunder hopelessly Laurel-and-Hardy
style. Like Nichols' best films this one has a goos script by the
very talented Adrien Joyce/Carol Eastman (The Shooting; Five easy
Pieces; Puzzle of a Downfall Child). I haven't seen the HBO thing, or
the plays it adapts.

JPC


--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, MG4273@a... wrote:
> Brief negative criticism.
> Have not enjoyed the 5 Nichols films seen (The Graduate; Postcards
from the Edge; Working Girl; Wolf; The Birdcage). Do not understand
the source of his huge reputation as a director. His work seems
bland, uncreative, dull, and lacking anything resembling a visual
style.
> Clips of his old comedy routines with Nichols and May are funny,
and cleverer than anything in his directed movies.
> I am not offended by Nichols, nor do I object to others enjoying
his films. But he is one of dozens of post-1966 directors whose fame
seems mysterious and unexplained. Critics keep labelling his work
as "prestige".
> Have not seen "Silkwood", Nichols' only venture into works
of "social significance".
>
> Mike Grost
6878


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Thu Jan 22, 2004 1:11am
Subject: Re: Parting Glances (Bill Sherwood)
 
"Parting Glances" is available on DVD, and over the
past few years has been frequently revived at
gay/lesbian film festivals.

It's a shame it's star href="http://ehrensteinland.com/htmls/bride/g001/b_richardganoung.shtml"
target="_blank">Richard Ganoung wasn't taken up
the industry (he now works in regional theater), but
it's an even bigger shame that Bill Sherwood died of
AIDS before he was able to make another film -- a
prized project of his languishing in Development Hell
thanks to Hollywood skittishness about dealing with
gay characters.

Steve Buscemi frequently appears at "Parting Glances"
screenings as it made him the star that he is today.
Kathy Kinney -- Mimi on "The Drew Carey Show" --
likewise credits the film for giving her a career.

--- MG4273@a... wrote:
> "Parting Glances" (Bill Sherwood, 1986) seemed to me
> a powerful drama when I
> saw it. It is only partially about AIDS; much of it
> instead focuses on the
> personal conflicts of a gay couple. No one ever
> seems to talk about this movie, a
> now forgotten example of "independent American
> cinema".
> "An Early Frost" (John Erman, 1985) and "Longtime
> Companion" (Norman René,
> 1990) also seem like creditable films on AIDS.
> I did not especially like "Millenium Approaches"
> when I read the play some
> years ago. And never went on to read "Part II:
> Perestroika". People who saw
> these "Angels in America" plays on stage said they
> were amazing. But I was not
> able to get much out of reading the text itself. It
> is about a very important
> subject. But it did not seem to have much new to say
> about it.
>
> Mike Grost
>
>
>
> Yahoo! Groups Links
>
> To visit your group on the web, go to:
> http://groups.yahoo.com/group/a_film_by/
>
> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
> a_film_by-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
>
> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:
> http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
>
>


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6879


From: machinegunmccain
Date: Thu Jan 22, 2004 1:35am
Subject: Re: Mike Nichols
 
It is my first post to the group so I'll just say a quick "hello" to
everyone before I begin about Nichols.

I agree with Peter that Nichols started off with some promise earlier
in his career, but I find that most of it had to do with the
screenplays that he had to work with and that his direction of said
films is, as another member put it, "stilted".

I would, however, minus THE GRADUATE from that list though, as i've
talked with an assistant director of that film and he told me that
Nichols really tried "take out all the stops in the cinematography
department".

After his break in the late 70s and early 80s, all of his work seems
quite tedious to me but I haven't seen PRIMARY COLORS yet so I can't
really comment on his 90s work.
6880


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Thu Jan 22, 2004 2:03am
Subject: Re: Re: Mike Nichols
 
--- machinegunmccain
wrote:
> I agree with Peter that Nichols started off with
> some promise earlier
> in his career, but I find that most of it had to do
> with the
> screenplays that he had to work with and that his
> direction of said
> films is, as another member put it, "stilted".
>

Very much so. I'm surprised by the affection some
members of the group have for "catch-22."I'll never
forget when it opened because two other films opened
the smae day and I saw all three. The other two
were"Myra Breckinridge" and "MASH."

"MASH" wiped the floor with "catch-22" -- capturing
the spirit of Hllerian irreverance better than the
elaborate, expensive, rather boiled-looking Nichols
adaptation.

"The Day of the Dolphin" likewise suffers from White
Elepantiasis.

"The Fortune," by contrast is a ltttle gem. "Silkwood"
is quite alright thanks largely to Cher. "Postcards
From the Edge" remains his best work to date. The
script is in his key and Streep and MacLaine make
beautiful music together. Mrs. Beatty is also fun in
her scene where she says she's "in it for the
endolphins."

He's overall Nichols remains a major operator but a
minor director. Wehn he doesn't go all George Stevens
he can be quite alright. Actors love him. And he's
quite fine himself in the film adaptation of Wallace
Shawn's "The Designated Mourner."

I'd love to see him do a two-hander with Sydney
Pollack.

Nichols never takes chances, unlike May -- whose
Cassavetes collaboration "Mikey and Nicky" remains her
finest work.

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6881


From: machinegunmccain
Date: Thu Jan 22, 2004 3:12am
Subject: Elaine May and MIKEY AND NICKY
 
So glad to see that someone else thinks that this is May's finest
work to date. I can see the argument that THE HEARTBREAK KID might
possibly be, but I'd rather just say that it's the best handled Neil
Simon screenplay.

MIKEY AND NICKY has all the emotional sparks of a Cassavetes' film
but more tightly edited together than something like FACES or
HUSBANDS (though both films are masterworks, imo).
6882


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Thu Jan 22, 2004 3:45am
Subject: Re: Elaine May and MIKEY AND NICKY
 
It'salso deeply personal as it deal with an incident
that actually happened in May's family. The dialogue
Cassavetes and Falk have about their friend Izzy who
lost all his hair is about Mike Nichols.

--- machinegunmccain
wrote:
> So glad to see that someone else thinks that this is
> May's finest
> work to date. I can see the argument that THE
> HEARTBREAK KID might
> possibly be, but I'd rather just say that it's the
> best handled Neil
> Simon screenplay.
>
> MIKEY AND NICKY has all the emotional sparks of a
> Cassavetes' film
> but more tightly edited together than something like
> FACES or
> HUSBANDS (though both films are masterworks, imo).
>
>
>
>


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6883


From: jpcoursodon
Date: Thu Jan 22, 2004 4:55am
Subject: Re: Elaine May and MIKEY AND NICKY
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "machinegunmccain"
wrote:
> So glad to see that someone else thinks that this is May's finest
> work to date. I can see the argument that THE HEARTBREAK KID might
> possibly be, but I'd rather just say that it's the best handled
Neil
> Simon screenplay.
>
> MIKEY AND NICKY has all the emotional sparks of a Cassavetes' film
> but more tightly edited together than something like FACES or
> HUSBANDS (though both films are masterworks, imo).

I love MIKEY AND NICKY too. In 1986 I saw a screening of it at
MOMA with Elaine May present. In that version Mikey's betrayal was
not revealed until the end, whereas in other prints there is an early
scene in which Mikey gets a phone call instructing him to go bump off
his friend... May reportedly shot hundreds of hours of footage for
the film. A crew member reported (I can't remember the source) that
in one scene Cassavetes and Falk walked out of frame and disappeared.
May said nothing and shooting continued. After a while the cameraman
finally said, "cut" and May became furious: "I'm the director, I'm
the one who says 'cut'!" "But the actors have gone," the cameraman
said. "Yes but they might come back," May retorted...

JPC
6884


From: hotlove666
Date: Thu Jan 22, 2004 5:15am
Subject: Green Plaid Shirt/Angels in America
 
This film, written and directed by Richard Natale based on a story he
lived - his lover died of AIDS - is now out on DVD and doing well,
Richard tells me. I like it. (Disclosure: I wrote the presskit. Sub-
disclosure: I was paid 150 bucks...) Although he's best known as an
industry reporter, Richard is a Scorsesean filmmaker who could
squeeze a nickel and make it look like a quarter. At the time of his
debut feature he had plans for doing other gay-themed pictures with
fascinating premises, like a story about a guy who opens the first
gay bar in a former Iron Curtain satellite country. He's writing
presskits himself now at Sony, but I hope someday he gets another
chance to direct. Green Plaid Shirt is a fine film.

Returning to Angels, what ruined it for me wasn't just the cheesy
Witchboard 12 special effects; it's the way Nichols directed the
scenes with the gay characters, particularly Pryor Walter, whom he
seems to have urged to camp it up in the Cocteau dream sequence, for
example, and elsewhere. This is not how I remember Pryor Walter at
the Taper, although others may have clearer recollections than I do.
In any case, as delivered in the tv Angels, it was the kind of
performance and direction you'd expect from a community theatre
group - and it wasn't just limited to that crucial character. Then of
course there's the absence of any visual plan, as noted. But the
material is so strong I wouldn't have minded, if Nichols' direction
of actors had lived up to his rep.
6885


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Thu Jan 22, 2004 5:25am
Subject: Re: Green Plaid Shirt/Angels in America
 
Another vote for "Green Plaid Short" which played the
film festival circuit but never found a theatrical
opening. The fact that its found a home on home video
is a welcome development.

And Yes, Richard is a friend and I knew his lover Ed
as well -- who was a publicist at MGM.

href="http://ehrensteinland.com/htmls/g001/rouilard.html"
target="_blank">Richard Rouilard (the subject of a
large portion of jamesMcCourt's new book "Queer
Street") has a cameo in "Green Plaid Shirt."

--- hotlove666 wrote:
> This film, written and directed by Richard Natale
> based on a story he
> lived - his lover died of AIDS - is now out on DVD
> and doing well,
> Richard tells me. I like it.

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6886


From: vincent lobrutto
Date: Thu Jan 22, 2004 3:46pm
Subject: RE: Elaine May and Mikey and Nicky
 
JP Coursodon wrote:

"May reportedly shot hundreds of hours of footage for
the film. A crew member reported (I can't remember the source) that
in one scene Cassavetes and Falk walked out of frame and disappeared.
May said nothing and shooting continued. After a while the cameraman
finally said, "cut" and May became furious: "I'm the director, I'm
the one who says 'cut'!" "But the actors have gone," the cameraman
said. "Yes but they might come back," May retorted"

JP, this is such a good story. I have also heard and also can not remember the source. Here are two others. When Elaine May's Ishtar was in post-production she suggested a way of cutting the film down that was just too much for a Hollywood profession. The following is from an interview I did with William Reynolds editor of The Godfather, The Sting, The Sound of Music and many, many others.

"Everything was put on videocassettes so that we could run down and look at any or all of the takes on a given scene. Elaine May shot more film than you needed for 20 pictures. I like her a lot, she a very bright, very amusing lady, totally unable to make editorial decisions. I came in on Ishtar late, they had finished cutting. They already had two editors on it, and then Warren Beatty called me and asked if I would help because they had so much film. I got there just before the filming was completed and started in. She would go over individual scenes and get us to work on them in great detail and refine them, but neer elilminated any scenes at all. We finally got a version of the picture that was very long, but each individual scene was quite refined. So then she was faced with the problem that the film was too long. She said, ' I'm going to take a scene out and I'll screen the film and see if it plays without the scene and if it doesn't, I'll put it back and take another scene
out.' At that point I called Warren and said, 'As this is the procedure she is going to follow, you don't need three editors anymore, can I go?' That's how I got off of it."

The second story gives insight into May's inspiration for her unorthodox directorial methods. Over thirty years ago when I was a film student at SVA an Italian cameraman was brought into to talk to us. He had a very presitigious career. When we found out he had worked with Cassavetes on Husbands we all asked him what the experience was like. Here it is. Cassavetes, Falk and Gazzara were running all over Times square in an improvational fury. At first the dp put down marks for the actors which Cassvetes dismissed as ridiculous. Then a take began, the actors continued running all over the crossroads of the universe. At one point the camera ran out of film. The DP yelled out "We are out of film" Cassavetes screamed out "Keep going keep going!" Knowing that if no film were in the camera it would be impossible to continue this take he promptly quit and went back to Italy. Cassavetes is often considered the father of independent filmmaking - for me he practically invented the concept of
gurellia filmmaking - bless his soul!

Vinny


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6887


From:
Date: Thu Jan 22, 2004 6:53pm
Subject: 25th Hour - Where's the Beef?
 
Saw "25th Hour" (Spike Lee, 2002) last night. Cannot see what is "good" about
most of this movie. One the plus side: There are around 5 minutes in the
picture discussing problems in prisons - hardly original, but still a "message"
worth hearing. And maybe another 10 minutes of worthwhile documentary footage
showing post 9/11 New York City - touching footage. Otherwsie, there is little
that is appealing about this 2 and a half hour movie.
This film is not "entertainment" - seeing a long, downbeat film about an
unrepentant heroin dealer and his slimy friends is not an evening of fun. And I
cannot see what is "art" about this film, aside from the brief moments above.
There is little visual style or mise-en-scene, characterization is thin, plot is
minimal, etc. Actor Edward Norton specializes in playing disgusting human
beings, and this is another addition to his Rogue's Gallery. It requires skill of
a sort, but he is one of my least favorite actors.

Mike Grost
6888


From: machinegunmccain
Date: Fri Jan 23, 2004 1:51am
Subject: ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO (2003; Rodriguez)
 
Saw this in the theaters, and liked it enough to watch again on dvd.

Seeing the directed by credit at the start, 'a robert rodriguez
flick', tells you a lot about where this movie is at. No real care
in the development in each of the script, shot really quickly yet
edited over two years. It really needed a couple of re-writes in the
screenplay stage. Maybe even some collaborators as Rodriguez isn't
the best writer out there. Heck, one of the reasons that makes ONCE
UPON A TIME IN THE WEST so great is the fact that Dario Argento and
Bertolucci worked on the story and by all means that doesn't make it
less an auteur piece for Leone.

As it stands, the Johnny Depp-CIA character and the Ruben Blades
storyline are the most interesting parts, but even they aren't
fleshed out enough, especially Blades' retired FBI agent.
The music is atrocious, and there's no real reason except
pigheadedness on Mr. Rodriguez's part on not hiring a REAL composer
to come up with something grandiose to suit his so-called 'epic'.

It's almost as if he started out making a DESPERADO sequel and lost
steam midway through, so he populated the script with far more fun,
worthy anti-heroes than our original 'El Mariachi' lead.
He compromises too much in his films, and they suffer greatly for it.

No man is a filmmaking island, he/she still needs their
collaborators, and the best auteurs realize this and are still able
to keep their individual stamp on each of their pictures.
6889


From: Michael Worrall
Date: Fri Jan 23, 2004 3:52am
Subject: Re: Parting Glances (Bill Sherwood)
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, David Ehrenstein
wrote:
> "Parting Glances" is available on DVD, and over the
> past few years has been frequently revived at
> gay/lesbian film festivals.
>
> It's a shame it's star >
href="http://ehrensteinland.com/htmls/bride/g001/b_richardganoung.shtm
l"
> target="_blank">Richard Ganoung wasn't taken up
> the industry (he now works in regional theater), but
> it's an even bigger shame that Bill Sherwood died of
> AIDS before he was able to make another film.


Bill Sherwood was teaching at the SUNY Purchase film department when
I started out as a freshman, and he sat in on the faculty review of
my freshman film. I did not get the chance to have him as a teacher
for he became very ill just before the fall semester of 1988 started,
if I remember correctly.
6890


From: Michael Worrall
Date: Fri Jan 23, 2004 4:21am
Subject: Re: ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO (2003; Rodriguez)
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "machinegunmccain"
wrote:
> Saw this in the theaters, and liked it enough to watch again on
dvd.
>
> Seeing the directed by credit at the start, 'a robert rodriguez
> flick', tells you a lot about where this movie is at. No real care
> in the development in each of the script, shot really quickly yet
> edited over two years. It really needed a couple of re-writes in
the screenplay stage.

> As it stands, the Johnny Depp-CIA character and the Ruben Blades
> storyline are the most interesting parts, but even they aren't
> fleshed out enough, especially Blades' retired FBI agent.

I don't think that Rodriquez is concerned with "character
development" in the film and I very much liked the way Rodriquez was
able to boil sequences down to elemental images and emotions to
create dynamic and effective sequences- throwing away all the heavy
baggage that comes with character development and distilling the film
into almost pure motion and action (the qualities that I believe
create true cinema.) Now some in this group may cry fowl that I
praise Rodriquez but question McG (or rather, some of the members'
assessments of him) but I think Rodriquez understands HK action films
while McG only mimics. The only weakness I found is that Rodriquez
can be a little sloppy with his set-ups.

> The music is atrocious, and there's no real reason except
> pigheadedness on Mr. Rodriguez's

I would also disagree with this; I was totally delighted by the music
in the opening credits; the way that the images and the music-
starting with a solo guitar and ending with an orchestra- keep
opening up and expanding to create a tangible rush of awe. Rodriquez
may have compressed this "epic" but he certainly didn't loose any of
the emotion or scope.

So while on the subject of Rodriquez, I'll do something my friend
Jack had been bugging me to do on this group; I'll post one of my
reviews. This is a brief review on "The Faculty."


The Faculty
(1997, 1:85, Robert Rodriquez)

Though Kevin Williamson's screenplay seriously overplays its hand
with "clever" genre references that are uneasily grafted onto the
material and director Robert Rodriquez cheats a few action sequences
along with relying on dishonest exposition to deliver the third act
twists, The Faculty is at times an effective and engrossing
thriller. William's script takes the body snatching pods of a small
town and transforms them into the faculty members of a high school,
who in turn line the students up for a visit to the school nurse for
an "examination". Witnessing all the strange behavior is a disparate
group of students who, while would never speak to each other unless
they had to share a day in detention, come together to thwart the
plan of a massive alien invasion.

While it all seems like deja-vu, Rodriquez at least imbues the stock
characters and theatrics of Williamson's glib script with strong
performances and makes an attempt to generate genuine suspense rather
than simply relying on references and genre conventions. The
feelings of isolation, humiliation and exploitation in the students
are very tangible and Rodriquez uses his sharp ability to boil
sequences down to elemental images and emotions to create effective
sequences. Yet some of the sloppiness of the filmmaking, Rodriquez
tends to jettison spatial relations to hurry through sequences and
information in scenes is withheld and then introduced later to trip
up the audience, keeps the film from totally rising above the cynical
manipulations of Williamson's script. For the most part though,
Rodriquez believes in the material and his enthusiasm results in an
above average genre contribution.
6891


From: Aaron
Date: Fri Jan 23, 2004 6:25am
Subject: Re: ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO (2003; Rodriguez)
 
> I don't think that Rodriquez is concerned with "character
> development" in the film and I very much liked the way Rodriquez
was
> able to boil sequences down to elemental images and emotions to
> create dynamic and effective sequences- throwing away all the heavy
> baggage that comes with character development and distilling the
film
> into almost pure motion and action (the qualities that I believe
> create true cinema.) Now some in this group may cry fowl that I
> praise Rodriquez but question McG (or rather, some of the members'
> assessments of him) but I think Rodriquez understands HK action
films
> while McG only mimics. The only weakness I found is that Rodriquez
> can be a little sloppy with his set-ups.

I agree with the fact that McG hops on to the bandwagon of what's
fashionable and 'mimics' the style of HK action, while Rodriguez was
an early champion of the films of Woo, Tsui Hark, etc. Don't get me
wrong, I am a huge Rodriguez fan but was let down on this particular
venture.

With regards to the "character development", I think I should explain
my feelings a bit clearer. I feel that some characters, in
particular Marco Leonardi & Enrique Iglesias, were underdeveloped to
the point of wondering why exactly we were seeing entire action
scenes solely with them in it. Their story was obviously a riff on
RIO BRAVO (the casting of Iglesias is very referential to Ricky
Nelson; Leonardi as the alcoholic) without any of the "hanging
around" we did in that film, which caused us to care about those guys
and their plight. In this film, they simply show up without any of
the work.
6892


From: alsolikelife
Date: Fri Jan 23, 2004 3:05pm
Subject: Fog of War / Errol Morris -- opinions?
 
Hi this is my first post. Just read Jonathan Rosenbaum's review of
Errol Morris' THE FOG OF WAR. The film has received substantial
praise among critics (it placed in the top five of Village Voice
nationwide critics poll even though it had yet to play in most of the
U.S. at the time). Rosenbaum offers a healthy blast of skepticism
for a film that has otherwise received near-unanimous acclaim:

http://www.chireader.com/movies/archives/2004/0104/040123.html

Actually another young critic had much to say in the same vein:

http://www.moviemartyr.com/2003/fogofwar.htm

In Heilman's words, the key flaw about the film is that it is
more "about obstruction of the truth and the implied inadequacy of
intellect than a probe of the worthy subject that it examines". I
seem to agree with that assessment while disagreeing over whether
that compromises the film's merits, or takes it to a new level of
honesty...

But being a newbie I just want to hear what people who have seen this
movie think. I also would like to hear people's opinions of Errol
Morris' work and the evolution of his long career. I'm grateful as
always to have access to your insights.

Thanks

Kevin Lee
6893


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Fri Jan 23, 2004 3:53pm
Subject: Re: Fog of War / Errol Morris -- opinions?
 
Both critics let Morris and McNamarra off easy.
McNamarra flat out lies about the Gulf of Tonkin
incident.

No ambiguity here -- LIES!

And Errol Morris doesn't challenge him. One of two
off-screen yips won't do when confronted with such
mendacity.

The historical record is there for all to see --
provided they're interested in looking. Morris isn't.
It would get in the way of his preening aesthetic
narcissism.

I would sincerely hope no one considers this travesty
a
contribution to serious historical analysis. But to
judge from the reaction its been getting that hope has
been dashed.


--- alsolikelife wrote:
> Hi this is my first post. Just read Jonathan
> Rosenbaum's review of
> Errol Morris' THE FOG OF WAR. The film has received
> substantial
> praise among critics (it placed in the top five of
> Village Voice
> nationwide critics poll even though it had yet to
> play in most of the
> U.S. at the time). Rosenbaum offers a healthy blast
> of skepticism
> for a film that has otherwise received
> near-unanimous acclaim:
>
>
http://www.chireader.com/movies/archives/2004/0104/040123.html
>
> Actually another young critic had much to say in the
> same vein:
>
> http://www.moviemartyr.com/2003/fogofwar.htm
>
> In Heilman's words, the key flaw about the film is
> that it is
> more "about obstruction of the truth and the implied
> inadequacy of
> intellect than a probe of the worthy subject that it
> examines". I
> seem to agree with that assessment while disagreeing
> over whether
> that compromises the film's merits, or takes it to a
> new level of
> honesty...
>
> But being a newbie I just want to hear what people
> who have seen this
> movie think. I also would like to hear people's
> opinions of Errol
> Morris' work and the evolution of his long career.
> I'm grateful as
> always to have access to your insights.
>
> Thanks
>
> Kevin Lee
>
>


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6894


From: Gary Tooze
Date: Fri Jan 23, 2004 5:27pm
Subject: Re: 25th Hour - Where's the Beef?
 
RE: 25th Hour

Mike, sorry the greatness of the film eluded you... It was not
surprising (by me) that Mr. Rosenbaum picked it as co-film of the
year...

http://www.chireader.com/movies/archives/2004/0104/040102_2.html

My take:
As I reflect on Spike Lee's recent film "25th Hour" it is evident in
the shift in his directorial maturity. Although I will wait for
subsequent viewings, I am prepared to call this his best film to
date. If nothing else, this is his most somber and subtle expression,
veering from his usual heavy-handed approach. '25th Hour' had
elements of his highly acclaimed "Do the Right Thing' but was closer
to a more controlled and deliberately paced film.

Known, with Woody Allen, as the consummate New York director he
broached (in a mainstream film) the aftermath of 9/11 by more than
just incorporating the presence of ground zero at various scenes into
his character study of five individuals and their reaction to a
single event. The focus of the film's plot lies not in the collapse
of the Twin Towers but in the final freedom (24 hours) of a convicted
drug peddler known as Monty Brogan. He is set to spend the next 7
years behind bars and this film documents his last 24 hours prior to
incarceration. His interaction with girlfriend, family and friends -
his suspicions of who "ratted" him out and his past reflections and
future redemptions are all confronted.

Edward Norton displays his usual charisma as another talented,
intelligent and potentially dangerous young man. Monty is an affable,
street-smart Irish-American New Yorker, who chose to sell drugs to
his rich school mates to acquire wealth. His best friend is Frank
Slaughtery, played by Barry Pepper in a breakthrough role for this
fine young actor. Frank is a similar street-wise Irish-American
hustler - but he manipulates stocks and options as a financial
trader. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays his other childhood friend, a
teacher named Jacob Elinsky. A passive innocuous educator who is
tempted to sexually indulge himself in one of the coquettish female
students in his class; Mary, played by Anna Paquin. Lee uses the
2.35:1 widescreen lens to best effect while often showing major
characters focused but off-centre or to the very edge of the frame.
This detachment helps to fulfill a more realized representation. He
is helped though, with all-star performances across the board. If
this wasn't enough, include what I would rate as perhaps the best
musical score of the year; Terence Blanchard's opus of contemplative,
soul-searching violin and operatic accompaniments match the mood of
the long cinematographic pans and collages.

Monty's echoing lament of "if it only hadn't happened" is easily
reflected as the tragedy of 9/11. Whether it be the blue searchlight
beams from ground zero or the ode to firefighters in Monty's father's
bar, the references are continuously evident. Is Monty the microcosm
of a shell-shocked America? - confused about who has betrayed him -
critical of his own complacency - weary of the undetermined
prospects that the near future has in store? The open-ended
speculative nature of these critical focal points seems too
coincidental. In addition there are a multitude of non-judgmental
interpersonal issues that face direct comparisons touching upon the
myriad of subtleties of the consistent coda of directors Zhang Yimou
or Abbas Kiarostami . These can be digested in different portions by
different viewers - and the contemplative nature is there beauty.

The film concludes with Monty's father (played by Brian Cox) giving a
fictional representation of how to come through this tragedy - it
instills the hopeful nature that must be kept in mind for Monty and
perhaps all New Yorkers. The vision though is too idealized, and
although enjoyably serene we must inevitably come back to the harsh
realty of the future. With many themes harkening to the tragedy of
September 11th, the film contains elements of reflection, sadness,
friendship, trust, regret, power, fatalistic life decisions,
temptation and coping. I've read many critics lukewarm reception of
this film and I don't get it... I found it a modern masterpiece.


--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, MG4273@a... wrote:
> Saw "25th Hour" (Spike Lee, 2002) last night. Cannot see what
is "good" about
> most of this movie. One the plus side: There are around 5 minutes
in the
> picture discussing problems in prisons - hardly original, but still
a "message"
> worth hearing. And maybe another 10 minutes of worthwhile
documentary footage
> showing post 9/11 New York City - touching footage. Otherwsie,
there is little
> that is appealing about this 2 and a half hour movie.
> This film is not "entertainment" - seeing a long, downbeat film
about an
> unrepentant heroin dealer and his slimy friends is not an evening
of fun. And I
> cannot see what is "art" about this film, aside from the brief
moments above.
> There is little visual style or mise-en-scene, characterization is
thin, plot is
> minimal, etc. Actor Edward Norton specializes in playing disgusting
human
> beings, and this is another addition to his Rogue's Gallery. It
requires skill of
> a sort, but he is one of my least favorite actors.
>
> Mike Grost
6895


From: samfilms2003
Date: Fri Jan 23, 2004 5:52pm
Subject: Re: Fog of War / Errol Morris -- opinions?
 
> The historical record is there for all to see --
> provided they're interested in looking.

"Secrets" - Daniel Ellsberg would be a good place to start.

Also William Prochow's "Once Upon a Distant War" although primarily about
press coverage in the early 60's is very revealing re McNamara's cost/benefit
mentality.

-sam
6896


From: Zach Campbell
Date: Fri Jan 23, 2004 7:26pm
Subject: Re: 25th Hour - Where's the Beef?
 
I'll chip in on Mike's side -- I don't have any affection for 25TH
HOUR, unfortunately. Portentous line deliveries (especially from
Pepper and Hoffman), way too much dependence on residual adolescent
angst for my taste, tasteless inclusions of timely hot button issues
("Fuck the ______" at the mirror). The most interesting narrative
thread (Hoffman/Paquin) was one that didn't get enough play, either,
if you ask me.

Gary Tooze wrote:
> Lee uses the 2.35:1 widescreen lens to best effect while often
> showing major characters focused but off-centre or to the very
> edge of the frame. This detachment helps to fulfill a more
> realized representation.

Why is showing an off-center character "detachment," and what about
this "detachment" causes it to "help fulfill a more realized
representation"? I'm lost here.

> In addition there are a multitude of non-judgmental
> interpersonal issues that face direct comparisons touching upon
> the myriad of subtleties of the consistent coda of directors
> Zhang Yimou or Abbas Kiarostami.

I must confess that this has gone right over my head as well.

--Zach
6897


From:
Date: Fri Jan 23, 2004 7:45pm
Subject: The Color of Friendship (Kevin Hooks)
 
"The Color of Friendship" (Kevin Hooks, 2000)is a made-for-TV movie on the Disney Channel. It tells an interesting true story, about a white South African teenager in the 1970's who came to the US on a student exchange program. By a mix-up, she was placed with the family of a black congressman in Washington DC. The story deals with her difficult attempt to deal with this, a complete change from everything she had ever been taught or experienced.
I just saw this movie by chance on TV. It is simply filmed, like lots of TV movies, but it has good story-telling and acting throughout. The story is low key - no traumatic dramatics, lots of thoughtful discussion.
This is the sort of worthwhile film that often gets lost in the loom of film history.

Mike Grost
6898


From:
Date: Fri Jan 23, 2004 5:21pm
Subject: Dead or Alive
 
I rented Takashi Miike's Dead or Alive on the strength of Lisa Alspector's
caspule review of it for the Chicago Reader. But I accidentally rented the
freakin' R-rated version. Still, I can't imagine 15 or so more minutes would
dismantle the narrative so absolutely that Alspector would conclude the following:
"This 1999 "action melodrama"--reviews describe an overarching plot; I saw
almost pure abstraction--suspends its own coherence at every turn, shifting in
setting, pace, and tone so dizzily that the very idea of narrative becomes beside
the point." I thought Miike told a story so coherent as to be hackneyed and I
wasn't paying the best attention (even "overarching" doesn't make sense to me
here). Has anyone seen both versions?

NOT looking forward to Ichi the Killer,

Kevin


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
6899


From: Craig Keller
Date: Fri Jan 23, 2004 10:40pm
Subject: Re: Dead or Alive
 
> I thought Miike told a story so coherent as to be hackneyed and I
> wasn't paying the best attention (even "overarching" doesn't make
> sense to me
> here). Has anyone seen both versions?
>
> NOT looking forward to Ichi the Killer,
>
> Kevin

I haven't seen the R-rated version -- I don't even know why such a
thing exists, and furthermore why Kino opted to release two versions --
but my guess is that the bulk of the "X" stuff is probably cut from the
ten-or-so-minute opening. The hour and a half between the explosive
kick-off and the balls-to-the-wall ending came off to me like an
incredibly boring exercise in yakuza posturing. I'll have to rewatch
some time soon to see if I still believe this -- admittedly the first
time I saw the film (and I loved it) I was stoned, the second time I
was not stoned and I disliked it. So there you go. I've never been
able to make it through 'City of Lost Souls'/'Hazard City,' but I can't
decide whether that film or 'Agitator'/'Riot of Souls' is the most
cripplingly boring. 'Visitor Q' is a mess. On the other hand, I
really like 'Audition,' 'Fudoh,' and 'The Happiness of the Katakuris'
-- and I still look forward to seeing the heaps of films he's made that
have yet to be released in the US.

cmk.

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
6900


From: hotlove666
Date: Fri Jan 23, 2004 11:19pm
Subject: Re: 25th Hour (Where's the Beef?)
 
Since I also included it in my 10 Best List, here's what I wrote
about the film for The Economist. For what it's worth, Joe
McBride, who wanted to write a biography of Spike Lee after In
search of John Ford, agrees with the opening comparison:

MONTY'S WAKE

Has Spike Lee has become America's unofficial poet laureate?
Like John Ford, the previous laureate, Mr. Lee makes films that
are sometimes seen as simplistic tracts by critics who think his
characters speak for him. But when we look back in 20 years, we
will see in these films a history of our times, formed into lasting
art. America is a nation of immigrants, and Mr. Ford's national
epic often showed its history through the eyes of Irish
immigrants, although he did make one film with a black hero,
Sergeant Rutledge. Mr. Lee, a New Yorker, has usually shown
us America through the eyes of its most disadvantaged
immigrants, African Americans, but now he has made a film
about the Irish in New York, 25th Hour, and it's one of his best.
Monty Brogan (Edward Norton) is in purgatory, en route to hell. A
likeable working-class kid who has done well selling heroin for
the Russian Mafia, Monty has been "touched" (busted) and
sentenced to seven years in prison. Because New York State's
prisons are bursting at the seams with casualties of the War on
Drugs, non-violent offenders are allowed to remain at liberty until
their sentences begin. That is the strange limbo in which Monty
finds himself during the 25 hours before starting to serve his
time.

Joining Monty in mourning for his life are two childhood friends,
Jake (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a nerdy teacher, and Frank
(Barry Pepper), a high-octane stockbroker. Before going to meet
Monty at his favorite club, Jake and Barry stand by a window in
Barry's townhouse overlooking Ground Zero, where
earth-moving machines crawl about like beetles as night
descends.

25th Hour is adapted from a novel by David Benioff that was
published before 9/11, but Mr. Benioff (who wrote the screenplay)
and Mr. Lee have set their film after the tragedy, and
cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto has filmed New York City in
bleached colors to suggest "a city covered with ashes." The
gaping wound of Ground Zero, which becomes haunted ground
when Terence Blanchard's score swells to include a wailing
choir, is an expressionistic backdrop for the two friends'
conversation, during which Jake is made to face the fact that
Monty has probably been handed a death sentence.

If Mr. Lee were a propagandist, telling Monty's story would be a
smart way to make a point about drug laws that
disproportionately affect blacks. But the filmmaker lets no one off
the hook, least of all Monty -- in one early scene we see him with
a strung-out former client, who is probably also a childhood
friend. Nor can we discount the undercurrents of distrust and
anger we sense beneath the humor and melancholy of the
night-long wake, during which truths will be told and drastic
measures taken.

In the morning Monty's father (Brian Cox), a character we have
seen once, when Monty dropped by his bar to say goodbye,
insists on driving him to the prison. The bar, we learn belatedly,
will be seized by the state if Monty doesn't show up, which
makes us wonder if perhaps his father isn't accompanying him
to make sure he does show. But like Monty we want to believe in
the dream that ends the film, showing his father driving him
instead to some little western town where he will change his
name, grow old and raise a family. And such are the unstated
complexities in the relationship of the two men in the car that we
can neither believe nor forget those Edenic images of America's
heartland as freedom's last refuge, which recall similar images
at the end of Clockers and He Got Game, the two Spike Lee
films this dark threnody most resembles.

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