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6901


From: Travis Miles
Date: Fri Jan 23, 2004 11:34pm
Subject: Takashi Miike's Triad Trilogy
 
While I don't think Miike is among the most vital of contemporary
filmmakers, some of his flourishes can really hit the mark, and the work I
feel best about never seems to get mentioned.
So far, for me, the most sustained and remarkable of Miike's output has been
the so-called "Triad Trilogy" consisting of Shinjuku Triad Society, Rainy
Dog, and Ley Lines. (The trio have recently been released on DVD on the
Tartan Extreme Asia imprint in the UK). The films, while still extremely
loose and rife with tangents, have a weight and deliberateness that most of
the others lack. (A caveat, I've seen 18 Miike films, but still feel like
I've seen hardly anything). These are among the few of his films that I've
seen that seem "finished". (The others would be Audition and Ichi the
Killer).
Ley Lines, in particular, is an extraordinary film. If many of the other
films seem to veer from frenzy to stasis with a correspondent juggling of
the viewer's attention between interest and boredom, the longueurs in Ley
Lines are full of a marked expectancy and threat, not dissimilar from
passages in Hou's Goodbye South, Goodbye. To quote Townes van Zandt, there's
lots of "Waitin' Around to Die".
While Shinjuku Triad Society has much more in common with the Fukasaku redux
of Miike's later Yakuza films, and Rainy Dog seems like some sort of
fantasia on Leone, I'm keen to angle my impression of these films
predominantly as pieces of a trilogy that is more than the sum of its parts.
Nothing in particular links these films except the presence of a criminal
element and a longing on the part of their protagonists to escape it all.
But the overall effect is a kind of beautifully refracted gangster elegy,
with none of the smugness or willful degradation of the later films. I saw
all three films on the same day, and would certainly have been less
impressed by any of the films in isolation. As a vast construct of moods and
tones, structured over generic elements that seem almost overstated, it's
most likely his most significant work to date. The Dead or Alive Trilogy, on
the other hand, is both more conventionally a 'trilogy' of characters and
themes and less expansive in its approach to its generic bases. (That being
said, Dead or Alive 2: Birds is easily my favorite Miike film for its almost
Ruizean explosion of narrative and performance).
If I had to pick something to 'represent' Miike in the high court of
aesthetic justification, I'd have to go with the Triad Trilogy.

TM
6902


From: Gabe Klinger
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 0:17am
Subject: 'Casa Amarela'
 
REMEMBRANCES OF THE YELLOW HOUSE (Joo Csar Monteiro, 1989), a Venice
prize-winner and for many Monteiro's breakthrough film, refers not to
one "yellow house" but to several houses, buildings, spaces, over the
course of our lives where we often feel trapped -- mundane places that
can turn into suffocating prisons, places where we often humiliate,
even criminalize ourselves so that we never have to return to them.
"You Can't Go Home Again" might be a title for a Monteiro film, that
George Webber-like sense of self-effacement, of the souring of one's
own history, with Portugal, with the post-Salazar state. "In these
times we lived an extremely difficult life. We thought of making films,
having recently returned from London. With our poor, suitably deluded
minds, we embodied the classic image of the 'enthusiast'. The year was
1965, and many innocences would, in the meantime, be ravished. This
country, my sirs, is a bottomless pit, an asshole one can't escape
from. At any rate, a film, even though formless, and as sketchy as
dead-born infant, is a foretaste to our own history, the silent
projection of our spectres." Such are the opening lines of Monteiro's
first foray into cinema, a medium-length film entitled "He Who Waits
For A Dead Man's Shoes Dies Barefoot" (1970). Speaking retroactively,
Monteiro reveals, in essence, that the experience would act as the
confinement of his own dialectic, putting up more steel bars to his
"yellow house". With the virginal impulse to direct dissipated (and the
dictatorship nearly gone), he would have to hunt, maturely, for his own
cinema: REMEMBRANCES OF THE YELLOW HOUSE is the accumulation of a
career-long struggle with this idea, but it does not chart an escape
from a pre-established mold -- nor does it attempt to lift, with
objectivity, the fog of the dictatorship -- but rather functions as
the sad, hysterical testament of someone eternally haunted by history,
and registering the regressive state of the filmmaker who never escapes
his first film. For every filmmaker has his Yellow House, permanently
imbued in all of his films. That Yellow House is the roof that covers
us. For Monteiro, it's Portugal.

Gabe
6903


From: Gabe Klinger
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 0:23am
Subject: Re: 'Casa Amarela'
 
On Friday, January 23, 2004, at 06:17 PM, Gabe Klinger wrote:

> REMEMBRANCES OF THE YELLOW HOUSE (Joo Csar Monteiro, 1989)

I should just add, to my own post, that I just saw this for the first
time on Wednesday, and watched it again on Thursday, and will probably
watch it again tonight if I have time. Anyway, in my mind this is one
of the greatest films ever made. I am very glad to have caught up with
it.

Gabe
6904


From: Eric Henderson
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 2:24pm
Subject: Dead or Alive (as well as 25th Hour)
 
I second the HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS bid. (I've only seen it, CITY
OF LOST SOULS, VISITOR Q, and the DEAD OR ALIVE trilogy.) I don't
know if I'm convinced he's a major talent yet, and even his best
films have, well, problems with staying on track (but that also seems
to be his chief strength as a director).

Of the DEAD OR ALIVE films, the only truly abysmal one I'd say is
FINAL, which is like an apologia for the vague homo-closeness of the
second film, BIRDS (which, perhaps because of that very aspect, was
probably the most effective of the three for me). The first one
definately felt like the v-film with something to prove.

I have to ask the 25th HOUR detractors if they are fans or non-fans
of Spike Lee's work in general. I've heard dissent in regards to the
film from both Lee's biggest critics as well as his biggest fans. I
align myself moreso with the latter group, but I have to wonder if
Lee and Takashi Miike are alike in that fans have a tendancy to turn
their propensity towards excess into their chief virtue?
6905


From:
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 9:24am
Subject: 25th Hour; Lost in Translation
 
Admirers (in many film publications) of "25th Hour" (Spike Lee, 2002) are
suggesting that its protagonist represents various groups: Americans, white
males; New Yorkers; Irish-Americans. Such comparisons never occurred to me while
watching the film. Mainly because this man is a monster of depravity. It just
did not occur to me that such a sleazy, evil man could be considered a
sympathetic stand-in for any large social group. The film is insistent on the
protagonist's evil. He is a wealthy man who has built up a fortune selling heroin. Even
his best friend states unequivocally that he is evil, and deserves to go to
prison. This stockbroker friend seems to be the film's voice of morality, and
to be speaking for the director and scriptwriter.
The film is also insistent about what the protagonist has done with his
money. He has bought the sexual favors of the youngest woman he could find. The
film shows us the protagonist recruiting her body, and making sure she is 18 and
hence sexually legal. He even does this right on her high school playground
(!!!), echoing the standard cliche about child molestors looking for their
victims on school playgrounds. The dialogue makes clear that this woman is his
mistress: a woman who is exchanging her body for expensive presents.
There is also a subplot about a school teacher, who gives into his sick
obsession with one of his 17 year old pupils. Both women are given characteristics
that make them especially vulnerable to older male predators: the 17 year old
(played by Anna Paquin) is a classically disturbed adolescent experiencing
severe growing pains, while the protagonist's mistress is a member of a racial
minority. Her sexual purchase by the protagonist echoes a horrendously ugly
history of rich white people exploiting the bodies of women of color. We are in
the 9th circle of hell here.
"Lost in Translation" (Sophia Coppola, 2003) has a plot similar to "25 Hour".
It is the story of a wealthy 52 year old man, (played by Bill Murray, born
September 21, 1950), who pursues an adulterous affair with an 18 year old woman,
(played by Scarlett Johansson, born November 22, 1984). While the protagonist
of "25th Hour" makes his money pushing heroin, the man in "Translation" makes
his money by promoting whiskey (2 million dollars for advertisements). While
alcohol is unfortunately legal and heroin is not, it is clear that alcohol is
just as evil a drug as heroin. Alcohol has in fact ruined far more lives than
even the horrendous heroin has. The use of alcohol and illegal drugs are both
tragic degradations of the human spirit. Putting them in are bodies and our
minds is a betrayal of our dignity as human beings.
Once again, the relations between the male and female in "Translation" are
frighteningly asymmetric. While the male is a millionaire, the heroine has no
job, no career, a financially worthless degree, and is completely dependent on
her husband for monetary support. While the male is merely bored, the female is
having a full scale nervous breakdown and life crisis due to her marital
problems and career situation. These severe vulnerabilities leave her ripe for
exploitation by an older male, just like the troubled women in "25th Hour".
I found both "25th Hour" and "Lost in Translation" to be deeply disturbing
films. They contain two of the sleaziest male protagonists in film history,
characters who are in complete moral and sexual free fall.

Mike Grost
6906


From: Eric Henderson
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 2:43pm
Subject: Re: bit more about Dead or Alive
 
I neglected to mention that Takashi Miike's clutter-happy aesthetic
outlook provides DEAD OR ALIVE: BIRDS with quite a few moving
moments, including a montage equating the implicit bloodthirstiness
of the first film's viewers with a group of giddy, screaming children
watching a sexually ribald play.

The overall messiness also brings the film to an extraordinarily
moving, damn-near essay film-like conclusion, involving imagry of
both violence and third world suffering (the two hitmen -- who are
now angels -- take out hits and donate the profits toward feeding
hungry children).
6907


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 3:05pm
Subject: Re: 25th Hour; Lost in Translation
 
--- MG4273@a... wrote:

> "Lost in Translation" (Sophia Coppola, 2003) has a
> plot similar to "25 Hour".
> It is the story of a wealthy 52 year old man,
> (played by Bill Murray, born
> September 21, 1950), who pursues an adulterous
> affair with an 18 year old woman,
> (played by Scarlett Johansson, born November 22,
> 1984).

What on earth are you talking about?!?!!!The whole
POINT of "Lost in Translation" is that no sexual
affair is pursued or even CONTEMPLATED!!!

__________________________________
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6908


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 3:22pm
Subject: Re: 25th Hour; Lost in Translation
 
> What on earth are you talking about?!?!!!The whole
> POINT of "Lost in Translation" is that no sexual
> affair is pursued or even CONTEMPLATED!!!

Surely they contemplated it, in their copious free time. What makes you
think they didn't? - Dan
6909


From:
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 10:40am
Subject: Re: Re: bit more about Dead or Alive
 
Ugh, I forgot Miike also did HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS which I couldn't even
finish. When my boyfriend saw my glum face while watching it, he said,
"What's your problem? Isn't this everything you've ever wanted in a film?" Yes, and
that's the problem. It's just too damn hip and self-conscious, the kind of
film I would make which I why I (no longer) make films.

And double ugh, the posts on the second Dead or Alive have been enticing
enough to rack me with guilt for never wanting to see it.

Thinking of what film I will make Eric @ Slant Magazine watch (Some Call It
Loving?) if I hate Dead or Alive: Birds,
Kevin


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
6910


From:
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 10:44am
Subject: Thrill of a Romance
 
There's a screening of Thrill of a Romance (D: Richard Thorpe; with Esther
Williams, Van Johnson; 1945) next week near me and I was wondering if anyone has
anything to say about it. Should I rush to it? Run from it?

Kevin


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
6911


From: jpcoursodon
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 3:48pm
Subject: Re: 25th Hour; Lost in Translation
 
I wonder if you have seen the film! "pursues an adulterous
affair"?? I have never seen such timid "pursuing" in a movie, or in
real life for that matter. Nothing sexual happens and that's the
point of the movie (all we get is a last-minute very chaste goodbye
kiss). Also, the actress may have been 18 at the time of filming but
her character is several years older (you wouldn't insist that
performers be exactly the same age as the characters they play, would
you?) Actually the age difference between the two is a factor in the
lack of sex (he has no problem going to bed with the "mature" singer,
but the relationship with the younger woman is of a completely
different nature).
(by the way, Chaplin married Oona when she was barely 18. Was he a
predator?)
Also the Murray character (although he is being paid an obscene
amount of money for his commercials) is a former film star whose
career has gone to the dogs. He is humiliated to have to do
commercials for a living. There is nothing triumphant about him -- he
considers himself a has-been and a failure. Of course you and I would
be glad to be that kind of failure if it meant making two millions
for a few days' posing in front of cameras. But in HIS world it is
wretched. All is relative.
JPC

PS: "Alcohol is unfortunately legal" Are you advocating bringing
back the Noble Experiment?





--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, MG4273@a... wrote:
.
> "Lost in Translation" (Sophia Coppola, 2003) has a plot similar
to "25 Hour".
> It is the story of a wealthy 52 year old man, (played by Bill
Murray, born
> September 21, 1950), who pursues an adulterous affair with an 18
year old woman,
> (played by Scarlett Johansson, born November 22, 1984). While the
protagonist
> of "25th Hour" makes his money pushing heroin, the man
in "Translation" makes
> his money by promoting whiskey (2 million dollars for
advertisements). While
> alcohol is unfortunately legal and heroin is not, it is clear that
alcohol is
> just as evil a drug as heroin. Alcohol has in fact ruined far more
lives than
> even the horrendous heroin has. The use of alcohol and illegal
drugs are both
> tragic degradations of the human spirit. Putting them in are bodies
and our
> minds is a betrayal of our dignity as human beings.
> Once again, the relations between the male and female
in "Translation" are
> frighteningly asymmetric. While the male is a millionaire, the
heroine has no
> job, no career, a financially worthless degree, and is completely
dependent on
> her husband for monetary support. While the male is merely bored,
the female is
> having a full scale nervous breakdown and life crisis due to her
marital
> problems and career situation. These severe vulnerabilities leave
her ripe for
> exploitation by an older male, just like the troubled women
in "25th Hour".
> I found both "25th Hour" and "Lost in Translation" to be deeply
disturbing
> films. They contain two of the sleaziest male protagonists in film
history,
> characters who are in complete moral and sexual free fall.
>
> Mike Grost
6912


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 3:59pm
Subject: Spike Lee, artists vs. filmmakers
 
> I have to ask the 25th HOUR detractors if they are fans or non-fans
> of Spike Lee's work in general.

That's a tough one, because Lee is such a problemsome case. I admire DO
THE RIGHT THING, CROOKLYN, and even SCHOOL DAZE, but in most cases Lee
throws up a lot of obstacles to my attempts to appreciate him. I do
think he's an interesting artist, but I think he thinks that personal
expression and artistic expression are the same thing, and I often feel
that that gets in the way of him finding forms that work, or discarding
forms that don't work. It's not an uncommon problem among filmmakers,
but Lee's style of personal expression is more bombastic and aggressive
than most.

Sometimes it's interesting to draw distinctions between filmmaking
instincts and artistic instincts. I think that Lee has chops as an
artist, but not especially as a filmmaker, if that makes any sense. I
don't sense the least command of film form there, any particular knack
for the specifically filmic virtues of space-time, decoupage, tone,
emphasis, etc., any naturalness of cinematic expression: it's all
forced, willful, unintuitive to my mind. But he does have an artist's
sensibility in the way he approaches material: he instinctively knows
how to lay out and complicate a story so that it poses an artistic
challenge to the audience; and, despite his sometimes belligerent
deployment of ideological agendas, his films usually contain something
of the principle of contradiction and contrast.

It's certainly better to be a good artist and not a good filmmaker than
the other way around! I don't know who's an example of the
good-filmmaker-bad-artist paradigm. To me, maybe someone like DePalma,
though many of you will disagree: I think he has a natural, prodigious
command of cinematic expression that is almost unequaled in breadth.
But I'd much rather watch Lee flounder about, always picking the worst
spot to set up the camera, than watch DePalma's profound skill harnessed
to what I consider an unacceptably limited artistic sensibility. I've
detoured into a provocation; but I think my filmmaker/artist distinction
might be useful even if people disagree about how to apply it.

25TH HOUR didn't really work for me. I felt that the script had a
narrative urgency that Lee usually lacks, but I didn't think it did a
good job of working out the dramaturgical ideas that it raised. - Dan
6913


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 4:05pm
Subject: Re: 25th Hour; Lost in Translation
 
Everything in the damned movie!!!!

Do not let your attraction for Scarlett Johansson get
in the way of rationality! The entire POINT of "Lost
in Translation" is the unexpected emotional connection
between these two very different people who otherwise
would never have met. Henry James wrote about this all
the time. READ HIM! But more important LOOK AT THE
GODDAMNED FILM THAT SOFIA COPPOLA MADE!!!


--- Dan Sallitt wrote:
> > What on earth are you talking about?!?!!!The whole
> > POINT of "Lost in Translation" is that no sexual
> > affair is pursued or even CONTEMPLATED!!!
>
> Surely they contemplated it, in their copious free
> time. What makes you
> think they didn't? - Dan
>
>


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6914


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 4:09pm
Subject: Re: Thrill of a Romance
 
Most definitely see it. It's excellent Esther.

--- LiLiPUT1@a... wrote:
> There's a screening of Thrill of a Romance (D:
> Richard Thorpe; with Esther
> Williams, Van Johnson; 1945) next week near me and I
> was wondering if anyone has
> anything to say about it. Should I rush to it? Run
> from it?
>
> Kevin
>
>
> [Non-text portions of this message have been
> removed]
>
>


__________________________________
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Yahoo! SiteBuilder - Free web site building tool. Try it!
http://webhosting.yahoo.com/ps/sb/
6915


From: Tosh
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 4:24pm
Subject: Lost in Translation
 
Maybe I missed something in this trend, but I thought the two main
characters in Lost in Translation had no sexual interest in each
other. Basically two lonely people stuck in a lonely moment(s).
Also I think Bill Murray regretted sleeping with the bar singer - I
think due that his needs are more complex than sexual - and more have
to deal with connecting to the world somehow.

If the two 'main' characters did want to sleep with each other - it
would have happened when they shared the bed to watch tv and drink
sake. There was no sexual yearning or anything physical in their
need except to share time together.
--
Tosh Berman
TamTam Books
http://www.tamtambooks.com
6916


From: Eric Henderson
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 4:45pm
Subject: Re: bit more about Dead or Alive
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, LiLiPUT1@a... wrote:
> Thinking of what film I will make Eric @ Slant Magazine watch (Some Call It
> Loving?) if I hate Dead or Alive: Birds,
> Kevin


Hoo-Boy! Backpedal time... no, seriously though. All my positive reactions w/r/
t DEAD OR ALIVE: BIRDS sort of hinge on being impressed with Miike's
filmmaking skills but frustrated by his inconsistencies. With BIRDS, it seemed
he was sort of acknowledging and abandoning all the violent kicks that drew
him his cult audience in the first place. Nothing like a director trying to avoid
cult success with a rejection of his reputation (in the form of a sequel, no less).

If you hate it, dig up something for me that's like HAPPINESS OF THE
KATAKURIS was to you, a too-heady mix of everything I thought I loved about
movies (oh, wait... that might have been KILL BILL, though there were no
nods to Dreyer in that film, were there?).
6917


From: Zach Campbell
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 4:57pm
Subject: Re: 25th Hour; Lost in Translation
 
David E:
> Do not let your attraction for Scarlett Johansson get
> in the way of rationality!

Hmm.

> The entire POINT of "Lost
> in Translation" is the unexpected emotional connection
> between these two very different people who otherwise
> would never have met. Henry James wrote about this all
> the time. READ HIM!

This is kind of uncalled for. Murray & Johansson are not exactly
like Basil & Verena, or Winterbourne & Daisy. Then again, those
characters doubtless considered romance in their own rambling stays
in society. Let's not be puritanical here: the thought of romance
(and adultery) can cross someone's mind, and in most cases will,
even if the relationship decidedly heads in another direction. Who
says a non-romantic relationship must be non-romantic in every
single thought and feeling? That would be so ... boring ... and
that's something we shouldn't expect from Ehrensteinland, should we?

Tosh:
> If the two 'main' characters did want to sleep with each other - it
> would have happened when they shared the bed to watch tv and drink
> sake. There was no sexual yearning or anything physical in their
> need except to share time together.

To me, no sex doesn't necessarily equate to 'no sexual yearning.'
Part of the motivation may simply be that both of these characters
are married, and a bit scared by the age difference. If Murray and
Johansson were both thirty and single, their relationship might be a
little harder to buy, simply because single adults with a bond & a
bed are more likely to foreground a sexual attraction (even if that,
too, might not pan out).

This doesn't mean LOST IN TRANSLATION is about a repressed affair
(well, maybe it is, but only in a tertiary sense). But I just can't
fathom that the relationship between Murray and Johansson--in which
she's hurt by his fling with the lounge singer, and in which the two
are unsatisfied because of their decidedly polite early goodbye--is
completely chaste. (Unlike Mike, I don't think it is or would be a
bad thing if they pursue each other or if one pursued the other.
Per se.) Is their relationship about something other romance and
sex? Of course it is. But anyone who made it through adolescence
surely learned the complicated surges of emotion and, yes, sexual
desire that come when you choose to share private moments (sometimes
on a bed, no less) with someone you could be attracted to.

--Zach
6918


From: hotlove666
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 5:24pm
Subject: Re: 25th Hour (What's the Beef?)
 
Since no one is rushing to defend 25th Hour, I guess Dan's opinion of
Lee's mise-en-scene is in the majority, and since it was stated as an
opinion, I'm not going to argue with it. Picking up on Dan's very,
very interesting artist/metteur-en-scene distinction, I'd say that it
defines Lee as a cineaste whose mise-en-scene Dan doesn't like. (Dan,
you may have missed a long thread where "cineaste" is redefined in
terms you might find interesting: What Is a Cineaste?). Whereas De
Palma is a metteur-en-scene, period.

Still, a few words are called for in defense of Monty Markham. I
agree with Mike that heroin pushers are morally repugnant. Whether or
not we make that a crime is a whole debate. I happen to favor
decriminalization of all drugs, but I imagine Lee doesn't. On the
other hand, while Clockers is a very powerful film about what drugs
have done to his old neighborhood, he does let the lead kid get out
of town at the end, to that better place Monty dreams of on his way
to an overcrowded prison full of violent criminals - whereas Monty
won't even kill the fellow dealer who ratted him out when the head
gangster orders him to. Can we agree at least that dealing heroin
shouldn't bring an implicit death sentence?

That said, I don't think the film shirks making any of the points
Mike is making - remember the conversation Monty has with the strung-
out ex-client at the beginning - except that Mike really exaggerates
the case against the teacher friend. He can barely bring himself to
give the girl a peck on the lips, and as far as I can see, she's the
predator. Also, for what it's worth, I don't think a guy with Monty's
looks needs to buy his girlfriends. And making sure she's 18 is
important, not evil: I got an Academy screener of this movie from
some friends to give to my step-son so that he and his friends could
see what it had to say about underage girls and drugs both, even
though I consider the patchwork laws that prevail in this country
about who is or isn't a minor in a given state to be as arbitrary and
insane as our drug laws.

But it's quite true that Monty's girlfriend is with him for money as
well as other things, and I don't think the film shrinks back from
showing that, either. Why else would he be ready to believe it when
the real snitch suggests that she's the one who turned him in to the
cops? I'd say the film is clearer-eyed about economic factors in the
relationship between guys with cool clothes and other accessories and
the women in their lives than all the action films/episodes made in
Los Angeles and shown in theatres or aired on television since the
60s. Because Spike Lee is one filmmaker who is clear-eyed about
everything. He just doesn't spell it out.

25th Hour is a film about a morally impure guy who is getting worse
than he deserves because he is living in a society run by big
criminals. The words "Rockefeller Law" (the first of a series of
Draconian minimum sentencing laws passed in this country, rammed
through in NY by Nelson Rockefeller in support of his Presidential
ambitions), when they are spoken by the DEA interrogator, did not
fall on deaf ears when I saw the movie. I would also say that with
all the prison imagery all over this film, Lee was expecting that a
few of us would also remember Attica, where Rockefeller murdered
convicts protesting conditions in his Gulag, as Al Lewis (remember
Grampa Munster? He used to have a political radio show in NYC till
Ashcroft ran him off the air) used to refer to it, and the guards
thay had taken hostage, but were not abusing. Some of the guards'
families finally won their suit against NY state last year, long
after "Rocky" had gone to his reward while humping his mistress. But
Spike hasn't forgotten him. He comes up in He Got Game, too.

25th Hour is also a film about the World Trade Center massacre. And
I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I don't think it's just
dragged in. The Twin Towers were the symbol and in some ways the
center of American capitalism, which we see at its finest in the
scenes with Barry Pepper.

(And Mike, while I know you're against communism, I'm one of the old
diehards who think that what we currently have is badly broken and
needs fixing before it turns into fascism. Hitler's first acts upon
becoming Chancellor were eliminating estate taxes and cutting taxes
on Germany's big manufacturers, who had supported him in an election
where he a small percentage of the German people had voted for him.
When he had run the country's economy into the ground, all his
supporters converted their factories to building armaments, because
it was the only way out of the crisis of capitalism in Germany at the
point. Happily, we had the New Deal, which is being dismantled now,
instead.)

Returning to my point, in the eyes of much of the Third World, the
activities going on in the Twin Towers weren't morally superior to
what Monty Markham is doing - and by the way, I don't think it's an
accident that the gangster he works for looks like Putin
(aka "Pooty," in The Bunch's cute vocabulary). That's the kind of guy
who's running post-communist Russia. We're really making progress
here. And while Spike Lee lumps not only the traders in the Twin
Towers, but the whole of New York City, into Monty's "Fuck You" to
them and himself in the mirror (which comes from the book, not from
an old Spike Lee movie), he is a New Yorker and he's saying: We're
corrupt in all sorts of ways, but we didn't deserve THIS (9/11). And
neither does Monty.

How all this is conveyed through cinematic as well as dramatic art is
another discussion, which hasn't been opened yet except in a very
general way by Dan's post and my reply to it.
6919


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 5:44pm
Subject: Re: Re: 25th Hour; Lost in Translation
 
--- Zach Campbell wrote:


> This is kind of uncalled for.

No it isn't.

Murray & Johansson
> are not exactly
> like Basil & Verena, or Winterbourne & Daisy.

Close enough.

Then
> again, those
> characters doubtless considered romance in their own
> rambling stays
> in society.

Romance is not sex.

Having sex with someone is not being romantically
involved with them (see "Intimacy") In fact having sex
with someone isn't even to be equated with KNOWING
them at all. Very recently I discovered I once had sex
9very good sex, I might add) with the late
Bernard-Marie Koltes. I didn't know him then and I
certainly don't know him now.

Let's not be puritanical here: the
> thought of romance
> (and adultery) can cross someone's mind, and in most
> cases will,
> even if the relationship decidedly heads in another
> direction.

And Coppola's film is entirely about that"other
direction." Scene after scene makes this painfully
clear.

Who
> says a non-romantic relationship must be
> non-romantic in every
> single thought and feeling?

Somone who thinks with their dick.

That would be so ...
> boring ... and
> that's something we shouldn't expect from
> Ehrensteinland, should we?

Clearly you don't know what to expect from me.



I just can't
> fathom that the relationship between Murray and
> Johansson--in which
> she's hurt by his fling with the lounge singer, and
> in which the two
> are unsatisfied because of their decidedly polite
> early goodbye--is
> completely chaste.

And I can't fathom why you can't.





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6920


From: Tosh
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 6:09pm
Subject: Lost in Translation
 
I didn't feel there was any sexual attraction between them. It was
more of a 'head' to 'head' communication than a sexual hunger. I
like this film, not love it - but I do have an interest in Japanese
culture and I thought both actors were really good. It was nice to
see a film about a relationship that wasn't based on sex or do you
love me I love you blah blah.
--
Tosh Berman
TamTam Books
http://www.tamtambooks.com
6921


From: Eric Henderson
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 6:29pm
Subject: Re: 25th Hour; Lost in Translation
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, David Ehrenstein wrote:
>
> --- Zach Campbell wrote:
> > I just can't
> > fathom that the relationship between Murray and
> > Johansson--in which
> > she's hurt by his fling with the lounge singer, and
> > in which the two
> > are unsatisfied because of their decidedly polite
> > early goodbye--is
> > completely chaste.
>
> And I can't fathom why you can't.


Hmmm... maybe because one of you is straight and the other one of you is
gay?

... sorry, just thought I'd join in on the levity. -- E
6922


From: Zach Campbell
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 6:33pm
Subject: Re: 25th Hour; Lost in Translation
 
Ehrenstein:
> Then
> > again, those
> > characters doubtless considered romance in their own
> > rambling stays
> > in society.
>
> Romance is not sex.

Fair enough. I admit I should have been much clearer in delineating
and articulating the two.

> And Coppola's film is entirely about that"other
> direction." Scene after scene makes this painfully
> clear.

'Entirely'? I don't know about that. Anyway, you're arguing
against a straw man. I never said that the film *is* about a sexual
or romantic relationship, only that some of the currents seem to be
there in the background and add nuance the film's main thrust (for
the better). I agree 100% that it's not a film about sex or
romance. I just don't think it's as purely *not* about those things
as you do.

> Who
> > says a non-romantic relationship must be
> > non-romantic in every
> > single thought and feeling?
>
> Somone who thinks with their dick.

So someone who thinks with their dick says a non-romantic
relationship must be wholly non-romantic. Or did you mean to say
something a little different?

> I just can't
> > fathom that the relationship between Murray and
> > Johansson--in which
> > she's hurt by his fling with the lounge singer, and
> > in which the two
> > are unsatisfied because of their decidedly polite
> > early goodbye--is
> > completely chaste.
>
> And I can't fathom why you can't.

I'm a sex fiend, I suppose. A great film about a relationship that
is not about sex, but which deals creatively and freely with the
sexual issues that do come up, is Duigan's LAWN DOGS. But I don't
know if anyone here likes the film at all, or as much as I do. I
think it (like VIRGIN SUICIDES) is superior to LOST IN TRANSLATION.

--Zach
6923


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 7:31pm
Subject: Re: Re: 25th Hour; Lost in Translation
 
--- Eric Henderson wrote:

> Hmmm... maybe because one of you is straight and the
> other one of you is
> gay?
>
> ... sorry, just thought I'd join in on the levity.
> -- E
>

I certainly hope not. Sexual orientation is a separate
issue.


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6924


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 7:36pm
Subject: Re: Re: 25th Hour; Lost in Translation
 
--- Zach Campbell wrote:

I agree 100% that it's not a film
> about sex or
> romance. I just don't think it's as purely *not*
> about those things
> as you do.

It's not about sex. That's the entire purpose of the
very first shot of the film (ie. "OK. jere's her ass
-- now get the fuck over it!")

But it IS about romance, after a fashion -- a
stillborn romance-that-might-have been. The characters
have feels toward each other that are romantic and
their goodbye is romantic. But not as full-out
romantic as the goodbye at the end of "Dirty Pretty
Things" which IS about two people falling in love.



>
> I'm a sex fiend, I suppose.

No, that would be ME.




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6925


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 8:21pm
Subject: Lawn Dogs, Lost in Translation
 
> A great film about a relationship that
> is not about sex, but which deals creatively and freely with the
> sexual issues that do come up, is Duigan's LAWN DOGS. But I don't
> know if anyone here likes the film at all, or as much as I do. I
> think it (like VIRGIN SUICIDES) is superior to LOST IN TRANSLATION.

I don't think I like it quite as much as you do, but I like it, and I'm
generally impressed with Duigan as a director. I'm looking forward to
seeing it again: I started out lukewarm on the film, but it won me over
by the end, even before that last beautiful shot.

As for David's fervent argument that sex never crossed the minds of the
protagonists of LOST IN TRANSLATION, I'd say that the burden of proof is
on him, as sex usually crosses the minds of most people, in situations
much less charged than the one depicted in the film. Zach's observation
that Johansson was troubled by Murray's affair has gone unrebutted.


> It's not about sex. That's the entire purpose of the
> very first shot of the film (ie. "OK. jere's her ass
> -- now get the fuck over it!")

If that was Coppola's purpose, then I'd say she's off the mark about how
the sex drive works. But I don't think that's she was saying.
Throughout this film and her last, she lingers lovingly on the bodies of
women, creating a diffuse, sexually charged atmosphere. The
anti-climactic scene on the bed, where Murray and Johansson touch but
don't go further, is at the very least an attempt to play with audience
expectations about how that relationship will progress. That of course
doesn't mean that the characters were thinking about sex, but it doesn't
mean that they weren't, either. - Dan
6926


From: Frederick M. Veith
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 9:19pm
Subject: Lost in Translation
 
On Sat, 24 Jan 2004, Dan Sallitt wrote:

> As for David's fervent argument that sex never crossed the minds of the
> protagonists of LOST IN TRANSLATION, I'd say that the burden of proof is
> on him, as sex usually crosses the minds of most people, in situations
> much less charged than the one depicted in the film. Zach's observation
> that Johansson was troubled by Murray's affair has gone unrebutted.

I've been sitting on that rebuttal all morning because I've been busy with
other things. I think (can I use the character's names instead of the
actors?) Charlotte's disappointment here stems from the obviousness of
Bob's behaviour rather than anything like sexual jealousy. Apart from the
mere fact of her loneliness and isolation, my understanding of her
attraction (I employ this here as non-sexually as possible) to Bob is
that it was a result of his quirkiness &c. Then he goes and does about the
most uninteresting thing he could have done at that moment. Consider this
in context of the characterizations of both her husband (a photographer)
and the Anna Faris character (an actress) which can only politely be
described as one-dimensional. There's a play here with surfaces,
transparency, opaqueness, the relation of image to identity, dare I say:
the knowability of the other. At this moment in the film, Bob becomes what
we're set up at least to suspect he might be from the start. Indeed it
could be said that this happens directly as a result of his inability to
find an alternative image through which to define the parameters of his
relationship with Charlotte.

As to David's avowed rejection of the idea that sexual orientation has
*anything* to do with his reading of the film, I take his point, broadly
speaking (indeed, I must), but I can't shake the notion that too much of
what has been written about this film has been filtered through the
psychology of middle-aged mostly hetero male film critics who
over-identify with Bob and find Scarlett Johansson sexually attractive.
One of the things that the film does which is interesting is to refuse
to some extent the facile metonymy at play in many Hollywood 'romantic'
films whereby the mere fact of the physical attractiveness of the leads is
allowed to stand for the entire psychology of the relationship.

Fred.
6927


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 9:50pm
Subject: Re: Lost in Translation
 
--- "Frederick M. Veith"
wrote:

>
> As to David's avowed rejection of the idea that
> sexual orientation has
> *anything* to do with his reading of the film, I
> take his point, broadly
> speaking (indeed, I must), but I can't shake the
> notion that too much of
> what has been written about this film has been
> filtered through the
> psychology of middle-aged mostly hetero male film
> critics who
> over-identify with Bob and find Scarlett Johansson
> sexually attractive.

Thanks Fred. I was SORELY TEMPTED to make the same
statement. But it would sound rather odd coming from
someone as obsessed with Jude Law, Rupert Graves and
Alessandro Nivola as I am.

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6928


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 10:14pm
Subject: Re: Lost in Translation
 
>>As to David's avowed rejection of the idea that
>>sexual orientation has
>>*anything* to do with his reading of the film, I
>>take his point, broadly
>>speaking (indeed, I must), but I can't shake the
>>notion that too much of
>>what has been written about this film has been
>>filtered through the
>>psychology of middle-aged mostly hetero male film
>>critics who
>>over-identify with Bob and find Scarlett Johansson
>>sexually attractive.
>
> Thanks Fred. I was SORELY TEMPTED to make the same
> statement. But it would sound rather odd coming from
> someone as obsessed with Jude Law, Rupert Graves and
> Alessandro Nivola as I am.

If Coppola didn't want viewers to find Charlotte sexually attractive,
she should have cast someone else. Really, of all the directors in the
world who might be thought to be uninterested in sexuality, Coppola is
way down at the bottom of the list. She's really fascinated by female
flesh.

It's getting harder to ignore the ad hominem attacks on heterosexual
observers. If sexuality makes it impossible to view a film in a
coherent fashion, then we're all screwed one way or another.

That said, Frederick's alternative explanation of Johansson's
disappointment at Murray's dalliance is certainly interesting, in that
Coppola has a tendency to divide the characters in this film into the
cool and the uncool, and seems to care about these boundaries just as
much as she cares about sensuality. But Murray's action was a sexual
action, and it can't be that uncoolness is the only thing that Johansson
was disappointed in, or else Coppola could have shown Johansson being
crestfallen at Murray's taste in music, or something.

I sense more than routine resistance to the idea that this film is
sexual. What's up with that? Sex is everywhere, isn't it? I have only
moderate affection for this film, but I'd have less affection for it if
I thought that it had an investment in that relationship being sexless
in thought as well as deed. - Dan
6929


From: Aaron
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 10:51pm
Subject: Lesser known Walsh
 
Hey all -

Has anyone seen the lesser known Raoul Walsh titles BACKGROUND TO
DANGER (1943) or BAND OF ANGELS (1957)? If so, are they worth
checking out?
6930


From: Zach Campbell
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 11:20pm
Subject: Re: Lost in Translation
 
Fred Veith:
> I think (can I use the character's names instead of the
> actors?) Charlotte's disappointment here stems from the
> obviousness of Bob's behaviour rather than anything like sexual
> jealousy. Apart from the mere fact of her loneliness and
> isolation, my understanding of her attraction (I employ this here
> as non-sexually as possible) to Bob is
> that it was a result of his quirkiness &c. Then he goes and does
> about the most uninteresting thing he could have done at that
> moment.

This is a valid reading that I hadn't really thought of before, so
thanks for bringing it to the table, Fred. Still, I'm not sure what
in the film necessarily favors that reading to the total exclusion
of a reading that Charlotte is jealous.

> I can't shake the notion that too much of
> what has been written about this film has been filtered through the
> psychology of middle-aged mostly hetero male film critics who
> over-identify with Bob and find Scarlett Johansson sexually
> attractive.

I'm not middle-aged, and if I identified with either of the pair, it
was Charlotte/Johansson (whom I find pretty but not *that*
attractive ... if she were Ludivine Sagnier maybe I'd be tugged more
hazardously into my own subjectivity).

How do you 'over-identify' with a character? Who is the privileged
arbiter of that evaluation?

Depending on who you ask, straight-white-middle-aged-male critics
are either the cause for LOST IN TRANSLATION's being hopelessly
overrated or the reason why it's misunderstood and not taken
seriously enough.

--Zach
6931


From: Kevin Lee
Date: Sat Jan 24, 2004 11:34pm
Subject: Viaggio in Italia, 50 years later... Lost in Translation???
 
Hi all,

FOG OF WAR notwithstanding (and thanks for your
informed feedback guys, though I have to wonder if
Errol Morris has any defenders out there), I had meant
to be my first post on this forum to be a belated
commemoration to Rossellini's VIAGGIO IN ITALIA
(VOYAGE TO ITALY), a film that celebrated its 50th
anniversary last year (without much fanfare as far as
I could tell). I must confess that I saw this movie
for the first time just this month at the MOMA's
current Film and Faith series, but it left a deep and
lingering impression on me. As I was reflecting on it
afterwards, I wondered about where the "legacy" of
this film could be found, if anywhere, in the current
world of cinema. And somehow the first film that came
to mind was LOST IN TRANSLATION. I'm not saying that
Coppola was influenced by Rossellini (at least not
nearly as much as by Antonioni or even Fellini), but
the films do seem to strike up an intriguing dialogue.

Does anyone else think it's worth comparing the two
films, in terms of how their directors capture the
experience of tourists abroad: how they see what's
around them, how they are changed (or unchanged) by
what they see and experience, romantically,
spiritually, and how all of this is explored in
cinematic terms? How do the two films match up? And
what other contemporary films might serve as a
testament to VIAGGIO's "legacy" (both in terms of
what's been lost as well as preserved of the film's
creative vision)?

I'm afraid I'm going to take the newbie's vow of
silence because I'd rather listen to the regulars, but
if the discussion needs it I'll put in my two cents
(don't expect anything revelatory!)

Cheers

Kevin Lee



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6932


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 0:09am
Subject: Re: Lost in Translation
 
--- Dan Sallitt wrote:


>
> If Coppola didn't want viewers to find Charlotte
> sexually attractive,
> she should have cast someone else.

I don't know how it is in your world, but in mine
there's a rather large difference between finding
someone sexually attractive and demanding that they
fuck you.

Really, of all
> the directors in the
> world who might be thought to be uninterested in
> sexuality, Coppola is
> way down at the bottom of the list. She's really
> fascinated by female
> flesh.
>

Aha! A Closet Dyke! So htat's why she and Spike Jonze
are splitsville, eh? DO continue. Obviously you have
the inside track.

> It's getting harder to ignore the ad hominem attacks
> on heterosexual
> observers.

Oh lighten up!

Shoe meet Other Foot.

If sexuality makes it impossible to view
> a film in a
> coherent fashion, then we're all screwed one way or
> another.

Odd, but I've never found sexuality to be a problem in
all my years of moviegoing. Particularly when it comes
to a work as gentleand graceful and respetful of
people'sfeelings as "Lost in Translation."



>
> I sense more than routine resistance to the idea
> that this film is
> sexual. What's up with that? Sex is everywhere,
> isn't it?

Calling Dr. Kinsey!

I have only
> moderate affection for this film, but I'd have less
> affection for it if
> I thought that it had an investment in that
> relationship being sexless
> in thought as well as deed.

Calling Dr. Lacan!

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6933


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 0:12am
Subject: Re: Lesser known Walsh
 
"Background to Danger" I don't know, but "Band of
Angels" is a Must See. Fassbinder was particularly
taken with it, and his western "Whitey" (once
ultra-obscure, now available on DVD) is a full-press
hommage.
--- Aaron wrote:
> Hey all -
>
> Has anyone seen the lesser known Raoul Walsh titles
> BACKGROUND TO
> DANGER (1943) or BAND OF ANGELS (1957)? If so, are
> they worth
> checking out?
>
>


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6934


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 0:14am
Subject: Re: Viaggio in Italia, 50 years later... Lost in Translation???
 
--- Kevin Lee wrote:

>
> Does anyone else think it's worth comparing the two
> films, in terms of how their directors capture the
> experience of tourists abroad: how they see what's
> around them, how they are changed (or unchanged) by
> what they see and experience, romantically,
> spiritually, and how all of this is explored in
> cinematic terms? How do the two films match up? And
> what other contemporary films might serve as a
> testament to VIAGGIO's "legacy" (both in terms of
> what's been lost as well as preserved of the film's
> creative vision)?
>
Actually I thought of "Viaggio in Italia" in the last
scene. Not sure if it's a hommage, though I would bet
that Coppolla's seen the Rossellini.
>
>
>

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6935


From: programming
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 1:56am
Subject: Chimes at Midnight print in Chicago
 
Hi All,

Have any of the Chicagoans on the list seen the 35mm restoration-in-progress
print of Chimes at Midnight showing this weekend at Prop Thtr?

What's the word?

Last showing is tomorrow afternoon - worth the $20 admission?

Sorry so last minute a question.

Patrick Friel
6936


From: Frederick M. Veith
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 2:23am
Subject: Re: Lost in Translation
 
On Sat, 24 Jan 2004, Dan Sallitt wrote:

> If Coppola didn't want viewers to find Charlotte sexually attractive,
> she should have cast someone else. Really, of all the directors in the
> world who might be thought to be uninterested in sexuality, Coppola is
> way down at the bottom of the list. She's really fascinated by female
> flesh.

I think this is a bit reductive. It's not a question of finding or not
finding Scarlett Johansson sexually attractive. It's more about the
ability to get past that fact and engage with the film. I'm as fascinated
by female flesh as anyone, but somewhere inside that flesh, even in
movies, there's a person who can't be reduced to sexuality. That this is a
concern of Coppola's is, in part, what I was trying to get at with the
image/identity business.

> It's getting harder to ignore the ad hominem attacks on heterosexual
> observers. If sexuality makes it impossible to view a film in a
> coherent fashion, then we're all screwed one way or another.

Let me be clear(er). That wasn't intended as an attack on heterosexual
observers; I number myself among them (ergo 'indeed, I must'). I was in
fact agreeing (at least broadly) with David's point that homo- or
hetero-sexuality has no real bearing on his/my/a reading of the film. I
think we're in agreement here.

Further, and I think I was somewhat unclear on this point, my remark was
*not* directed at anyone in the group per se. It was a general observation
about what I perceive to be a short-circuit (i.e., a too strongly
libidinal reading) which serves to obscure the film in some accounts I've
read (and more than one discussion I've had) which leads to what I think
is a misreading. I'd call it sexism before I'd call it heterosexism as
such, but the underlying issue is actually narcissism; it just so happens
that in the hands of middle-aged hetero men this attains a sort of de
facto sexism. But either way, I was arguing backwards from my own position
in an attempt to understand how an alternative reading might be arrived at
more than I was pointing fingers at anyone else, least of all anyone in
the group.

Perhaps this is what led to the appearance of an ad hominem attack?
Regardless, I'm sorry that you took it that way.

> That said, Frederick's alternative explanation of Johansson's
> disappointment at Murray's dalliance is certainly interesting, in that
> Coppola has a tendency to divide the characters in this film into the
> cool and the uncool, and seems to care about these boundaries just as
> much as she cares about sensuality. But Murray's action was a sexual
> action, and it can't be that uncoolness is the only thing that Johansson
> was disappointed in, or else Coppola could have shown Johansson being
> crestfallen at Murray's taste in music, or something.

Perhaps, although that would be far less dramatic and more easily
remediable, given the way people tend to deal with these things,
respectively. I saw the film once, last September. I'd have to watch it
again (which I'm in no real hurry to do) to argue the point any further
than I have.

> I sense more than routine resistance to the idea that this film is
> sexual. What's up with that? Sex is everywhere, isn't it? I have only
> moderate affection for this film, but I'd have less affection for it if
> I thought that it had an investment in that relationship being sexless
> in thought as well as deed. - Dan

My affection is moderate as well. But I, at least, am not arguing for a
wholesale effacement of sexuality, which is obviously and prominently an
element in the film. Just in some senses a (much) less prominent role and
certainly one of different emphases.

Fred.
6937


From: Frederick M. Veith
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 2:34am
Subject: Re: Re: Lost in Translation
 
On Sat, 24 Jan 2004, Zach Campbell wrote:

> This is a valid reading that I hadn't really thought of before, so
> thanks for bringing it to the table, Fred. Still, I'm not sure what
> in the film necessarily favors that reading to the total exclusion
> of a reading that Charlotte is jealous.

I'm not interested in total exclusion, but I do find the idea far less
interesting and didn't really see (or at least don't recall) any
particular reason apart from conditioned expectation to see it as
jealousy.

> How do you 'over-identify' with a character? Who is the privileged
> arbiter of that evaluation?

You over-identify with a character by projecting your own psychology onto
them. There is no privileged arbiter. But two different readings can be
judged by checking them against specific details of the formal and
narrative structure of the film. One can also interrogate one's own
expectations in such a manner as to account for how they color the way
the film is perceived. I think that the competitive reading I was arguing
against is in line with certain unconscious expectations which I choose to
believe the film is intentionally toying with. I happen to think that
there is some reason to believe that my reading is correct.

> Depending on who you ask, straight-white-middle-aged-male critics
> are either the cause for LOST IN TRANSLATION's being hopelessly
> overrated or the reason why it's misunderstood and not taken
> seriously enough.

Can't it be both?

Fred.

6938


From: jaketwilson
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 3:53am
Subject: the categories (was: 25th Hour)
 
"hotlove666" wrote:

> Picking up on Dan's very, very interesting artist/metteur-en-scene
distinction, I'd say that it defines Lee as a cineaste whose mise-en-
> scene Dan doesn't like. (Dan, you may have missed a long thread
where "cineaste" is redefined in terms you might find interesting:
> What Is a Cineaste?).

Hm, this complicates my sense of Biette's categories again. Can you
be a cineaste if your mise-en-scene is weak? Isn't this closer to the
definition of an auteur?

> Whereas De Palma is a metteur-en-scene, period.

I'd have thought he was an auteur at least... No ruling themes and
obsessions? No individual sense of form? What does it take?

JTW

 
6939


From: Elizabeth NOLAN
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 3:55am
Subject: LOST IN TRANSLATION
 
My take on Lost in Translation is "ennui personified." I did not find
either character interesting, nor sympathetic. I felt they were bored
with life as they were not really engaging in life and the 'effort' of a
sexual relationship was too much for either.

Aside: when I hear young people say "I'm bored," I whisper in their ear
with an increasingly loud voice that when they say "I'm bored" what they
are really saying is "I'm a boring person, I can't think of anything to
do."

Boredom was not possible in my childhood as such a claim would easily be
answered with a list of chores of to do. Such does not happen today
with the constant effort to entertain children and young people, often
with passive entertainment.

I felt the characters in LOST IN TRANSLATION are representative of
passive participants, waiting for someone else to offer the
entertainment and engagement in living.
6940


From: Fred Camper
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 3:59am
Subject: Re: Lesser known Walsh
 
Seconding David, I love "Band of Angels." It's uneven, and it has a
couple of more than weird moments that represent slaves joyishly
celebrating their master, but it's a great great film, one of Walsh's
epics. And his sense of space is well suited to epic.

Unfortunately I saw it exactly once about 30 years ago, so don't ask me
much more.

- Fred
6941


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 4:08am
Subject: Re: LOST IN TRANSLATION
 
--- Elizabeth NOLAN wrote:


>
> I felt the characters in LOST IN TRANSLATION are
> representative of
> passive participants, waiting for someone else to
> offer the
> entertainment and engagement in living.
>
>
Elizabeth you remind me of a lot of the people who
complained about Antonioni 40 years ago.

And that's another sort of cinema "Lost in
Translation" relates to -- especially "Eclipse" and
"The Passenger."

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6942


From: hotlove666
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 4:10am
Subject: Re: 25th Hour
 
Thanks, Jake. I said that Dan was, perhaps, saying Lee's a cineaste
whose mise-en-scene Dan doesn't like - I LOVE Lee's mise-en-scene!

And you're right, De Palma is a (mere) metteur-en-scene of his own
auteur obsessions, such as they are.

In any case, I find it very interesting that Lost in Translation has
so many more defenders in this group than 25th Hour. They're both on
my Best List, and I'm not changing it again, although I prefer
Elephant to either.
6943


From: jaketwilson
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 4:59am
Subject: Re: Lost in Translation
 
Thought experiment: supposing LOST IN TRANSLATION starred a young man
opposite Bill Murray, and the film played out in more or less the
same way (scene on the bed, final kiss and all) would we be
questioning whether the relationship had an erotic dimension?

Literally speaking, sex isn't everywhere, but sexuality is; the film
plays teasingly in that ambiguous zone, and maybe (calling M.
Foucault!) the erotic charge of Charlotte and Bob's relationship, for
both the characters and the audience, is intensified rather than shut
down by the implicit prohibition on directly expressed desire.
Bob's "betrayal" spoils things by forcing clarification and placing
Charlotte in a double-bind: she can't express jealousy without
defining her own connection with him as a potentially sexual one, but
that would cheapen their previous intimacy, reducing her to the same
status as the singer after all.

JTW
6944


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 5:03am
Subject: Re: Lost in Translation
 
> I think this is a bit reductive. It's not a question of finding or not
> finding Scarlett Johansson sexually attractive. It's more about the
> ability to get past that fact and engage with the film.

But I don't think that anyone here has been giving the impression that
Johansson's attractiveness is warping their understanding of the film,
have they? Or that her character was purely of sexual interest to us?
The disagreement seems to be about whether the lead characters
contemplated sex with each other or not.

> Perhaps this is what led to the appearance of an ad hominem attack?
> Regardless, I'm sorry that you took it that way.

Sorry to overreact. You got caught in the crossfire between David and
me. - Dan
6945


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 5:12am
Subject: Biette, artists and filmmakers
 
> Picking up on Dan's very,
> very interesting artist/metteur-en-scene distinction, I'd say that it
> defines Lee as a cineaste whose mise-en-scene Dan doesn't like. (Dan,
> you may have missed a long thread where "cineaste" is redefined in
> terms you might find interesting: What Is a Cineaste?).

I was in fact very busy at the time, and didn't read Biette's
definitions carefully. When I was writing about Lee earlier today, I
noticed that it didn't feel right to me to say things like, "Lee is an
artist but not a filmmaker," and so I phrased it less categorically:
"Lee has chops as an artist, but not necessarily as a filmmaker," or
"it's better to be a good artist and not a good filmmaker than the other
way around." In other words, some of the resistance to Biette's system
of classification might be because it suggests a yes-or-no status for
each category. - Dan
6946


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 5:25am
Subject: Re: Re: Lost in Translation
 
--- jaketwilson wrote:
> Thought experiment: supposing LOST IN TRANSLATION
> starred a young man
> opposite Bill Murray, and the film played out in
> more or less the
> same way (scene on the bed, final kiss and all)
> would we be
> questioning whether the relationship had an erotic
> dimension?
>
Of course not because as you well know men do not kiss
one another casually or platonically in this culture.
(And I say that as someone who has kissed a lot of men
-- and had a lot of sex with men who wouldn't kiss,
cause that would mean that they were fags.)

> Literally speaking, sex isn't everywhere, but
> sexuality is; the film
> plays teasingly in that ambiguous zone, and maybe
> (calling M.
> Foucault!)

He's busy at "The Slot."

the erotic charge of Charlotte and Bob's
> relationship, for
> both the characters and the audience, is intensified
> rather than shut
> down by the implicit prohibition on directly
> expressed desire.

No accounting for a filthy mind!

> Bob's "betrayal" spoils things by forcing
> clarification and placing
> Charlotte in a double-bind: she can't express
> jealousy without
> defining her own connection with him as a
> potentially sexual one,

Not at all.Again -- read Henry James. Emotional
betrayal doesn't need to involve sexual acts.

but
> that would cheapen their previous intimacy, reducing
> her to the same
> status as the singer after all.
>

The singer is beside the point.

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6947


From: jpcoursodon
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 5:43am
Subject: Still lost in translation
 
I'm sort of glad I missed the whole discussion (I did post about the
film in the morning, in other words ages ago...)because most of it
seems so irrelevant. Hardly anyone seems to relate this very simple
(not a derogatory term) story to any reality, any personal
experience. Posters discuss it as if the characters and their
relationship were a perplexing puzzle, a gratuitous concoction
intended to tease and nothing more. Have we been so brainwashed by
mainstream movies that a kind of relationship that sidesteps the
usual "expectations" becomes incomprehensible and/or suspect? I would
expect that most people have had at least one or a few encounters of
the kind depicted here in their lives -- I certainly have.There IS
attraction. and yes of course sex is a thought in such situations
(how could it be any different?) and there may be any number of
reasons for sex NOT to happen. There's an intensity of feeling that
certainly is missing in most occurences of "casual" sex (of which
there is one in the film). There are many ways to relate to another
human being beside fucking, even when an element of sexual attraction
is involved. Based on experience, the film rang true to me. I'm glad
Coppola played with expectations instead of going through expected
motions.

I'm also glad that someone saw a relationship to VOYAGE IN ITALY, my
favorite film by a director I am not an inconditional fan of. I've
been trying to get Tag to watch LOST and tell me what he thinks but
he'll probably wait for the DVD to come out.

JPC
6948


From: jaketwilson
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 6:03am
Subject: Re: LOST IN TRANSLATION
 
David:

> Of course not because as you well know men do not kiss one another
> casually or platonically in this culture.

But do straight men kiss women "platonically" on the mouth much
either? How much kissing can you do before it stops being platonic?

> Not at all.Again -- read Henry James. Emotional
> betrayal doesn't need to involve sexual acts.

I'd say sex is pretty central to Henry James as well -- "Daisy
Miller", which Zach mentioned, is all about the hero trying to figure
out whether the title character is a slut or not. But like you say,
no accounting for a filthy mind.

A film I was watching recently that reminded me of LOST IN
TRANSLATION, although I like it better, was Polanski's FRANTIC:
the impatient middle-aged American in a foreign city; the improvised,
outwardly platonic connection with a young woman; the normal rules of
social conduct slipping in the face of jet lag and culture shock.
However Polanski integrates all this into a meticulously plotted
thriller, with only one sequence near the end(the dance in the
nightclub)where the characters are allowed to escape the pressure of
narrative and enter a heightened, lyrical space.

In the context of this discussion, I guess the key similarity is that
the most important things remain unsaid -- the absurd plot ends where
it began, and Harrison Ford is left with nothing except a sense of
perplexed loss. In both cases the romance IS the ambiguity, which is
why this isn't an argument that can be settled one way or another --
no ambiguity, no movie.

JTW
6949


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 6:12am
Subject: Re: Re: LOST IN TRANSLATION
 
--- jaketwilson wrote:

>
> But do straight men kiss women "platonically" on the
> mouth much
> either? How much kissing can you do before it stops
> being platonic?

If they're straight they can plead platonism -- and
get away with it.



> I'd say sex is pretty central to Henry James as well
> -- "Daisy
> Miller", which Zach mentioned, is all about the hero
> trying to figure
> out whether the title character is a slut or not.
> But like you say,
> no accounting for a filthy mind.

That wasn't the James I was thinking about.

>
> A film I was watching recently that reminded me of
> LOST IN
> TRANSLATION, although I like it better, was
> Polanski's FRANTIC:
> the impatient middle-aged American in a foreign
> city; the improvised,
> outwardly platonic connection with a young woman;
> the normal rules of
> social conduct slipping in the face of jet lag and
> culture shock.
> However Polanski integrates all this into a
> meticulously plotted
> thriller, with only one sequence near the end(the
> dance in the
> nightclub)where the characters are allowed to escape
> the pressure of
> narrative and enter a heightened, lyrical space.

Lyrical? Ha! It's a blatant sexual come on in
Polanski's film. The kareoke
scene in LIT is quite different. And remember the
scene where they end up being taken to aplace that's a
sex club -- and leave?

>
> In the context of this discussion, I guess the key
> similarity is that
> the most important things remain unsaid -- the
> absurd plot ends where
> it began, and Harrison Ford is left with nothing
> except a sense of
> perplexed loss. In both cases the romance IS the
> ambiguity, which is
> why this isn't an argument that can be settled one
> way or another --
> no ambiguity, no movie.
>
But the ambiguity is over very different things.
>
>


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6950


From: Frederick M. Veith
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 7:46am
Subject: Re: Lost in Translation
 
On Sun, 25 Jan 2004, Dan Sallitt wrote:

> But I don't think that anyone here has been giving the impression that
> Johansson's attractiveness is warping their understanding of the film,
> have they? Or that her character was purely of sexual interest to us?
> The disagreement seems to be about whether the lead characters
> contemplated sex with each other or not.

I suppose I would ask you what exactly you meant by that. What I'm
resisting here is the idea that the film is in any way *about* whether
they contemplated having sex. I would like to suggest that this issue is
in fact secondary, to the point that I wouldn't formulate it quite so
instrumentally. By my reading, an excessive foregrounding of this issue
does constitute such a warping: nothing is gained, but something is in
fact lost.

[I should add that this is something that neither you nor Zach nor anyone
else here, to my knowledge specifically did--though I think both of you
objected when David refused to accept the idea at all. Nor am I
particularly interested in arguing anyone else out of their
interpretation. Again, in invoking this idea I'm only attempting to
demonstrate how it deforms my own reading of the film. But I don't think
you would dispute that the issue of sex *was* the/a central question (how
many people described the film as 'romantic'?) for many people who saw the
film, including not a few who wrote about it, or would you?]

To the extent that it is present in the film, I want to subsume the
question of sex under the broader rubric of communication. The film is
called 'Lost in Translation' not 'Why Didn't They Have Sex?' or 'Tokyo
Romance'. By addressing the issue of Johansson's attractiveness I only
want to suggest that in skipping from 'I think she's attractive' to 'He
must think she's attractive' to 'They must want to do something about
that' it is entirely possible to gloss over more substantial dimensions of
the film and even to project onto the characters (which obviously everyone
does and everyone is free to do). Nor do I intend to suggest that sex
itself is insubstantial; only that I didn't think the film was about sex
per se.

Narrative films frequently recourse to shorthand of the form I've outlined
here, occassionally to the point of near incoherence, should one not
follow one or more of the leaps. For me Julia Roberts is the illustration
par exellence of this idea: she is often only signified as attractive
without ever being made to *be* attractive; quite the contrary. This
particular film *specifically* seeks to 'trouble' this process, by
offering some of the cues for such a reading (which it would be impossible
to eliminate entirely) while largely abstaining from any such suggestion
in the narrative itself. Further, this tension itself is a source of
meaning in the film.

In the process of writing this I just read J-P's post. Though I can't help
but feel indicted by his opening statement, I think that what I'm saying
here is more or less in agreement with his post, even if he thinks I'm
being abstruse.

> Sorry to overreact. You got caught in the crossfire between David and
> me. - Dan

No worries. But I would add that I think you may have misread David's
position somewhat. He's rather emphatically said that he doesn't see
sexual orientation as a significant factor in understanding the film. No
doubt I'm treading on thin ice in attempting to speak for him.

I'm sure that I've gone on far longer than I ought've.

Fred.

PS Bill, if for some reason you're still reading, as the person who has
likely spun the most words in 'defense' of this film (a film I really
only mildly like), I can only say that I haven't seen 25th Hour. I've
tended to find Spike Lee a bit of a mess in the past. Summer of Sam and
perhaps Crooklyn stand out, but then I've missed more than a few.
6951


From: Raymond P.
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 8:16am
Subject: Re: Bangkok Int'l Film Festival
 
About your post below, I already saw a few of these before the
festival. My few-words reviews:

Blind Shaft - heavy-handed and overrated.
Zhou Yu's Train - skip.

And I've heard nothing but mediocre reviews of the new Chabrol. I
just bought "Last Life in the Universe" on Thai R3 DVD (legit).

Well, as for the film fest, it was a disaster. I have never been to
a more inept, poorly planned, horridly executed Film Festival than
this one. I know that they have a new team and all, and they are
desperately trying to establish Bangkok as a premiere film scene.
But they shot themselves in the foot by overambition and the lack of
talent to pull it off.

Here's a list of goofs:

1) The full list of films came out about 5-6 days before the Film
Fest itself. Huh? Considering that people have to plan in advance to
COME to BKK, telling people what films are available that late isn't
going to win many audiences.

2) The list and schedule kept on changing, even 1 day before the
Film Fest started. Thanks for letting the audience at least
*schedule*. On the plus side, the list of films look very promising.

3) Bought my tickets on the internet, thinking that I could show up
15 minutes before the showing and pick up my tickets. WRONG. At the
Major WTC, there were *2* operators only, and they issued tickets
for EVERYONE. So I had to wait in line behind 5 people who were
buying the tickets on-the-spot. WTF? So why did I bother paying an
extra 10 baht per showing for my internet orders?

4) When I finally reached the operator 15 minutes later, they told
me that the seat I bought on the internet was taken by someone else,
and I would be re-assigned to the SECOND LAST ROW OF THE THEATER.
What the hell?!??!

5) I went inside, to find the theater 75% empty, and the seats in
front were all available! After extended arguing with the Film Fest
people, they put me in the middle. There were still at least 6 rows
in front that were empty.

6) The film started a full 30 minutes LATE. Added to this are the
interminable commercials - all 10+ minutes of it, all unrelated to
films. As a result of this, I was late for my next appointment.

7) Finally, they decided to cut the credits' music totally. Bravo,
Bangkok Film Festival.

I decided to skip my other showing and go do something else instead.
I'll wait for the films to inevitably show up at a MUCH better
festival, like the Hong Kong International Film Festival.

BTW, the film I saw was "The Saddest Music in the World", which was
very good. I skipped "21 Grams" - it'll be easily available in time
anyways.



--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "Brian Darr"
wrote:
> > Anyone attending this?
>
> I wish. When I was living in Thailand (1999-2000) there was a
Bangkok
> festival in the fall which seemed pretty weak overall, but ever
since
> the January festivals began a few years ago the line-ups have
seemed
> particularly strong.
>
> If it were me, I'd consider checking out the following films, all
> playing in the first few days of the fest:
>
> films from directors I'm already familiar with:
>
> The Flower Of Evil (La Fleur du Mal) -Chabrol
> The Saddest Music in the World -Maddin
> Goodbye Dragon Inn -Tsai
> Last Life in the Universe (Ruangrak Noinid Mahasan) -Pen-ek
> A Place Among The Living (Une Place Parmi Les Vivants) -Ruz
> S21, The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine -Rithy Panh
>
> films from directors I don't know, but sound interesting to me:
>
> One Night Husband (Kuen Rai Ngao)
> Crimson Gold (Talaye Sorgh)
> Blind Shaft (Mang Jing)
> Ford Transit
> Two Friends (Due Amici)
> To the Bracken Fields (Warabinokou)
> 1/2 the Rent (1/2 Miete)
> Free Radicals (Bse Zellen)
> Zhou Yu's Train (Zhou Yu De Huoche)
> 15
> A Nation Without Women (Matrubhoomi)
> My Girl (Fanchan)
> Snow Walker
> Maqbool
> The Big Durian
>
> films I've already seen and would consider re-watching:
>
> Eliana, Eliana -Riza
> Madame Sata -Ainouz
> Midnight Cowboy -Schlesinger
>
> And it looks like they're also showing Pesonji's "Country Hotel" in
> the first three days as well. Though I haven't seen any of
Pestonji's
> films, I've been wanting to see one for quite a while, ever since I
> saw Wisit's "Tears of the Black Tiger" which is a tribute to
Pestonji.
6952


From:
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 3:17am
Subject: Polanski, Coppola, Nichols, Lee
 
Jake Wilson wrote:

>A film I was watching recently that reminded me of LOST IN
>TRANSLATION, although I like it better, was Polanski's FRANTIC:
>the impatient middle-aged American in a foreign city; the improvised,
>outwardly platonic connection with a young woman; the normal rules of
>social conduct slipping in the face of jet lag and culture shock.

I think this is an interesting comparison, Jake, and it helps me tease out
some of the reasons why I only like "Lost in Translation," while I consider
"Frantic" to be one of the great films of its year of release. There's a control
of the image, a commitment to visual storytelling in the Polanski; in my
upcoming Bogdanovich piece, I argue that Bogdanovich and Polanski are the
contemporary masters of 'point-of-view' cinema. That is to say, there's rarely a scene
in any film by either director which is not meant to be experienced from the
perspective of a particular character. (Which is why when Bogdanovich does
choose to show us an omnipotent shot - such as the final one in "The Last
Picture Show" - it has such a jarring force to it.) Anyway, every image in
"Frantic" is part of a unified visual plan. I didn't get the feeling that anything
comparable was going on in the ostensibly nice-looking "Lost in Translation,"
I'm afraid. I mostly valued it for its performances, particularly Murray's, and
the 'mood' of its locations. But this lack of a unified visual plan is the
main reason why "Translation" is not great cinema for me.

I may as well respond to some other posts I've been meaning to reply to.

About Nichols, Jake, I agree with you that his most lasting contribution to
the culture is undoubtedly the amazing Nichols and May routines. Even at his
best ("Catch-22," "Carnal Knowledge," and "The Fortune"), I'd never have said
that he was a particularly great filmmaker. But he did have a fine sense of
space for a while there, and I can't say that for him now. (Bizarrely, "Wolf" -
which underwent substantial re-writes by May - seems like a tiny exception.
It's not bad.)

Thanks to Vinny for some absolutely fascinating stories about May on "Mickey
and Nicky" and "Ishtar"!

I'm going to prepare a longer defense of "25th Hour" as time permits, but for
now I'll respond quickly to Dan's comments about Lee's visual style. The
thing I get from Lee's best films (in my opinion, "Do the Right Thing," "School
Daze," and "25th Hour") is this disorganized cinematic ability which is
bursting at the seams. He loves visual 'tricks' which have little or no relation to
what's going on in the scene: for example, the way he repeats a movement
within a scene by showing it from two different shots right in a row (Norton and
Rosario Dawson embracing on the sidewalk, etc). He seems to indulge in these
devices (and there are others) simply because he likes them and is good at doing
them. Maybe this isn't so different from what Dan is saying, but the way I
interpret it, it isn't that Lee is inept but rather unable to contain his gifts
as a visual artist. He also has - and this is in line with Bill's John Ford
comparison - a profoundly poetic sensibility. I just think of that Terence
Blanchard score in "25th Hour"... (and I'm proud to say that the critics group
to which I belong - the Central Ohio Film Critics Association - voted
Blanchard's score the best of 2002!)

Peter
6953


From: Aaron Graham
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 8:50am
Subject: Re: lesser known Walsh
 
Unfortunately, I ended up watching the lesser BACKGROUND TO DANGER,
although I'll be checking out BAND OF ANGELS in the next couple of
days. Because of the fact that I have read next to nothing about
this particular Walsh, I'll state some thoughts of it here:

Between 1942 and 1944, five of Eric Ambler's WWII propaganda novels
were rushed out as movies by Hollywood. This particular one stars a
bland George Raft as a US agent caught up in a Nazi ploy of
counterfeiting maps to make it appear as if Russia is planning an
attack on Turkey. Peter Lorre provides some blithe antics in a rare
role that places him as a questionable good guy. Sidney Greenstreet,
sporting a Charlie Chan moustache, initiates most of the Nazi
dealings.
A minor work of Walsh's, who must have been assigned this Warner Bros
picture. No real mention in Bogdanovich's "Who The Devil Made It",
though there may be in his autobiography which I haven't read. Walsh
has said all his films rely on the love story, of which there's not
much of one here (Brenda Marshall is the interest.) There are quite
a few closeups as Walsh cuts from the Nazi's eyes, to Marshall's eyes
and back to the Nazi's on the train - instilling danger on the
leading lady's part and potential violence from the mysterious man.
The penultimate set piece here is the car chase during the last
twenty minutes, directed briskly and swiftly.
Don Siegel was credited with "montage", as I believe he worked on
CASABLANCA's as well.

I also ended up watching Lang's YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE. What a superb
dolly shot when Fonda reunites with Sylvia Sidney after his time
spent behind bars!
6954


From: Fred Camper
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 9:31am
Subject: Re: Re: lesser known Walsh (seeing film on video)
 
I had assumed these two were showing in prints in your city; I gather
now that you are watching them on video?

I'm sorry to be picky about this, and most people on this list know my
position well (http://www.fredcamper.com/Film/Video.html ), and I know
many or most don't agree with it, but I don't think viewing a film on
video is actually "watching" it (though I suppose it could be called
"checking it out.") This is especially true for color films made after
1954; if they're not in 'Scope, they were intended as 1.85:1, and so
video will often chop off about one third of the intended image, or, if
not, it will as is even more the case with letterboxed scope be even
lower resolution than usual. Also, the colors of film and video and the
whole sense of space is really different. I think black and white
pre-1954 Walsh films at least partly survive the translation to video
(based on a few actual viewings), but that his later color films will
(I'm guessing) survive it much less well.

There was a thread here not long ago about how film scholarship had been
greatly improved by the availability of video because it was now easy to
check plots. Aside from my vivid memory of a traumatic-for-me Sirk
conference at Datrmouth at which the Chairperson of the English
Department waved a video of "Imitation of Life" around in his hands as
he proceeded to attack it by misdescribing the plot (no, it was not the
beach photos that got Lana Turner an acting career, and it was not
because she was the "object" of the Gavin character's "gaze"), it seems
to me that even if video helps get plots and shot orders right, it gets
the sense of space all wrong, and so a whole generation of film scholars
is studying mistranslations.

- Fred
6955


From: Aaron Graham
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 10:36am
Subject: Re: lesser known Walsh (seeing film on video)
 
I can understand your opinion concerning seeing video on film, and I
do respect it entirely, in your situation.

But as my rebuttal: I'd like to state that I knew about the aspect
ratios being changed for pictures made after 1954 and that it affects
the composition greatly. I also feel that beggers can't be choosers
and if you are a person who is immersed in the history of film, then
you will do anything to see that film (albeit, in a lesser format.)

The sad truth is that if you don't live in one of the bigger citites
of the world - and even if you did, you would never get to see
everything you wanted - you really won't be able to see the great
films projected in 35mm, and I just can't bring myself to believe
that if you are not privilaged enough to live in one of those places,
you must be shut off from the mammoth wealth of exceptional cinema.

-Aaron
6956


From: Fred Camper
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 10:52am
Subject: Re: Re: lesser known Walsh (seeing film on video)
 
Aaron,

I'm not telling you not to watch films on video, just to be aware of the
difference, and of the kinds of things you lose, some of the subtleties
of space and effects of the image. In my own early years of film
viewing, when I was trying to see as many films by directors I loved as
quickly as possible, I did sometimes use video, though hardly ever for
color. In fact I bought a black and white TV because I thought the tones
of black and white showed up better and purer on it than on a color set.
I still think that, at least with CRTs; I don't know about the newer types.

I apologize to everyone for trotting out my views on this, and I'll try
to restrict my standard-issue video post to once or twice a year. But I
do think the issues around video's (mis) translation of film shouldn't
be forgotten, and for myself I prefer people to specify if the film is
being seen "only" on video, since I don't think a video viewing is
anything more than seeing a reproduction (like, say, looking at pictures
of paintings or sculptures in an art book), though others who don't
share that view should feel free to ignore it.

- Fred
6957


From: joe_mcelhaney
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 1:19pm
Subject: Re: Viaggio in Italia, 50 years later... Lost in Translation???
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, Kevin Lee wrote:
> Does anyone else think it's worth comparing the two
> films, in terms of how their directors capture the
> experience of tourists abroad: how they see what's
> around them, how they are changed (or unchanged) by
> what they see and experience, romantically,
> spiritually, and how all of this is explored in
> cinematic terms? How do the two films match up? And
> what other contemporary films might serve as a
> testament to VIAGGIO's "legacy" (both in terms of
> what's been lost as well as preserved of the film's
> creative vision)?

The comparison didn't occur to me while watching LOST but I can see
some general connections now. However, the two films are ultimately
different from one another. My memory of LOST is something of a blur
and I'm certain that I will be corrected by some of its diehard fans
here. But the most profound connection of the film (if indeed one
finds the film profound on any level, which I don't) is between the
young woman and the middle-aged guy, two Americans who discover one
another while visiting a foreign country, a country marked by its
strangeness and which, even if occasionally beautiful, is always
Other and kept at a safe distance. In this regard, the film is
ultimately a romance even though sex never takes place and it is a
romance between two Americans. VOYAGE IN ITALY is a film about two
tourists, two people who have been (unhappily) married for a while,
who make their most profound connection with their own mortality and
their own souls which their visit to "the land of miracles" forces
them to do. Romance is the last thing on Rossellini's mind. To put
it crudely, LOST IN TRANSLATION is a film about flesh (primarily
young female American); VOYAGE IN ITALY is a film about the soul.
VOYAGE IN ITALY is a film about tourists who finally make the
deepest, most profound connection with the country that they visit;
LOST IN TRANSLATION is a film made by a tourist.






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6958


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 2:18pm
Subject: Re: Lost in Translation
 
>>The disagreement seems to be about whether the lead characters
>>contemplated sex with each other or not.
>
> I suppose I would ask you what exactly you meant by that. What I'm
> resisting here is the idea that the film is in any way *about* whether
> they contemplated having sex. I would like to suggest that this issue is
> in fact secondary, to the point that I wouldn't formulate it quite so
> instrumentally. By my reading, an excessive foregrounding of this issue
> does constitute such a warping: nothing is gained, but something is in
> fact lost.

I can't speak authoritatively on what the film was really about - I
didn't love it enough to feel that I had a bead on what it was doing.
To my mind, one big component of the film is the sense of diffuse
sensuality that Coppola creates around Johansson: not "sex as event" so
much as "sex as state of being," with the actress as the centerpiece of
a eroticized universe. I'm much less confident about how that's
supposed to work with the other elements of the film, though; my
suspicion is that it's just something that Coppola likes to do.
Certainly another big component of the film is the cool vs. uncool
dichotomy, which I think Coppola accepts uncritically. Again, I don't
get the feeling that she thought much about this with regard to the
structure of her movie - I'd guess again that she just naturally
dichotomizes people that way.

So I tend to see the film as being born out of fantasy/daydream: a
desert island movie, with the island-ness partly created by the
director's derisive, even misanthropic feelings toward the mass of
supporting and bit actors that constitute "the rest of the world"; and
an island bathed in the erotic glow of diffuse feminine sexuality, so
that the director enjoys being shipwrecked there. Why does the fantasy
not reach a sexual culmination? I don't know. It seems to me that a
censorship is at work here: to my mind, sexual desire is manifest in the
film, and yet it doesn't gratify Coppola to satisfy it. One can argue
that the age difference between Murray and Johansson creates a socially
unacceptable match, and that social norms are the censor; but it was
Coppola who created the age difference as well. Maybe age difference
has mythological meaning for her, but that's still begging the question.
So I don't know why her paradise works better for her without the sex act.

Do you feel that the Murray-Johansson interaction was about something
else, something not-sex? I just don't feel it. Maybe I'm being a bit
prejudiced against Coppola as observer of the human condition, because I
take her for a bit of a misanthrope. The misanthropy obscures the
communication issue for me: the overall grid that defines the bond
between the protagonists is "Hey, we aren't idiots." Maybe this is
pressing some of my buttons and making me overlook some subtleties in
the Murray-Johansson connection.

As I said, I could easily be missing something, because the film doesn't
cohere well for me.

> But I don't think
> you would dispute that the issue of sex *was* the/a central question (how
> many people described the film as 'romantic'?) for many people who saw the
> film, including not a few who wrote about it, or would you?]

I'm embarrassed to admit how few film critics I read. - Dan
6959


From: Tosh
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 2:27pm
Subject: Film, DVD, and video
 
I think Fred's stance is not only interesting, but also correct. The
danger (if that is not too strong of a word) is that future
generations will not be able to notice or tell the difference that
film is film and video is video. Film in the future may totally
change (if not already), but still film is not video. Video and
DVD's are perfectly fine in a sense - but it's not the film. It's a
reproduction of a film. And yes,more and more people are going to
have a hard time seeing actual works on film - and they will need a
reproduction of a film - but nevertheless the mediums are totally
different, and students especially have to be reminded about this.
--
Tosh Berman
TamTam Books
http://www.tamtambooks.com
6960


From: Tosh
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 2:35pm
Subject: Viaggio in Italia, 50 years later... Lost in Translation???
 
I think Joe's comment about LOST IN TRANSLATION is a film made by a
tourist is correct. This is not neccessary a bad thing - but the
background of Tokyo is not used like a great Yakuza film or even Paul
Schrader's 'Mishima.' Tokyo is a city that I am personally crazy
about - and except for Mishima, I feel that 'Tokyo' hasn't been
captured well by 'tourists.' But on the other hand TRANSLATION does
capture that 'wow this is Tokyo,' but beyond that nothing more with
respect to the city in that particular film.
--
Tosh Berman
TamTam Books
http://www.tamtambooks.com
6961


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 2:34pm
Subject: Re: 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.

I'm friends with the niece of the late Lee Falk, creator of the Phantom
and Mandrake the Magician. Seems to me that at some point in my life I
read that Resnais had wanted to do a Mandrake movie, but I've never been
able to find the reference, and my memory could be deceiving me. Does
this sound familiar to anyone else? - Dan
6962


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 2:39pm
Subject: Re: Lost in Translation
 
--- "Frederick M. Veith"
But I would add that I think you may
> have misread David's
> position somewhat. He's rather emphatically said
> that he doesn't see
> sexual orientation as a significant factor in
> understanding the film. No
> doubt I'm treading on thin ice in attempting to
> speak for him.
>
Actually the ice isn't thin at all. Our culture is
based on the presumption of absolute heterosexuality
in all things. The non-heterosexual is an interloper.
Refused admission for years -- now breaking through
the door, without saying "Swordfish."

As I've said before I would have jumped right in on
this a lot sooner were I in more of a fighting mood,
Fred -- but you gave me the opening. All this talk
about sex between the characters is propelled by the
attraction of several critics present -- most of whom
have been quite explicit about the fact that the film
doesn't otherwise reallyinterst them all thatmuch --
for the leading lady. This in turn has propelled
asexual fantasy on their parts that they've choes to
blame the write-director for not working out to their
likes.



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6963


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 2:39pm
Subject: Re: Re: minnelli and walters
 
> I quickly did a bit of research of my own since I posted that note
> and Walters has claimed that he left the production numbers on GOOD
> NEWS and EASTER PARADE to Alton and that he concentrated on the more
> intimate numbers (a bit like Hawks on BLONDES).

But didn't Walters do the "Pass the Peace Pipe" song in GOOD NEWS, which
is a pretty big number? That's probably what most people remember about
the movie first. - Dan
6964


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 2:41pm
Subject: Re: Philip K. Dick
 
> Has anyone seen CONFESSIONS D'UN BARJO which was based on Dick's
> mainstream novel "Confessions of a Crap Artist"? It was directed by
> Jrme Boivin and released in 1992. Dick's mainstream novels were not
> published until after his death (by the way, he would have been 75 10
> days ago.)

I've seen it, and thought it was a pretty good film. The director had
previously done a movie called BAXTER, which also had its fans, though I
liked BARJO better. - Dan
6965


From: Tosh
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 2:48pm
Subject: Re: Resnais and Comics
 
>
I have read this as well - in fact it makes perfect sense to me that
Resnais would want to do a Mandrake film
--
Tosh Berman
TamTam Books
http://www.tamtambooks.com
6966


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 2:47pm
Subject: Re: Re: minnelli and walters
 
I believe this was a collaboration. Walters always
worked close-in with his performers on their
moves.This si the way the number starts, but when it
breaks out into larger pattersn -- particularly the
great track over the counter as ice cream sodas are
lined up in the foreground with the dangers in the
background, Alton comes into play. "The Varsity Drag"
is all his. "The French Lesson" is all Walters.

--- Dan Sallitt wrote:
> > I quickly did a bit of research of my own since I
> posted that note
> > and Walters has claimed that he left the
> production numbers on GOOD
> > NEWS and EASTER PARADE to Alton and that he
> concentrated on the more
> > intimate numbers (a bit like Hawks on BLONDES).
>
> But didn't Walters do the "Pass the Peace Pipe" song
> in GOOD NEWS, which
> is a pretty big number? That's probably what most
> people remember about
> the movie first. - Dan
>
>


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6967


From: Aaron Graham
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 2:59pm
Subject: Re: lesser known Walsh (seeing film on video)
 
Contrary to this post, I think there is a need for Fred to bring up
his views whenever he feels like it (and, well - it is his group).
There is a healthy need for the distinction between film and video,
and if someone is talking about a particular film on video, I now see
the need to specify (and which I will, in future posts, but maybe in
a wishful stance on how I'd like to see the film projected).
I'm all for the future of students needing to learn the difference
between the two.

In otherwards - I'd like Fred to know that I saw the error in my ways
in not being clear and, as I hopefully get to see more films
projected theatrically in college, I'll duly note this.

-Aaron.
6968


From: Aaron Graham
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 2:59pm
Subject: Re: lesser known Walsh (seeing film on video)
 
Contrary to this post, I think there is a need for Fred to bring up
his views whenever he feels like it (and, well - it is his group).
There is a healthy need for the distinction between film and video,
and if someone is talking about a particular film on video, I now see
the need to specify (and which I will, in future posts, but maybe in
a wishful stance on how I'd like to see the film projected).
I'm all for the future of students needing to learn the difference
between the two.

In otherwards - I'd like Fred to know that I saw the error in my ways
in not being clear and, as I hopefully get to see more films
projected theatrically in college, I'll duly note this.

-Aaron.
6969


From: Michael Lieberman
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 3:43pm
Subject: Re: Re: lesser known Walsh (seeing film on video)
 
Fred,

I certainly agree with your points about video being like looking at a scanned Pollock painting vs. seeing the entire work in person. When I saw Rear Window
during its re-release (5 or 6 times), I was so immersed in the atmosphere outside of LB Jeffries' window (and inside, for that matter), and when watching it on
video, I was certainly underwhelmed.

But there are fewer retrospectives as we speak, of 35mm prints in particular. Big cities have an advantage (NYC, Chicago, LA in the US for example), so those
of us who are outside of these places (myself included) must accept video as a form of viewing, but the difference is, I typically think I've only seen SOME of the
film, a taste. Film schools mostly show video copies as well...how are we to know what the film IS without really seeing the entire picture?

Mike




---- Original Message -----
From: Fred Camper
Date: Sun, 25 Jan 2004 03:31:54 -0600
To: a_film_by@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [a_film_by] Re: lesser known Walsh (seeing film on video)





I had assumed these two were showing in prints in your city; I gather

now that you are watching them on video?



I'm sorry to be picky about this, and most people on this list know my

position well (http://www.fredcamper.com/Film/Video.html">http://www.fredcamper.com/Film/Video.html">http://www.fredcamper.com/Film/Video.html ), and I know

many or most don't agree with it, but I don't think viewing a film on

video is actually "watching" it (though I suppose it could be called

"checking it out.") This is especially true for color films made after

1954; if they're not in 'Scope, they were intended as 1.85:1, and so

video will often chop off about one third of the intended image, or, if

not, it will as is even more the case with letterboxed scope be even

lower resolution than usual. Also, the colors of film and video and the

whole sense of space is really different. I think black and white

pre-1954 Walsh films at least partly survive the translation to video

(based on a few actual viewings), but that his later color films will

(I'm guessing) survive it much less well.



There was a thread here not long ago about how film scholarship had been

greatly improved by the availability of video because it was now easy to

check plots. Aside from my vivid memory of a traumatic-for-me Sirk

conference at Datrmouth at which the Chairperson of the English

Department waved a video of "Imitation of Life" around in his hands as

he proceeded to attack it by misdescribing the plot (no, it was not the

beach photos that got Lana Turner an acting career, and it was not

because she was the "object" of the Gavin character's "gaze"), it seems

to me that even if video helps get plots and shot orders right, it gets

the sense of space all wrong, and so a whole generation of film scholars

is studying mistranslations.



- Fred













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6970


From: jpcoursodon
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 3:48pm
Subject: Re: lesser known Walsh (seeing film on video)
 
No need to apologize, Fred, you are of course right. However your
insistance on theatrical viewing as the proper and only acceptable
way of watching films brings up the more general matter of the
extreme fragility of the medium -- cinema. Throughout the history of
film, movies have been shown theatrically in less-than-ideal, often
disastrous fashion. I spent more than half my life watching movies in
theaters (including Langlois' famed Cinematheque in its successive
venues)under wretched conditions: worn-out, mangled, incomplete
prints, bad 16mm, dupes of dupes, bad sound, too-dark prints, wrong
aspect ratio starting after 1954 (when theaters started showing
everything -- including 1:33 -- in so-called "wide-screen" format),
not to mention the invariably atrocious dubbing of foreign
(especially American) films if you happened to live in a country
where everything was dubbed (e.g. Italy, Germany) or where subtitled
prints were rare, seen only in first-run theatres and thereafter most
often withdrawn (e.g. France). Compared to such nightmares, the
inconvenience of watching a DVD transfer on a TV screen is not all
that painful.

By the way I have seen Walsh's BAND OF ANGELS (which I'm surprised
you called a "lesser-known" Walsh) half a dozen times over 40 years,
first in theaters then on video, and my response to it has not really
changed.

I think Tag made a good point when he wrote that at last with DVD we
can really talk about films.

JPC




--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, Fred Camper wrote:
.
>
> I apologize to everyone for trotting out my views on this, and I'll
try
> to restrict my standard-issue video post to once or twice a year.
But I
> do think the issues around video's (mis) translation of film
shouldn't
> be forgotten, and for myself I prefer people to specify if the film
is
> being seen "only" on video, since I don't think a video viewing is
> anything more than seeing a reproduction (like, say, looking at
pictures
> of paintings or sculptures in an art book), though others who don't
> share that view should feel free to ignore it.
>
> - Fred
6971


From: Jess Amortell
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 3:55pm
Subject: Re: (seeing film on video)
 
These days I can hardly get through a video, for various reasons but sometimes if only because after only a few minutes I want to rewind it -- DVD is even worse in this respect because you can actually take some interest, and some pleasure, in the image itself. Still, I formed my initial, vivid impressions of filmmakers like Preminger, Sirk, and Oswald on a 13-inch gray-and-gray television set; I was all too aware that these were reductions, but reductions can have their uses and (as has surely been said before) there's also a way in which spectacle and sensuousness can actually distract from the awareness of certain other, essential elements of great filmmaking -- or perhaps I should only say, of some great filmmaking (anyway, I'm not talking about plot details). It's important to point out, for those who don't know, that video is a reduction, but at the same time I wonder if a textbook could and should now be written -- maybe has been -- on the ways video can and can't be used, what can't and also perhaps what can be gotten from it...
6972


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 4:06pm
Subject: Re: Resnais and Comics
 
--- Dan Sallitt wrote:

>
> I'm friends with the niece of the late Lee Falk,
> creator of the Phantom
> and Mandrake the Magician. Seems to me that at some
> point in my life I
> read that Resnais had wanted to do a Mandrake movie,
> but I've never been
> able to find the reference, and my memory could be
> deceiving me. Does
> this sound familiar to anyone else? - Dan
>

Yes it does. I remember Resnais expressing his
interestin mandrake around the time he first burst on
the international scene with "Hiroshima Mon Amour" and
"Marienbad." And as is well known Fellini was also
interested in Mandrake. Mastroianni is dressed up to
play Mandrake in "Intervista."
>


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6973


From: samfilms2003
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 4:42pm
Subject: Re: lesser known Walsh (seeing film on video)
 
Yes, a bad 16mm reduction print is a mistranslation also. IMO.

Sometimes, DVD on a *good* monitor is better.

I don't know if "Pursued" is considered 'lesser known Walsh' but
seeing it projected - in 35mm - outdoors in Telluride was wonderful

I don't know how a western that dark would hold up on DVD etc.

-Sam
6974


From: hotlove666
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 5:55pm
Subject: Re: Resnais and Comics
 
He also wanted to film the less well-known Red Ryder.

I just read Serge Daney's review of Raiders of the Lost Ark, where he
says that Spielberg-Lucas's great achievement is perfectly imitating
drawings in cinema - a step down, in fact, in terms of media - or
backward. That defines a lot of modern H'wd films for me: Lucas's
Star Wars films, which refer throughout to the traditions of scifi
illustration, being the most brilliant example, because they are so
inventive; the Raiders films; many films (including The Matrix)
produced by Joel Silver, who is as obsessed with collecting comics as
he is with collecting Frank Lloyd Wright documents; Spiderman and
even my fave, The Hulk - although with time I may think of a way to
carve it away from Spiderman, which I don't care for.

Carving away: William Friedkin is a big comics fan, who wanted to
film that legendary Will Elder strip for a long time (sorry, a Muriel
moment deprives me of the name...) But Friedkin comes from
documentary, and he would never think of simply copying drawings.
That tension also exists in Resnais, speaking of Muriel, which is
very influenced by comic books in its composition and cutting, but is
not an imitation of drawings. And I'm sure his Mandrake would have
avoided that trap, too. Resnais is too French - too Bazinian - ever
to have fallen into it. Even in Smoking/No Smoking, with its painted
backdrops, the actors inhabit that world as they would a filmed stage
set; their bodies aren't arranged to suggest that they were inked
with the same pen.

The filmmaker who shows that making film look like drawings, or
rather paintings, isn't incomptible with the highest cinematic art is
Hitchcock, or course, and it's quite possible that his example - and
the mistaken belief that he filmed the storyboards - encouraged a
couple of generations of H'wd filmmakers to go down that path.
Resnais admired him enormously, and vice versa, so Marienbad, perhaps
the most Hitchcockian of all Resnais' films, is partly ABOUT still-
lives with people coming to life and subsiding into immobility.
6975


From: Dave Garrett
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 6:41pm
Subject: Re: Resnais and Comics
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "hotlove666" wrote:

> Carving away: William Friedkin is a big comics fan, who wanted to
> film that legendary Will Elder strip for a long time (sorry, a Muriel
> moment deprives me of the name...)

Perhaps you're thinking of Will Eisner's "The Spirit"? I'd never heard of
Friedkin's interest in filming it, but I'll bet it would've been an interesting
project, had it come to fruition.

Dave
6976


From: Aaron Graham
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 6:44pm
Subject: Monte Hellman's PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID
 
I know my subject is a misnomer, but I just finished the published
original screenplay of Rudy Wurlitzer's, and in the introduction he
mentioned the fact that originally Hellman was on hand to direct the
film but the studio wouldn't finance it with such an 'experimental
director'. Of course, Wurlitzer and Hellman had done TWO-LANE
BLACKTOP together.
But this led me to thinking, could perhaps the casting of Bob Dylan
be a last remnant of Hellman's? As I recall, Hellman had an affinity
for casting musicians back then (Dennis Wilson and James Taylor in
TWO-LANE)...it makes sense to me, although I'm sure someone may have
some evidence to shoot down my theory.
6977


From: hotlove666
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 6:52pm
Subject: Re: Lost in Translation
 
I've been out of synch with the group on this. Back when Mike put
down Lost in Translation and What Time Is It There? and touted
Daredevil, I wrote a long defense of Lost in Translation (6116) which
stirred very little interest. Instead there was a cascade of posts
defending What Time Is It There? which I STILL haven't seen -
Daredevil either, for that matter.

Now apparently we have a lot of members who've caught up with the
Coppola, didn't care for it all THAT much (I except David), but for
some reason have strong, even violent, opinions about whether the
characters are contemplating sex with each other. To which I reply: I
have no idea. They're characters in a movie, and they never act on
any sexual impulse, and they never say anything about it, and I can't
read their minds, because they don't have minds to read.

Please refer back to 6116 where I try to connect the formal qualities
of this movie to the modernist tradition that begins with Bresson
(not mentioned) and continues in "ships that pass in the night" films
of the 70s and 80s like They All Laughed and Zabriskie Point - where,
actually, the couples do have sex (it's the period!) before
separating forever.

The same injunction to think "work of art" instead of "real people
that happen to be projected images" applies to the director. I don't
know SC, so I can't read her mind and tell you if she divides the
world into hip and not hip. I'd have to be in a room with her to know
that. Nor is dividing filmmakers into those who divide the world
certain ways and those that don't something I habitually do, although
I would like to hear more from Dan about this idea, which sounds
important and interesting.

In this particular case, at any rate, the use of caricature, an
ancient visual and dramatic technique, is so self-conscious and
systematic that I deduce nothing from it except that Coppola chose to
make all the other characters, American and and Japanese,
caricatures. That's a formal choice, which may tell us things about
the filmmaker, or may not. Lots of filmmakers use caricature
(including lots of the great Japanese filmmakers - it's a very
important visual and theatrical tradition in that culture) without
necessarily seeing the world that way.

The use of caricature is, at least partly, an aspect of what I
certainly took to be a visual plan that includes what she chose to
film of Tokyo and how she chose to film it. All the neon refers to
One from the Heart, and the big empty shots and cold surfaces make me
think of Antonioni, Tati, Kubrick, etc. The world the two characters
inhabit is a false appearance inhabited by caricatures (who work in
the profession of images, in the case of the husband and the star-
buddy, but also the direcror, the talk-show host, etc.), like the
America of Zabriskie Point, which is based on advertising imagery. In
the modernist tradition, that self-conscious designation of the world
as a false appearance stood in for a global critique of capitalist
society.

In the case of this film and The Virgin Suicides, which I recommend
to those who haven't seen it, it seems to me that SC has moved a step
beyond the modernism of the 60s and 70s (Bresson, Godard, Antonioni)
into something else, which I've been trying to define for myself ever
since I saw the film. There's a much earlier post where I translated
Patrice Blouin attempting to state a theory of films like In the Mood
for Love and The Virgin Suicides in which the characters a) inhabit a
world out of fashion magazines and b) don't have sex (except for
Kirsten Dunst).

Put it this way: Take Four Nights of the Dreamer as the paradigmatic
modernist film: the hero has no linguistic, sexual or economic
relations with anyone in the film. He is an outsider, "out of it,"
and therefore a suitable standpoint from which to portray a world of
appearances which he does not partake of. Not unlike Harrison Ford in
Frantic, where I agree with what Peter says about the use of jet lag
(brilliantly suggested in the opening scenes: Polanski is very savvy
about Gestalt theory and how to convey physical sensations visually)
as a pretext for filming Paris in a certain way. But the distance
travelled from Frantic to Lost in Translation - good comparison,
Peter - is very great.

For one thing, Polanski in Frantic is filming Ford not having sex
with his - Polanski's - girlfriend, which is a perverse variant on
the castrated metteur-en-scene paradigm embodied in such modernist
masterworks as Four Nights, where the hero's only action is to carry
a message from the girl to the man she goes off with at the end. (The
Go Between is another self-conscious rendering of this structure.)

Whereas Sofia Coppola is a) a woman and b) filming women in Virgin
Suicides from the pov of the neighborhood boys who WANT to have sex
with them, and in Lost in Translation from a cinematic point of view
that is neatly shown in that first, very important shot, which David
was right to underscore. I see more in it than "Here's her ass, now
get over it," although I do see that. The shape of her body, seen
from the back, a) refers to paintings, b) connotes self-containment:
She is perfectly, self-sufficiently contained in her body, which is
being shown within a line or contour that also connotes c) contented
separation from the world. To use a psycho-babble cliche, she knows
her boundaries. And the way she is first shown strongly connotes this
visually by showing us her body as a contour, a boundary, turned away
from the camera.

I'll just reiterate what I concluded in my 6116 post: Sofia Coppola
is a romantic (in the technical sense) whose romanticism for the
moment is expressed through portrayal of characters who a) don't have
sex and b) beautifully and inhabit worlds out of a Laura Ashley
catalogue (Suicides) or a tourist handbook (Translation). That is her
ESTHETIC.
6978


From: hotlove666
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 7:01pm
Subject: Re: Spike Lee
 
I think a lot of people, me included, kind of lost track of the
Spikemeister after Malcolm X, which as I recall was mostly panned by
critics here and abroad for any number of reasons. Let me strongly
recommend to all members of the group Get on the Bus, Crooklyn,
Summer of Sam, 4 Little Girls, He Got Game, Clockers, Bamboozled and
of course 25th Hour, which are, IMO, works of cinematic genius. And
for those who come late to the party, Do the Right Thing and Malcolm
X. (I'm still catching up myself, so I can't speak about She's Gotta
Have It, Jungle Fever and Mo' Better Blues - I didn't love School
Daze, but I sure like it.) If you haven't seen ANYTHING, start with
Do the Right Thing, still his best film, if I had to pick.
6979


From:
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 2:02pm
Subject: Re: Re: Resnais and Comics
 
Isn't much of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" based on storyboards created by
legendary comic book artist Jim Steranko? It seems as if I remember seeing these
reproduced in a fanzine 20 years ago. They created the visual look of the film -
extremely detailed, not the sort of sketchy diagrams often created for movie
storyboards, but full scale, realistic color paintings.
Did William Friedkin want to film "The Spirit"? There is a fun TV movie of
this:
7-31-87 THE SPIRIT Writer: Stephen E. DeSouza Director: Michael Schultz
Schultz is best known as the director of "Car Wash". He has done a lot of
entertaining work for TV. DeSouza is also a TV writer (Knight Rider). He creates
much of Arnold Schwarzenegger's dialogue for him, no matter who is the
credited writer of the script as a whole. Much of what people think of as
Schwarzenegger's "personality" is actualy DeSouza.
Speculation: the design of Godard's 60's color films in terms of bright,
primary colors reflects comic strip traditions, especially the coloring used on
Sunday strips of Chester Gould's "Dick Tracy" (also a Resnais favorite).

Mike Grost
6980


From: hotlove666
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 7:02pm
Subject: Re: Resnais and Comic Strips
 
Yes, thanks. Friedkin had a Spirit film in the works in the 70s. And
it's Will Eisner, not Elder. (Blush.)
6981


From: hotlove666
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 7:26pm
Subject: Re: Resnais and comic Books
 
Mike, I had no idea Steranko was the artist on Raiders! That would
explain a lot about what I like in the first episode. (The story is
by Phil Kaufman, you know - he turned down directing it to make
Outlaw Josey Wales, and ended up getting fired.) I loved Sergeant
Fury and Agent of Shield. I was highly thrilled to pitch to JS when I
was the presskit writer at Fox and we had a genre film that could go
in his sexy magazine. Funny guy, just like his characters.

I believe De Souza also wrote Die Hard. I've always assumed he was
represented by the Jack Benny-esque (remember the vault keeper?)
underground security guard in Die Hard 2, who shows McClane how to
get from point A to point B (a traditional screenwriter job). Larry
Gordon is obviously the basis for the Fred Thompson air controller
character (both southerners), and of course Joel is McClane, battling
the authorities (Fox, which he grew to hate), the bad guys and
impossible odds all the way. He used to make three at a time.
Actually, I guess he still does. I recently resaw Predator 2, made at
the same time as Die Hard 2 and Hudson Hawk. Not a bad movie,
starting with the subway sequence, although the script (by the Thomas
brothers) needed a few more drafts. That was one of the drawbacks...

I'll really have to see De Souza's Spirit. Maybe Arnold will hire him
as a speech writer now that he's in (urp!) politics.
6982


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 7:35pm
Subject: Re: Re: Lost in Translation
 
> The same injunction to think "work of art" instead of "real people
> that happen to be projected images" applies to the director. I don't
> know SC, so I can't read her mind and tell you if she divides the
> world into hip and not hip. I'd have to be in a room with her to know
> that. Nor is dividing filmmakers into those who divide the world
> certain ways and those that don't something I habitually do, although
> I would like to hear more from Dan about this idea, which sounds
> important and interesting.

> In this particular case, at any rate, the use of caricature, an
> ancient visual and dramatic technique, is so self-conscious and
> systematic that I deduce nothing from it except that Coppola chose to
> make all the other characters, American and and Japanese,
> caricatures. That's a formal choice, which may tell us things about
> the filmmaker, or may not. Lots of filmmakers use caricature
> (including lots of the great Japanese filmmakers - it's a very
> important visual and theatrical tradition in that culture) without
> necessarily seeing the world that way.

Note that the character-based drama is subsequently built on the
foundation of the layer of caricature, in that the characters have a
negative reaction to the caricatures (the alien nature of the others in
the film does more to create the protagonists' isolation than the
language barrier), and then bond with each other over their negative
reactions. There's a certain sleight of hand here, in that Coppola is
promoting a purposeful confusion between her caricature world and
reality. So maybe she shouldn't be allowed to claim the caricature as a
formal choice. (I'm mimicking Barthes' discussion of second-level
mythologies.)

I'm certainly not trying to say anything about the way Coppola might be
in real life, but I think the movie shows characteristics that map
naturally onto personal characteristics.

> The shape of her body, seen
> from the back, a) refers to paintings, b) connotes self-containment:
> She is perfectly, self-sufficiently contained in her body, which is
> being shown within a line or contour that also connotes c) contented
> separation from the world. To use a psycho-babble cliche, she knows
> her boundaries. And the way she is first shown strongly connotes this
> visually by showing us her body as a contour, a boundary, turned away
> from the camera.

But it's not her body, it's part of her body! It's her ass that is
self-contained and demarcated from the world, not her. I'm in no way
offended by this shot, I sort of admire its chutzpah, and I confess to
being titillated by the blatantness of the objectification. But I have
no clue what it can be except a wink at us. - Dan
6983


From: Fred Camper
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 7:44pm
Subject: Re: Re: lesser known Walsh (seeing film on video)
 
Just to reiterate, of course video has its uses. And some films come
through better than others. My first viewing of "Day of the Outlaw" was
on late night TV, because I'd heard rumors that it was amazing and
couldn't find it in 16mm, and I was blown away, and on later viewings in
prints it, to cite JPC on another film, didn't change all that much.
Well, it did change, perhaps more than "Band of Angels" changed for JPC;
it got about 70 better and more complex. But at least some of its
essence came through on video.

My personal rule was that if it's a film by a great director whose style
I know well and I love it on video and recognize the style, much of it
probably came through, but if it's a film by a great director whose
style I know well and I don't like it, then I'm not sure if I've seen it
or not: it could be a dud or it could be that it didn't translate.

All I want is for people to be clear about what they're seeing.

And sure, there are 16mm (and 35mm) prints that are so bad that they are
*not* the film. As Peter Kubelka said of one such print, "What we have
here is a magnificent ruin."

Aaron Graham wrote:

>...and, well - it is his group...
>
Ah, now I want to be very clear about something. It is my and Peter's
group when it comes to sticking to our Statement of Purpose, or revising
same. We didn't put any statements about the "correct" attitude toward
video in there, or about which directors you should like and which ones
you shouldn't like. And, truth be told, I wrote almost all of the
Statement, though with input from and changes made to reflect comments
by Peter and our other five "founders." And it was not an oversight that
I didn't put in anything that specific. I didn't because I wanted a
group open to divergent viewpoints. The specific stuff we *did* put in
was put in there because we didn't want to have a group with the same
old debates about how the screenwriter is really the "auteur" or the
auteur theory is total bullshit because filmmaking is a collaborate
process. The Statement reflects the way in which it is "our" (Peter and
my) group.

So if Peter and I have to write to someone and say, "That was a personal
attack, cut it out," then we are enforcing our Statement of Purpose as
co-moderators. But when I post here, I want to be clear that I am just
another voice, and should be given no more credibility than anyone else
(except of course when speaking Ex Cathedra on the subject of Brakhage
-- OK, just kidding), and if you don't agree you should feel free to
respond, preferably with reasons but if you feel inexorably compelled to
do so then with a one-liner such as, oh,"pish-tush.". Thus others should
feel free to advocate for the view that a DVD of a film is close enough
to say that they've seen the film, if that's what they believe, or to
just say "I've seen it" when they've seen only a VHS, if they believe
seeing a VHS consists of "seeing it.". Aaron should say, "I saw it only
on video" rather than "I saw it" only if he agrees with my argument,
just as Zach felt free to me to disagree with me about the merits of
that wretchedly bad (humor intended here) film, "3:10 to Yuma."

Also, what little I've seen of high-definition film transfers gives me
some hope that HDTV DVDs (which are coming) combined with some kind of
better-than-CRT home viewer (not sure what that is yet) will give
viewing experiences a lot closer to the original than DVDs are today. On
the other hand, if that happens, it will probably become even harder to
get prints.

Aaron, I was glad to see that you put at least some info into your
Yahoo! profile, as we ask everyone to do (Winnipeg); are you in college
there? No need to answer that, but I'm always interested in colleges
that actually show film on film.)

My advice to cinephiles who haven't seen much film on film is to try to
find a way to live for some years in a city in which you can do so. I
know more than one undergrad who chose college in, say, New York because
of its film viewing opportunities. Of the cities I've been to, Paris is
best, followed by New York. In North America, Toronto, Chicago, San
Francisco, and Los Angeles are all pretty good. Montreal seems to be not
bad. In Europe, I'm not sure about London, but I assume it's pretty
good, but some other major cities, such as Rome, are relatively bereft
of revival screenings of important films. I once told a beginning grad
student that he should put off Ph. D. studies in film to live in Paris
for a year or two. I think he thought I was joking. One of my problems
in life is that when I'm serious, people usually think I'm joking, and
when I'm joking, people sometimes think I'm serious.

- Fred
6984


From: Aaron Graham
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 8:43pm
Subject: little more about me (was re: seeing film on video)
 
>>>Aaron, I was glad to see that you put at least some info into your
>>>Yahoo! profile, as we ask everyone to do (Winnipeg); are you in
>>>college
>>>there? No need to answer that, but I'm always interested in
>>>colleges
>>>that actually show film on film.)

To answer Fred -

I'm not currently enrolled in college, although I've taken some
workshops and technical things like this in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Winnipeg has an adequate cinematheque there
(http://winnipegfilmgroup.com/index.cfm?FS=3&CF=1), where *usually*
they show films theatrically in 35mm (I say this, as they showed FIVE
EASY PIECES projected digitally.)

Right now I'm currently home in Nova Scotia, actually in the same
area where TWO-LANE BLACKTOP screenwriter Rudy Wurlitzer and PULL MY
DAISY filmmaker Robert Frank have homes, just writing (criticism and
screenplays) and trying to read as much as I can about film history.
I'd also like to write a few essays about film, but I haven't found a
topic that I'd completely enthralled to write about yet.
Living here would explain why I'm seeing most things on vhs and dvd.
I'm not much for current cinema, although I watch films of directors
whose past work influenced me (ie: Scorsese, De Palma, Bogdanovich,
Tarantino, etc.)

I greatly admire some of the pieces I have read of members here in
the group (especially Peter's as I share his affinity for
Bogdanovich, Hellman, and those guys.) I only hope I can offer some
useful opinions and thoughts, as this really is the most intelligent
forum I've found for film (and auteurs) on the internet.
6985


From: Frederick M. Veith
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 8:56pm
Subject: Re: Lost in Translation
 
Dan,

I agree with you about the diffuse atmosphere of sexuality (though I view
it in the more general context of longing/loneliness, which isn't really
the same thing as desire). I just think that (as sex) it's given and taken
away almost in the same gesture. However crudely and inarticulately, my
reading stems in part from trying to connect this fact to the other
elements of the film, which I think is essentially chaste. So I resist the
leap from diffuse sensuality to the contemplation of 'doing it'. There is
a longing for connection, I just don't think there's any reason to believe
that it's particularly sexual.

> that the director enjoys being shipwrecked there. Why does the fantasy
> not reach a sexual culmination? I don't know. It seems to me that a
> censorship is at work here: to my mind, sexual desire is manifest in the
> film, and yet it doesn't gratify Coppola to satisfy it. One can argue
> that the age difference between Murray and Johansson creates a socially
> unacceptable match, and that social norms are the censor; but it was
> Coppola who created the age difference as well. Maybe age difference
> has mythological meaning for her, but that's still begging the question.
> So I don't know why her paradise works better for her without the sex act.

I think the point is as inarguable as it is uninteresting, but the
conventional roman-a-clef reading of the film is that Giovanni Ribisi is
Spike Jonze and Bill Murray is her father. But I think your last
statement/question here is more interesting than any such reductive
reading would really allow.

> Do you feel that the Murray-Johansson interaction was about something
> else, something not-sex? I just don't feel it. Maybe I'm being a bit
> prejudiced against Coppola as observer of the human condition, because I
> take her for a bit of a misanthrope. The misanthropy obscures the
> communication issue for me: the overall grid that defines the bond
> between the protagonists is "Hey, we aren't idiots." Maybe this is
> pressing some of my buttons and making me overlook some subtleties in
> the Murray-Johansson connection.

But isn't misanthropy just disappointment about being unable to connect,
i.e., communicate, with other people?

> As I said, I could easily be missing something, because the film doesn't
> cohere well for me.

I'm not convinced it is totally coherent.

> I'm embarrassed to admit how few film critics I read. - Dan

I'm embarrassed to admit how much film criticism I do read. For a variety
of reasons, after a number of years of film viewing in the healthy triple
digits, I saw fewer than 50 films last year (although the ones I did see:
Francesco, giullare di Dio, Acto de Primavera, Je t'aime, Je t'aime,
Playtime, lots of Markopoulos, Nick Ray and Minelli). Anyway, I've 'made
up for it' by reading more film writing.

Fred.
6986


From: hotlove666
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 8:59pm
Subject: Re: Lost in Translation
 
Dan, I don't think she's confounding reality and caricature (or
myth). She's her father's daughter. I remember when Greg Ford was
dumping on Apocalypse Now back in the day, he said, "War is a
spectacle in Walsh's war films, too, but the CHARACTERS don't react
to it as a spectacle." He said something similar about George Sidney
and Fellini: "It's the same sickening colors in both, but Sidney's
characters aren't sickened by them - Fellini's are."

All this harks back to the modernist move of having an on-screen
character who is looking at a false world, and moving through it
without being part of it. In Bresson, where there's always that
little beat or variation of angle at the cut that puts the film in
OUR heads, we are being shown the world through the eyes of an
alienated character, but we are also aware that this is us looking,
so that we are both confirmed and, in a way, comforted (or flattered)
in our alienation. Ditto for Antonioni, but it's already much more
estheticized there, as Pasolini noted in his breath-of-fresh-air
comments at the time Red Desert came out. DELIRIOUSLY estheticized.

In later modernism, which Antonini supplies a transition to, the
characters we are watching with become spectators, just like us. De
Palma is a perfect example of that, but it's in Coppola, Scorsese -
all those directors. Jan De Bont does it with a kind of naivete that
I liked in Twister, which is all about the characters' (and Hunt's in
particular) desire see the tornados, as close up as possible. The
distance travelled is huge: The safari team in Hatari are like a film
crew; the tornado hunters in Twister (who are visually referred to
Hatari a lot) are a film AUDIENCE!

So she's her father's girl, and she at least comes honestly by the
idea that the two real people in Lost in Translation are reacting to
the neon and the caricatures the way we do. In fact, the accrediting
of those characters as MORE REAL than their surroundings is rooted in
the earliest modernism, that of Bresson, because his central figures
are also accorded more reality than what the see and move through.

What is new in SC is the way her virgins and sexual non-combatants
blissfully and beautifully inhabit their false worlds, not unlike the
real couple in In the Mood for Love, whereas for Monica Vitti or
Daria Halpern in Red Desert and Zabriskie Point, this was a big
problem. I keep thinking, I guess, that this is a cinematic version
of Blake's Book of Thel, which is about the state of Innocence, and
that it's all going to shatter like glass when she decides it's time
for her and her characters to move on.

We definitely not only saw the first shot differently - we saw a
diferent first shot.
6987


From: jpcoursodon
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 10:00pm
Subject: Re: lesser known Walsh (seeing film on video)
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, Fred Camper wrote:
> Just to reiterate, of course video has its uses. And some films
come
> through better than others. My first viewing of "Day of the Outlaw"
was
> on late night TV, because I'd heard rumors that it was amazing and
> couldn't find it in 16mm, and I was blown away, and on later
viewings in
> prints it, to cite JPC on another film, didn't change all that
much.
> Well, it did change, perhaps more than "Band of Angels" changed for
JPC;
> it got about 70 better and more complex. But at least some of its
> essence came through on video.
>

But my experience of BAND OF ANGELS was the opposite of your
experience of "OUTLAW": I first saw it in a theater -- at least twice
(and again later at MOMA in a fine print). And I remember first
seeing "OUTLAW" at the MacMahon some forty years ago... Actually I
don't think any of the films I discussed in AMERICAN DIRECTORS were
seen on video because I didn't have a VCR when I wrote the book (and
I'm not even sure I had a TV!) But I lived in New York, and there
were so many places you could see old films at the time...
JPC





>
6988


From: Elizabeth NOLAN
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 10:30pm
Subject: Re: LOST IN TRANSLATION
 
Except that I like Antonioni; and DISTANT, GOOD BYE DRAGON INN, THE SON.

I may not like the characters, but I might still like the movie. I can
like LAST SAMURAI even if I think Tom Cruise was not the best choice.

Understanding that many see it has his best work, I think I might have
liked LOST IN TRANSLATION better were not Bill Murphy the star. Perhaps
I couldn't get past him. I understand that ANTONIONI used many European
stars, but these stars are unlike Hollywood stars.

And I certainly appreciate that the two lead people were not shown (nor
was it implied to me) getting into bed together; indeed that elevated
the movie/director/writer for me. Because it was a movie about 'boring
people' (ennui personified), does not mean that I found the movie
boring. Movies about despicable people are not despicable.




> Message: 7
> Date: Sat, 24 Jan 2004 20:08:02 -0800 (PST)
> From: David Ehrenstein
> Subject: Re: LOST IN TRANSLATION
>
>
> --- Elizabeth NOLAN wrote:
>
>
>>
>> I felt the characters in LOST IN TRANSLATION are
>> representative of
>> passive participants, waiting for someone else to
>> offer the
>> entertainment and engagement in living.
>>
>>
> Elizabeth you remind me of a lot of the people who
> complained about Antonioni 40 years ago.
>
> And that's another sort of cinema "Lost in
> Translation" relates to -- especially "Eclipse" and
> "The Passenger."
6989


From: Patrick Ciccone
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 10:40pm
Subject: seeing film on video
 
Fred:
> My advice to cinephiles who haven't seen much film on film is to tryto
> find a way to live for some years in a city in which you can do so. I
> know more than one undergrad who chose college in, say, New York
because...

Well, since I'm in that group (since graudated and still living in New
York) I want to do some Fred-baiting by saying a propos of Walsh that
I saw ME AND MY GAL in 35mm right when I got here in 1999 (which
melted in the projector during the credits) but I can't recall any
Walsh films playing theatrically here since then. (THE REGENERATION
may be playing here soon--I'll have to check the schedules). Even in
a major city, there's stuff that never, never plays, and DVD seems to
be a much better way to fill in gaps than waiting eternally for
something to show up. (Or even worse, waiting eternally and getting a
shitty, out-of-focus print.) I just got a DVD player myself and mostly
prefer theatrical viewing, but following theatrical retros here means
that I have a totally skewed view of cinema history, at least in re:
the American Cinema beloved of a_film_by. Thanks to the great
programming efforts at several venues in the last year, I've seen
almost all of the von Sternberg, Lubitsch, and Ray films out there,
but I still have only seen a handful of Cukors, no Vidors (shock!). I
think DVD will be a great way for me to fill in these massive gaps.
And I like Tag and JPC, I think the image is often better than
16mm--there were at least one or two murky 16mm Ozu films at that
retro. To use Dwan as example (again)--if the Dwan retro isn't going
to going to show PEARL OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC, just where is it going to
turn up?

Parisians are not allowed to respond to that question mark!

Patrick
6990


From:
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 6:28pm
Subject: Crime of Passion
 
Joe,

Thanx sooo much for recommending Crime of Passion. I loved it. Maybe not as
much as you. I thought it lost steam as it went on and I never quite understood
how Stanwyck could fall for Hayden's life. But then I guess there wouldn't
have been a movie had she not. Still, adored the montage of working women
towards the beginning and how subsequent montages brought Stanwyck's exasperation
and rage crashing through the surface of the suburban milieu. Terrific script by
Jo Eisinger too. Just found out she (she, correct?) had a hand in Gilda too.
Intriguing! Anyhoo, thanx again!

Looking forward to A Kiss Before Dying,
Kevin


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
6991


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Mon Jan 26, 2004 0:18am
Subject: Re: Lost in Translation
 
--- "Frederick M. Veith"
wrote:

>
> I think the point is as inarguable as it is
> uninteresting, but the
> conventional roman-a-clef reading of the film is
> that Giovanni Ribisi is
> Spike Jonze and Bill Murray is her father. But I
> think your last
> statement/question here is more interesting than any
> such reductive
> reading would really allow.

Well both she and her leading lady are going to be at
the LAFCA awards dinner tomorrow night -- so I'll ask
her.
>

>
I saw fewer than 50 films last year
> (although the ones I did see:
> Francesco, giullare di Dio, Acto de Primavera, Je
> t'aime, Je t'aime,
> Playtime, lots of Markopoulos, Nick Ray and
> Minelli).

"Lots of Markopoulos? Where? What did you see?

__________________________________
Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! SiteBuilder - Free web site building tool. Try it!
http://webhosting.yahoo.com/ps/sb/
6992


From: samfilms2003
Date: Mon Jan 26, 2004 0:27am
Subject: Re: lesser known Walsh (seeing film on video)
 
Well, living in NJ, late night NYC TV stations - WCBS channel 2 & WOR
channel 9 - sometimes were my cinematheque I guess; that's where
I saw many great American films & developed my fondness for Film Noir..

In retrospect, the commercials for S.M. Rose Chevrolet and the New Jersey
swampland properties hustled by Thomas "the gyp" DeCarlo were, altho
interuptions, uh, kinda "noir" in their own way :)


..It's a state, and a state of mind..

-Sam

p.s. real B&W TV's are much better than manyt current color sets with no
DC restoration...
6993


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Mon Jan 26, 2004 1:52am
Subject: Re: Re: Lost in Translation
 
> Dan, I don't think she's confounding reality and caricature (or
> myth). She's her father's daughter. I remember when Greg Ford was
> dumping on Apocalypse Now back in the day, he said, "War is a
> spectacle in Walsh's war films, too, but the CHARACTERS don't react
> to it as a spectacle."
>
> All this harks back to the modernist move of having an on-screen
> character who is looking at a false world, and moving through it
> without being part of it.

It could be something else, too: it could be the tendency of commercial
cinema to make the characters feel what the audience is supposed to
feel, destroying characterization just to eliminate the possibility of
audience confusion. My favorite example of this: when the best friend
dies at the beginning of a policier in order to motivate the hero's
revenge, it's quite common for the lead character to forget all about
his or her loss and start having fun with the plot immediately. The
dead character is a cipher to us, and so a commercial film might not
want to take a chance on ruining identification by having the hero get
too upset.

I'm talking more about APOCALYPSE NOW (where the characters share the
mood that the filmmaker wants to instill in the audience) than LOST IN
TRANSLATION (where the characters share a perception of the world with
the filmmaker). I actually don't think it's unusual or modernist for
the characters in the film to respond to the film universe in the same
way that the audience does: that usually just means that the filmmaker
hopes to establish a baseline of realism.

> In Bresson, where there's always that
> little beat or variation of angle at the cut that puts the film in
> OUR heads, we are being shown the world through the eyes of an
> alienated character, but we are also aware that this is us looking,
> so that we are both confirmed and, in a way, comforted (or flattered)
> in our alienation.

This is interesting. I actually don't feel alienation in Bresson's
style, even in the cases where his films are about alienated people.
Antonioni is a different matter, of course.

> In fact, the accrediting
> of those characters as MORE REAL than their surroundings is rooted in
> the earliest modernism, that of Bresson, because his central figures
> are also accorded more reality than what the see and move through.

Hmmm. We should talk about this more. I don't see this undercutting of
realism in Bresson, offhand. Perhaps my kneejerk Bazinian tendencies
are getting in the way.

> We definitely not only saw the first shot differently - we saw a
> diferent first shot.

Really? Just in the describing of it? When I talked about a wink at
the audience, I didn't mean to imply that Coppola was light-hearted or
goofy about the opening shot. In fact, she seems almost reverent,
definitely on the serious side. Which interested me, actually. But
ultimately, the shot depicts an ass. That part of the body can connote
a few different things, but it is rarely used to represent the person as
a whole.

Actually, it would make much more sense if Coppola intended that opening
shot as an evocation of self-containment - it sort of fits what I think
of as her world view. I would still dispute that she achieved the
effect, though. - Dan
6994


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Mon Jan 26, 2004 1:58am
Subject: Re: Lost in Translation
 
> But isn't misanthropy just disappointment about being unable to connect,
> i.e., communicate, with other people?

Well, that certainly might be true in some cases. Maybe even in all -
I'm not sure. But misanthropy would be a cloudy, non-lucid kind of
reaction to disappointment, one that wouldn't help an audience see
clearly through your film. - Dan
6995


From: jpcoursodon
Date: Mon Jan 26, 2004 2:58am
Subject: Re: Crime of Passion
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, LiLiPUT1@a... wrote:
> Joe,
>
> Thanx sooo much for recommending Crime of Passion. I loved it.
Maybe not as
> much as you. I thought it lost steam as it went on and I never
quite understood
> how Stanwyck could fall for Hayden's life. But then I guess there
wouldn't
> have been a movie had she not. Still, adored the montage of working
women
> towards the beginning and how subsequent montages brought
Stanwyck's exasperation
> and rage crashing through the surface of the suburban milieu.
Terrific script by
> Jo Eisinger too. Just found out she (she, correct?) had a hand in
Gilda too.
> Intriguing! Anyhoo, thanx again!
>
> Looking forward to A Kiss Before Dying,
> Kevin
>
>
Unfortunately "A Kiss Before Dying" is a pretty awful movie.
Aside from a few arty pseudo-expressionist setups, the only thing
Oswald seems to have been interested in was color coordination --
everything either in pale-green (aqua) very fifties color, or in some
scenes blood-red. Actually even the letters of the film's title in
the credits use this two-clor scheme.. "Crime of Passion" is so much
better. And it's the only film i can remember where a character shown
as totally positive and likeable at the start becomes "bad" as a
result of -- what? social pressure? misdirected ambition? A
fascinating concept.
Eisinger: don't forget Dassin's "Night and the City".

JPC
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
6996


From: jpcoursodon
Date: Mon Jan 26, 2004 3:07am
Subject: Re: Lost in Translation
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, Dan Sallitt wrote:
>
> > We definitely not only saw the first shot differently - we saw a
> > diferent first shot.
>
> Really? Just in the describing of it? When I talked about a wink
at
> the audience, I didn't mean to imply that Coppola was light-hearted
or
> goofy about the opening shot. In fact, she seems almost reverent,
> definitely on the serious side. Which interested me, actually.
But
> ultimately, the shot depicts an ass. That part of the body can
connote
> a few different things, but it is rarely used to represent the
person as
> a whole.
>
> Actually, it would make much more sense if Coppola intended that
opening
> shot as an evocation of self-containment - it sort of fits what I
think
> of as her world view. I would still dispute that she achieved the
> effect, though. - Dan


This is way too deep for me. My reading of the opening shot is
that SC is telling us: "SEX! Now that I've got your attention, let's
move to something a bit different." The pink panties are a red
herring. Nothing more. Of course you can always get into those
panties and read whatever you want in them.

JPC

JPC
6997


From: jpcoursodon
Date: Mon Jan 26, 2004 3:16am
Subject: Re: seeing film on video
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "Patrick Ciccone" wrote:
>
> Fred:
To use Dwan as example (again)--if the Dwan retro isn't going
> to going to show PEARL OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC, just where is it going
to
> turn up?
>
> Parisians are not allowed to respond to that question mark!
>
> Patrick

PEARL is not likely to turn up anywhere. And as for Parisians, I
don't think there is more than one in this group. I tried to get some
in but they are way too busy...

JPC
6998


From: Fred Camper
Date: Mon Jan 26, 2004 3:18am
Subject: Re: Re: Crime of Passion
 
jpcoursodon wrote:

> ...Unfortunately "A Kiss Before Dying" is a pretty awful movie. ....
>
>
Well, I beg to differ. It's far from the best Oswald, but the scenes in
the open pit mine (do I remember this right?) are amazing, and have the
brutal frontality of his later work.

However it's a 'Scope film, and I don't think 'Scope survives video very
well, even in letterboxed form; the resolution is too low and the impact
is lost. As another member of our group told me once, watching 'Scope
films on video is "against my religion." Which does NOT mean that I'm
telling people not to watch it on video, just to keep in mind that its
impact will be lessened more than usual.

The three Westerns, "The Brass Legend," "Fury at Showdown," and
especially "Valerie," are better, as is the terrific "Screaming Mimi,"
and, as we've discussed here before, his best film, "Brainwashed." All
of those, but especially the westerns, ought to survive video reasonably
well. I've seen at least two of the westerns on video and they did.

- Fred
6999


From: jaketwilson
Date: Mon Jan 26, 2004 3:19am
Subject: Re: Lost in Translation
 
Dan Sallitt wrote:

> So I tend to see the film as being born out of fantasy/daydream: a
> desert island movie, with the island-ness partly created by the
> director's derisive, even misanthropic feelings toward the mass of
> supporting and bit actors that constitute "the rest of the world";
and an island bathed in the erotic glow of diffuse feminine
sexuality, so that the director enjoys being shipwrecked there. Why
> does the fantasy not reach a sexual culmination? I don't know. It
seems to me that a censorship is at work here: to my mind, sexual
desire is manifest in the film, and yet it doesn't gratify Coppola to
> satisfy it.

Don't these two observations fit together? Granted that some degree
of physical attraction is present, for Charlotte and Bob to have sex
or even contemplate doing so would be to succumb to the banality and
obviousness they find all round them, and reduce the feeling of
being "above" the world which brought them together in the first
place. Especially given the way Bob talks about his wife, I'd presume
there are also moral feelings at work; as presented here, the
division between hip and non-hip seems like a contemporary version of
the traditional distaste for "vulgarity", which is moral and
aesthetic at the same time. Scenes like the one at the sex club
present Bob and Charlotte as possessing "finer feelings" -- is this
what David is getting at with his Henry James comparison?

Speculating on the unspoken thoughts and motives of characters seems
to me a perfectly reasonable pursuit, and hard to avoid in discussing
a film like this, which hints at these matters without spelling
everything out. I do think, also, that SC flatters the audience in
inviting identification with Charlotte and Bob's sense of
superiority, and that to point this out is a legitimate criticism.
Granted the same criticism might apply to any number of modernist
works.

JTW
7000


From:
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 10:37pm
Subject: My top tens for 2003
 
Y'all -

It's a little late but here are my picks for the top ten best and worst films
of 2003.

Bon appetit,
Kevin

WORST
1. Camp
2. Taboo - NOT Oshima's.
3. Abandon
4. Spun
5. Highway
6. Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
7. The Eye
8. Comic Book Villains
9. A Mighty Wind
10. Old School

BEST
1. From The Other Side
2. Elephant
3. The School of Rock
4. 11'09"01
5. Ten
6. Down With Love
7. Open Range
8. From Justin to Kelly
9. In The Cut
10. All The Real Girls




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

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