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Monday Movies: Giving up

  • La Belle Noiseuse — I started this and thought it was interesting. In particular, the fact that they had an actual artist’s hands doing the sketching, etc., right on camera was interesting. The various tensions in the relationships were potentially interesting. None of it was four hours worth of interesting, though.
  • Quiz Show — I was surprised by how good this one was, though at the end of the day I’m not sure it’s that big a deal that quiz shows were rigged.
  • Les Bonnes Femmes — not so much a misogynist film as a misanthropic one: every man exists on a continuum ranging from pushy jerk to serial killer, and every woman is focused on petty things and has no discernment whatsoever. The good part is that it was only 90 minutes. I wanted to check out Chabrol because I was starting to run out of New Wave directors, but I probably will not be continuing with him.

October 18, 2010 - Posted by | Monday Movies


  1. Quiz Show is a pleasant surprise;Chabrol is boringly misanthropic.

    I turned off Infernal Affairs last night. I couldn’t handle the hyper-kineticism.

    I am loving Noel Burch’s To a Distant Observer 1979, which is available free online. There is just something about early middle-weight Theory that just really can grab me. Probably a totalizing arrogance.

    Last Burch page read discusses presentation versus representation. For presentation think Aeschylus or Thornton Wilder (kabuki, bunruku), “the actor, audience, and performance exist within the same psychologically undifferentiated world.” Shakespeare in performance apparently broke the “fourth wall” a lot.

    I seem to almost require a language barrier and subtitles to enjoy movies anymore.

    Comment by bob mcmanus | October 18, 2010

  2. i watched three great movies, two French, Human resources, about the father-son and class conflicts, Summer hours , about how a family inheritance dissolves in the modern times, Japanese Still walking, similar and about parental grief and many other things, i liked the grandma very much, but i feel English subtitles and Japanese talk feels pretty different, many informal intonations get lost
    also three episodes of Vanity fair, found it very boring so couldn’t continue and 3-4 other slow and boring movies which i quit, so i wouldn’t be able to watch netflix for some time i guess, hopefully
    Le samourai didn’t come on Saturday

    Comment by read | October 18, 2010

  3. Here’s a question — why is Haneke more acceptable to me than Chabrol, given that both are arguably pretty misanthropic?

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | October 18, 2010

  4. Haneke feels angry, especially at the audience? (Also von Trier?)

    Chabrol is merely cynical?

    Maybe, it’s just me, but I feel the proper medium for these times is not melodrama or even tragedy, but just plain horror. Nausea and disgust. Pity and terror.

    Somebody linked to a Zizek essay over at Counterpunch.

    Comment by bob mcmanus | October 18, 2010

  5. After a very long hiatus from watching anything at all, I dove right back in this weekend. Made me way through Leone’s epic Once Upon a Time in America, and was duly blown away. Wonderful film.

    I then downloaded and watched Christopher Maclaine’s truly frustrating but exhilarating avant-garde bizarro-classic The End.

    Comment by Brad Johnson | October 18, 2010

  6. But it is probably me.

    Based on his life, the text, the way he worked, Setsuko Hara’s total withdrawal soon after his death…I have come around to the view that Ozu was making horror movies. Mono no aware my ass.

    Comment by bob mcmanus | October 18, 2010

  7. Once Upon a Time in America is one of my favorites. I like it more than The Godfather (although I haven’t seen Godfather II since I was a kid).

    Saw The Social Network. Not all that much to say about it. It was entertaining in parts, sexist in others, accomplished mostly, slight overall. The “here’s the story they missed” articles have been slightly more interesting, but so far my experience of Facebook is, to me, the most interesting thing about Facebook. That looks kind of narcissistic written down; perhaps a good movie could be made to shake me out of it. More Justin Timberlake in all things, please.

    Comment by k-sky | October 18, 2010

  8. I saw RED on Friday. Either Bruce Willis, his handlers or Hollywood seem to have discovered what he does well. That seems to be play roles with lots of action, few words – and one-liners when there are words, and lots of stern looks. Basically, minimize acting.

    I thought it would have been better if the “team” would have shown signs of their age. I don’t remember any other than the fact that they were retired.

    It was also one of those movies with some funny parts that seem to make the audience laugh at EVERYTHING for the rest of the movie. There were people guffawing at things that couldn’t possibly have been attempts at humor.

    I also predict Karl Urban may be a role or two away from becoming a star who will at least be given the opportunity to carry a movie.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | October 18, 2010

  9. Tokyo No Korasu, Ozu, 1931, silent. Depression dramedy. Ozu showhorns his obsessions (?) into the movie. Family interactions mostly over money, office, student reunions. Cast was attractive and excellent actors. Visual style still developing, more active camera, only a few “pillow shots” and used a little differently. The “clothesline” shot plays an important role in the relation of husband and wife. Ozu started, barely, to abandon eyeline matches here.

    Took me a while to adjust, but then I enjoyed it a lot.

    Comment by bob mcmanus | October 19, 2010

  10. Mizoguchi, The Story of Oharu

    Comment by bob mcmanus | October 20, 2010

  11. I should say more about Oharu. The movie is devastating, but designed to get the Int’l awards that followed Rashomon. The grand artiness I feel in La Strada and Seventh Seal. Gotta make a living, and that was where the market was.

    1) Kinuyo Tanaka is magnificent in the lead. She acts with her body, and at 42, is convincing as a teenager and age 50. There are a lot of flashy melodramatic scenes, but she is also projective in her stillness. The final scene mostly with her back to us, and then a face revealed, is individual yet oceanic. Not quite beatific or resigned.

    2) The feminism is inclusive and humanist, not only showing men damaged by the patriarchy, but also inclusive of class, economic, and cultural oppressions. I remain old, old-fashioned, and pre-post-everything, and I like it that way. I like totalities and dislike exclusion. I have a thesis that Late Ozu also developed a symbolic language of totality. Tokyo No Korasu is good because it shows that language in early development.

    Oh, some say Oharu is the most feminist movie ever. Mizoguchi’s mother and sister were sold to brothels, if you want to know how personal the subject is. Mizoguchi also frequented brothels, if you want to know how complicated.

    Beautiful cinematography of course, but the best is saved for the final scene. As opposed to Ozu, there a very few shots without people in them. But it is great to look at.

    130 minutes, with long takes. It still seems to take me 1/2 to one hour to get captured by the rhythms. Maybe I need a bigger screen.

    I liked this better than Ugetsu or Sansho

    Comment by bob mcmanus | October 20, 2010

  12. An Inn in Tokyo, Ozu, silent w/music, 1935

    Neo-realism, abject poverty, industrial wasteland, single parents with kids, acts of generosity and sacrifice more subtle than appears, major plot moments happening offscreen, accelerating pillow shots toward the end. One clothesline, two fireworks shots, three hanging lamp, one flashing neon.
    Ozu creeps on you, he uses emotional and relational situations early, say with kids, that are formally echoed later. You aren’t supposed to notice. I think.

    Comment by bob mcmanus | October 20, 2010

  13. Mikio Naruse, Floating Clouds set in 1946, bad love between two desperately poor dispirited war casualties. The cast is hott, if you can get past the suicidal depression.

    “In the end, the sad and dispirited melody provides the funereal tempo to a reluctant, but inevitable ceremonial march: the unalterable course of a soul’s passage through the disillusionment and heartbreak of a cruel, hopeless, and unforgiving world in its elusive search for happiness.”

    Strictly Film School

    Now that’s the way to write about 50s art films

    Comment by bob mcmanus | October 22, 2010

  14. Fantastic Mr Fox

    I needed a break.

    Comment by bob mcmanus | October 23, 2010

  15. Mariann Lewinsky wrote a book 1997 German on Kinugasa’s A Page of Madness 1926 and Japanese Avant-Garde Cinema. From an online interview her thoughts on Noel Burch and To a Distant Observer are apt:

    “There is a normative theory of film art in the West which has a cherished object, the pure film, a film purged of the impurities of language, theatre and narrative. Some people were seduced by this notion to recognise in A Page of Madness the pure film of their dreams, but they were completely wrong.”

    Burch is my current main reading, to learn a little semiotics, but obviously not my only source.

    Comment by bob mcmanus | October 23, 2010

  16. Ozu Passing Fancy, silent 1933, Dekigokoro, Bordwell says Impulse! would be a better translation. Kihachi comedy #1,lower class, sick kid and no money for doc, kindly restaurant owner.

    This one confused me. The lead is both impulsive and indecisive and soon everyone else is too, Very emotionally complicated and variable.

    Comment by bob mcmanus | October 24, 2010

  17. Ozu, Late Autumn color 1962 mother/daughter version of Late Spring 49. Enough differences, 3 foolish old me for instance, to be not quite a remake. Mostly comic. Character and conversation driven. Most modern urban Ozu I have seen yet.

    Art direction, framing, & cinematography alone enough to make this worthwhile. Just gorgeous, Ozu uses that green plastic phone to great effect. IOW, early 60s design gone Zen. Very few pillow shots or “empty space” shots, especially compared to Autumn Afternoon, and much lighter palate. But AA was a statement by a man facing death.

    Mariko Okada, the Godzilla of adorable, steals this movie. Or rather, Ozu hands it to her, to make a point.

    Comment by bob mcmanus | October 24, 2010

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