Author Topic: Akira Kurosawa, François Truffaut and Satyajit Ray  (Read 14292 times)

1SO

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Re: Satyajit Ray
« Reply #20 on: February 20, 2012, 11:05:36 AM »
Immediately afterwards I saw the new trailer for Beyond the Black Rainbow. That film is probably going to suck, but it's much more my type of cinema than Pather Panchali.

I don't see what this has to do with anything.  Do you only like one "type" of cinema?  I know you don't.  I don't really understand the 3 stars either.  My understanding is that 3 stars is a pretty high rating for you and yet your review seems to indicate that you didn't enjoy it very much.

I don't believe anyone likes one "type" of cinema. We all like good movies, and good movies can come from anywhere. Cinema can be looked at and broken down from all sorts of intriguing angles, and still there are films that there will be exceptions to every analysis. For purposes here I am referring to how much the filmmaker creates reality for the camera, how much it is heightened and how much it is stylized.

All films start from a base of realism.

"The camera is truth at 24 frames per second." - Jean-Luc Godard
"The camera lies 24 times per second.” - Brian DePalma

Then there is the filmmakers intention. How much are they trying to capture truth and how much are they trying to manipulate it. Take a look at my Top 100 and you'll find the heightened reality of The Godfather, Die Hard, Goodfellas and the complete cinematic fantasy of Brazil, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Perhaps the best example for this post is #16, United 93. Here's a recreation of real events, played out in nearly real time with documentary style camerawork. Yet, that camerawork and editing is extremely stylized, as much as in my #7, City of God, which is also based in reality.

Notice there are no documentaries in my Top 100, and no neo-realism. While I can enjoy both types of films - Ramin Bahrani is one of my favorite directors working today - they're not the kind of films I treasure and seek out. My favorite director is Sergio Leone, who never filmed an unadorned moment in his entire career. I love that about him.

This is where I bring the discussion back to Pather Panchali, and before you say it I'm going to get ahead of myself. I understand that Ray has fictionalized drama in his film. Melodrama in fact during the last 10 minutes. There's an off-handed remark that leads to an edit to a close-up of a particular item that leads to a planned emotional breakdown. Ravi Shankar contributes a memorable score that helps nudge audience emotions. Apu's final act for his sister was great and the final shot is one of my favorites in the film. So even here there is a definite amount of heightening to the realism.

However, what I take away from Pather Panchali in general is a peek into another world and spending time here, as if on a trip. The constant milling and laundry and dealing with the Aunt. The family pride and their harsh day-to-day activities. All of this is presented very well, and that is why I give the film 3 stars. It's a good film with some great moments. In your megathread you write "The film is not plotless, although it is more a series of episodes than a straight point A to point B story." If you have to point out to someone that the film is not plotless, there probably isn't a whole lot going on.

Is this necessarily a bad thing? Of course not. That's thinking in absolutes.
Is it something that will make me like the film less? Again not a certainty. I just watched Satantango and Loved It! But in this case with this film, I respected it and I had to admit it was well-done. If someone was to watch Pather Panchali, they would be watching a good movie. But, I did not embrace it to where I'm encouraging others to check it out.
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MartinTeller

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Re: Akira Kurosawa, François Truffaut and Satyajit Ray
« Reply #21 on: February 20, 2012, 11:14:24 AM »
I'm running through Ray's filmography in my mind, and I can't think of one as loose as PP in terms of narrative.  Kanchenjungha, Days and Nights in the Forest and Pratidwandi are somewhat meandering, but in general his films have a clear, solid "point A to point B" throughline.

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Re: Akira Kurosawa, François Truffaut and Satyajit Ray
« Reply #22 on: February 20, 2012, 12:55:32 PM »
That's good to know. I was expecting the rest of the trilogy to be similar.
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MartinTeller

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Re: Akira Kurosawa, François Truffaut and Satyajit Ray
« Reply #23 on: February 20, 2012, 02:05:44 PM »
That's good to know. I was expecting the rest of the trilogy to be similar.

Aparajito a little bit, Apur Sansar even less so.

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Akira Kurosawa
« Reply #24 on: February 23, 2012, 12:43:46 AM »
Marathon Update



Sanshiro Sugata

I thought Kurosawa was being swift and brief with his debut, bringing it in under 80 minutes. Instead, there are rather important chunks of drama missing. It's explained through title cards, but this feels like an incomplete film. The main female character is affected the most. It seems her most important stuff didn't make the cut, and what's left doesn't stand on its own.

Despite the butchering and a rather simplistic script, the film is not a loss. Some directing decisions are pretty amazing. There's an opening fight on the edge of the sea that's filmed as a series of pans. Each one stops on an interesting frame and each stop elevates the tension little by little. As someone who's been watching a lot of formal Japanese filmmaking (most of which has been great) the film is a definite break from the norm. There's a new grittier style at play. It's the Japanese version of Mean Streets. Like Brando in On the Waterfront, there is a new less formal approach at work here.

It doesn't all work. You always hear of a fight being like a dance, so Kurosawa stages one major face-off like a waltz. The two fighters grip each other and move back and forth. The edits are a series of dissolves. It ends up looking silly, though it passes once the fight begins.


I wondered how long it would take before Takashi Shimura appeared in a Kurosawa. Turned out he was on board from the start. With thinning hair and a large moustache, he looked physically wrong for the part, but considering the other tough guy is dressed like a dandy, maybe Kurosawa was trying to break from typical fighter expectations. Besides, I'm good with any excuse to watch Shimura act, and he has a great scene after the fight that brings a lot of humanity to what is mostly a paint-by-numbers judo film.
RATING: * * *
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Antares

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Re: Akira Kurosawa
« Reply #25 on: February 23, 2012, 09:36:42 AM »
I wondered how long it would take before Takashi Shimura appeared in a Kurosawa. Turned out he was on board from the start. With thinning hair and a large moustache, he looked physically wrong for the part, but considering the other tough guy is dressed like a dandy, maybe Kurosawa was trying to break from typical fighter expectations. Besides, I'm good with any excuse to watch Shimura act, and he has a great scene after the fight that brings a lot of humanity to what is mostly a paint-by-numbers judo film.

My favorite actor of all time. I haven't seen the first five Kurosawa films yet, so I'm curious as to your statement about Shimura's physical appearance not being right for the part. It sounds like he plays a similar role in Seven Samurai, and he was completely believable in that role.


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MartinTeller

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Re: Akira Kurosawa, François Truffaut and Satyajit Ray
« Reply #26 on: February 23, 2012, 09:50:51 AM »
I like part two a little more, the first one didn't thrill me much (although I didn't hate it or anything).  It certainly would be nice to see the lost footage, you have to wonder how much more it would have fleshed out rather simplistic story & characters.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2012, 10:59:38 AM by MartinTeller »

jbissell

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Re: Akira Kurosawa, François Truffaut and Satyajit Ray
« Reply #27 on: February 23, 2012, 10:56:47 AM »
Just noticed this marathon and I'll be very interested in following along, especially since I watched a handful of Ray a few months back (about which I still need to post some thoughts) and you're hitting some Kurosawa that I have also not yet seen.

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Re: Akira Kurosawa
« Reply #28 on: February 23, 2012, 11:48:28 PM »
My favorite actor of all time. I haven't seen the first five Kurosawa films yet, so I'm curious as to your statement about Shimura's physical appearance not being right for the part. It sounds like he plays a similar role in Seven Samurai, and he was completely believable in that role.

Here he's much more of a tough guy out to prove his might. He basically steps forward and brags that he's the one who can put this rising star in his place. You look at him thinking "you?" In Seven Samurai, there's a humility and a wisdom to his character that better fits the age.

It's going to be hard not to rewatch Seven Samurai at some point during the marathon.


@MartinTeller. I was trying to line up the three filmmakers evenly so I planned on skipping over Part 2, because I never hear mention of it. I might watch it while waiting for Aparajito (which is proving to be difficult to track down.) I agree about the missing material. It seemed to contain the best bits of drama.


@jbissell. Glad you found the marathon. Tell your friends. There's lots of great projects going on over here.
Maybe when I post on some of the Ray films you watched you can post your thoughts at that time.
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1SO

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Re: François Truffaut
« Reply #29 on: February 26, 2012, 09:46:53 AM »
Marathon Update



Jules and Jim
To be frank with you she's not especially beautiful, intelligent nor sincere but she's a real woman.
And she is the woman we love and all men desire.
Why did Catherine, so sought after, offer us both the gift of her presence?
Because we gave her our full attention, as if to a queen.

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl existed long before Zooey Deschanel came into the world. Examples can be found throughout cinema history, but I think the birth of the modern incarnation of that moniker - which includes a heavy streak of self-destructive darkness - starts right here with Jeanne Moreau. Moreau's Catherine injects life, infatuation, a little mystery and a great deal of confusion into the lives of Jules and Jim. At turns she is a lover, a wife, a friend, a child, a lady of refinement. A force of good and a force of not so good. Truffaut presents her as someone who wishes to be independent of men, while also unable to live without them. She needs to be placed on a pedestal. They are drawn to her like moths to a flame and she is drawn towards finding her own happiness above the happiness of others.

This is my 2nd run at Jules and Jim. The first time I was mixed by Truffaut's direction. Hyperactive in moments, but quite leisurely overall, it wears you down. Both times I needed a break from how much content and technique there is to take in. This time, the experimentation definitely feels like the filmmaker who made Shoot the Piano Player, but the characters are far richer, and able to support the experimentation.

The acting and writing are aiming for romantic comedy's highest level of complexity and difficulty, which is where this film leaps past something like (500) Days of Summer. For the record, I do enjoy both films. This one is a more sophisticated blend, but 500 Days is easier to watch and speaks to me personally. My biggest problem here is with Moreau, who has the kind of face that often looks about 20 years older than it is. I'm glad Jules says that she's not "especially beautiful" because mixed with her character's prickly personality I just don't find her to be worth all this trouble. It's clear that while Catherine is very selfish, Truffaut doesn't condemn her for it. In fact he adores her, and Moreau's look is certainly a deliberate choice or else Truffaut could've cast someone like Brigitte Bardot. I can see myself being drawn towards the flame of Summer Finn, but I'm immune to Catherine's charms.
RATING: * * * 1/2
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