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.