Author Topic: Martin polishes off the TSPDT Top 1000 list  (Read 11161 times)

1SO

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Re: Martin polishes off the TSPDT Top 1000 list
« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2011, 12:45:20 AM »
PLEASE Spoiler Tag the bit that happens at the very end of Pixote.

...and I disagree.  That and what follows right after sears the film in my mind forever.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2011, 12:47:01 AM by 1SO »
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MartinTeller

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Re: Martin polishes off the TSPDT Top 1000 list
« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2011, 01:00:10 AM »
PLEASE Spoiler Tag the bit that happens at the very end of Pixote.

I don't think it really "spoils" anything, but okay.

...and I disagree.  That and what follows right after sears the film in my mind forever.

I actually groaned.  Out loud.  It spells everything out, and in a way that doesn't seem at all genuine.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2011, 01:01:52 AM by MartinTeller »

MartinTeller

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Re: Martin polishes off the TSPDT Top 1000 list
« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2011, 11:20:25 PM »
Douce - A kind of "upstairs downstairs" romantic melodrama... though whether or not it is "anti-bourgeoisie" seems to be a matter of debate.  I would say it's not, or at best not as much as it intends to be.  The servants and lower-classes are hardly any better than the bourgeois countess and her progeny in this film, and arguably worse.  I'm going to side with Truffaut on this one.  Still, the film is marvelously constructed.  The remarkable camerawork is reminiscent of Ophuls (Leibelei came to mind specifically), with graceful tracking shots and frequent use of objects in the frame as symbolic barriers.  The dialogue is well-written and all the performances are spot-on.  And it's an engaging web of romantic intrigue and manipulation.  I just wish I had connected with it on more of a gut level.  Rating: 7

MartinTeller

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Re: Martin polishes off the TSPDT Top 1000 list
« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2011, 11:24:52 PM »
Il Sorpasso - A fantastic odd couple/road trip movie with an ending that years of watching movies like Planes, Trains and Automobiles left me totally unprepared for.  I'm still processing the finale, and haven't decided yet if it's a stroke of genius or a serious misstep.  Nonetheless, the rest of the film is pure delight.  It follows the familiar formula... the loudmouth extrovert who eventually reveals hidden depths, and the uptight introvert who learns to live in the moment.  But from the moment Vittorio Gassman revs through the opening credits in that iconic Lancia Aurelia, the movie races with boundless energy.  Never over-the-top or hacky, but always propelling towards the next amusing encounter.  Gassman and Trintignant play off each other wonderfully, making their characters fill their opposite roles without seeming like stereotypes, and bring poignancy without sappiness.  Great use of pop music, too.  You can't help but smile watching this, and the ending is definitely something to chew on.  Rating: 8


Mädchen in Uniform - Despite being apparently toned down from the novel and the play, this film is quite overt in its lesbian themes.  Though it's not graphic or lurid in any way, it would have never passed muster in Hollywood, even during the pre-Code era.  Here we have young girls (14-ish) in a boarding school expressing love not only for each other, but also for their alluring and compassionate teacher.  The emotion is not simply lust (these children are starved for any sort of affection) but there is an undeniable sexual element to it.  But this isn't merely a story of budding young passions... it also has a strong anti-fascist message, one which the Nazis would try to suppress.  Although there's a little too much good guy/bad guy for my tastes, it does make an effective statement.  And it's an artful piece of work.  Not quite expressionist, but very expressive in its camera language.  An intriguing bit of cinematic history.  Rating: 8


MartinTeller

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Re: Martin polishes off the TSPDT Top 1000 list
« Reply #24 on: January 15, 2011, 04:21:56 AM »
Wild River - I'm not a huge Kazan fan, but he always does a tremendous job with actors, and this ranks right up there with his very best. Montgomery Clift is a Tennessee Valley Authority agent, tasked with getting stubborn Jo Van Fleet to vacate her soon-to-be-underwater island. Along the way he gets involved with the woman's granddaughter (Lee Remick) and becomes entangled in local racial tensions. All three threads of the plot are very compelling, with some unexpected turns and complex character development. Clift (at this point in the midst of an array of personal problems) gives a mighty fine performance, and although Remick fails to impress at first, she comes into her own by the end. Albert Salmi is also memorable as the slimy, sadistic lead racist. But the absolute star of the cast is Jo Van Fleet, who was also so terrific in East of Eden. She does an awful lot with relatively little screen time, and won over my sympathy even after I was certain I'd despise her character. Round things off with a lovely, understated score and some surprisingly good cinematography for a Kazan film... the last few minutes contain some powerful images. A terrific movie about the costs and benefits of "progress." Rating: 9


The Long Day Closes - This film has much in common with its predecessor, Distant Voices, Still Lives. A bittersweet collection of brief nostalgic episodes, with heaps of songs... as before, both diegetic and non-diegetic. Again, the memories are both good and bad, emphasizing the small comforts and minor torments of life. In this case, the painful events are not in the form of an abusive father (in fact, Bud's father is entirely absent and I don't think he's even mentioned) but come from bullies, school humiliations, and religious fears. Although many of the joys come from the same kind of wondrous family moments as in the previous film, there's a fair share of little private moments and more important, escapes to the movies. Bud is often seen going to (or desiring to go to) the cinema, and audio clips from The Magnificent Ambersons and Meet Me in St. Louis, among others, are played over various events. And once again, Davies plays with chronology, although not in a jumping-back-and-forth manner. Instead, time seems to flow like a river, eroding gaps between memories as one flows seamlessly into the next. It's a beautiful film, both haunting and warm, and one that shows a growth in Davies' abilities as filmmaker, especially with so many incredibly striking compositions. I also want to praise Tina Malone and Jimmy Wilde, who provide some terrific comic relief. And I love that Davies has enough faith in his audience to present a racist incident without telling you how to feel about it in any way. Rating: 9


Moana - Yet another semi-documentary bit of ethnography from Robert Flaherty. This one follows a young man and family through their various Samoan routines... hunting, making clothing, preparing food, dance and finally, an elaborate tattooing ritual that ushers Moana into manhood. There's some pretty interesting stuff and Flaherty treats his subjects with respect, but it all feels a bit been-there-done-that, especially after having seen the superior Tabu.  Rating: 7


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Antares

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Re: Martin polishes off the TSPDT Top 1000 list
« Reply #25 on: January 15, 2011, 10:29:09 AM »
Wild River - Rating: 9

This is one of my favorite Kazan films, I'm glad to see you liked it a lot. The only thing that could make this film better would be having Clift in his pre-Raintree County form. I also agree with your assessment of Jo Van Fleet's performance. This and her brief appearance in Cool Hand Luke are her best performances.

MartinTeller

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Re: Martin polishes off the TSPDT Top 1000 list
« Reply #26 on: January 16, 2011, 02:51:46 AM »
Nothing very inspiring today.  I also could have watched a couple more but somehow time just slipped away from me.


Samson and Delilah - This is actually my very first Cecil B. DeMille film.  And I wouldn't mind it being my last.  I don't have much affection for Biblical epics, even ones with Hedy Lamarr in skimpy outfits.  It's kind of fun as a fairy tale, but most of its entertainment value is derived from its pure corniness.  Hammy acting (oh Victor Mature, I was just starting to like you) and terrible dialogue.  Almost every line is overwritten, leaden with metaphor and mannered speech, as if everyone from that period just spilled proverbs out of their silly faces all day long.  Garish costumes and sets that look cheap as hell.  Bad special effects and some shoddy editing... the lion fight is particularly laughable.  I didn't hate it, watchable as a lark, but hardly my cup of tea.  Rating: 5


Europa '51 - It never fails... every time I start a Rossellini movie, I think "oh man, I hate Rossellini" but it never ends up being that bad.  Then I go look at my old ratings and realize that I never hated him after all.  I'm just usually underwhelmed by him.  This one -- about a bourgeois woman who discovers spirituality and compassion after a tragic family incident -- has some very beautiful moments.  Ingrid Bergman gives a sympathetic performance, gets into some compelling situations, and the cinematography and score are very strong.  Where the film goes off the rails is in the final act, when the heavy hand of Rossellini is felt.  The melodrama, which was already fairly thick, kicks up a notch and we learn that kindness equals insanity in the eyes of society.  Oh, and Ingrid Bergman acheives sainthood.  I'm not complaining too much, though... I kind of like the way Rossellini handles religion.  It certainly beats DeMille's idea of religion, anyway.  Overwrought at times but generally well done.  Rating: 7


Zorn's Lemma - It is tempting to write this off as pure wankery, but I found the concept rather intriguing.  I won't attempt to describe it, and I can't really explain what it means (for one thing, I've tried to comprehend the mathematical axiom it's named after... and failed).  But I did enjoy how it toyed with expectations, the way it gradually replaces one kind of symbol with another.  Greenaway has cited Frampton as an influence, and there seems to be a straight line from this to Vertical Features Remake, especially in the meticulous attention to patterns and rhythms.  However, what sets Greenaway's film apart is the sense of humor.  Getting through an hour of Zorn's Lemma is a tough slog.  Yes, I was intrigued, but after 15 minutes the tedium kicked in, and kicked in big time.  I was relieved when the film switched gears entirely (and substituting a visual rhythm for an aural rhythm was a nice touch) at the end... but then that became a chore as well.  I'm not ready to give up on Frampton, but the next logical step would be the "Hapax Legomena" series, and that's a much bigger time investment.  Rating: 5


Rose Hobart - A reasonably compelling experiment in which footage of actress Rose Hobart from the film East of Borneo (a talkie) is chopped up and played with colored filters and a samba soundtrack and made to look like a silent.  It reminded me of the deconstructionism of Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son and the recontextualization of Scorpio Rising... while pre-dating them both by some 30 years, making Joseph Cornell something of an avant-garde pioneer.  And like Anger's and Jacobs' films, it's not only interesting as a concept but also rather fun to watch.  It does outstay its welcome a little, even at a lean 19 minutes, but has a real beauty to it.  Rating: 7
« Last Edit: January 16, 2011, 03:02:37 AM by MartinTeller »

sdedalus

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Re: Martin polishes off the TSPDT Top 1000 list
« Reply #27 on: January 16, 2011, 02:56:51 AM »
I can't imagine hating Rossellini.  It'd be like hating cookies.

Silent DeMille is much better than postwar DeMille.

Antares

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Re: Martin polishes off the TSPDT Top 1000 list
« Reply #28 on: January 16, 2011, 11:24:32 AM »
It's kind of fun as a fairy tale, but most of its entertainment value is derived from its pure corniness.  Hammy acting (oh Victor Mature, I was just starting to like you) and terrible dialogue.  Almost every line is overwritten, leaden with metaphor and mannered speech, as if everyone from that period just spilled proverbs out of their silly faces all day long.  Garish costumes and sets that look cheap as hell.

This is pretty much what I expect from most De Mille films.

MartinTeller

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Re: Martin polishes off the TSPDT Top 1000 list
« Reply #29 on: January 16, 2011, 11:15:00 PM »
L'Argent - There's no denying this film has some stunning cinematography, with a surprisingly mobile camera.  Perhaps L'Herbier took some lessons from Abel Gance.  And the performances are generally quite good, and the story has some compelling human drama.  But I have to agree with the one negative review on IMDb: the movie plods.  The first hour in particular is loaded down with a lot of not-very-interesting business deals.  It sets the stage for the rivalry between Saccard and Gunderman, but we don't need to see this much.  I cared a lot about the Hamelin couple, I even cared about Saccard, but still I was fighting boredom.  It felt like it needed a lot of tightening up.  I'll take the Bresson.  Rating: 6


Under the Bridges - This movie has been called "the German L'Atalante" and they definitely share some qualities.  Two men and a woman on a boat, wonderfully expressive camerawork, and such alluring charm and beauty.  It's very easy to get caught up in the gentle, appealing but slightly foreboding rhythms of the film, with so many memorable moments and the camera always finding a unique perspective.  And we're not saddled with an annoying Michel Simon character on this barge journey.  Each of the three leads is flawed but lovable, especially Carl Raddatz and Hannalore Schroth.  If the ending is a bit hard to swallow, it doesn't matter because you really want to see these characters flourish.  It's hard to believe such a lovely film was made under the Third Reich.  Rating: 8