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Thread: 28 Film Discussion Threads Later

  1. #59351
    По́мните Катю... Izzy Black's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Irish (view post)
    Malick is one of those drink-the-Kool-aid directors. If someone has a hard on for his other stuff, they'll eat up New World (mostly because he's the kind of guy of thematically repeats himself ad nauseum). But I think if Spinal had gulped the Kool Aid, he wouldn't have posted his question. He'd just watch the movie.

    I'm not one of Malick's fans, but I'd still take something like Thin Red Line over this, mostly because Colin Farrell is really weak in the "lead" and Malick belabors his points here, which were done more smoothly and to better effect in Red Line.

    Respond to this post if Terry ever manages to refrain from shooting the goddamn wind moving through the trees.
    I think you are conflating Malick's naturalism with the total thematic ends of his films. Make no mistake: The Thin Red Line is a film about the internal effects of war. His naturalism ties into this theme and is the theoretical and aesthetic apparatus by which he explores this theme, but the film is not asking the very same questions as Badlands or Days of Heaven. What Malick brings to his films better amounts to a kind of sensibility or an attitude rather than a loaded body of conclusions about the subject matter and content.

    Malick's naturalism, for instance, doesn't unearth The New World of its more direct meanings and implications. It grounds them. It's for this fact that the film is more, and not less, about the Western man's insatiatiable quixotic ambitions of possessing foreign lands and "new worlds," even when at the expense of his own self-destruction. This is a film that attempts to reconcile man's ego, his expectations, and the limits of his will with the unassailable scope and complexity of the world. As he does in his other films, Malick approaches this theme with delicacy, earnestness, and calm, without judgment and undue scorn or outrage (unlike Herzog). He doesn't criticize man's idealistic project of enlightenment and quest for colonization so much as he at once admires its limitless passion and pities its unwitting niavety.

    This is not a man who makes the same movie over and over. The charge really belongs elsewhere.

  2. #59352
    5 films over 40 years and I'm sick of Malick's shit. I sat through Tree of Life recently and thought 'I liked this better when it was called Badlands'. :frustrated:

  3. #59353
    Not a praying man Melville's Avatar
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    Malick definitely has recurring thematic preoccupations. His movies focus pretty heavily on meditations on the loss of an Edenic state. But they take different approaches to that and cover obviously different stories and characters. War in The Thin Red Line is not the same as colonialism in The New World, nor are their treatments of the loss of Eden precisely the same: Witt's paradise is something beyond the ugliness of the world, something pure that decays under reality's touch; Pocahontas's is something prior and within, an existential trace underlying experience and civilization. And each covers other subjects, such as, in the one case, interpersonal dynamics of ambition and brotherhood as they manifest in the situations of war, and in the other, love and the evolution of both society and being-in-the-world.
    I am impatient of all misery in others that is not mad. Thou should'st go mad, blacksmith; say, why dost thou not go mad? How can'st thou endure without being mad? Do the heavens yet hate thee, that thou can'st not go mad?

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  4. #59354
    Not a praying man Melville's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Boner M (view post)
    Pola X: Best I can describe this film is a straightforward romantic tale from an off-kilter parallel universe, which is a mixed blessing. Carax's film language becomes more and more irrational as its characters' passions become increasingly outsized, although perhaps lacking familiarity with Melville's Pierre meant that it didn't hit me as viscerally as Carax's prior three films did. Still, some unforgettable imagery (river of blood!) and can imagine it'll haunt me for a while.
    Pierre is one of my favorite books, but I, too, preferred Carax's other movies. The stuff you mentioned about the changing tone of the movie is far more interesting and strange in the book. I don't remember—does a giant rock turn into a titan in the movie?
    I am impatient of all misery in others that is not mad. Thou should'st go mad, blacksmith; say, why dost thou not go mad? How can'st thou endure without being mad? Do the heavens yet hate thee, that thou can'st not go mad?

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  5. #59355
    Quote Quoting Melville (view post)
    Pierre is one of my favorite books, but I, too, preferred Carax's other movies. The stuff you mentioned about the changing tone of the movie is far more interesting and strange in the book. I don't remember—does a giant rock turn into a titan in the movie?
    A giant rock formation features in the film, but no titan transformation.

  6. #59356
    Not a praying man Melville's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Boner M (view post)
    A giant rock formation features in the film, but no titan transformation.
    No wonder I was disappointed.
    I am impatient of all misery in others that is not mad. Thou should'st go mad, blacksmith; say, why dost thou not go mad? How can'st thou endure without being mad? Do the heavens yet hate thee, that thou can'st not go mad?

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  7. #59357
    Not a praying man Melville's Avatar
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    I've been watching some Tourneur horror movies lately.

    Night of the Demon—pretty good, but the treatment of the overarching science-versus-mysticism theme was hokey. I'm not a fan of man-of-science-rants-about-the-foolishness-of-supernatural-beliefs-only-to-realise-they're-all-too-horrifyingly-true stories.

    Cat People—I am a fan of obsessive-attachment-and-jealousy stories, as well as person-dragged-into-his/her-loved-one's-incommunicable-madness stories. And I liked the magical feeling of the whole thing; the tone of the magical events and the glittering magic of the city reminded me of Portrait of Jennie and, to a lesser extent, The Devil and Daniel Webster.

    I Walked with a Zombie—great for the most part, an appealing mix of Jane Eyre, tropical madness, and voodoo drumbeats. Highlights were the calypso song, creating a sense of historied doom hovering over the characters, and especially the voodoo dance scene, which was awesome. After that voodoo scene, though, the whole thing kind of peters out, with no real climax and everything ending tidily without real drama.
    I am impatient of all misery in others that is not mad. Thou should'st go mad, blacksmith; say, why dost thou not go mad? How can'st thou endure without being mad? Do the heavens yet hate thee, that thou can'st not go mad?

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  8. #59358
    По́мните Катю... Izzy Black's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Melville (view post)
    Malick definitely has recurring thematic preoccupations. His movies focus pretty heavily on meditations on the loss of an Edenic state. But they take different approaches to that and cover obviously different stories and characters. War in The Thin Red Line is not the same as colonialism in The New World, nor are their treatments of the loss of Eden precisely the same: Witt's paradise is something beyond the ugliness of the world, something pure that decays under reality's touch; Pocahontas's is something prior and within, an existential trace underlying experience and civilization. And each covers other subjects, such as, in the one case, interpersonal dynamics of ambition and brotherhood as they manifest in the situations of war, and in the other, love and the evolution of both society and being-in-the-world.
    I wasn't denying that Malick has recurring themes, no unifying understanding or ideas. He quite clearly does. The given isn't the issue. The question is whether these films have themes to call their own, whether they are distinguishable from the other in terms of less general, less shared ideas. The standard interpretation of Malick and the fall of Eden is in not inconsistent with my remarks. My intention was to stress how particular themes can come apart, if at all, from his more general concerns or sensibility.

  9. #59359
    Not a praying man Melville's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Israfel the Black (view post)
    I wasn't denying that Malick has recurring themes, no unifying understanding or ideas. He quite clearly does. The given isn't the issue. The question is whether these films have themes to call their own, whether they are distinguishable from the other in terms of less general, less shared ideas. The standard interpretation of Malick and the fall of Eden is in not inconsistent with my remarks. My intention was to stress how particular themes can come apart, if at all, from his more general concerns or sensibility.
    I was responding to Irish and the general discussion, not to your post specifically. I agree with most of what you said, especially the first paragraph.

    EDIT: Also, on a tangentially related point, I'm nearly finished Paradise Lost, and my conclusion is that Malick pwns Milton.
    I am impatient of all misery in others that is not mad. Thou should'st go mad, blacksmith; say, why dost thou not go mad? How can'st thou endure without being mad? Do the heavens yet hate thee, that thou can'st not go mad?

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  10. #59360
    По́мните Катю... Izzy Black's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Melville (view post)
    I was responding to Irish and the general discussion, not to your post specifically. I agree with most of what you said, especially the first paragraph.

    EDIT: Also, on a tangentially related point, I'm nearly finished Paradise Lost, and my conclusion is that Malick pwns Milton.
    Ah, my mistake. Hasty response. And yes, indeed, Malick pwns Milton, but Malick pwns most.

  11. #59361
    The Pan Spinal's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting elixir (view post)
    Also, self-indulgence is one of the worst criticisms ever.
    Exactly. Fellini is self-indulgent. So is Baz Luhrmann. It doesn't really tell me anything about the quality of the work.
    Coming to America (Landis, 1988) **
    The Beach Bum (Korine, 2019) *1/2
    Us (Peele, 2019) ***1/2
    Fugue (Smoczynska, 2018) ***1/2
    Prisoners (Villeneuve, 2013) ***1/2
    Shadow (Zhang, 2018) ***
    Oslo, August 31st (J. Trier, 2011) ****
    Climax (Noé, 2018) **1/2
    Fighting With My Family (Merchant, 2019) **
    Upstream Color (Carruth, 2013) ***

  12. #59362
    Bark! Go away Russ's Avatar
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    Almodovar, Tarantino, Haneke, etc, plus any number of smaller filmmakers.

    When I read "self-indulgent" (which I've even used in criticism -- doh!), my ears perk up. I take it as a sign of interesting things to come, not the opposite. Of course, that's not to say that the work always bears fruit, just that the phrase shouldn't automatically be classified as negative, or dismissive.

    Self-indulgence shouldn't be discouraged. I don't want to be a part of a cinematic landscape where David Lynch doesn't indulge himself.

    Where's the fun in that?
    "We eventually managed to find them near Biskupin, where demonstrations of prehistoric farming are organized. These oxen couldn't be transported to anywhere else, so we had to built the entire studio around them. A scene that lasted twenty-something seconds took us a year and a half to prepare."

  13. #59363
    По́мните Катю... Izzy Black's Avatar
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    The charge of self-indulgence is the kind of criticism that journalists and movie reviewers typically empoy. For the most part it actually works, because they're working with a particular frame of reference and certain background assumptions the every day moviegoer shares or doesn't have much trouble recognizing. The charge basically suggests (something like) the director indulges too much in his own style and/or artistic hang ups, thus deviating too far from the central story, plot, theme, or premise.

    Unfortunately, all traditional standards of film analysis breakdown for us snobby cinephiles who don't carry any hard line rules or assumptions about the priorty of storytelling (or anything really for that matter!)

  14. #59364
    Bark! Go away Russ's Avatar
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    Actually, I think the last time I used the phrase, "self-indulgent", as a negative connotation was in a capsule review of Kiarostami's Copie conforme -- and I almost immediately regretted the choice of words (although I may have actually used the word "pretentious" as well )

    But it does raise questions; to Israfel's point -- separating the criticism from the subjective analysis -- it does make me look back at how I give certain films a pass on the self-indulgent charge (Inland Empire) and not others (Certified Copy), due to my personal preferences and (hence, possibly) certain skewed proclivities.

    I ain't perfect.
    "We eventually managed to find them near Biskupin, where demonstrations of prehistoric farming are organized. These oxen couldn't be transported to anywhere else, so we had to built the entire studio around them. A scene that lasted twenty-something seconds took us a year and a half to prepare."

  15. #59365
    The Pan Qrazy's Avatar
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    To me self-indulgence suggests over indulgence in aesthetic and thematic preoccupations to the point that it harms the flow of the film. I see nothing wrong with it in criticism although as with any such criticism of course one must provide examples to substantiate the claim.

    For example, Peter Jackson sure was self-indulgent with that pole vaulting native scene in King Kong. It added nothing to the film and was utterly ridiculous. It felt like a needless throw away effects shot, the notion of a cool idea to someone that was actually a terrible idea.
    The Princess and the Pilot - B-
    Playtime (rewatch) - A
    The Hobbit - C-
    The Comedy - D+
    Kings of the Road - C+
    The Odd Couple - B
    Red Rock West - C-
    The Hunger Games - D-
    Prometheus - C
    Tangled - C+

  16. #59366
    The term may say little about the qualitative aspects of a given film, but it certainly speaks to that particular viewer's response to it, namely that the film has failed to engage the viewer with its creator's preoccupations. It's shorthand. I'd probably cringe if I sought it in a professional review, but it's fine for one sentence cut downs -- a FDT staple.

  17. #59367
    Guttenbergian Pop Trash's Avatar
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    I use it when talented directors fall back on their tropes too much and veer towards self-parody territory.

    Such as:
    Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic
    PT Anderson's Magnolia
    Tarantino's Death Proof (which I still liked for the most part)
    Baumbach's Margot at the Wedding
    David Lynch's Wild at Heart
    To name a few examples.

    I didn't hate any of these (well maybe Wild at Heart), but it felt like the directors were spinning their wheels and not getting out of their comfort zone enough. Or in the case of Magnolia: reading their own "he's a genius" fawning press and making something overcooked and overlong.
    Ratings on a 1-10 scale for your pleasure:

    Top Gun: Maverick - 8
    Top Gun - 7
    McCabe & Mrs. Miller - 8
    Crimes of the Future - 8
    Videodrome - 9
    Valley Girl - 8
    Summer of '42 - 7
    In the Line of Fire - 8
    Passenger 57 - 7
    Everything Everywhere All at Once - 6



  18. #59368
    I prefer the term 'dibby-dabbly'.

    "Heavens, Jemima! That Brad Pitt show sure was a lot of dibby-dabbliness!"

  19. #59369
    Kung Fu Hippie Watashi's Avatar
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    I don't really care if directors are in love with themselves or their tropes. As long as they keeping making the good shit, I'll still be happy.
    Sure why not?

    STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (Rian Johnson) - 9
    STRONGER (David Gordon Green) - 6
    THE DISASTER ARTIST (James Franco) - 7
    THE FLORIDA PROJECT (Sean Baker) - 9
    LADY BIRD (Greta Gerwig) - 8


    "Hitchcock is really bad at suspense."
    - Stay Puft

  20. #59370
    The Pan megladon8's Avatar
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    Okay, so like, I don't get how Universal Soldier: Regeneration was as good as it was.

    It was actually really good. Perhaps I'm giving it a little too much credit because I expected so very little. But man oh man, I might even hazard to say it was better than the first movie.

    A few clunky scenes and some pacing problems aside, it was a pretty decent action flick.

    Surprisingly competent filmmaking, with some very impressive action scenes and stunts.

    Really, if anyone is looking for a good action film, it's worth a rental.
    "All right, that's too hot. Anything we can do about that heat?"

    "Rick...it's a flamethrower."

  21. #59371
    neurotic subjectivist B-side's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Melville (view post)
    I'm not a fan of man-of-science-rants-about-the-foolishness-of-supernatural-beliefs-only-to-realise-they're-all-too-horrifyingly-true stories.
    Ah, same.
    Last 5 Viewed
    Riddick (David Twohy | 2013 | USA/UK)
    Night Across the Street (Raoul Ruiz | 2012 | Chile/France)*
    Pain & Gain (Michael Bay | 2013 | USA)*
    You're Next (Adam Wingard | 2011 | USA)
    Little Odessa (James Gray | 1994 | USA)*

    *recommended *highly recommended

    “It isn't easy to accept that suffering can also be beautiful... it's difficult. It's something you can only understand if you dig deeply into yourself.” -- Rainer Werner Fassbinder

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  22. #59372
    something real elixir's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Watashi (view post)
    Don't let Irish scare you away.

    Post moar.
    Haha, I actually seem to post all my film thoughts on two other sites and don't transfer them here. I'm sure you guys are really sorry to miss out on my all too eloquent insights. So, I'll talk briefly about some films I've seen in the past week. Feel free to ask my to expand.

    Reprise - Alternatively irritating and awesome. I frequently found its stylistic mannerisms distracting and twee, such as in the opening sequence or when Erik remembers when he was mean to someone (Erik's part of the story in general I found less compelling). Though there are some perhaps interesting things being done with the possibilities of narrative, I suppose, but still anyway you interpret that ending it strikes me as obnoxious. Wow, this is making it seem like I was really down on it, so let me describe the awesome. The two sequences I keep returning to are when Phillip and Kari meet in the cafe and then later their trip to Paris. The former is so concerned with tactile touches and renders the event so dreamily and with such longing that I begun to find myself emotionally affected by the film for the first time, but the latter was especially great, as it presents a case of temporal dislocation, in which expressed frustration and disappointment congeals with feelings of unrequited love and yearning to really turn into something magnificent. If the whole film had been shot and edited like that, it'd be like the greatest thing ever...Trier's 2002 short Procter is very disposable, and I suppose I should write about his 2011 film--along with the other 2012 US releases I've watched recently--in their own threads so I'll hold off on that for now...

    Also, I watched all of Bruno Dumont's films this past week. Interesting guy. A little bit of a fucker at times. I mostly like him a lot though. He has one of the best eyes for faces. La Vie de Jesus is one of the most assured debuts I've seen, a riveting exploration of bored youth, racial tension, and adolescent insecurities, in which violence is truly examined rather than there for mere shocks (as he is accused of sometimes), and it feels more obviously humanistic than some of his other works. L'Humanite is even better though, a commanding vision that is as inscrutable (to my feeble mind) as it is compelling. Its firm lack of categorization and subversion of policeman tropes (without being about that) leads to a number of suggestive events, culminating in an ending I'm still not sure what to make of, though I have some ideas (granted, which I may have read from elsewhere :P). Twentynine Palms is an awful, awful film. Flandres is better than its reputation implies, its articulation of the inability--and perhaps necessity--to share personal traumas in order to move on is enough to overcome its war film cliches. Hadewijch is my favorite Dumont so far, a tremendously moving work on faith with his most overt Bresson reference (more like quotation) to date. Hors Satan is baffling and so damn beautiful.

  23. #59373
    neurotic subjectivist B-side's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Brightside (view post)
    I didn't specifically tell her I pirated her work. Just that I saw it for free, which could mean a number of different things. I don't have an income, so seeing movies like hers is not exactly an easy activity unless I'm willing to acquire them through less than legal means. She insisted I tell her, so I did. I'm surprised that she would get indignant over one asshole living in Michigan not paying to see a few of her films as opposed to simply being happy that I'm a fan.
    An update: Turns out she never friended me to begin with. Rather, she friended me today and told me how to purchase a copy of Dissolution. $50 + $5 for shipping. And she wonders why I would pirate her work.
    Last 5 Viewed
    Riddick (David Twohy | 2013 | USA/UK)
    Night Across the Street (Raoul Ruiz | 2012 | Chile/France)*
    Pain & Gain (Michael Bay | 2013 | USA)*
    You're Next (Adam Wingard | 2011 | USA)
    Little Odessa (James Gray | 1994 | USA)*

    *recommended *highly recommended

    “It isn't easy to accept that suffering can also be beautiful... it's difficult. It's something you can only understand if you dig deeply into yourself.” -- Rainer Werner Fassbinder

    twitter | next projection | criticker | frames within frames

  24. #59374
    The Pan Qrazy's Avatar
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    The Princess and the Pilot - B-
    Playtime (rewatch) - A
    The Hobbit - C-
    The Comedy - D+
    Kings of the Road - C+
    The Odd Couple - B
    Red Rock West - C-
    The Hunger Games - D-
    Prometheus - C
    Tangled - C+

  25. #59375
    In other Facebook filmmaker news, Monte Hellman is encouraging his thousands of friends to give Road to Nowhere a '10' on IMDB.

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