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Thread: 28 Film Discussion Threads Later

  1. #68751


    ^ this for skitch only (nobody else watch)

  2. #68752
    Quote Quoting baby doll (view post)
    As much as I admire Wajda's Ashes and Diamonds, Kawalerowicz's Mother Joan of the Angels, and Zanussi's Illumination, I'm not sure I'd want to live in communist Poland (or, for that matter, Thatcher-era England).
    Neither do I. It's irrelevant, thankfully.

    Quote Quoting baby doll (view post)
    In any case, the premise that state-subsidized filmmaking automatically leads to aesthetically freewheeling masterpieces strikes me as dubious at best. Canada's National Film Board is hardly a hotbed of avant-garde experimentation, and most of the Eastern Bloc films you cite appeared during periods of relative liberalization (e.g., the Prague Spring produced some great films in a short period, but the key phrase here is "short period").
    I never said anything about automatic, so I don't see why I need to respond to this.

    Quote Quoting baby doll (view post)
    Furthermore, one could point out that the masterpieces of the Japanese New Wave, which were contemporary with the Czech, Polish, and Russian films you cite, were made within a purely capitalistic system: Imamura, Oshima, Shinoda, and Yoshida all got their start as contract directors for vertically integrated studios, and even after forming independent production companies and partnering with the ATG distribution company, their careers were still completely at the mercy of the free market.
    I never said good films couldn't be made in a free market system, so thankfully I don't need to respond to this either. Of course, the complete collapse of the Japanese arthouse film scene which forced prominent filmmakers into making pinku films makes my point for me, but, again, it's irrelevant.

    Quote Quoting baby doll (view post)
    Also, I'm curious how your enthusiasm for socialist art squares with your loudly professed belief in Romantic individualism. There's nothing more bourgeois than the idea of the artist as a uniquely creative individual (as opposed to an ordinary labourer, which is how Dziga Vertov saw his man with a movie camera), and the Soviet filmmaker who is most associated with this Romantic conception of the artist, Tarkovsky, died in exile.
    I don't know what you're talking about with regards to Romantic individualism, nor do I think that art that is funded through the government is fundamentally different "socialist art", so I also don't understand the distinction. I also understand that Tarkovsky dying in exile from an authoritarian government doesn't seem to have anything at all to do with the US publicly funding films.

    Strange post, as usual, full of so many red herrings and strawmen. Bizarre.
    Last edited by PURPLE; 11-29-2019 at 01:01 AM.

  3. #68753
    Quote Quoting baby doll (view post)
    I didn't think you were. I was responding to Purple's bizarre claim that Eastern Bloc countries were throwing wads of cash at filmmakers to use however they wished.
    https://books.google.com/books?id=FX...page&q&f=false

    Read a book for once in your life. The proof is in the actual history of an actual nation's actual film industry and its actual filmmakers, not your baseless assumptions.

  4. #68754
    good for health Skitch's Avatar
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    ^ this for skitch only (nobody else watch)
    Better than the original.

  5. #68755
    Quote Quoting PURPLE (view post)
    Neither do I. It's irrelevant, thankfully.

    I never said anything about automatic, so I don't see why I need to respond to this.

    I never said good films couldn't be made in a free market system, so thankfully I don't need to respond to this either. Of course, the complete collapse of the Japanese arthouse film scene which forced prominent filmmakers into making pinku films makes my point for me, but, again, it's irrelevant.

    I don't know what you're talking about with regards to Romantic individualism, nor do I think that art that is funded through the government is fundamentally different "socialist art", so I also don't understand the distinction. I also understand that Tarkovsky dying in exile from an authoritarian government doesn't seem to have anything at all to do with the US publicly funding films.

    Strange post, as usual, full of so many red herrings and strawmen. Bizarre.
    Perhaps it would be useful to look at your original post to better understand your argument, since you've made no effort to clarify it here. Your original post began with the claim, "The Red is what we [the United States] need." At the end of your original post, you rephrase this claim as, "Red is the color of great and daring art." Therefore, I take your basic claim to be that the United States needs state-subsidized filmmaking, and more broadly, that such a system produces more artistic films than a purely capitalist system.

    You don't provide a reason to support these claims, but you do cite as evidence the example of Polish system, which you say is "particularly interesting." You then assert the Polish film industry formed units of filmmakers that were "essentially entirely self-directed." Is this in fact true? It would be remarkable if it were in light of the overall history of Eastern Bloc filmmaking, and it would help your argument if you could point to a specific passage in the book you referenced that supports this assertion. Still, you would need to provide a reason why self-directed film units are inherently superior to closely supervised ones.

    Furthermore, it's still not clear how the evidence of such a system existing in communist Poland would support your basic claims. Even supposing the Poles did form self-directed film units, it is not self-evident that state subsidies for American filmmaking would lead to a similar system or that such a system would produce similar results (i.e., a handful of art house classics) if implemented in the US.

    With regards to what I take to be your larger claim, namely that state subsidized film industries are superior to their capitalist counterparts ("Red is the color of great and daring art," not green), you have provided neither a reason nor evidence for it beyond a handful of well-regarded films and filmmakers. In other words, the evidence you cite is not representative of the total bulk of state-subsidized film production. Indeed, they couldn't very well be representative and extraordinary at the same time, which suggests that the argument you are attempting to advance--i.e., that this small number of exceptional films is representative of Eastern Bloc filmmaking as a whole and therefore the Polish system offers a model to be emulated elsewhere--is fundamentally incoherent.
    Last edited by baby doll; 11-29-2019 at 03:50 AM.
    Just because...
    Street Angel (Yuan Muzhi, 1937) warm
    Look Out, Officer! (Lau Sze-yue, 1990) mild
    The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019) mild

    The last book I read was...
    Selected Stories by Katherine Mansfield


    The (New) World

  6. #68756
    Quote Quoting PURPLE (view post)
    the complete collapse of the Japanese arthouse film scene which forced prominent filmmakers into making pinku films
    One factual addendum to my previous post: The most prominent Japanese filmmakers I'm aware of who were "forced" into making pinku eiga are Suzuki Seijun (Gate of Flesh, 1964), Oshima Nagisa (Pleasures of the Flesh, 1965), Masumura Yasuzo (several films including Red Angel, 1967), and Wakamatsu Koji (several films including Sex Jack, 1970). All of these films appeared before the collapse of the Japanese studio system in the early 1970s, and the independent ATG continued to co-produce and distribute films into the mid-1980s (including Wakamatsu's pinku eiga Ecstasy of the Angels, 1972, as well as films by Masumura and Oshima). Certainly Pleasures of the Flesh appeared at a low point in Oshima's career after the poor box office figures for his early independent productions, but he quickly bounced back with a string of masterpieces including several distributed by the ATG (Death by Hanging, Boy, The Man Who Left His Will on Film, Ceremonies). Masumura and Suzuki were both contract directors for major studios when they tried their hands at the genre. Red Angel is generally considered one of Masumura's very best and Gate of Hell was a relatively prestigious A-picture for Suzuki whose films for Nikkatsu were largely B films. Wakamatsu first established himself as a director of pinku eiga and his best known films are all in this genre. In short, directing pinku eiga did not mean having to abandon one's artistic ambitions altogether, nor did it represent the end of the road for any of these directors' careers.
    Last edited by baby doll; 11-29-2019 at 05:16 AM.
    Just because...
    Street Angel (Yuan Muzhi, 1937) warm
    Look Out, Officer! (Lau Sze-yue, 1990) mild
    The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019) mild

    The last book I read was...
    Selected Stories by Katherine Mansfield


    The (New) World

  7. #68757
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    Filling in my unseen Scorsese on his chronological watch (and hoping these two are not too hot a take). After this, only "Life Lessons", Kundun, and Bringing Out the Dead left as his fictional narratives I've not yet seen, among the rewatches.

    The Color of Money (1986)

    I’m generally a cinematic-over-story guy, but The Hustler vs The Color of Money provides a fascinating example of how every preference has a limit. The sequel is superior in many respects, especially stylistically; this is not one of Scorsese’s more personal films (despite some slight overlap in its view of masculinity) but his direction and Schoonmaker's editing elevate this so much, adding cinematic thrills to the physical and psychological aspects of pool hustling, and giving visual boost to many stray details and dialogue of hard-edged pleasure in Price’s script. But the core story here is just less powerful than The Hustler, which has a more focused character study and builds mercilessly to a devastating third act that leaves a more lingering, haunting aftereffect. Still, for its minor reputation in Scorsese’s filmography, this sequel is closer in quality to the original (which I love) than I first expected. 8/10

    The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

    Admire the conceptual ambition more than love the actual execution, even if the latter isn't lacking so much as I feel the more restrained direction (by Scorsese's standard) doesn't elevate this humanizing attempt. There's still too much of the familiar beatific left in the overall structure that a less sedate style would help the more human depictions of this story to register stronger for me. The "last temptation" and the last scene are both such emotional knockouts to end on though. 7.5/10
    Midnight Run (1988) - 9
    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - 8.5
    The Adventures of Robinhood (1938) - 8
    Sisters (1973) - 6.5
    Shin Godzilla (2016) - 7.5

  8. #68758
    So I took a glance at Marek Haltof's Polish Cinema: A History, which can easily be accessed in its entirety from b-ok.org. From what I've skimmed, the focus is mostly on films and filmmakers rather than an institutional history. Each chapter is divided into sections organized around directors or groups of directors (e.g., "The Polish School Phenomenon"), exemplary films ("Ashes and Diamonds and Nobody Is Calling"), representations of historical topics ("Representations of World War II"), and style ("Neorealist Influences").

    I did not find much in Haltof's book about the film units per se. The relevant section appears to be in chapter five, which covers the post-Stalinist period (1955-63), and begins on page 120, under the heading "Organizational Changes." According to Haltof:

    The revival of Polish cinema in the late 1950s was helped by several organizational changes that had already begun before the Polish October. Starting in May 1955, the film industry in Poland was based on a film units (Zespoły Filmowe) system, a new and efficient way of managing film production. Each film unit was composed of film directors, screenwriters, and producers (along with their collaborators and assistants) and was supervised by an artistic director, with the help of a literary director and a production manager. Film units were considered state enterprises, yet had some rudimentary freedoms; thanks to them, many Łódź Film School graduates quickly achieved strong positions in the national film industry.
    As should already be evident, in Haltof's telling, the film units had considerably less artistic freedom than Purple has implied. Later, on page 158, Haltof writes:

    Toward the end of the 1950s, communist authorities had been sending many signals that the relative freedom of expression would no longer be tolerated. The party was disappointed with the messages and themes permeating Polish films and with the “westernization” of Polish filmmakers. As a result, the autonomy of film units was gradually limited, and stricter control of films was administratively implemented. Although the Main Office for Control of the Press, Publications, and Public Performances (Główny Urząd Kontroli Prasy Publikacji i Widowisk) was responsible for media censorship in general, censorship was frequently much harsher at the film units level.
    And on page 171:

    After 1968, the communist authorities tightened censorship, criticized “commercialism,” and called for films reflecting the true spirit of socialism. They also reorganized the existing film units to introduce a more centralized organization of the film industry.
    Things did perk up a bit in the 1970s. Also on page 171:

    The December 1970 workers’ strikes in the Baltic ports, which were violently suppressed by the communist authorities, led to the downfall of Gomułka. The more pragmatic Edward Gierek became the new party leader and introduced some minor economic reforms. With the help of foreign loans, he focused on economic investments and consumer goods. The first half of the 1970s also brought changes to film practice in Poland. Another reorganization of the film units granted them more artistic freedom. As Bolesław Michałek and Frank Turaj write, “Top management was composed of—miracle of miracles in any country or field—people of genuine professional accomplishment, who enjoyed the confidence of the cinema community. This was indeed why the seventies became such a thoroughly successful time for Polish film.”
    Notice here that the successes 1970s Polish cinema are not attributed to socialism per se, or even the film unit system, but the climate of economic liberalization and the individual competence of the state bureaucrats then in charge of the industry. None of this suggests, however, that Polish filmmakers had unlimited artistic freedom as they were still accountable to the state bureaucracy.

    More historical detail about the film units can be found in Dorota Ostrowska's essay "An Alternative Model of Film Production: Film Units in Poland After World War II" in A Companion to Eastern European Cinemas, which Haltof cites in his bibliography and is also available from b-ok.org. According to Ostrowska, shooting in Poland was largely unsupervised but screenplays and finished films had to be approved by the National Film Board. Furthermore, as Ostrowska writes on page 460,

    in the mid-1970s there was a debate in the Artistic Board regarding the low number of films concerning contemporary topics and portraying people in situations from everyday life. The participants in the debate admitted openly that “many filmmakers and scriptwriters avoid contemporary topics because they don’t want to make a false step” (Kawalerowicz in NZK, 1975 : 45). This statement was a de facto admission of the existence of self-censorship among the filmmakers, but it was also testimony to how frank the debate was.
    The bottom line seems to be that filmmaking in post-Stalinist Poland involved a series of complex negotiations between individual filmmakers and state apparatuses, which enabled filmmakers to achieve a certain degree of artistic autonomy within a fairly closed society.
    Last edited by baby doll; 12-02-2019 at 06:51 AM.
    Just because...
    Street Angel (Yuan Muzhi, 1937) warm
    Look Out, Officer! (Lau Sze-yue, 1990) mild
    The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019) mild

    The last book I read was...
    Selected Stories by Katherine Mansfield


    The (New) World

  9. #68759
    To those interested, read the book excerpts without reading baby doll’s commentary. I know I didn’t read the commentary.

    As for whatever else you said, I don’t care to converse with you about anything. Have a nice life.

  10. #68760
    Quote Quoting PURPLE (view post)
    To those interested, read the book excerpts without reading baby doll’s commentary. I know I didn’t read the commentary.

    As for whatever else you said, I don’t care to converse with you about anything. Have a nice life.
    That's too bad, I was rather enjoying this. And now that we at least agree on what the historical evidence is, it seems to me that we're in a better position to understand how it supports, or doesn't support, your basic claims: namely, that America "needs the Red," and "Red is the color of great and daring art."

    The latter claim is directly contradicted by the Polish filmmakers' admission of self-censorship, which indicates they couldn't afford to be too daring. Of course, as in other repressive nations (e.g., Iran), filmmakers can learn how to navigate the system to their advantage, but then you could say the same about filmmakers working in purely capitalistic systems. In an interview on the region 2 DVD of Illumination, Zanussi talks about making films that were ideologically ambiguous enough to be palatable in Poland as well as Western Europe, and according to Ostrowska, Zanussi's film unit is the only one that still exists to this day on account of his business savvy (463-464).

    As to the former, it's still unclear how the evidence of the film unit system relates to the claim. Even if the reasoning is that the film unit system has certain distinct advantages over other production models, it's unclear how that supports the claim "We need the Red," since not all socialist countries adopted a film unit system. Even if we were to rephrase the claim to make it narrower, say "America needs a film unit system," we'd still need a reason why film units are inherently superior to other production models irrespective of the bureaucrats overseeing production. If contemporary commercial American filmmaking strikes us as an artistic wasteland and contemporary Japanese cinema is but a pale shadow of its former glory (which is how it appears to me), I would argue this has less to do with the potential for artistic creation within a purely commercial film industry per se than the specific way in which the major studios have been organized since the 1960s and the influence of television on norms of staging and cutting and audience tastes. (Incidentally, the influence of television is less pronounced in contemporary Japanese cinema, where one can still find complex staging in normal commercial films, e.g., the family dramas of Yamada Yoji.)
    Last edited by baby doll; 12-03-2019 at 04:06 PM.
    Just because...
    Street Angel (Yuan Muzhi, 1937) warm
    Look Out, Officer! (Lau Sze-yue, 1990) mild
    The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019) mild

    The last book I read was...
    Selected Stories by Katherine Mansfield


    The (New) World

  11. #68761
    the maker of my own evil Ivan Drago's Avatar
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    Hey Irish, did you ever get a new Letterboxd account and if so, what is it? I've gotten a few new followers lately and was curious if any of them were yours.
    Last Five Films I've Seen (Out of 5)

    Commando (Lester, 1985) 5
    Gilda (Vidor, 1946) 4
    Bombshell (Roach, 2019) 3
    Atlantics (Diop, 2019) 4
    American Factory (Bognar/Reichert, 2019) 4

    Fox Force Five News

  12. #68762
    We all know that you enjoy talking to yourself.

    Please talk to yourself now about your favorite Polish, Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian films made after the Wall fell.

  13. #68763
    Quote Quoting PURPLE (view post)
    We all know that you enjoy talking to yourself.

    Please talk to yourself now about your favorite Polish, Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian films made after the Wall fell.
    Honestly, stop being a dick.
    Last 10 Movies Seen
    (90+ = canonical, 80-89 = brilliant, 70-79 = strongly recommended, 60-69 = good, 50-59 = mixed, 40-49 = below average with some good points, 30-39 = poor, 20-29 = bad, 10-19 = terrible, 0-9 = soul-crushingly inept in every way)

    El
    (1973) 70
    The Day After
    (1983
    ) 63
    Duck, You Sucker (1971) 68
    Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) 71
    Noriko’s Dinner Party
    (2005) 61
    The Third Murder (2017) 56

    /Audition
    (1999) 85

    /Toy Story
    (1995) 65
    Vice (2018) 57
    The Counterfeit Traitor (1962) 62

    Stuff at Letterboxd
    Listening Habits at LastFM

  14. #68764
    Guttenbergian Pop Trash's Avatar
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    Ratings on a 1-10 scale for your pleasure:

    Uncut Gems - 6
    1917 - 7
    A Hidden Life - 10
    Little Women 2k19 - 7
    The Rise of Skywalker - 6
    Home Alone - 5
    Richard Jewell - 8
    Marriage Story - 8
    The Last Jedi - 9
    Knives Out - 6

  15. #68765
    Quote Quoting PURPLE (view post)
    We all know that you enjoy talking to yourself.

    Please talk to yourself now about your favorite Polish, Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian films made after the Wall fell.
    Again, the evidence you cite is insufficient to support the sweeping claims you've made (to repeat: America "needs the Red," and "Red is the color of great and daring art"). Even if we both agree that, notwithstanding the post-1989 films of Béla Tarr, László Nemes, and perhaps a few others (to say nothing of such ambiguous cases as the international co-productions of Krzyzstof Kieślowski), there has been a sharp decline in Central European filmmaking since the end of communism, you still have not demonstrated that it was the end of communism that brought about the decline. (It would be similarly unpersuasive to attribute the successes of Romanian cinema since 2005 exclusively to the advent of capitalism in Southeastern Europe.) After all, Cuban cinema has been moribund since the late 1960s despite the persistence of socialism, and to the best of my knowledge, there has been no appreciable increase in the quality of Venezuelan cinema since the coming to power of Hugo Chavez. A few cherry-picked examples don't make an argument.
    Last edited by baby doll; 12-05-2019 at 03:07 AM.
    Just because...
    Street Angel (Yuan Muzhi, 1937) warm
    Look Out, Officer! (Lau Sze-yue, 1990) mild
    The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019) mild

    The last book I read was...
    Selected Stories by Katherine Mansfield


    The (New) World

  16. #68766
    Quote Quoting Ivan Drago (view post)
    Hey Irish, did you ever get a new Letterboxd account and if so, what is it? I've gotten a few new followers lately and was curious if any of them were yours.
    I haven't yet, so none of those people are me!

  17. #68767
    can recall his past lives origami_mustache's Avatar
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    film of the decade?
    Portrait of a Lady on Fire - 8.5
    A Hidden Life - 8.5
    Little Women - 6.5
    The Mountain - 8
    The Nightingale - 7.5
    Peterloo - 8
    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - 3.5
    Monos - 7.5
    Transit - 8
    Uncut Gems - 9


    mubi

  18. #68768
    Administrator Ezee E's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting origami_mustache (view post)
    film of the decade?
    Def watched it more than any movie this decade.

    1917 - ***
    Atlantics - ** 1/2
    Queen and Slim - ** 1/2


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  19. #68769

  20. #68770
    good for health Skitch's Avatar
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    I blame Last Jedi haters

  21. #68771
    Replacing Luck Since 1984 Dukefrukem's Avatar
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    Anyone see Aeronauts (on Amazon Prime)?

    Just Watched
    Nothing Until Black Widow

    Currently Playing | Played
    Tom Claney's Breakpoint ★★★˝

    TV Show Currently Watching | Watched
    Mandalorian (Favreau) ★★˝
    Jack Ryan (S2) ★★˝

    Currently Reading | Read
    Howard Stern Comes Again (Stern)


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    Quote Quoting D_Davis (view post)
    Uwe Boll movies > all Marvel U movies

  22. #68772
    Administrator Ezee E's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting Dukefrukem (view post)
    Anyone see Aeronauts (on Amazon Prime)?
    Saw it in Telluride.

    There's a couple good sequences, but there's a reason Amazon hasn't made an awards push for it. Probably looked great on paper and a great pitch.

    "The movie Gravity... but in 1900's England... with a reunited Oscar couple... and more British!"

    1917 - ***
    Atlantics - ** 1/2
    Queen and Slim - ** 1/2


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  23. #68773
    A Platypus Grouchy's Avatar
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    So I'm back to doing a series of film shows this January in Buenos Aires. The month's theme is summer movies, since it's summer in the South Pole. This is my slate for Tuesdays:

    7/1/20 - Purple Noon
    14/1/20 - Y Tu Mamá También
    21/1/20 - The Swimmer
    28/1/20 - Do the Right Thing

    What do you think of it?

  24. #68774
    can recall his past lives origami_mustache's Avatar
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    I don't want to start a Star Wars hate thing here, but I think the new trilogy must be some sort of conceptual art piece mocking the absurd overuse of deus ex machina in corporate cinema.
    Portrait of a Lady on Fire - 8.5
    A Hidden Life - 8.5
    Little Women - 6.5
    The Mountain - 8
    The Nightingale - 7.5
    Peterloo - 8
    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - 3.5
    Monos - 7.5
    Transit - 8
    Uncut Gems - 9


    mubi

  25. #68775
    Administrator Ezee E's Avatar
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    Quote Quoting origami_mustache (view post)
    I don't want to start a Star Wars hate thing here, but I think the new trilogy must be some sort of conceptual art piece mocking the absurd overuse of deus ex machina in corporate cinema.
    You'll need to build a case here in that Johnson/Abrams are that far ahead of things

    1917 - ***
    Atlantics - ** 1/2
    Queen and Slim - ** 1/2


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