“I will always circle back to writing because I think writing is the most pure and joyful experience as far as creating stories go. There are no boundaries, there are no foreign sales estimates, there’s nothing that gets in your way. It’s really fun to problem solve.” —Slashfilm talks to Green Room writer/director Jeremy Saulnier
Many, however, are directed by Sirk’s contemporary Hollywood master filmmakers, people like Howard Hawks, Michael Curtiz and Nicholas Ray. There are also some decidedly non-Hollywood choices, like Pier Pasolini and Max Ophuls (also a favorite director of Stanley Kubrick). What ties all these films together, and the films of Douglas Sirk, is a heightened sense of drama, and real feel for the emotional inner lives of the characters…
10. Flamingo Road (1949)
A carnival dancer (Joan Crawford) and a businessman team up to get revenge on a crooked political boss in this Michael Curtiz-directed film noir. We’ll see more carnival dancing later on this list with the story of Lola Montès.
9. Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)
This notorious Pasolini-directed film is based on the writings of the Marquis de Sade. It is reportedly nearly impossible to watch, depicting a series of atrocities that are meant as a critique of the culture surrounding the government of fascist leader Benito Mussolini.
8. The Naked and the Dead (1958)
This adaptation of the Norman Mailer novel was directed by Raoul Walsh. It’s a study of men in war, but it’s a thoughtful study and perhaps that’s what attracted Fassbinder.
This new double-feature from The Criterion Collection is as epic a movie experience as I’ve ever witnessed. Over the course of two 3+ hour films, I experienced the sweep of years of history, with one, specific Swedish family somehow standing in for many American immigrant experiences.
Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann play a husband and wife, poor farmers who are struggling to survive in Sweden even before some turns of bad luck make them decide to emigrate to the United States. The story also has many side characters, including some fellow Swedish villagers who are persecuted for practicing their own brand of Christianity. In one of the bitterest ironies of the whole saga, we see that religious persecution isn’t always left behind in the land from which you escape.
The movies unfold at their own pace, but are never slow. Director/cinematographer/editor/co-writer Jan Troell, with his production designer, has a remarkable eye for historical detail. When von Sydow’s farmer plows his field using an ox, it is just as farmers of that time must have done. Likewise, we see the characters cook meals, mend shoes, build houses — all as naturally as if a documentary filmmaker had somehow been transported back to the 1840’s.
Each film has an intermission, so the whole experience can easily be broken into four separate viewings, which is pretty much how I experienced it. Because it is based on a series of connected novels — Troell and screenwriter Bengt Forslund adapt The Emigrants books by Vilhelm Moberg — the parts all feel like one organic whole, even as years pass, characters die, and new characters enter.
“Hollywood is overwhelmingly left. Perhaps there’s discrimination after the fact but creative areas are almost always heavily left. Police, military, engineering, there are certain things that are more conducive to minds predisposed to conservatism.” – Economist Tyler Cowen has a wide-ranging discussion with sociologist Jonathan Haidt, which touches on political attitudes in creative fields.
I hope it’s not just the contrarian in me, but I rather enjoyed Batman v. Superman: The Dawn of Justice. I certainly entered with diminished expectations, and I was not surprised to find the movie crammed with vestigial appendages. The first thing I would excise are the dream sequences.
But I might keep the lyrical evocation of young Bruce Wayne’s childhood traumas. Yes, we’ve seen it before, but never quite like this. Director Zack Snyder has been unfavorably compared to Michael Bay, but I might favorably say that he matches Bay’s gift for glossy imagecraft. All those pearls dropping in oh-so-slow motion, you know.
There are films like Watchmen and 300 where Snyder’s imagery is nurtured by a well-balanced script (if not by assured acting). Here, writers Chris Terrio (Argo) and David S. Goyer (Dark City, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises) seem to struggle against what the title promises for too long, then brush through it too quickly, eager to arrive at a baffling CGI slugfest.
Perhaps that is what all these critics are throwing rotten tomatoes at. Well, physician, heal thyself. Star Trek Into Darkness had some equal preposterosities, but JJ Abrams still got the keys to the Star Wars franchise. I suspect the critics had out their knives, or kryptonite spears, from the start.
Let’s enter the spoiler zone to speak of plot points good and evil. Continue reading
Check out this creative use of stop-motion animation. Surreal, hilarious, and also a great reminder: I have to do some laundry!
One of the writer-directors, Daniel “Cloud” Campos, has a Wikipedia page. And so does the other, Spencer Susser. Susser is a member of the Australian film collective Blue Tongue films, hence the weird VHS-style car chase logo that opens the short. Campos has a pretty extensive dance and choreography career, which explains how the movement in this mini-musical got to be so well-choreographed.
I’m also a fan of the sound design, which helps sell the parts of this world we can’t even see.
The Verge has some background on the complaint system issues, which I don’t think would have been allowed to fester so long if YouTube’s strategy hadn’t been so star-focussed of late. At first it was old media stars. Then it shifted to homegrown stars. But either way, YouTube has moved away from its ‘long tail of video’ origins. From a short-term business point of view, it makes sense. They lose money hosting unpopular, un-monetized content. However, there is no emergence of viral hits from the masses without the masses. When you have kids who have spent years of their lives creating original content for peanuts, it would do well to respect them enough to keep them buying tickets in the internet fame lottery.
March 8, 2016 / J. Ott / Comments Off on Blu-ray Review: 2 Films by Agnès Varda starring Jane Birkin (Jane B. par Agnès V. & Kung-Fu Master!)
Agnès Varda has been overshadowed by other filmmakers of the French New Wave like François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard. This pair of films, rescued by the new label Cinelicious Pics, make a great argument for what a mistake that has been. Fans of beautifully-presented, groundbreaking movies — such as the US’s Criterion Collection or the UK’s Eureka! Masters of Cinema Series — will want to take a good look at this double-disc set.
Jane B. par Agnès V.
The first film, Jane B. par Agnès V. (1987), was Varda’s followup to her acclaimed Vagabond (1985). It’s a strange hybrid of documentary, short film, philosophy and feminist cultural criticism. I found it far more successful (and watchable) than any of Godard’s formalist experiments in the last several decades — and yet it was never released in the United States. Perhaps it was because it was ahead of its time. It still feels, in many ways, ahead of its time.
The project began when Varda struck up a friendship with the actress, model, singer and 60’s and 70’s icon Jane Birkin. Continue reading
Movies with Mikey lets us know — on no uncertain terms — that The Fountain, the mind-bending Darren Aronofsky film from 2006, has been misunderstood:
I haven’t seen the movie in a while, but I remember a sort of poetic ambiguity that recalls 2001: A Space Odyssey. Stanley Kubrick understood that a certain amount of ambiguity in the interpretation of a film left room for the audience to write some of the story:
I didn’t have to try for ambiguity; it was inevitable. And I think in a film like 2001, where each viewer brings his own emotions and perceptions to bear on the subject matter, a certain degree of ambiguity is valuable, because it allows the audience to “fill in” the visual experience themselves. In any case, once you’re dealing on a nonverbal level, ambiguity is unavoidable. But it’s the ambiguity of all art, of a fine piece of music or a painting — you don’t need written instructions by the composer or painter accompanying such works to “explain” them. “Explaining” them contributes nothing but a superficial “cultural” value which has no value except for critics and teachers who have to earn a living. Reactions to art are always different because they are always deeply personal.
Not that a filmmaker shouldn’t always have a clear idea of what the movie means. But being open to the audience having other interpretations is one storytelling strategy. It certainly works for filmmakers like Andrei Tarkovsky or Terrence Malick.
In this past year, a movie like Ex Machina might be a good example. The story is seemingly simple, but the amount of interpretations it has generated is enormous. What other films do you feel have been misunderstood? What do you think about the use of ambiguity in cinematic storytelling?
We aim for the minimum amount of advertising to defray the costs of hosting and managing the site. It is also our policy to use affiliate or referral links transparently, and only where they provide value.