Jirin, I imagine we’ll start finding out some of the films that are going to be used in Round 2 a couple weeks or so before Round 1 ends, once several people know who they’re facing, and we’ll slowly find out more and more as Round 1 reaches its end.
Manhattan 1 – Sinbad 0
Manhattan is possibly my favorite Woody Allen movie.It’s very beatiful and moving.It has Woody’s clever humor,and also a charm that makes it one of his best.I love his character much and he portrayed the relationships in a great and believable way.Also,in my opinion,his great B&W cinematography,which depicts New York in a wonderful way(the movie is definetely a love letter to New York too),makes this one maybe his most stunning visually film.
Sinbad,on the other way,is an extremely beatiful film,with a breathtaking cinematography and a kind of fast editing,with all these greatly used jump cuts,which gave the film a very unique visual style.Unfortunately,the story of the film is not equally unique and great,as his images.The way that Huszarik depicts memories,the way he plays with time is great,but,as the movie goes on,it becomes somewhat difficult to follow the narrative and,the most important,each of the stories doesn’t have enough time to advance,so they ended up not having much depth.So,I believe that the story had the potential to be great,and Huszarik could have given much more emotional depth in his film,which will make this a masterpiece.But,maybe this distant approach to his character was kind of intentional.
Manhattan 1 Szindbád 0
Watching the battling performance that Szindbád is putting up against a prime Woody Allen makes this manager blush about leaving the film on the sidelines in the last World Cup, prefering to rely on not just the sparkling skills of Makk, Jancso and Fabri, but even playing Tarr out of position with a colour film and fielding a journeyman like Bacso against Tarkovsky. Meanwhile Huszárik sat on the bench with the also unused Palfi, Mundruczo and Antal all ahead of him in the pecking order, when he should have been out scoring points for the Magyars. Yet I didn’t find Szindbád that appealing. Whilst I liked the editing mirroring memory flashes, the opening buds and the black notebook of things not to be forgotten, the fact is after seeing it very little of it stayed in my memory. I watched it yet again and remain steadfastly neutral towards it. I can see qualities there, but they are not enough for me. It is my Theo Wolcott, to use a topical football reference.
The Woody Allen film is one I’ve seen the same number of times as the Hungarian film, but it remains more memorable, although that may be a function of Gershwin and personal reasons. Still it edges a win.
Manhattan 0 – Szindbád 1
While the beginning of Szindbád reveals that Huszárik is one of the great cinematic poets, I would say that the overall film didn’t entirely live up to its actual potential. The film’s use of short flashback sequences is reminiscent of Resnais’ Muriel, even though Huszárik appears to be less radical in regards to fragmentation techniques. The central idea Szindbád seems to center around is summed up in the sentence: “You should return to the world, however little you understand its way.” There can be found traces of extraordinary beauty and elegance in Szindbád which convey Huszárik’s strong but confuse vision.
Manhattan is a formidable relationship drama with Mariel Hemingway’s charming performance and Gordon Willis’ black and white cinematography standing out, and as usual Allen delivers some well-written dialogues. It’s not my favorite among his films or the one I could relate to most, but certainly one of his better works.
It’s really hard to decide on this match since I didn’t love either film, but in the end I slightly prefer Huszárik’s flashes of visual poetry which manifest in many short sequences over Allen’s dramatic sovereignty.
36 – 22 to Manhattan
2 more votes and then we will have doubled the record from last year’s World Cup for most votes in any one match-up! Great stuff :)
I really enjoyed Sinbad, and while it is always nice to be introduced to a filmmaker you weren’t aware of, it is even nicer to be introduced to an unfamiliar style. That being said, Manhattan is one of Allen’s strongest and most interesting films.
Loving the turnout…Hope we can keep this up for the whole tourney! Actually, I suppose when there are less films to worry about watching we can expect even higher numbers!
Perhaps the large turnout is indicative of the simpler nature of this event – and using only the two film format over the 3 X 3 of the first WC. Perhaps the amount of films in the first event was intimidating for many. Also, we have managers now that are more active than in the last event, where many – for whatever reason – sat out the event. Also, maybe everyone was ready for another, somewhat shorter version. I think allowing 2 days for the voting makes for even more participation, as we limited it to 24 hours last time.
My only complaint, as an active participant and manager in last year’s event, was the decision to allow films to repeat from that event. In any case, we have a ton of new participants and commentators, and that is great. Welcome to all the new posters. I hope you enjoy this event as much as I did the last one. Good luck to all managers and thanks for the efforts of the organizers and downloaders of films to see streaming. If films are available streaming, we always get a better turnout. Sometimes, the addition of a more familiar title over two more ‘obscure’ ones helps to increase participation, too, as many are likely to have seen one of the two choices already. Everyone’s time for viewing is limited, I know.
In any case, congratulations on a successful start.
both reasonable movies, but that’s it.
A hard choice, both excellent films in their own right, yet ultimately my own personal preference lands with Szindbád, it was simply a more interesting and moving film, with passages of pure poetry and a visual elegance that Manhattan couldn’t quite match. Can’t wait to explore more of Huszárik’s work.
I must say Szindbad is not a perfect film, but certainly takes more risks in terms of structure, montage (allegorical space/time/elements/natures). It’s great to find a film that uses synaesthesia in such higher levels. I say it’s not perfect because it lacks of systematicity in the use of those space/time/poetic proceedings: At the end, visual allegories, metaphors and abstraction in general are gone, replaced by direct associations with religious icons (crucifiction) and death. Death presented in an obvious, unpoetic and rushed way.
Both films build strong atmospheres: Szindbad is colorful and takes great advantage of daylight photography and film textures.
Manhattan’s B&W was the best decision along with outstanding compositions for long shots and some one shot scenes. I saw it for the first time, and I have to say I found it too much schematic and canonical in terms of drama in spite of its interesting characters and dialogues.
Well, since this is a Directors’ Cup and not a Script Cup:
Manhattan 0 – Szindbád 1
This was a tough decision in that I find both films flawed and neither is a favorite of mine, but they are also both interesting in their imperfections and are worth seeing. I didn’t think the craft or techniques of either of the two films were entirely successful in conveying the content they seemed to be attempting to share.
In the case of Manhattan I found the acting stilted, Michael Murphy was particularly unsatisfactory in this regard, and the dialogue often the same. I didn’t find the film very amusing and the characters, other than Isaac and Tracy to a degree, were under-developed in some significant ways. (Although one could argue that this is due to them being viewed through Isaac’s perspective, but I don’t think that really holds up.) The cinematography was felt a little too insistent at times, as in the classroom skeleton scene for example, and when it wasn’t it could be too lovely for the story in a way. It almost became a battle at times between the look of Manhattan versus the characters, which would be fine if the film was saying more about the cities connection to these characters than I think it ultimately did. Those complaints however are relatively minor ones, especially since Szindbád didn’t match form and function exceptionally well for me either.
In Szindbád, I found the editing techniques distracted from the story more than they aided it and they didn’t seem well suited to the character or the pace of the story he was relating. The imagery also, while beautiful in its way, didn’t bring much extra to the table in that it almost seemed as if it could have come from dozens of other films at times rather than being images that specifically enhanced this story. But, again, this was a minor problem for me and the film mostly worked fine.
My decision on these films came down to which one I thought better understood the dynamics of the relationships of its characters, and in this I had to give Szindbád the edge. I found its view of the people in the film a more varied and rewarding experience and a bit wiser than those in Manhattan, although Manhattan did offer more in the way of ironic tension in the way the multiple relationships in the film echoed each other and subtly differentiated from each other. The crux of the issue is the way we are asked to relate to the main character of each film and for that, Manhattan had more problems for me.
There is an undeniable fascination in having Isaac’s character be so similar to how Woody Allen is himself perceived. It gives the film an added edge that isn’t found very often in other films, but I think this also causes a problem for the way we relate to the character of Isaac in that it lends his actions an authority that I don’t think is justified by the script. In particular, I’ll focus on the ending of the film.
Once Mary leaves Isaac to go back to being with Yale, Isaac is seen in montage playing with his son and then having a conversation with Yale’s wife in which he discusses hos relationship with Tracy and her relationship with Yale. This scene offers some ironies that, I would have imagined should have been emphasized in the final meeting with Tracy, but they become muted due to the intervening scene where Isaac, dictating an idea for a story to his tape recorder, starts speaking of the things that make life worth living. That list of things is exactly what we would associate with Woody Allen so when he gets to “Tracy’s face” there isn’t any feeling that he may be thinking of her in a way that isn’t “genuine” since the rest of the items are “real” beyond the context of the film. This implies to me that the final meeting between Isaac and Tracy isn’t to be read as an ironic take on Yale’s call to Mary to try and win her back thus calling both into question, but a genuine desire for a sort of “purity” that can be found in Tracy. This is what I found to be troubling. For one thing it is too closely linked to Isaac playing with his son, which could have added a layer of meaning if we weren’t seemingly asked to take Isaac’s view of Tracy as “real”, and it continues the vein of making Tracy more in tune with emotional understanding than any of the adults, which also could have been used interestingly if it didn’t seem to be so heartfelt, but mostly it sets up a weird negation of meaning in the final moment of the film which I can’t reconcile with what came before it.
The last lines of the film, given by Tracy after Isaac tries to convince her to stay, are “Everybody gets corrupted. You have to have a little faith in people.” This, to me, strikes at the heart of what the film seems to be about, but it is also a negation of meaning in and of itself. Isaac doesn’t want Tracy to change, he wants her, in essence, to remain “pure”. The suggestion is that her time with other people in Paris may corrupt that purity. This should be a deeply ironic moment since 17 year old Tracy is sleeping with 42 year old Isaac which should be as corrupting an influence as one could imagine for a teen, but instead, it feels as if we are asked to see Isaac’s relationship with Tracy as exemplifying purity rather than corrupting it. The emotions and acting in the scene defies irony and seems to ask we read the scene straight, that Isaac is pure, Tracy loved him for his pure nature and that it will be potential others that corrupt her. If this is the case, that means it colors all the previous relationships in the film as they now are reflections of an impure sort against Isaac’s true nature. Certainly one could argue that one doesn’t have to see the ending this way, but there is nothing I can see in it that contradicts this understanding. The final smile Isaac gives doesn’t appear to be at all a knowing or ironic one but one of simple acceptance of the wisdom of this saintly savant. It just doesn’t work for me. The film becomes that equally unattractive alternate to the male coming of age story, where the young boy finds his manhood and worth in the arms of an older wiser woman, these “still got it” type stories just reverse the picture and have older men proving their masculinity and relevance by being appealing to younger girls/women. Simple male wish fulfillment and of a not particularly enlightening kind.
Contrast that with Szindbád’s more mature reflections on how women used and loved or simply related to Szindbád and one can see a more balanced perspective on different types of relationships and how each may mean a different thing to the people involved. Szindbád clearly seeks to maintain an image of manhood, but there is a price to pay for it that can’t be ignored either. The women in his life don’t revolve around him as they do their men in Manhattan, they use Szindbád to fulfill dreams of their own. Those dreams may be slightly opaque to us and to him, but they are clearly signaled as being more important than his literal presence is. Szindbád is about what he represents to others and himself as much as it is about the actual relationships, and the emptiness that is present throughout the film I find to be a more satisfying take on the difficulties in seeking ourselves through others than what is available to be seen in Manhattan.
Tough choice, interesting match, great start to the event.
Greg, Thanks for your writing. Yes, Isaac and Szinbád are intimately linked. I saw one film after the other one. This was a great match and a strange cinematic experience too.
38 — 26
If my maths aren’t wrong again, it ain’t over yet ;)
Or is it? When does the voting booth close?
4:30 to go Pacific time
“The Woody Allen film is one I’ve seen the same number of times as the Hungarian film”
you either mean the “American” film or the Huszarik film, take a pick ;)
Dimitris: [slap. slap.]
Manhattan 1 – Szindbád
Szindbád was interesting, but Manhattan is still one of my favorite films, and its emotional impact is almost unequalled in cinema for me. I most definitely consider it Allen’s masterpiece.
2:30 to go Pacific time
Thanks to all who watched Sinbad. It’s really great to see a big turnout.
Uli, actually there’s still 11 hours and 20 minutes to go!
39 – 26 Manhattan
yes, i was also confused with Uli’s countdown :P
the real clash of course is on the second match but so far, voting here is going well, let’s hope more will be participating later on.
A lot of the criticism of Manhattan here seems to be centred around Isaac’s hypocrisy and self-indulgence, and how Allen appears to be championing this. I disagree. It’s the hypocrisy of all the characters and their relationships that’s the point of the whole thing; I find it to be astoundingly self-critical. At all points Isaac only thinks of himself and what he wants, but then of course, what he wants changes from day to day.
The same is true for the others. While they like to think they are these high-culture New Yorkers who spend their days discussing Bergman and Mahler, strolling through art galleries with "wine and cheese, mispronouncing words like ‘allegorical’ and ‘didacticism’ ", they really have no clue about what’s going on with themselves. They are so insecure and narcissistic that they fail to see this, which makes them as pitiful as the mainstream sheep who they despise.
it seems Manhattan is an a roll.
a well-deserved victory for Allen will be since one of his best films was picked in the fist slot. the same well-deserved victory would have been on the Huszarik side as well, even if it is an “unknown” pick but since both films are equal in artistic terms, congratulations to Allen.
(and now, let Morris / Assayas fill him with lead, muahaha…just joking)
Manhattan 0 – Sinbad 1
Though its a lost cause by now, but at any rate Huszarik is a highly original director (much more so than old Woody), and one whose work needs to and should be seen more. Have a feeling that Huszarik holds a similar kind of position within Hungarian cinema as Pavek Juracek in the Czech new wave. Need to see more of Huszarik.
Though Huszarik’s film isn’t perfect, there’s really no comparison here. Have always been dry wood to Woody’s supposed charms. I can only watch Manhattan for its cinematography :)
Hate to see Woody going through to the second round at the cost of Huszarik. Hope Hollywood Ending meets Irma Vep and bites the dust :)
in order for Irva Vep to compete Clean would have to win over Morris
Morris will be very hard to beat. I’ve got all his films and they’re all great. Clean will have to knock me out to gain my vote over Mr. Death.
^Den’s right….because Clean doesn’t have an easy job competing against a highly powerful documentary.
(but i’ll leave that to the comments thread, hehe)
Yeah, one of the better of Morris’s films against one of the weaker of Assayas’, in my opinion.