THE DIRECTORS’ CUP 2010 : ROUND 2, MATCH 1 VOTING
New participants are most welcome and allowed to vote in the match-ups
On this thread voting will be on Match 1, Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line) vs Šarūnas Bartas (Few Of Us). The other matches in Round 2 will each be getting their own threads.
The extended voting period for this match lasts until 1am BST (12am GMT) on Sunday 30th August, which means that users will have over 48 hours in order to publish their votes. The world map which lists all current time zones can be found on www.worldtimezone.com, so that everyone can be up to date about how much time is left.
After the voting period is over the votes will be counted and the results published. The next match will begin at approximately 1am BST (12am GMT) on Sunday 29th August.
The current match-ups can be found on: http://directorscup.lifeasfiction.com/
Each user can vote on any match as long as he/she has watched both films that are lined-up against each other. An explanation for the preference in each case would be greatly appreciated. Team managers are not allowed to vote on matches their own team participates in. The voting should be handled like this:
Film A 1 (or 0) – Film B 0 (or 1)
Please mark the winning film/score in large or heavy print.
PLEASE NOTE: IF YOU DO NOT NAME BOTH FILMS IN YOUR POST YOUR VOTE WILL NOT BE COUNTED
The match you´re going to vote for on this thread is:
Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line) vs Šarūnas Bartas (Few Of Us)
Managed by Cecil Will Burchett and Blue K respectively
If you have not seen The Thin Red Line, you can do so here
The password is mubi
If you have not see Few Of Us, you can do so here
Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line) 0 – Šarūnas Bartas (Few Of Us) 1
Some comments reposted from the “voting secrets” thread:
Just watched Few of Us and I’m blown away. Again, simplicity and focus over beign too broad. This is why it should win over The Thin Red Line.
I also was watching some of the long close ups in Few of Us and thinking about why they were so engaging when I found a film full of close ups, Les hautes solitudes, one of the least engaging films I’ve ever seen. It’s all about my favorite words “context” and “contrast”. In Les hautes solitudes there is no real context. I mean there is a context, but not beyond what you see. There is no story being put together for you to imagine. There is no contrast either. All the shots are so similar. In Few of Us we get the grand vistas of nature mixed with the poor and simple lives of these people, often in the same shot. But even when we cut to closeups, we know the context. Ah, stunning!
Few of Us
Few of Us worked better for me than Corridor for some reason. Perhaps it’s just because the film’s set mostly outside, perhaps it’s because the long silent sections are really taken to an extreme here but also it’s perhaps it’s because there’s a mystery character that we’re a little more intrigued with and really are interested in knowing what she’s thinking.
Who is she? Where did she come from? What’s she doing here? And, of course, why does she seem so comfortable to be in this barren, silent landscape. Perhaps, she doesn’t speak the same language as those around her, but I get the feeling that she’s escaped some past traumas to be in this old man’s hut without the need to speak.
Out of the frying pan into the fire, perhaps. This reality is no less brutal than the one I imagine she left behind. Perhaps more so.
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. There are no good answers forthcoming, but there is plenty to muse upon. More so than Corridor, which, I feel, invited us only to watch and perhaps feel.
I watched the documentary Army of One before this, hoping to get a little insight into the man before trying another of his films (didn’t get much from it, though). Sharunas Bartas… Who are you? What are you trying to achieve? There’s something altogether strange about this man and his films that intrigues and yet infuriates me.
I think I mentioned in The Corridor match that Bartas, on paper, makes films that should be exactly what I enjoy in cinema. But for some reason the result is something different. I note that his latest movie features people talking and stuff, so by the time I figure him out, he’ll have already moved on. The mark of a great artist if ever I saw one.
The Thin Red Line
Ah. Talking of great artists. Here’s another one. Terrance Malick will probably suffer in this match, due to his film being in English, being, ostensibly, a one-sided ‘war’ movie and featuring a bunch of cameos. In 30 years time, the cinephile youth will rediscover The Thin Red Line without intimate knowledge of George Clooney’s eyebrows and appreciate the film on a different level.
The Thin Red Line is a beautiful, disturbing piece on the destruction of nature by man and the psychological effect of this destruction on the men involved. In this respect, it’s not at all one-sided. Each side suffers; each side is part of some greater unstoppable force controlling their destiny.
The highlight scene, in which man faces, not each other, but one big, angry mountain really needs to be experienced on the big screen in 35mm (65mm?) and not Youtube. It’s a long scene, which finally climaxes with nature retreating into fog for the finale and man finally getting to kill each other hand-to-hand without any trees getting in the way.
Creating an ‘art’ movie when you’re supposed to be looking after the studio’s millions, coordinating exciting battle scenes with hundreds of extras and highlighting George Clooney’s beautiful teeth is quite a daring move which is perhaps why the balance between Hollywood caricatures and ‘deep, arty shots of trees’ is a little off-putting at first. Certainly The New World is more successful, where I imagine everyone had a better idea of the kind of films Terrance Malick makes. Yeah, there was Days of Heaven to look back on, but really, that was a long time ago. People have short memories.
So, that leaves me with the problem of how to vote. Well, having seen two Sharunas Bartas films, I’m happy to pursue his films further without the need of this competition to aid me. I’ve also seen all of Terrance Malick’s films, so don’t really want him cluttering up the later rounds.
How does one vote in this round anyway? ‘For the film’ is the easy answer, but kind of negates the discoveries of the previous round. I like both these films anyway. And I voted against both directors last time.
I think Few of Us represents a progression from Corridor, addressing some of what I perceived to be shortcomings in that film. It’s also unmistakably the work of one man’s artistic vision and, although repeating the ‘no dialogue’ format, isn’t a simple repetition of The Corridor. However, I don’t really perceive the Thin Red Line to be as compromised as some critics have claimed and I think it’s pretty much what Malick intended it to be. It’s quite a triumph for a big budget Hollywood film that inevitably some suits would perceive to be ‘cashing in’ on Saving Private Ryan.
I could go either way here. But judging from recent comments, I think the Thin Red Line needs my vote more than I thought it would.
The Thin Red Line 1 vs Few of Us 0
Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line) 1 – Šarūnas Bartas (Few Of Us) 0
This is certainly the most scathing interpretation of human society I’ve seen in a while, and on top of that a well-done war film. It’s a very telling example of what a “citizen army” is.
Few of Us was good, but lacked a little something to make me change my mind about how great Terrence Malick is.
It looks like it’s gonna be an interesting match.
Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line) – 0 vs Šarūnas Bartas (Few Of Us) – 1
This is the hardest decision for me so far. I think the Tati vs Ivens match is the only other where I rated both films five stars.
Although the absence of dialogue makes the Bartas film very ambiguous, I am giving my vote to it based on the stunning visuals. As this is just my second Bartas, I am not sure whether the purposeful lack of dialogue is a trademark in his other works. Perhaps Blue can speak to this. It is obvious that cinematography, close-ups, careful framing, are the devices he uses here to tell the story. However, without dialogue or context to the characters, it is difficult to tell what is going on – at least, for me on one viewing.
Still, it is a clear winner here for me over The Thin Red Line which just fell flat for me when I saw it a few years back. I thought the story and treatment rather conventional. I have yet to be entirely won over by Malick. Even though his films often look gorgeous, he leaves me in the end cold and indifferent to his characters and stories – especially true in this film. This film left no lasting impression – never a good sign, for me.
I can’t muster that much enthusiam for either film, quite frankly, but will stick with Bartas.
I prefer the humble portrayal of rustic, natural lifestyle to the over-indulgent, over-exposed philosophy of Malick.
Few of Us brought me to the places in the film much like the Vlaci’s Adelheid. Both depict a moment in the midst of something so large that we can hardly judge the characters in their situations, we can only observe.
The Thin Red Line (0) vs Few of Us (1)
The Thin Red Line — 1 vs Few of Us — 0
Bartas’ film didn’t quite “click” with me. However, despite not “clicking,” I’m able to appreciate his film. Few of Us asks us to empathize with the characters intellectually instead of emotionally, leading us to think about the characters in relation to their larger social context. Despite not focusing on this larger context, Bartas’ style inherently lends itself to social realism. Bartas’ style is that of minimalism. He uses mostly static compositions, held for a long time, without much action taking place within the frame. Ironically, despite being a dialogueless film, sound is very important. Because there is usually no non-diegetic sound (with a few exceptions which I’m not sure I like), the routine sounds of the people’s existence become prominent, adding to the “realistic” quality of the film.
The minimalist realism is found in both the context of the village and lives of the characters. Not only does Bartas show us long shots of the squalid town, but also long-held closeups of hard-worn, wizened faces, their difficult life etched onto their face. Whether it’s the labored breathing of the old man, with his deep wrinkles and yellowed eyes, or the nearly toothless old woman, we are reminded that life is difficult there. I don’t know any of the context surrounding the film (such as the setting), so I have no idea how it relates historically or politically. Another question I had was how the violence relates to the film as a whole; I simply don’t see how it fits in.
Despite my appreciation of Few of Us, I still like Malick’s film more. TTRL is one of the best war movies I’ve seen, asking us to both through the philosophical VO and camerawork, to explore the reasons why we so often are involved in violence. The montage between images of war and nature explores how creative and destructive impulses are simultaneously at work within human action.
I can’t believe I just accidentally erased my comments. What a bonehead. They were really good, too.
I never thought I would have to vote against Malick. I do have my qualms with TRL, but they are very minor (mostly pacing). However, I was once again floored by Bartas’ directing abilities.
Incommunicability vs. internal monologue. Malick makes better use of silences.
Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line) 1 – vs Šarūnas Bartas (Few Of Us) 0
Terrence Malick- 1, Sarunas Bartas- 0
The Thin Red Line 1 – Few of Us 0
Šarūnas Bartas’s Interview (for those who are interested). Two movies worth looking at.
Does anyone know a good way to see Bartas films in the US, other than Youtube? The one Bartas movie I’ve seen I really liked. His movies just aren’t available anywhere here.
Few Of Us looks to me like a Bruegel painting. I’m new to Bartas but a quick flick through has wet my appetite to watch it at a more convenient time.
tied 7- 7
Few Of Us floored me. It really did. I mean, each shot of that opening sequence is so loaded with meaning I could just spit! Seriously. I wanted to cry, it was so good. That Bartas managed to keep my interest up throughout a movie during which nothing really happens for the majority of the duration is an amazing feat. It was so good, in fact, that I strongly considered voting for it without re-watching The Thin Red Line. But, I decided that doing so would be unfair.
On second viewing, the masterpiece status of Malick’s “war” movie became even more cemented in my mind. Aside from the gorgeous cinematography and the lyrical nature of the screenplay, the use of sound in the film really stood out to me this time around. This one was so beautiful, I actually did cry. So, sorry Sarunas, but Malick beat you fair and square this time. With another film, it might not have been so.
As an aside, this is my last vote before I leave for vacation for a week, and between vacation, studying for the GRE (grad. school entrance exam, for those not in the know), and working on a translation of Molière’s play Tartuffe for a future production that I’m dramaturging, I’m afraid I haven’t had much time for watching the films of the second round. I know I only vote sporadically as it is, but this has been such a fantastic opportunity to see new (and mostly amazing) films, and I’m particularly saddened that I can’t take more advantage of it this round. So I just wanted to give a great big THANKS to all the organizers and all the managers for taking the time to put this on. And thanks to all the voters for providing such great perspectives on the films in competition.
Long live the Directors’ Cup!
The Thin Red Line (Malick) – 0 / Few of Us (Bartas) – 1
Few of Us is absolutely hypnotic. Bartas’ flow of images… his very careful, tonemaking use of sound… the landscapes juxtaposed with the weatherbeaten, crumpled faces… it’s truly a sublime film, although I think I still slightly preferred The Corridor (for many of the same reasons – this is a director I need to see more from).
The Thin Red Line has its appeal, but I still find it too unevenly paced and rather too long. I prefer Malick’s more pared-down work.
Good luck with the GRE, Dan ( . . .you were supposed to study for that thing?).
@Dan: Good luck on the GRE, let me know if you need any help on your translation (I’m actually doing a minor in French Literature). I have to agree with you, I’m constantly floored by the finds I’ve made here through the Directors Cup. The vote doesen’t carry much weight for me, but it’s always a great pleasure to hear what people think of these films. Without the Cup, 90% of these oppinions would never be expressed.
The Thin Red Line -1 / Few of Us – 0
The Thin Red Line is a problem film I would not have wanted to miss. Sequences quickly turn from brilliant to pedestrian and vice-versa. One moment it’s as visceral and involving as any war movie I’ve seen, and in the next, it becomes a laughable parody of that that kind of film.
Let’s start with what’s good. After a 20-year absence Terrence Malick’s ability to capture the beauty and danger of natural vistas remains unsurpassed. Likewise the battle scenes, particularly the extended sequence of the taking of the Guadalcanal hill, have the intensity of the great war movies. In short, what Malick does with his camera is spellbinding. Thematically, it’s also fresh. Unlike that same year’s Saving Private Ryan (which I still prefer), this is not really a World War II film. The idea that war is an affront to nature is not a commentary on any particular war, but a way to look at war itself as an abhorrent deficiency in human nature.
What doesn’t work? If ever a film was hurt by an overabundance of star power, it’s this one. Of the actors who were names at the time, only Nick Nolte gives an actual performance instead of an appearance. John Travolta, Sean Penn, Woody Harrelson and George Clooney are all distractions that took me out of the film. Harrelson was a particular problem as his death scene came off as just goofy. There was a lot of over-stylized overacting throughout and dialogue that I can only describe as Lucas-like in its literal obviousness. The apocalyptic narration, which only worked in Days of Heaven due to the quirkiness of the narrator, is here divided among characters and generally undercuts the drama.
Sarunas Bartas’ Few of Us is another entry in the minimalist genre of which I’d seen none prior to this year, but have now seen six. In order of my favorite to least: Werckmeister Harmonies, Liverpool, Damnation, Silent Light, Few of Us and Fantasma. Minimalist seems like a succinct way to refer to these films with very slow (a description, not a criticism) pacing and long takes in which observation creates effect in place of action or dialogue. I’m curious in anyone has a better name for this genre.
Part of my general philosophy on film is that all aspects, be it visuals or editing or whatever, should be in service of the narrative. I realize this is a controversial viewpoint, but it’s where I’m coming from (I don’t like Un Chien Andalou, for instance.) In the case of the first three films I mentioned, I do find that minimalism serves the narrative and allowed me entrance into their worlds. Not so much in the other three.
That leads to a sincere question. What is Bartas trying to say with Few of Us? There’s no question of the visual power of the Lithuanian wilderness. Nature is again beautifully on display. A sustained close up of a very old man is also striking as the camera captures every wrinkle and crevasse. But to what end? I’m fine with non-conventional narrative, but I’d like something to be conveyed beyond pure environment. If we are not meant to know who the young girl is, we should at least be allowed enough information to understand what she symbolizes.
Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line) – 0 vs Šarūnas Bartas (Few of Us) – 1
The Thin Red Line – 0 vs. Few of Us – 1
Excited to get round two off and running. Sorry I don’t have much to say here. I vastly preferred the Bartas film, and I hope to see what else he’s got up his sleeve in the next round.
Well, from me, hehe:
Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line) 0 vs Šarūnas Bartas (Few Of Us) 1
You know, I do love Malick even if it’s the second time I’m voting against him. I remember I watched Thin Red Line a second time a few years back to make sure I was amazed by it when I saw it in my teens and that I wasn’t watching “another war movie”. I was right….because behind all this star glamour and the empirical stillness, Malick’s “Hollywood” approach stands out by miles from other directors working in that system nowadays.
That’s something for sure but I just can’t let him pass against a once again meditative and distinct Bartas essence! Few of Us is not apocalyptic with the cryptic sense of the word but you feel that decay in the air, this downfall and cremation of men, soon to be eating each other’s flesh and not even a woman will change things as they are (in spite of the tribal allegory here, the end of times seems an appropriate theme, no?)
So yeah, sorry Malick but for a second time, Bartas has to win this, if only because I don’t think that it has any point of letting Malick go with film repeats!
Sanjuro, I’m still not really sure what you mean by this….
“And I voted against both directors last time.”
Haha. Well, I’ll meet a few of those examples soon enough, so I’ll let you know then Sanjuro ;)
Does ever one of Bartas’ films have to have a sad, impoverished, single-instrument dance party in a shack?