Matt, thanks — I’ll be interested to read your comments. I do think that one of the more engaging things about Olivier’s performances as Hamlet and Richard is the way he keeps the verbal barbs and gets all he can out of them. His scenes with Polonius in HAMLET are great fun, and the whole performance of Richard is too. Indeed, I think he probably goes a little too far with the comedy in RICHARD III, undermining the villainy to an extent. That gorgeous little look on his face after admitting to spreading a plot that “G of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be,” as if he can’t believe anyone would be dumb enough to buy it, is a joy. And that little scene in King Edward’s bedchamber when he makes gloriously funny mock apology (""Tis death to me to be at emnity. I hate it!") to everyone for the great insults he heaped upon them earlier gets that great capper — “I thank my God for my humility.” I think he gets all the comedy anyone could get out of them.
His Henry V is another matter — he doesn’t get nearly as much chance for fun. The big scene with the French princess is about as far as it goes, but there are glimmers.
I do wish that Olivier had made a film of one of the comedies — he’d have made a wonderful Benedick, I think.
>>I would substitute Anarchy with chaos.<<
What’s the difference?
A fair point. Complete unabashed anarchy and chaos are the same thing.
I was referring to Anarcho-Socialism but that’s another story…
Well I’d like to have this discussion sometime, but in a thread about humor it’s misplaced:
Anarchy is not chaos. At all.
And if you think that sounds like I’m going to start quoting lengthy entries of misread Noam Chomsky to defend an anarchist state, realize that I actually respect chaos.
To be discussed somewhere else.
I really want the full story on this Polaris, so I set up a thread in Off Topic. Hope you’ll expand on this there.
Don’t understand the criticism directed against Kubrick: I find more humor in his later stuff every time I watch it… THE SHINING, FULL METAL JACKET, and especially EYES WIDE SHUT. Dude had a wicked sense of humor about the incapability of human folly.
In the strict sense, Polaris is right, the word anarchy comes from the Greek anarchíā which means something along the lines of “without ruler,” chaos from the Greek khaos, which literally means an abyss, but came, poetically, to mean “the primeval emptiness of the Universe” and therefore it became a paired opposite, with khaos opposed to kosmos, the ordered universe . . . but there’s been a great deal of semantic drift over time, hence the words being used more or less synonymously.
I’d say my old stand-by Michael Mann is one of the most straight-faced filmmakers. Which is not to say there aren’t funny moments in his films.
“I think Requiem for a Dream took itself too seriously”
Well, it is after all a requiem. The form is not known for its whimsy.
David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, Micheal mann and Aronofski seriously suffer from lack of sense of humour.
its only christopher Nolan who can contort a comic story to cheap philosophy.
I find Fincher’s Fight Club and The Social Network, and I suppose even in a very dark way, Seven and The Game, very funny.
“After watching Your Highness I would be tempted to add David Gordon Green to the list.”
Perhaps it would have helped to increase your own highness before watching it, Greg (???)
what about Cronenberg? I’ve watched interviews with him and he doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously, but none of his films come to mind with comedic properties.
how would you label a director like that?
Cronenberg, I think, is an interesting case. He’s definitely got a sense of humor, but it’s pretty . . . oblique. It’s more apparently is some of his shorts (From the Drain, for example).
Cronenberg has an odd sense of humor but his films are often quite funny.
The only answers so far that I agree with 100% are Bresson and Tarkovsky. Maybe I haven’t seen enough Tarkovsky, but Bresson (and don’t get me wrong here because Bresson is one of my favorite directors) isn’t even remotely humorous.
i thought we were talking about lack of sense of humour as a negetive point. yes, there is no humour in Tarkovski, Bresson, dreyer, Mizoguchi and many others. but that`s not a negetive point for them.
I think Cronenberg is hilarious.
Am I a healthy individual?
Yeah, I think one of the keys to THE FLY is that Goldblum gets to ride the line between a total tragedy of accelerated decrepitude and…some incredibly extreme, intense, abstract, weird, next-level physical comedy. The shtick he developed for that movie is really unlike anything else I’ve ever seen, and one of the great performances for it. Most of Cronenberg’s movies up till that point have some funny stuff in them. And NAKED LUNCH a little later on is no exception. Probably the most dead-pan pitch-black comedy I can think of.
Fincher too…I’d view him as a comedian and entertainer predominantly, intentionally. Though this doesn’t apply to ALIEN 3, and I haven’t seen BENJAMIN BUTTON (and don’t recall a lot of verve in PANIC ROOM, for that matter).
I guess Cronenberg’s films can be perceived as dark/bleak comedies. I can’t find the interview but a press member asks him why he’s never made a comedy and his response was to the likes of “all I make are comedies”
if i find the interview i’ll post it.
However in actuality i can’t think of any of Cronenberg’s films that lend themselves to comedy (granted i haven’t seen Naked Lunch in years) his more recent work with Viggo is very bleak, as is his “body horror” trilogy. Crash was also. I can see where the ridiculousness of Spider or EXistenZ could be seen as humorous but then again they could be taken very differently…
i’ll be on the look out for that Cronenberg interview. It was from this year and it was at a film fest (maybe London?)
Cronenberg is hilarious. Bresson and Tarkovsky, though serious, have each had humour in each film. Yes! There is not one humourless film.
Naked Lunch is incredibly funny.
Polaris mentioned Solonitsyn’s dwarf in Solaris. The jester in Andrei Rublev.
Bresson at his unhappiest had a wicked (best word for it) sense of humour, whereas A Man Escaped had practically no humour. Charles in The Devil, Probably is as darkly humorous as it gets (reading the magazine, giving Alberte the chocolates, his devil may care badassery). Four Nights is laugh-out-loud funny. Even L’Argent is humorous: Lucien, Martial mugging at one of the store owners.
If anyone says a film is humourless, you can bet it’s them with no sense for humour. They must be incredibly insensitive because no film is humourless except for films like Mothlight which still suggests a playfulness. You cold robots!
Brentos, hope you find that interview…would love to see that.
I think that Cronenberg’s collaborations with DP Peter Suschitzky from DEAD RINGERS onward have yielded a progressively restrained and muted visual style that has grown to be the overarching emphasis of his films rather than the earlier morbid humor that shone through the mind-bending gore and its resultant bodily politics. Moments of humor in EASTERN PROMISES and EXISTENZ, but almost nothing I can think of in A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE or SPIDER (while I’m thinking of it, SPIDER / MARNIE double feature anyone?).
“whereas A Man Escaped had practically no humour.”
The two prisoners pacing, holding their muted conversation in brief regulated intervals/spaces when they arrive at the bars of the window. A minimalist pun on the whole subterfuge clause of prison escape cinema, as well as sufficiently replacing it.
“David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, Micheal mann and Aronofski seriously suffer from lack of sense of humour.”
Fincher is unarguable. His commentaries on Fight Club make clear on no uncertain terms that he considers it a comedy, and really responded mostly to the comedic elements of the original text rather than it’s perverse self-seriousness. Now Chucky P does have a sense of humor himself, and the humor Fincher finds in Fight Club is there, but Pahluniuk’s main problem is that he does not seem to know, at least as far as I can see, that his humor is pretty much the only part of his work worth a damn.
Nolan I think I have already covered here, but again: “Am I chasing him or is he chasing me? BANG Oh, I guess he’s chasing me.” I tend to find the issue with Nolan is that people take him too seriously, not the other way around. Whereas that sounds like a criticism of his fans, it’s actually a criticism of his critics. His humor in some cases is dry, but even his most self-serious fans tend to know when he’s having a laugh, based on what I’ve seen from audiences during theatrical presentations.
Mann: the reveal in Manhunter of the room nearly painted in blood—all the shock and gore an audience ostensibly wants, with a deadpan detachment and an anticlimactic reaction of the investigator summing up a “So this is what you were here for, wasn’t it horror buffs? Anyway, that took quite a bit of red paint. Moving on…”
Aronofsky more than covered.
“Serious in a good way”
Tarkovsky and Bresson covered.
Dreyer I am going to have to look again, but I remember some reaction shots in Passion of Joan of Arc struck me as purposefully amusing. Most of them are, of course, the judgment of the group against Joan, but in some of them they seem to reverse and become a judgment of the audience for watching Joan.
Mizoguchi, man, maybe I’m wrong but I find much of Ugetsu to be hilarious. I mean, it is a dark and purposeful work abiding by some serious introspection especially re: treatment of women, but the male fantasy in the palace and the ironic results of every characters’ aspirations go beyond just sobering satire and sometimes in their own way become whimsy. A boy wanting to be a samurai, his friend wanting to play rich and coddled! Then everyone dies and it’s all their fault! Hahahahah! Oh.
And seriously I don’t understand how Cronenberg’s sense of humor could even be up for debate. Even with what is being said of his recent stuff. Eastern Promises’ nude fight, for instance, to me felt like both a winking joke on and official indictment of the masculinary sexual pleasure of watching action movies to see ripped men do some heavy physical work. It was also one of the most beautiful sex scenes I’ve ever seen shot, raw and realistic and penetrating. Counter-point with Von Trier’s opening sequence in Antichrist : real sexual penetration, and you still get the feeling like Von Trier has never pleasured a person before.
Of course there’s humour in Mizoguchi films.
The silhouetted pussycat stealing the wig in Oharu.
Kyo Machiko’s delightful dance in Ugetsu
The vicious bite in A Geisha/Gion Festival Music
Kyo Machiko in Street of Shame, e.g giving her hypocritical dad what for
The tickling scene in Miss Oyu
The series of humorous mishaps in the expressionist jewel theft silent Blood and Sand
the charming courtship in Taira Clan, and the monks aghast as the palanquin is shot at
the children’s comedy of Turkeys in a Row
the comedies Money, A Man’s Life, Man of the Moment
Yamaji Fumiko making him sweat by nonchalantly smoking a cig in Straits of Love and Hate
With Tarkovsky there’s the little jig down the corridor in Mirror, the fall in Nostalghia.
With Bresson there was his early slapstick comedy Public Affairs (though not among his best, imo)
I’m not sure Antonioni usually has a sense of humor in his films (not counting Blow Up).