Assassination (1964, Masahiro Shinoda): The film gives little reason to keep up with its narrative complexity: I had no emotional ties to the film or what happened in it (apart from, possibly, with Oren’s character with her scenes being probably the most interesting bit of the film), and it didn’t give me much of an insight into its main character. I found it to mainly be dry recitation of history, admittedly done with some beautiful images and a good dose of appropriate style. 6/10
At Sea (2007, Peter Hutton): The birth, life and death of a container ship. Each of the three sections has a distinct effect; the building of the monstrosity which seems to transcend what we humans should be capable of, the voyage in which endless sea renders the ship as ant-like as the humans in the first section, the human element in the final section as they scavenge the wasting beached vessels. The film’s silence adds impact to the images that appear on screen, and the whole thing is beautiful, poetic and captivating. 9.5/10
Goodbye, Dragon Inn second watch (2003, Tsai Ming-liang): On a rewatch I can’t rank this as one of my very favourite Tsai films (my favourites at present being The Hole, What Time Is It There? and The Wayward Cloud), but it is still a brilliant piece of filmmaking that is in awe of the power of cinema. 9/10
I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone (2006. Tsai Ming-liang): Hard to get in to, both due to it lacking Tsai’s usual humour and also due to how undefined and vague the characters are compared to his usual films. These aren’t necessarily bad things, but they do mean I’ll have to see this film again before being sure of how much I like it (and the closing 15 minutes show that this film very much deserves to be seen again). 8/10
Face (2009. Tsai Ming-liang): Will almost certainly improve with rewatches as, being Tsai’s most personal film, it’s a rich maze of ideas and strange disparate scenes that will take a while to unravel. Prismatically beautiful and with some great songs and moments of humour. Themes include loss, insecurity and the difference between the image people have of you and the reality of who you actually are. 8/10
TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE — original
A great American movie, tense and exciting but warm and alive in ways that no film by Christopher Nolan has ever been. Splendid in every way, great pop filmmaking.
hard to rate — I like this film less with each viewing.
PLAYTIME — Tati
The glorious Criterion Blu-ray, an astonishment — new things reveal themselves with each viewing.
I saw a couple of European films at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival —
IL FUOCO (The Flame) — an Italian film, part of a genre I hadn’t heard of until recently, the Diva Film, which apparently, on the evidence of IL FUOCO, largely consists of movies about devilish women destroying the men unlucky enough to come into their webs. A pretty silly film overall, but done with some conviction and a couple moments of wit. The story centers on a successful poetess who ensnares a young painter in her web of eroticism and desire and all that. The film seems to take itself quite seriously, which the presenters of the film didn’t seem to catch on to — the film’s intertitles were all in Italian, which meant that an announcer had to read English translations, and unfortunately the announcer went for full overheated hilarity, reading titles like “Burn me with your passion!” for full laugh-getting camp. I kept thinking that there had to be more to the film than I was seeing, but it was pretty simple and straightforward: a subplot involving a rather daring painting of the Diva went nowhere.
THE BLIZZARD — a Swedish silent film by Mauritz Stiller, the man credited with discovering Garbo. A problem film in many ways, not least of which is the fact that only about 73 minutes of the film exists, so what was clearly a long and elaborate feature is now only fragments. There’s enough left to get a good idea of the story, but there’s just too much missing for it to work as anything other than a curiosity. A shame. If a full length version is ever found, it could rival Stiller’s earlier film GOSTA BERLING’S SAGA for good solid storytelling.
THE WOMAN MEN YEARN FOR — directed by Kurt Bernhardt and starring Marlene Dietrich. Beautifully made and well acted, but ultimately just not very interesting tale of passion desire bloodshed and death, Dietrich playing a tantalizing woman of mystery who might or might not be quite what she seems — ho hum. I have to admit that these movies about people driven mad with desire for somebody generally leave me cold — only Pabst’s PANDORA’S BOX has ever made me see why people are killing each other over the person in question. This one is of interest largely because it showcases Marlene Dietrich before her association with Josef von Sternberg, and it is fascinating to see her persona largely already in place.
IN A BETTER WORLD
DIR Susanne Bier
A bit of a letdown to be honest, but a cryfest for me nonetheless..I gave it a 3 (out of 5)
I love the original Taking of Pelham. The casting, direction and score are just about perfect. Can’t see how they could have done any better with the material they were given (and the script is pretty solid, too).
THE GALLANT HOURS (1960) was on THIS TV this morning. James Cagney played Admiral William “Bull” Halsey in a biopic centered around the Guadalcanal campaign at the end of 1942. Not your standard war flick as it centered on high command and strategy and the leaders’ instead of the soldiers’ viewpoint. I don’t think there was a single battle scene. It was Cagney’s last starring role, and I found it interesting and effective. Understated, but a good war movie. 7/10
The Green Ray – 4.0/10
The Soft Skin – 8.0/10
Aw, The Green Ray is my second favourite film ever at the moment :(
The Tin Drum 8.5/10
Hands Over the City
Dir. Francesco Rosi
I liked this quite a bit—a kind of realistic social commentary with touches of Capra (De Vita as a kind of Mr. Smith). I need to check out more of Rosi’s films.
The Green Mile:
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,
Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Those red glowing eyes are haunting. Even having seen the image on a poster, that pre-credit stare left me slackjawed. The vivid imagery is somehow also subdued. The theological grounding is both intriguing and oblique. It will most likely take repeated viewings to come to terms with them and I can see the film growing on me as it reveals more layers.
Dog Day Afternoon: 8.5/10
Source Code (Director: Duncan Jones)
a fun, breezy thriller. A lot of people seem to not like the ending, which is similar to the ending of Jones’ groundbreaking debut “Moon”. I liked both movies quite a bit and the ending doesn’t bother me.
Peeping Tom 9/10
Based on the first half I might have given it a 10, but I felt it ended a bit too easily. The Red Shoes ended a bit too easily also. I’m noticing a pattern.
It seemed like the director thought “Everybody knows childhood trauma leads to emotional problems, right?” and felt he didn’t have to elaborate on his condition any further than that.
Dir. Woody Allen
One of the films I’ve seen the most times. I still enjoyed the film for the most part, but I think I’ve grown tired of Woody Allen’s film persona. Given that fact, how should I rate the film—because, if I factor that in, my rating would be a lot lower (say, a 77, instead of a 85). However, part of my less enthusiastic reaction stems from having heard the jokes so many times before. I think expecting jokes to be funny no matter how many times you’ve heard or seen them is a bit unfair.
The other thing I noticed is Diane Keaton’s performance. For some reason, I used to feel her acting wasn’t so strong, but now I feel the exact opposite. I think she’s solid, if not terrific, in this and Annie Hall.
days and nights in the forest (1970)
d. satyajit ray
the film is an effortless lyrical masterpiece recalling renoir’s partie de campagne. and i’d be willing to bet wes anderson saw this before making the darjeeling limited too
There are those who say that while tragedy remains tragic, comedy is only funny at the time. I think once you get to the point where you know all of the jokes, they’re done being funny.
The Celebration (Festen) 7.5 / 10
The Mechanic (remake). Garbage.. don’t watch. 0/10.
Dir. Robert Schwentke
Here’s a film that needed to be sillier and over-the-top. It was played the script too straight—not that there was much to the story or characters. Snazzier direction could have helped (say, someone like Tony Scott). Boring.
I think once you get to the point where you know all of the jokes, they’re done being funny.
So, can there be such a thing as a timeless comedy? In one sense, an older comedy that is funny for someone seeing it now for the first time could be considered a timeless comedy. On other hand, if an individual has seen a comedy multiple times and no longer thinks the film is funny, can we still consider that film timeless?
To some extent, horror and suspense films are like this, too.
My personal feeling is to still consider these films could even if the impact is lessened after repeated viewing.
>>On other hand, if an individual has seen a comedy multiple times and no longer thinks the film is funny, can we still consider that film timeless?<<
Jazz, I don’t think the film should be blamed for this as what you describe could not be more natural. I happen to think the “Springtime for Hitler” sequence in The Producers is the funniest scene I’ve ever seen. Upon first viewing (in a college theater), I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. Obviously, when I see that sequence for the 40th time, I’m not goung to have that same reaction. I’ll continue to judge the film based on the initial reaction it brought out in me. After all, the film didn’t change. I did.
I basically agree with everything you say. On the other hand, would the rationale apply to dramas or other types of movies? In some ways, great dramas—specifically the great dramatic moments in the film—doesn’t seem to diminish to the same degree that great comedic or suspenseful moments diminish after repeated viewing. Why is that? Does that imply that dramas have more substance or that they are superior to comedies, horror/suspense films? (An answer just occurred to me: I think comedy and suspense depend more on surprise, which won’t be there on repeated viewings.)