What are some fast-paced films that are relatively decent, comprehensible (or shallow, if you prefer) and consist narratives? Ideally, these films will be able to attract the interest of teenagers and will allow them to be slowly brought over to elitist territories? Preferentially, some of these films are by well-renowned masters such as Godard (yeah I know, not going to happen) or Bergman (this is fantasy too).
(Drew and some of the STL! regulars might have heard of something of my scheming that this thread shall greatly aid me with. Thank you for your contribution!)
I think 3-Iron (Ki-duk Kim, 2004) would make an excellent transitional film. It teaches the viewer that a story can be told without the use of words, which can transition them into watching silent films.
The Fall (Tarsem Singh, 2008) can lead to, well, seeking films equally as beautiful.
Well, it would depend on what they like to watch already, I mean if they like violent stuff, Goodfella-y or Scarfaceish, then films like Cyclo or Army of Shadows or even something like Brotherhood of the Wolf could get them moving in the right direction. Often war movies work since they have some more or less universal attributes that translate well from one nation to another. Seven Samurai, Musa the Warrior, Kanal, Devils Doorstep kind of stuff might work in that way, also any of the good samurai films should work.
You could try directors like Clouzot with Diabolique or Wages of Fear, or Herzog with Aguirre or his version of Nosferatu or any good horror movie from Korea of Japan.
Of course if the people you are trying to hook don’t go for the violent stuff or scary stuff as much then you will have to seek other options.
Basically the trick is to find some films they really like and then top them. But when you show them new stuff you have to sell it, not like the stuff they like is crap and nowhere near as good as what you’ll show them, but more like “I think you might like this because it has x or does y and that really cool too.”
I talking from experience here since I was able to move a guy who’s favorite film was Friday the13th into a film junkie who would happily discuss Fred Astaire or Kwaidan with me and another guy who’s favorite film was Gone in 60 Seconds into a Ordet freak who now owns a couple thousand films, so it can be done.
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. The title will reel them in.
If these are teenaged viewers, I would recommend films that deal with young people, so that the age factor does not stand in the way of their interest. Having established interest and “identification” with the main characters, it becomes easier to lead them to the Promised Land of cinematic analysis and in-depth understanding. Don’t assume that teens can relate to any narrative.
I’ve had success with college freshmen showing
THE 400 BLOWS
RUN LOLA RUN
DO THE RIGHT THING
If they like comedy, esp. older stuff you should definitely try Jacques Tati.
I’m sorry Josh but I can’t imagine the average teenager sitting through Playtime.
Honestly I have played this game before and either there is interest or there isn’t. What kind of people are we dealing with? Average, or open minded?
I know the film that finally proved to a friend (no longer a friend) that not all B&W movies suck was Young Frankenstein. He still said it would have been better in color, because he couldn’t tell who was who at times, because everyone looks the same in B&W.
Then again if they have open minds and interest then just show them a variety of great films, but remember to start slowly. In the successful conversion of another friend to cinephilia I started with things like Vanishing Point, Escape from New York, and The Big Lebowski. Then we moved up to 2001, Five Easy Pieces, and Magnolia. Next was the big step with Rashomon and Persona. He loved them both (especially Persona). SUCCESS (tonight we are watching three Lynch movies including Inland Empire).
When I saw Seven Samurai in high school it instantly became my favorite film. Anyone who I’ve gotten to watch it has loved it. The trouble is trying to sell an over 3 hour black and white Japanese film.
I guess it all depends on what kind of a jump you’re talking about and what the films are the people watch already. How old are we talking? That will make a difference, as will your relationship with them and how much they are interested in seeing something new. Have you talked with them about film much? Excitement is contagious. If you can relate with some films they like currently and talk excitedly about those films with them it will be less of a stretch for them to be interested in seeing other films that you are interested in, and if you’re only trying to shift people into watching a better class of films from the US or other English speaking nations then you should be able to find some space to nudge them in the right direction.
Ucho or Chungking Express might work if they’ll deal with subtitles.
I was thinking Chungking Express, but I also think Fallen Angels would fare better. It has shooting, it has masturbation, what more do you want?
Drew: That’s why I was saying if you’ve got friends who like older comedies they might like Tati. I wouldn’t start out with Playtime though.
I would think The Third Man would do them some good; frankly, though, the reveal of Orson Welles might not be as awesome, simply because they might not know who Orson Welles is…
I would show teenagers Breathless, probably because, even with the twenty-five minute scene in the bedroom, it moves at a pace so freaking rapid. The only thing about it, though, is that it is very low on the “plot” level, which I’ve never, ever felt Godard was good at (he works better in relationships than plots). I don’t know, I guess that would be good.
Then, though, some people mentioned Chungking Express; I’m not sure that would be the best choice, especially concerning the latter portion fo the film. It simply takes a log, long time. Now, I enjoyed it, no doubt, but I could see some teens being turned off by it.
Oh, and, yes, The 400 Blows is a great one to show, I’m sure.
You could show them Following or Pi (which they’ve likely never seen, but they’ll relate to the directors) which are both great transitions into the discussion of early, indie, less-mainstream efforts from these directors, AND they’re in English and both fairly accessible, short, and entertaining.
Pi is good, but crazy; for me, it didn’t make a lot of sense, but I want to watch it again.
Hitchcock’s films could help. Also John Ford and Hawks.
Francisco: ‘Hitchcock’s films could help. Also John Ford and Hawks.’
The ‘gateway’ directors. ;)
I would say watch “The Proposition.” Plenty of violence. It might also get them to start listening to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, which is a plus.
My bad, I ignored the “fast-paced” criteria. I change my vote to Paul Verhoeven’s Black Book.
When I first read this post, I didn’t notice the “fast-paced” requirement. The films I recommended — THE GRADUATE, THE 400 BLOWS, RUN LOLA RUN, and DO THE RIGHT THING — are fairly fast-paced, especially RUN LOLA RUN, but you might want to consider MOULIN ROUGE. It’s message is trite and soppy but you can certainly introduce teens to the art of editing and music and set design and costuming, etc., using it.
If I had that assignment, I’d probably stick to my first four selections.
I stick by Fallen Angels.
My stepping-stones were the Coens followed by Lynch. The world opened up from there.
P.S. Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.
I am going to respond to each post individually because this matter is of much importance to me and I really appreciate all the effort all of you have put into your posts.
Firstly, for some context, this is a small class of teenagers (~4-6 people) so I have to try and generalise the recommendations as much as possible. Also, this will occur in a school, so excess violence or sex would run into problems.
I will look into 3-Iron and The Fall, both are films that I have been wanting to see for a long time but have not found. Chunking Express is one of the films that converted me and one that I have seen multiple times. it oozes with potential and I will definitely keep it in mind. Fallen Angels has two scenes of masturbation, so the light-hearted Chunking triumphs for now.
“Basically the trick is to find some films they really like and then top them.”
This indeed sounds like a very useful method.
We are talking ages 14-16 who have grew up and still only watch Hollywood films. As this is somewhat like a class, my personal relationship with them is nothing too close so I am trying to find ways to spread the excitement with intriguing/thought-provoking/exciting films that are out of the typical Hollywood mould. My hope is that at the end, they will be able to appreciate really abstract films but I know that it is not going to happen, so I will just take them boating and see how far I can go.
The Killing met with some success previously. Thanks for the recommendation. Hopefully the film is not too explicit.
Frank P. Tomasulo, Ph.D.:
Thank you for the suggestions. I had not thought about it from that perspective previously. The 400 Blows especially might be a good endeavour. All of the suggestions sound very good though, as they would coming from someone of your experience. Thanks for helping out.
More responses coming up soon. Thank you everyone, once again. I really appreciate the help.
The lack of much dialogue might be a problem. Also, much of the humour is charming but nothing really absurd or slapstick, the kind of humour that teenagers enjoy. Will keep it in mind though. Thanks for the contribution.
I suspect I will stumble upon average people although I will seek for them to be as open-minded as possible. Indeed, the B&W stigma is one that has to be resolved but you can shoot me for saying this I found Young Frankenstein rather unfunny (my brother disliked it too) thus am unsure whether it is due to our cultural context or something. Similarly, we disliked History of the World, Part 1.
Thanks for the suggestions, though I admit that I have not heard of Vanishing Point and Escape from New York and will check them out soon.
The length will indeed be a problem. Maybe shorter samurai films like Yojimbo?
Don’t think they will appreciate Ucho but Chungking Express is definitely on my list.
More responses when I get home. Thank you everyone!
I am not much of a fan of History of the World Part 1 either (or Blazing Saddles for that matter), but I love Young Frankenstein like a brother.
Escape from New York is a really cool John Carpenter movie that I’m sure they would love. Vanishing Point is a cool car chase movie that I too think they would enjoy. The point of those is to open up the idea that movies made before the 90s can be good too.
Law: Yeah, they aren’t perfect choices. I figured they’d be more likely than Godard and Bergman. Speaking of which, has anyone on here successfully ‘converted’ a non-cinephile to foreign films?
I think there was some underaged business there but since we always run short of time, short films are welcomed too.
Indeed, I am sure the reveal should be brilliant. The reveal was spoiled for me before I got to see it thus my difficulty judging the film. Will add it to the list now.
How fast is the pacing of Breathless actually, I wonder? After two watches, I have the impression that it is kind of slow because they are running around doing nothing and much of the film is made with the editing. Does the frantic editing help one to hold interest?
Ah, turned off by Faye Wong. A shame. The joke aside, Chungking worked for me and I am hoping the leitmotif works for them.
Josh Ryan again:
I think Pi might be a little too dark. It sure made my mother incredibly uncomfortable.
Francisco J. Torres:
Any particular suggestions?
More coming up later.
Gilliam – Brazil
Cronenberg – eXistenZ
Altman – Gosford park
Payne – Election
Hawks – Bringing up baby, His girl friday
Kubrick – The shining
Sayles – Lone star
Wilder – The apartment
Lynch – Mulholland drive
Coppola – The conversation
Sturges – Sullivan’s travels
Welles – Touch of Evil
Ford – The man who shot Liberty Valence
Lumet – 12 angry men
Not in English:
Kurosawa – High and low, Yojimbo
Dardennes – La promesse
Bunuel – The discreet charm of the bourgeoisie
Haneke – Funny games
Herzog – Aguirre, the wrath of God
Truffaut – Shoot the piano player
Demy – Les demoiselles de Rochefort
Tavernier – Clean slate
Visconti – Ossessione
Chabrol – La femme Infidele
Ozu – Ohayo
Ruiz – Comedy of innocence
Miller – Class trip
Panahi – The mirror
Verhoeven – The 4th man
Depending on the age of the teenagers, some films may not be appropriate (according to their parents…)