Displaying all 16 comments
Soderbergh's Decade over 3 years ago
I’m not sure why there’s a debate over Jia Zhang ke and Soderbergh, because they do the same thing in their respective countries. (For the following reasons)
Jarmusch does need to be congratulated for his 1984 initiation for public awareness of the indie, and certainly a member of a younger voice in American independent cinema, but then if we look beyond the 90s, we could always say that Rob Nilsson’s work is important, everyone’s going to bring up Cassavetes, or Chaplin, but the point is that all of these people are able to utilize contemporary production modes in new ways to address a point of view and use of cinematic techniques that imply a new socio-political approach to the form. Anyone can make a film feel good, but it’s these people that use the plastics of film to advance it’s ability to convey ideas in a new way. It’s the analysis of a area of culture, with these points of view that make Soderbergh more notable versus Christopher Nolan. While Nolan’s film may seem more pleasing upon viewing, Soderbergh’s is doing more when analyzing the socio-political approach towards film’s pieces -that’s what’s so amazing about what he’s doing with red, with his elliptical editing, and that’s what makes Ocean’s Twelve so fascinating -is that he’s applying some very strong technique that is very political, yet it feels so fun -something that Nolan does only as a gimmick, but, unfortunately, does not run as deep.
Who is the greatest screenwriter? about 1 year ago
I agree about Rohmer’s talent -although it seems his work is so much stronger in it’s ability to transcend the miss en abyme more than others in a way that is primal in its emotions, rather than the cerebral attack of other brilliant writers like Odets or Chayefsky or G. b. Shaw?
But how about the Epsteins, we wouldn’t have “the Coens” without them (or without the Boulting bros, for that matter).
Or perhaps the brilliance of concept and the discovery of new boundaries in Cronenberg.
The Joy of Film about 1 year ago
I’m unclear why there are only photos in the “Joy of Film” thread, when joy is an experience, not an image that’s created before the experience (unless your experience was in making that image). Am I wrong, but shouldn’t there be more conveyance of experience in this thread? While I love some of these images, shifting through stills does not seem to be about the joy of film, especially since film is about time or is silver-covered gelatin thread.
The future of film? about 1 year ago
While there have been new developments in motion picture film stocks (better granular structure and chemical processing), Kodak has not made profit one year in the last eight years. While they have decreased production of 16mm and slowing in 35mm, they have reported an increase of 8mm and 70mm production.
Both Fuji and Kodak have invested a great deal into research and development for digital processes, preservation for Electronic and Digitial Cinema, they have also developed & sold patents on laser projection technology to IMAX.
The “future” is in Digital Cinema, with a secondary emphasis on Electronic Cinema (film converted), mainly because major exhibition chains have switched over to Digital project, which is easier for 3-D and larger format presentations (like “IMAX”).
Again, while this is true, there is an initiative by certain makers to reignite the flame beneath Motion Picture stock and the use of IMAX celluloid format -Nolan, Bird, Abrams, which could point towards more work in celluloid.
The Joy of Film about 1 year ago
I must say after much thought, that these images are certainly inspirational, but they do not really evoke the “joy” I receive from film – which is the constant relationship between me and the elements I’m viewing that change over time duration of the film’s run time, but also extends to the period after a film’s close.
The fertile time of process after a films’ end allows for more connections to be made, and a time for me to question my initial reactions and assumptions to help inspire further viewings. This is something that I would say is part of the Joy of Film that is not represented so much by the still imagery, which I do have to say is something I enjoy seeing, as they spark some memory of a moment, but composition/movement/image look all change on the screening circumstances.
Looking at these still images on my laptop screen are not the intended size or quality, so my relation to them does not necessarily simulate the experience of viewing a “Film,” as part of my joy is also recognizing the size of these images as larger than myself on a larger screen (be it a small 52" lcd at home, or the large 80’ muslin or matte vinyl screen surface at a large theater, these images seem to have a larger life in these circumstances than in a 17" computer screen) These choices help create this moment of “joy,” of which this forum seems to suggest.
Do Film Critics Have To Protect the Movies and What Does This Mean? about 1 year ago
OK but what if the film has washed over you, but you’re still utterly confused? What if you not only want to understand the film, but you want to understand why other people think so highly of it? Aren’t there movies like that for you? What do you do in that case?
Jazz is correct in asking for more specifics, especially when it relates a film that leaves one “skeptical” that it “means anything,” and while it does seem that most viewers need assistance in comprehending value, there are a variety of pathways towards “comprehending” the value of a film (rather than comprehending a film, on which I agree with Drunken Father, as this often suggest the goal of a “concrete” interpretation -which does tend to eliminate the notion that every viewer has a different experience and possible [valid] interpretation, but also
and as we’ve seen from Manny Farber or Pauline Kael that experiences, interpretations, and perhaps also meanings of films change over time)
Getting back to these pathways of interpretation, these are also in constant change to address the way in which contemporary minds approach engagement with these works. Viewing a film on 35mm silver at 16 frames per second on an eighty foot screen is not the same as viewing a compressed digital image at 24 frames per second on a 13" LCD screen. The manner in which you are able to reaches these works, as well as how the mind processes information has a large impact (and so, thus it is important to take into account what GregX is saying about perception, which is not just what is happening internally in response to aesthetics/narrative/story elements, but it’s how the brain responds to specific environments and/or kinds/types of information). What this ultimately suggests are varied and specific forms of analysis and discussion (rather than simply statements) about the possible interpretation of a work, and why it’s been interpreted the way it has due to the presentation constraints. A very recent posting within the Mubi Notebook about investigating the prospect of criticism via forms of classroom mediation as a precursor to internet interaction:
Viewing. At Press Play, Volker Pantenburg and Kevin B Lee, who’ll be talking about “Teaching Cinema on TV and the Web” at the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival on April 28, present a couple of precursors. In the first (6’03"), from 1987, “Jean-Luc Godard compares the use of slow motion in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket with that of another film about Vietnam, 79 Springtimes of Ho Chi Minh by Santiago Alvarez.” The second (14’47") is a clip from Pedro Costa’s film on Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, Where Does Your Hidden Smile Lie? (2001).
What this further suggests for me is a presented challenge that Mubi can address, most active Forum users could approach an specific analysis format that can tackle these issues, rather than question the need for them. This is something that I wish occurred more on this site. While expressing the first-time experience (as mentioned by Bobby Wise) maybe valid, they are also plentiful. There should be more exacting and intricate analysis of all these concepts for more advantageous discussion and criticism -these kinds of discussion are what I’m expecting out of many of these forums, but do not see occurring. While many discussions are well intended, they digress into areas already covered within the context of film/media/linguistic theory (such as the dominant “good art/bad art” discussion) and they should advanced by diving into more analysis of specific moments in works and experiences, that can cover these issues in more detail and with more interesting and unique approach.
What I personally look for in a “critic/theorist” is a identifiable point of view as well as an approach towards exploration -both in works, but also in theoretical analysis and discussion. Olaf Moller is perhaps more exploratory in the variety of works he discovers for us, although he could approach each filmmaker (or film) differently from each other (as I do believe that each film needs a different approach) of which Robin Wood still remains quite an inspiration (followed by Alex Cox, Zizek, and perhaps Thom Anderson). Added to these are the interesting approaches that are in presentation at Oberhausen Festival -I suggest further investigation… These are concepts that are exciting to see and develop form the point of view of a maker/audience member/hobby-historicist theorist/criticism reader.
Do Film Critics Have To Protect the Movies and What Does This Mean? about 1 year ago
this is mainly a semantics issue. I was interpreting your use of “concrete” as a singular interpretation of a film’s meaning, not that a viewer/receiver can have a clearly articulated interpretation, is that your use of “concrete?”
I do feel that a “concrete” interpretation should be a concept of a film’s meaning that a viewer/receiver believes in “concretely,” in that they do not completely waiver from it at that moment. Although, I do believe it’s important to allow them to change that response over time due to reassessment within their mind, or from a repeated viewing, which for me would also nullify the concept of “concrete” reactions, as they will (and should) eventually change.
Regardless, my call is for Mubi uses to provide their interpretations through active analysis of specific moments/shots/cinematics rather than abstractions (which feel nebulous if not connected to a very specific idea/moment towards which analysis can be applied).
It should be recognized that what is viewed on television is it’s own art form and experience and is worthy of interest and analysis because of its unique presentation.
Although the traditions of the medium are often viewed as problematic and annoying, it allows for an experience that results in it’s own aesthetic that is completely it’s own. Program blocking, commercials and presentational changes as censorship, time allotted and screen size are often considered annoyances, but yield some interesting results:
Often in the 80s and 90s the presentation of theatrical films that were rated PG or higher often integrated scenes that were deleted from theatrical play as a means of extending the runtime or to replace scenes that were considered inappropriate for television airtime play. This was the way in which to view the “Octopus” scene in The Goonies, or the “Robbery” scene in Escape From New York.
While this was dominant, often there were cases in which scenes were shot specifically for the television version, as was the well known instance of Carpenter’s Halloween and Halloween II. Often in the late 80s and early 90s there were cases of motion pictures shooting several versions of a scene on set with the intent of both theatrical and television-safe scenes (particularly with nudity and language). What this has resulted in today are the curious cases of the Coen brother’s redubbing their words in a fashion that illustrates the ridiculous nature of television “safe” language, where in The Big Lebowski the phrase “You see what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass” becomes “You see what happens when you meet a stranger in the alps.” Another noted example is the recent Pinapple Express, where “asshole” is replaced with “casserole.”
Changes in aspect ratios also reveal approaches towards comprehending a narrative in a new compositional context. In the 80s and 90s, pan and scan would sometimes be avoided, where makers would frame for 1.33 (4×3) as well as widescreen aspect ratios of 1.85/2.35. It becomes clear when watching a film by John Landis, for example, that the wider frame of Three Amigos! is a more intimate film in the 1.85 composition where there seems to be more emotional involvement between characters and audience, although in the 1.33 frame the film feels more like there is more distance between the characters and the audience, the film becomes more about actions and landscapes. What’s even more interesting is that the film also seems to evoke the films it visually references from the 20s and 30s more effectively in the television 1.33 version (obviously because those films were shot in similar aspect).
In a more modern context, it’s interesting to see works in 2.35 become more intimate when they are rescanned and played back in a 1.78 (16×9) presentation on HD televisions, they become more intimate and intimidating. While this is the case, older films seem to be more formal in their window box presentation of side-black bars. There is the interesting case of Pixar’s A Bug’s Life, where because of the nature of the image’s complete fabrication the makers were able to completely create new compositions for both 2.35 frame and 1.33 television frame -both versions were made specifically for this medium, and create very distinct differences in composition and each version basically tells a different version of the story because of how the composition changes the dynamics of relationships in the frame. Those relationships that are not as close in 2.35 literally become closer, and can be read as such in the context of the 1.33 compositions -really fascinating.
While these are few examples of the medium’s interaction with theatrical texts, one should be aware of the changes made to other options:subtitles (often very different in size, font, color, placement than theatrical presentation -in the case of some cable channels Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Twelve does not display the title cards of when events occur, which completely changes the meaning of when events occur, and how effective the heist is)
closed captioning / descriptive service for hearing impaired (Kubric’s 2001 is an incredible descriptive experience in which the descriptive service basically reads the a version of a screenplay that reveals some facts and intentions that are not experienced in any other way)
alternate language dubbing change an experience to a great degree (in fact there are cases were famous international actors do their best to portray some of their colleagues from the countries of the film’s original languages – fascinating interpretations occur!)
Some really fascinating things to think about, as they tend to re-contextualize the experience, many times rewarding, and sometimes even enhancing it. The case of 2001 is certainly rewarding, it’s an amazing experience that must not be overlooked, and in the case of Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, the timing of jokes are actually enhanced by the commercial breaks, where as in a theatrical (or original play) the film suddenly becomes overbearing and indulgent -it seems to be made for television.
Favorite Audio Commentaries about 1 year ago
While I’m not a fan of commentary, as they have a tendency to detract from the value of the work for me, these are some that remain in my mind:
The Fincher commentary on the Criterion release of Se7en is quite illuminating, as it comes at a time when he was not quite recognized as the brilliance people see him as today, and he speaks with much more candor towards much of the technical brilliance that seems to disappear in his later commentaries.
The same goes for Scorese’s Criterion commentary for Taxi Driver, it’s quite insightful in terms of what it reveals about what’s important in his process. It’s also in such an early period of commentary, that you can even hear him turn pages of notes.
Schitzopolis has an interesting one in which Soderbergh interviews an exaggerated egoist Soderbergh, really entertaining and such an incredible approach in which the concept of a commentary track is itself in question.
A Discussion on Your Method of Analyzing and Understanding Movies about 1 year ago
These are quite interesting responses to the question, and I find myself applying a variety of view points when approaching a work that I’ve seen several times, which is the beauty of this medium -the return to material several times with a different entry point can allow for multiple meanings, as suggested by several.
Although, when approached with a film for the first time, I do simultaneously consider my subjective emotional reaction, my intellectual response to semiotics, the narrative development, the story development, the formalist structure of the work, how each shot/sequence/structure relates to other previous works while also comprehending how exactly all these things change from moment to moment. Similarly to Dennis, it is also very important for me to comprehending a work in relation to previous work of much of the team (both above the line and below the line, as many times I am paying attention to the work of a Writer/Director/Producer/Star, but I am looking at a Sound Mixer/Gaffer/Foley Artist, etc.) In addition to this, it’s important for me to contextualize the work and what I’m observing (visually, audible and thematically) to a social, political, cultural and historical context. When watching Contagion, for example, I was comparing moments to the immediate issues of journalistic approach in times of crisis (like current storm coverage as well as historical points of reference like Louisiana) but also cinematic comparison to works like Kazan’s Panic in the Streets (1950) and Soderbergh’s earlier Digital works and other works with similar lenses and exposures that were shot on Red with a similar budget. What is also clear about this, is the need to comprehend the presentation, as and example, viewing a work in Digital format versus print allows for a different comprehension of the material presented because exposure value changes, saturation changes as does the way in which my eye responds to flesh tones. This definitely changes the manner in which I become viscerally excited or engaged, blood and violence become more horrifying in print where as a Digital presentation it remains cold and less emotional. Presentation, then is affected by screen size, distance, audience number & participation, sound mix, aspect ratio, print release date, color timing, etc… Audience reactions also help convey to me whether the effect of a film seems to be successful as entertainment, or have an effective pace, mood, direction of attention and tone.
While this is the case of my intellectual approach as a work unfolds before me, as the work’s running time is complete I then am able to take the work apart in sections, chucks, or pieces in which I compare and contrast how I see these various elements develop or change over time. This helps me comprehend thematic choices of importance, as well as begin to comprehend a meaning for the work. Ultimately, I believe I am attempting to recognize for myself what the filmmakers are really trying to convey, and what the ultimate conclusion addresses in reference to what is being conveyed. What is really important for me is recognizing the agenda of these filmmakers, with and approach to “listening,” rather than “reading,” where the emphasis is an attempts to comprehend how they utilize their approach of the medium, rather than my most familiar and instinctual means of comprehending a work. This often leads me to return to a work over and over, and in most cases I find myself drawn to works I dislike or don’t understand most -as I my means of trying to comprehend a maker’s intention can be more work as they are not communicating as clearly as those whom are more talented.
In any case, there is always something to glean from any maker, and most works have a way of communicating something that has not been communicated in the manner that was selected, which really makes every film quite a unique experience.
Obscure Late Night Movie Trailers about 1 year ago
Australian video trailer for DeSimone’s Chatterbox! (1977)
Did Bergman just make "filmed plays"? about 1 year ago
The argument is interesting, perhaps for his earlier works, which is perhaps when the argument makes more sense. There is a period in his earlier work where he was not sure if he was going to focus more on theater (stage) or filmmaking, and in may cases some of his screenplays were scripted so they could become plays later, which is why some of them exist that way (including previously mentioned Cries and Whispers).
Since Bergman easily shifted between the two, it would make sense that some people have observed this about his screenwriting. It’s easily seen in something like The Magician, where much of the tension exists in how interactions occur. This does also occur in his many of his later works that are so heavily driven by interactions, rather than camera revelations, like Scenes From a Marriage (which also has been mentioned), Autumn Sonata, Fanny and Alexander.
It is obvious that he had some interests in merging the two, as there are often teleplays that came from plays, or elements of stage that enter his cinematic exploration, which is perhaps most explicitly scene in the lifestyle depicted in Sawdust and Tinsel, or the travel band in The Seventh Seal. The concept of a person playing “Death,” from Seventh Seal is quite stage like in it’s creation, and would survive quite well if transposed to stage.
BEST CLOSE-UPS IN FILMS 9 months ago
How about the close ups of the moment hands and objects interact in Soderbergh’s Contagion? There is something quite incredible in how Soderbergh is capturing something invisible -infection. While these hand/objects are also the focus of these shots, it’s incredible how much emotional weight occurs with the anticipation and experience of these close-ups, something that is often assumed is the outcome of a close-up, but perhaps hasn’t been since the early 1900s. Quite amazing and revolutionary about something so common place.
Also, there is such an incredible performance in close up of Griffin Dunn’s hand as he is tempted by the twenty dollar bill trapped in paper mache.
Speaking of Hitchcockianisms, there is also such precision in how we arrive at the moment of ‘the key,’ in Notorious.
Amazingly focused choices, which is perhaps evidence of the most effective close-ups.
10 films you love that are rarely mentioned 9 months ago
Good one for Black Dahlia!
@ Jack Lineman
It’s nice to see another appreciation of Ruggles of Red Gap, quite an over looked work.
I would say overall, it seems to me that these films are not rarely mentioned, and I’m wondering what this definition implies. It does seem that 90% films that I’ve seen listed I would consider to be quite visible to those whom are “cineastes,” through festivals, periodicals (online, or printed), retrospectives and dominant forms of distribution. Although if the concept behind this forum is to mention works for those whom are not cineastes, this makes sense -although if this is so, what is the objective of these lists if it’s on this site? I’m curious as to the context before really mentioning ten films.
Assessing the Technical Abilities of a Director--How Do You Know If One Director Is More Talented Than Another? 8 months ago
This is an interesting thread in that Jazz is automatically thinking about the director’s trademark on the image, and while there are certainly many directors that take this into consideration -those mentioned are great examples that could also include image-obsessed Polanski, De Palma, Lean, Antonioni, Allen, Fincher, Welles, Kurosawa, Soderbergh, etc…but this is only part of the filmmaking process, as I generally consider other aspects of a director’s job to work with actors, to guide the formalism to support the narrative and story, but also to help guide the crew through the physical execution of this material.
While the image is an instinctual place to start, since it’s so immediately apparent when one is controlling the image, this is usually a collaboration between the director as guidance (and perhaps the motivator of a specific cinematographic style or consistency across the work) and the director of photography (as the executor of the aesthetic plan). I would say it’s clear when Malick is capable of having a similar style across his various films and collaborators, but it’s most likely because he’s set the parameters for the cinematic ideology and aesthetic, while someone like Savides is executing and maintaining the stylistic consistency between images/shots.
When it comes to someone like Michael Bay or Gore Verbinksi, I would say these guys have a talent that is in the realm of guiding the crew through the physical process, they have an ability to think through the entire process form development through post, integrating multiple levels of tricks (often in each shot) which are not integrated until late in the game, and it’s their ability to make the right decisions that allows for these elements to come together successfully during the limited timetable they have. I would feel Malick in capable of achieving a Pirates of the Caribbean picture, since he has not developed this talent of resource and time allocation and management.
Someone like Kubrick or Fincher is masterful in terms of controlling the image just as much as they are directing the audience through thought -which comes from an talent to comprehend and manipulate levels of narrative, point of view, and guiding the performers through the appropriate process to achieve what’s best for the material. It’s clear there is a talent to guide material on a level where all formalism is linked to content.
Those whom are perhaps more focused on one are than another would most likely be less visually apparent. I would say that Mark Atkins, while not the best at working with actors, is someone whom can deliver a picture in a relatively small amount of time. While the image quality is not acceptable at all, the narrative and point of view are generally pretty clear (often including a political subtext).
When it comes to someone like John Cassavetes or Rob Nilsson it also becomes quite clear that it’s story and performance that are their ultimate talent -as all technical aesthetics are secondary as their films often reveal mistakes in these areas that are overridden by stunning performance and powerful emotional guidance.
Ultimately, I think the focus of “talent,” is something that is also clearly connected to a director’s interest. The previous example of Malick and Verbinski doesn’t make any real sense, since neither of them would approach that material, and if they did it would most likely be affected by their natural talents.
In general, I would suggest that it not be forgotten that not all directors have a talent that is completely artistic, as there are some interesting directors whom don’t care about the aesthetics and simply want to execute for product’s sake, or message’s sake, and those whom achieve quickly have a tendency to want to say something over emphasizing how’s it said. Ciro H. Santiago is quite a force with which to be reckoned, but is perhaps best known because of how prolific he is, and any aesthetic consistency is out the window if the deadline of a picture’s timeline (or budget) is closing -yet he’s still a strong and effective maker.
Talent is an interesting concept, and I’m curious if others have other interpretations of ‘talent.’