I don’t really see the airplane part as a social or political critique, as there is nothing preventing anyone from foreign travel in the film other than possibly economic limitations. I don’t think Jia is as interested specifically about social problems as much as interested in depicting people and their place in their society and history of the nation, how their personal history in relation to the national history.
Also, I was thinking about Wong Kar-wai, but after “My Blueberry Nights” I feel mistrustful of him. (I can forgive 2046 because it was beautiful).
“The Man Who Wasn’t There” by the Coen brothers, and starring Billy Bob Thornton, was an artistic endeavor that turned the clock back 50 years. In a good way.
@ Zachary “But wait: Say a studio is almost going under, and they have one chance, one film, that will make or break the entire studio. Are you saying that it wouldn’t be ballsy for them to finance it?”
United Artists with Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate, although I don’t think they were going under at the time.
Also I’m going to say von Trier’s Dogville as that hasn’t been mentioned I don’t think. On the production value, the way the film was made is extremely unconventional for mainstream audiences. I know the staging and minimalist set was done before by Louis Malle and I think in a film before that, but von Trier introduced it to mainstream audiences and I think that was extremely courageous because in an quick-action period of cinema we live in. I’m sure many people didn’t like the film or didn’t have the patience to like the film.
I wouldn’t call Michael Moore films ‘courageous’. There’s nothing courageous about releasing a film that piggybacks on political trends and panders to the like-minded. Michael Moore is courageous in only the same way Glenn Beck claims to be. He has the courage to say what he knows millions of people will pay to hear him say!
And Brokeback Mountain. What could be more courageous about releasing a movie about an issue that’s currently politically divisive? There’s an audience of millions who will feel obligated to see such a movie just because it exists!
Coen Brothers movies do tend to be pretty courageous in the artistic sense. Their movies lately tend to go in unpopular directions, avoiding the easy endings most of the audience expects. Talk To Her was pretty courageous in it’s willingness to run head first any direction it wanted to.
Lord of the Rings was courageous in a different sense of the word. It takes balls to even attempt to cover source material millions of its fans consider holy. Can you imagine how hard it is to make a movie that would please die hard Tolkien fans? The most nitpickingly critical audience in the world, who would call it a travesty if it got the slightest detail wrong?
Michael Moore doesn’t sit on a TV studio and talk. He remains mobile throughout the world, talks to (and confronts) various people, gets hard-to-find documents and exposes himself to be confronted by the police and other such authorities. Political agitation, though mostly useless within the framework of partisanship, requires at least some level of courage, knowing that a lot of people will hate you and confront you.
I don’t know about Glenn beck, because his show or talk doesn’t interest me, so I cannot say if he is courageous or not.
I’m not sure what your take on Bareb… eer, Brokeback Mountain is, but I admire tremendously the courage of Ledger and especially Gyllenhaal in taking on those roles. They got paid, but they could’a been career killers for all they knew. Ang Lee, though he had made films dealing with homosexuality before, had a lot of courage in directing a story that lended itself to ridicule soooo easily, as it is a very straightforward love story about two “cowboys”, an American archetype if there ever was one.
Call me crazy, but one of the ballsiest, most courageous films of the ’00s for me was Moulin Rouge!, at least for its first fifteen minutes. The sensory overload, madcap pacing, and tonal shifts ask a lot of the audience, and then you have non-singers singing snippets of Elton John, David Bowie, The Police, and Whitney Houston songs alongside each other a couple of centuries before they were written. It was ballsy enough to make a full-on musical at the time, but to add all of that to it took balls of steel.
Also, anything Guy Maddin does is pretty ballsy. My Winnipeg was great.
My pick is “Palindromes” by Todd Solondz, hands down. It cost the director his life savings to make, dealt with an intensely dark subject matter that people get killed for having opinions about, had a sprawling cast with multiple actors playing the same role (which was ripped off wholesale by another Todd of note and praised to the skies) and relied on an extremely loose narrative.
Like it or not, it was far ballsier than “Synecdoche” or the majority of films that people have brought up so far.
Love Exposure a four hour long commentary on religion, sex, and violence. Strange Circus by the same director, a surrealist film about severe child abuse. Palindomes is great and I second that. I agree also that both beck and Michael moore are not courageous. Moore’s latest film about Capitalism was not even about capitalism but corporatism, a huge difference, talk about a fact checking error.
Synecdoche for sure.
Definitely Inglourious Basterds and Kill Bill, too.
And the Youth Without Youth, Mulholland Drive, Femme Fatale, Far from Heaven, The Wayward Cloud, The Cavemen’s Valentine, etc.
Historias Extraordinarias was a pretty daring undertaking, but one has to give it to Lav Diaz for his sprawling 6-12 hour long films.
Anyone can take a camera and film whatever the hell they want so I’m sorry but I agree with those saying things like LotR. It is not ballsy because its expensive, but because of the kind of director Jackson was beforehand. Avatar was expensive, but it wasn’t ballsy because it was mindless James Cameron crap.
For a fully independent film to be ballsy it better do something pretty incredible.
No mention of Borat?? WTF?
Also – I agree w/Abraham re Solondz (who’ll stay prickly & incorrigible – like the scorpion of the tale, it’s “in his nature”). And also second Shortbus, which is poetry hurled out by Mitchell without his giving a fuck—the quintessence of “ballsy.” Mitchell’s grace & delicacy obscure the fact that he’s a true raving revolutionary.