Sonntag, 23. Oktober 2011

Seppuku (Kobayashi, 1962) - TSPDT #877


A ronin asks a counselor to perform Harakiri in his courtyard. But he is not the first one to ask.

The first thing that struck me when I watched was the camera work. Suddenly, the camera is moving all over the place - and the the eye level although often low is also raised once in a while. The characters develop nicely and the action is delayed to the very last moment, but not as well orchestrated as in Yojinbo, though.
Some of the portraiture closeups were absolutely stunning and should be looked at again.

La voix du rossignol (Starewicz, 1923) - TSPDT #1615

A girl takes in a nightingale to replace her broken puppet.

They just set this very simple child's tale to animation with it's very moralistic tone at the end. The animation of the animals are fantastic, the cast girl looks rather scary in most of the shots and the coloring is stunning - very expressionistic. (The copy on youtube at least)

Samstag, 22. Oktober 2011

Les grenouilles qui demandent un roi (Starewicz, 1923) - TSPDT #1568

 The frogs are unhappy and decide to ask their god Jupiter for a king.

A very simple piece story wise, but the animation is simply amazing stop motion work. The movements though slightly jerky are amazingly well animated. The puppets are still good but reflect the time a little more obvious than the animals. It's short but produced with attention to many details.


Freitag, 21. Oktober 2011

Le Samouraï (Melville, 1967) - TSPDT #240

The perfect assassins world falls apart as he encounters love and betrayal.

It's a very slow film but rather exciting. There are some slightly unbelievable twists here and there - why doesn't he kill the messenger? There are some moments of unsteadiness but it seemed that Melville was entering new territory with this one. Compared to the conversation, this film has even less actual story, and the revelation is delayed practically to the last frame.

I am not quite sure that I like this kind of totally undercooled acting but it definitively worked with this film. There are many details hinting at the complexity of the main character but nevertheless Delon mostly refrains from actually letting that show on his face.

The Conversation (Coppola, 1974) - TSPDT #177


An surveillance specialist falls prey to his own paranoia and guilt.

The most fascinating aspect of this very suspenseful film was definitively the pacing. It builds up extremely slow and the climax in the hotel room is just as masterful as it is simple in the direction. Definitively a must-see with the directors commentaries.

Also, Gene Hackmans portrayal of Harry Caul was extremely convincing - a very troubled hero and all his actions are very much motivated by his backstory, which only gets revealed gradually. There are some issues in the dream scene, which was too much back story and rather strange from the cinematography.

Scarface (de Palma, 1982) - TSPDT #490


A cuban refugee wreaks havoc on Miamis drug industry and realizes his version of the American Dream.

The main character is really something - the acting is great and the character suffers from the most fatal of all flaws: He cannot lie - although in a practical sense he does exactly that. So his attacks on the american society he has worked so hard to become a part of work really great - he has a deep insight but at the same time he is hypocrite enough to fall in the same trap in a way.
The only time when I felt that the script had to "pull" a little to take the story where it wanted it is when Tony's mother calls to ask about his sister. Her character was a little too much on hating Tony.

Donnerstag, 20. Oktober 2011

It Happened One Night (Capra, 1934) - TSPDT #198

A heiress fleeing from her overprotective tycoon father meets a journalist on her way to New York.

Maybe not the first romantic comedy but definitively carries all the typical signs of the blueprint of all thousands or so to follow. Girl in personal predicament meets man. He hates her, she hates him, but a string of adventurous events forces them to bond and they fall in love with each other. I found a certain social aspect in these kind of stories that make them interesting to watch even when they're dated. In America's 1930s you
  • couldn't rent a hotel unless you were married
  • the morals are kept up within the room even if the couple is not married
  • there is a rather large gap between the very rich and the very poor
  • and more generally: newspaper journalists are probably always fired at least once in the course of a movie (up till today)

Mittwoch, 19. Oktober 2011

The Sting (Hill, 1973)

A small time con artist gets to work with the master of his trade.

A very nice story, and although the ending is easily guessed once all the players are introduced it still makes for a pleasant viewing. What amazed me (after thinking about it) were the very few locations used in the film - or so it seems. Mostly were carefully decorated interiors and only very few large outside shots.

It is one of those movies where the viewer is also "conned" - I wonder what I would have felt if it didn't have worked so smoothly as here. 

Newman adds a surprising layer of complexity to his character - you always sensed that there was something going on behind what he said.


Dienstag, 18. Oktober 2011

Braveheart (Gibson, 1995)





A Scottish commoner challenges the English army and remains unbeaten where there not traitors.


The story is captivating enough to keep you interested, although the love story is really campy and Gibson just doesn't work as a romantic lead in my opinion - not visually, but his love scenes are just not convincing enough for me. Maybe the whole relationship should have started more accidental. Marceau is great and works extremely well - although extremely beautiful she manages to balance her performance.

Fantastic battle scenes definitively worth watching, I think the editing was quite memorable too. At one or two places the soundtrack steps way to far into the limelight, maybe because they tried to establish the theme on its own right. Great cinematography and very impressive colours.


Bridesmaids (Feig, 2011)

 A broke and desperate maid of honor tries to impress her best friend with the usual mishaps.

McKee mentioned this movie about five times during his seminar so I finally watched it. My expectations were intergalactic, so even "Apocalypse 2001 with Al Pacino as Darth Vader" would have been a let down. It's nicely constructed but there are some loose ends - why are the other two girls out of the picture after the plane incident? The security girl remains in the script as the goofy character. We had some discussions about the meanings of the puppies and why they disappear in the middle of the scene, never to really return.  I guess what the movie does really well is to pick up the audience and carry finding the right balance of american pie and romcom. Maybe a great cinema experience?

The gross scenes don't all work on the small screen (sex in the beginning and end) and the repetitive montages (baking, getting the officers attention) come over as cheesy. I am rather sure this also might come across much better in a theatre.

Sonntag, 16. Oktober 2011

The best years of our lives (Wyler, 1946)- TSPDT #122

Three WW2 veterans return home and try to re-settle into their old lives and try to live on.

A very enjoyable movie with a very fine structure. It is easy to follow the three leading characters throughout the story. It is also absolutely not overdone in the end, when one of the veterans relives his war experiences in a derelict plane. Wyler managed to tell the story straightforwardly without digging into too much sentiment.

The documentary approach to the situation helped to convince me more. Amazing scene is where the father reads out the war medal letters his son has received. Fantastic back story and a very touching moment. The acting is fantastic in this and all the other moments.

The cinematography is amazing when the film shows the airplane graveyard.

Evangelion 2.22 You shall (not) advance - (Masayuki, 2011)


In a postapocalyptic world EVAs fight angels and teenagers have weird problems.

Not an Evangelion fan or even casual consumer this movie is absolutely indecipherable. From a structural standpoint it seems to follow a strict back and forth between possibly comedic situations in the group of teenagers piloting the giant EVA robots and some Überfights between the "Angels" and them. Some of the visuals are breathtaking especially during the fights. As the whole film seems to be part 2 of 4, there is no recognizable development in classical dramatic form. (It doesn't have to, but the way they've done it here is remarkably boring)

Interesting is the terminology borrowed from all the religions alike - it seems a little upsetting at first, but actually it seems like quite a clever idea.

Freitag, 14. Oktober 2011

Ace in the Hole (Wilder, 1951) - TSPDT #580

 A run-down news reporter tries to make it the best out of a story by meddling with events to accomodate his story.

Extremely well structured, and great dark humor. One of my favorite Wilder films I guess - it strikes an extremely interesting balance between fulfilling viewers expectations and then wandering off into completely unforeseen story twists. Examples are: The attack of the woman on Douglas, or, when he decides to get the priest (character turn), beating up the Sheriff, etc. Great shot of Douglas on the cliff, preaching to the people at the end.

Donnerstag, 13. Oktober 2011

A.K. (Marker, 1980)


Chris Marker's making-of of Kurosawa's RAN

It's not a typical making-of but there are some important insights, that I would like to note.
  - Same crew as from years ago (not too special)
  - Everybody does everything (very special for US)
  - Kurosawa is soft-spoken, or he seems to be.
  - Experienced discipline will work wonders for you.


The master's quotes spoken from cassette tape are inspiring. The form of this essay is interesting, and the imagery might last, and although there are some great moments, thing become really ugly when Marker tries to be funny(?).

Mittwoch, 12. Oktober 2011

Witness for the Prosecution (Wilder, 1957) - TSPDT #1309


A young man is accused of murder of a rich elderly lady - and only his wife can save him.

Wilder's adaptation of the stage play works pretty good on screen, and it is carried to perfection by Dietrich's acting. Her work is simply amazing - and the casting is 1000% perfect. The plot hints at the outcome and Dietrichs reaction is understandable. Maybe a little bit too much was crammed into the ending, and as for all Christie's work, once you know the point the whole thing is a lot less entertaining. Amusing fact: narrator in the end telling the viewers to keep quiet about the ending.

Charles Laughton as Sir Wilfried is a delight to watch.

Le salaire de la peur/Wages of Fear (Clouzot, 1953) - TSPDT #206


Four washed-up workers in two trucks of nitroglycerine try to make it to a burning oilfire.

An amazingly well done film. Before the real action starts, there is enough time to get to know the characters. Inside the trucks in one of the cars there is a lot of backstory revealed while in the other truck with Montand the relationship shifts to an extremely uneasy new equilibrium. The last conversation between Luigi and the German guy was a little brief - maybe something got cut out? It doesn't give any clues to what's going to happen.

Great editing at the ending, when the viewer realizes what's going to happen just by the camera tilting. Might be filmed a bit better nowadays, but the effectiveness is just through the editing. There is more fantastic editing during the single obstacles the two trucks face.

Sonntag, 9. Oktober 2011

A Dangerous Method (Cronenberg, 2011) - ZFF 2011


An account of CG Jungs kinky relation to his patient Sabina Spielrain

Didn't like the whole thing, unfortunately. Too stuck in reality, and should get more inspiration from dreams. Maybe the red book as visual and other reference might have propelled Cronenberg completely into director's olymp. Problem with adaptation from theater, too much text, barely any action, most of the imagery in the second part is voice-overed. Freud although very well acted seems strangely detached, as does Jung (necessarily). Fell into historical accuracy trap. Need to avoid.


Margin Call (Chandor, 2011) - ZFF 2011


A young analyst realizes that his company's financials are going to fall like a house of cards.

It might have been a rather conventional story but the script was extremely well structured. An extreme unity of place was achieved by setting more or less everything into the office. I really liked the acting, they were all more or less brilliant. Reactions on imdb seem to be mixed, also the distributors I talked to were weary, although everybody enjoyed the movie.

Definitively a re-watch for structure.

Freitag, 7. Oktober 2011

Buck (Meehl, 2011) - ZFF 2011

 The life and work of a real-world horse whisperer

The amazing part about this film is not the actual movie but the person it is portraying. As the director stated, the documentary can hardly do justice to the man himself. He is an absolutely "no-nonsense" guy with that remarkable Zen-attitude everybody would love to have. And he worked hard for it. That strong personality easily transcends the rather conventionally structured documentary. Sometimes back-story is impressive but in this case it doesn't add or take from the impression, which is a notable thing.

Should look for actors with that kind of quality.