Thursday, November 30, 2006

A bit more on The Fountain

First off though, has blogger beta been a fuckin nightmare for anyone else, or is it just me? Goodness gracious. I can only ever log into this crap half the time and even then it takes me back to an old blog from 2004 sometimes. Thanks guys!

At any rate the fine people over at Not Coming had one of the better and fairer reviews of The Fountain I have read as of yet. Some money quotes....

Indeed, The Fountain is genuinely concerned with displaying the conflict between religion and science, with the present-day plot serving has Aronofsky’s most direct display of modern scientific practice, while the segments from other eras appear to be his musing on theological politics and spiritual tranquility. However, Aronofsky isn’t really interested in merely restating the simplified version of the argument and choosing sides. In fact, much like Aronofsky’s work on Pi, the director seems to view science as a means to achieve a greater understanding of our spirituality, but he also seems to believe our obsession with knowledge may cause us great torment and misery at our inability to comprehend the unknown divinity of life.

I find myself drawn towards stories with these sorts of themes. Was it too much studying of Philosophy at school? Is it that I find myself believing in the divinity of a life? I don't know. There are certain aspects of my own life that I find myself unable to fully comprehend or explain adequetely. For one, I'd love to give empirical evidence that my faith in a God is not misplaced. But I can not do so. That doesn't stop me from attempting to understand the most that I can of my faith and my relation to God. For me, I think there needed to be a point of letting go in my questioning of my faith for it to finally nourish itself completely. That isn't to entirely discard questions, as much as it is to not be obsessed by them. I don't think that wrestling for knowledge or doubting is the the opposite of faith. And I don't think science needs to be the opposite of religion either.

The one aspect that remains clear throughout all of Aronofsky’s filmmaking bravado is that he is convinced of the enduring nature of love within our infinite universe. Indeed it feels as if Aronofsky wholeheartedly believes love to be the only constant aspect within eternity and that his faith in that concept cannot be shaken. It’s the viewer’s reaction to this particular facet of the film and Aronofsky’s resolve that probably makes or breaks evaluation of Aronofsky’s efforts. Even if it’s disguised as a sci-fi film spanning centuries, at its emotional core The Fountain remains an earnest melodrama regarding a couple’s enduring love. Such sincere sentiment and genuine passion may be blissful for some, but I’m certain most will find such overtly emotional, almost maudlin, material to be downright awkward, if not embarrassing, within its sci-fi surroundings.

I've been thinking about this film far too much since I saw it on Sunday. But clearly one reason that it affected me so much is that I did not find the love story to be maudlin or akward in the overall story The Fountain was telling. As I said earlier and has been noted by this reviewer it is at the very core of the story.

So maybe that makes me a hopeless romantic. Those who know me well might just chuckle at that. So it goes.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

On Sunday, since my knee is still a disaster and I was unable to run around outside in the beautiful weather I went and saw The Fountain. I saw both of director Darren Aronofsky's previous films in the theater and liked them both well enough, though I wouldn't have considered either phenomenal he at least has been an intresting director to watch. I went into see The Fountain skeptical as can be, I really didn't expect to like it. But I came out thinking it may have been one of the best films of the year.

This film will divide audiences and critics into love it or hate it camps. It was apparently alternately booed and cheered at film festivals (much like Marie Antoinette). Green Cine Daily has a good summary of some of the reviews ranging from praise of the film to outright trashing of it. Some of those who have trashed the film have shown no quarter. Some have said while they didn't like it they certainly respected at least the effort. And even those that loved iit (like myself) can't say that the film is without some flaws.

For all the gnashing of teeth over what the film is supposed to mean, at it's core The Fountain is two rather simple formulas. A science fiction tale, and more importantly a love story. Hugh Jackman plays Tommy a Doctor who knows that his wife is dying of cancer. And in him trying to show how valiantly he loves her, by attempting to find the cure for her disease, he loses sight of his actual love for her. But, now add into this simple story another story which Tom's wife Izzy (Rachel Weisz) is writing as she dies. The story starts in Spain a few centuries before and ends somewhere in a Nebula somewhere in the future. These stories all intermingle, hopping back and forth between past, present, future. There is talk of Mayan faith, obvious allusions to the Judeo-Christian tradition, as well as Eastern Religion. Now maybe it becomes clearer why some see this film as entirely overwrought, ridiculous, and pretentious. And yes, it is all of these things. That may be the price that it pays for it's ambition, but as I said at it's base it's a simple love story. And also it runs only 90 minutes, which saves it from becoming to caught up in its own web. Another half hour may have made this film unbearable.

The story is at times hard to follow, and it requires a lot of the viewer. But, if the viewer just sits back and allows the film to wash over them, I think they will be rewarded. It seems to be the case that more often than not anymore people go to movies to solve the riddle instead of to actually experience the movie. In The Fountain if you are trying to solve the riddle it's too easy to lose sight of what is actually going on.

I could talk for hours about this film and really haven't stopped thinking about it since Sunday. The allusions to all different kinds of world faith can and will rub some people the wrong way. And while I am not entirely on the same page as the director on his view of life and afterlife (at least that I can tell from interviews I have read), I found it to be an extremely moving picture discussing the simplest and most important of themes, love and death, in a way that I haven't seen any film do in a very long time.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Friendly Persuasion, d. Wyler 1956

After being intrigued by a review by Tim over at Xanadu I moved Friendly Persuasion a bit further up into my Netflix Queue. It finally came to the top, I watched it last week and I loved it. It's a film that will stick with me for a long time.

Like Tim, I was taken back by the first scence of the film. A goose prances around to lighthearted music while a young Amish child gives a voiceover about how much he hates the goose. Soon, the goose bites the child in the back of the leg and of course the child seeks out revenge on the goose. I was taken back by the tone of the scene and the music that accompinied it, but figured I may as well stick with the film. Two hours later I was looking back at the movie and questioning if one had trouble living a pacifistic lifestyle even back in civil war times, how can one try to go about living such a lifestyle now?

Friendly Persuasion tells the story of a Amish family in Southern Indiana at the time of the civil war. The family is devout in their faith and then is faced with challenges to their beliefs in pacifism when the Civil War reaches close to their farm, and then even more so when their son decides that he must fight on the side of the North.

The scene with the goose I mentioned earlier along with many others throoughout the first hour of the film point towards the more violent conflict of the civil war ahead. Whether it be a buggy race on the way to meeting, the chasing of the goose, a wrestling match at a state fair, or the purchase of an organ for a house who does not even believe in music in their religious meetings, the scenes seem incidental or inconsequential at the time. But when viewed as part of the larger whole of the movie it seems obvious that Wyler was showing us each different conflict, and their subsequent effect on the family as small act of violence. When the mother (Dorothy Maguire) reads the Bible to her son and prays asks him to pray about his decision the morning before he sets off to fight, it is the clearly the harshest confict and challenge to their faith the family had to deal with. But, it can also in hinsight be seen coming.

Gary Cooper plays the father, Jess, and has an extremely powerful scene when he is searching for his son and faced with teh opportunity to kill a confederate soldier. The Mother is faced with teh rebel yell of Confederate soldiers while her husband is gone and faces a greater challenge than she could have imagined, which also puts the first scene of the film in better perspective. And let's not forget the daughter who has fallen madly in love with a soldier fighting for the North from their community of faith.

In the end, the family is not ever going to be the same after all these events. And at once their is the feeling that Wyler is presenting the neccesisity of a pacifistic life and the impossibility of one and 50 years after it's initial release and in our current political climate, the film truly remains timeless. Not only are the questions posed pertinent today, the performances (by Cooper and Maguire especially) and comic moments still work well and do not feel dated at all.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Work, a lost Eagles season, a lost indoor soccer season? a lost blog?

It's been a busy week. The lack of posts sort of bear that out, but it really has been a busy week. Work is getting busy preparing for the holidays and my personal life has had me more or less running around in circles the past week or so.

Sadly, one thing I am not doing right now in this cool beautiful Indianapolis afternoon is actual physical running. This is in large part because I am unable to run, or even walk at a decent pace. About 15 minutes into our indoor soccer game Sunday evening I was chasing a much quicker player from behind. Through sheer determination and will, I wound up equal with him, but as I planted my left leg for an akward challenge that would have surely resulted in a foul anyway, I collapsed. My knee just entirely gave out. I lay on the ground for a good 3-4 minutes before being helped off the field. I swallowed some field turf after screaming into the ground, which was about as disgusting as it sounds. I have since been to IU Med Group. They could not do anything to really help me and the refferal process apparently takes a week from them. With the holidays, it will really be two weeks. So, next week, if my limp, which has only gotten slightly better, doesn't improve I may be building my own MRI machine to see what damage I may or may not have done. At any rate it's a foregone conclusion that I will not be able to play this Sunday outside of a miracle which is depressing as can be to me. I hate being injured, I hate feeling old. I hate typing this while housitting right next to a treadmill at a house I am houseitting and knowing I won't even be able to take advantage of that. Bullshit, says I.


Earlier that very Sunday I was at Moe and Johnny's to watch the Philadelphia Eagles. I was feeling pretty confident about the situation. They were coming off a 27-3 victory and playing at home against a Titans team they should beat. But, then it all inexplicably came crashing down, like almost every season in Eagles memory as long as I can remember being a fan of this team. Donovan McNabb went down to a torn ACL and is gone for the season. The play didn't even look like anything significant. Less than one minute after McNabb was carted off the field I recieved a text from another long suffering Eagles fan that simply said, "We're done." He also gave me a ring Monday evening and we talked for 30 minutes about how this team has been on the precipice for half a decade and now just seem ready to fall into another decade of mediocrity. I don't want to sound like a Red Sox or a Cubs fan, cause I find them much more obnoxious and ridiculous than Philadelphia fans, and because they had other teams in their city win numerous championships during the Eagles drought, blunting the pain a bit. But, my word, the shit that happens to this team is ridiculous.


As if to underscore the point about ridiculousness that same Monday that my friend and I were talking on the phone word came that ex Eagles safety Andre Waters had committed suicide. Andre Waters was the one of the mostr memorable players of the most memorable Eagles teams in history. Buddy Ryan's Eagles teams were always built on defense and an in your face attitude. And Andre "Dirty" Waters played and hit harder than nearly any of them. I look back at those teams now. I remember coming up from a canoe trip in the Pine Barens to see Reggie White speak at the Billy Graham crusade at the Vet one summer day, but only seeing him sob as he told the thousands there about his teamate Jerome Brown's death. I remember hearing that Reggie White died, and now Andre Waters. And I can't help but think, what the hell? And I can't be any more eloquent than that either. It's awful, its strange, and thats it.


This is the first post I have had with the new Blogger beta. Actually this would have came two days ago, but I was unable to log in after upgrading. Thanks, blogger! But they have it fixed now, so now posts will be labeled at the bottom, even if I don't really understand what the labels do.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Devil's Backbone

There are plenty of films I am excited to see that are coming out towards the end of this year. But the one which excites me the most is Pan's Labrynth. But before seeing that movie I wanted to go back to another film by Guillermo Del Toro that I had remembered seeing a few years back and remembered really enjoying and that was The Devil's Backbone.

The Devil's Backbone is a ghost story told in an orphanage against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War. As viewers we don't aren't given much of an insight into the Spanish Civil War, and a knowledge of Spanish politics isn't neccessary to actually enjoy this movie. This is because the film takes place almost entirely inside a orphanage where children are left after their fathers have either died or gone off to fight for the cause.

The film starts with a voiceover , "What is a ghost? a tragedy condemned to repeat itself..." among other responses. Soon after, we see a twelve year old boy, Carlos, being taken across landscapes that look straight out of a John Ford movie to the orphanage. When we get there if the ominous tone hasn't already been set by the ghost questions it is set when in the middle of the schoolyard we see an enormous bomb. Earlier we saw the bomb drop and not explode in a sequence that took place quite a while before, but now we see it is still in the schoolyard. Even though it's supposedly been switched off some children claim to hear it's heartbeat.

For the most part the film follows Carlos as he quickly learns who his friends and enemies are at this new place. He also learns quickly about "the one who sighs." Besides the wonderful visualswhat makes The Devil's Backbone so effective is that the ghost isn't just a ghost, it isn't their just for scares and thrills. Some thrills and scares are there, but mostly Carlos is attempting to find out who the ghost is, why he's a ghost, and what he needs or wants. carlos's curiousity and willingness to find out puts himself and friends in danger before leading up to one of my favorite movie endings of all time, and including another John Ford-esque closing shot.

The initial reviews of Pan's Labrynth such as this one at Not Coming have said it is a fairy for grown ups and a film that takes some of the themes and styles in Devil's Backbone and expanded them even more. That couldn't thrill me more. The Devil's Backbone may be one of my favorite ghost stories ever and if Pan's can top that, I can't wait.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Marie Antoinette

I finally got around to seeing Marie Antoinette over the weekend. This film has so harshly divided critics and audiences that it supposedly got booed and also a standing ovation at Cannes. As far as the critics on Rotten Tomatoes it has recieved favorable reviews from just over half of the critics while the other half seemed to have loathed it. This was all coming off the almost universally acclaimed Lost in Translation and The Virgin Suicides which had me thinking that Sofia Coppola was suddenly a critics darling. I guess that faded away.

As for me, I loved this film. I think it is the best American movie of the year. I also think it's Sofia Coppola's best film.

A few days removed from seeing the film, I am struggling to see what some critics would find so offensive in this movie to attack it with the vitrol that some critics have. Yes, it's about a figure that is more or less reviled in France. But Coppola does not go directly at the politics of the era, instead she handles those issues subtely. Instead of showing a beheading or a peasant throwing a potato at her carraige we are primarily shown life inside of Versailles. And it is in this way that Coppola shows the politics of that time. We see the ridiculousness of protocall within Versailles. We hear the gossip within the walls. We see how the whole of the Versailles existed to watch the Queen and serve her, but this doesn't mean they neccessarily did this with a kind heart. Antoinnette was a synbol of an agreement with Austria handed over for France to make a Queen and proviode an heir to the throne. Coppola attempts to show in the film that she never was ready for this lifestyle and never had the chance to grow up. The themes of young women being made to grow up before they are ready is a theme Coppola touched on in her previous two films, and seems to have found different tones to tell these stories with.

Here for long parts, it looks like a fluff piece and may even be one, if you want it to be. The subtelty of the politics within Versailles is often taken over with extended scenes of Antoinette partying, shopping, eating, and partying again. I wondered before the film how Coppola's over stylized way of direction would work in a period piece, and it was during those scenes where this all could have gone wrong. At times this is all covered with a soundtrack of 80's new wave rock, but it worked suprisingly well in many of the scenes. Part of the reason was despite the music video feel of the trailer it was not an 80's new wave musical. There was some use of romantic era classical music as well.

And yes, those scenes did show ridiculous amount of excess which was enough to give you an idea of why such a queen would be despised by the French people. At the same time though, Coppola painted Antoinette sympathetically. This was especially shown to be the case in the way she chose to handle the matter of Antoinette's death.

I don't believe you need any familiarity with the history to enjoy this film. If you want you can gather rather broad political storylines from it. If you would rather sit back and just watch a beautifully filmed and paced story you can see that as well. When I look at the vitrol from some critics I can't help but think it's become part of teh build them up and then tear them down sort of criticism that has been prevalent in music and film recently. In the end though a few years from now, I do think this film will be looked back on as a rather remarkable achievement and likely the best of Coppola's early career.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

An eventful weekend

Let's see....

My roomate turned 30. We went duckpin bowling, and ate Egyptian food. Indy cats, check out Luxor for an awesome dining experience.

The Cougars fell to 1-2 after a crushing 12-0 defeat against a team of androids. A deflating loss, perhaps if we weren't playing against androids. Oh, and one of our best players broke and dislocated a toe. Solid.

I saw two great movies Marie Antoinette (more on that later) and My Darling Clementine. And one dissapointing movie, Tout Va Bien

And oh yeah, the strangest damn concert I have ever seen.

Friday night I headed down to Cincinnatti to one of my favorite venues to see one of my favorite bands, Twilight Singers do a show. Now, the last time that Twilight Singers played Southgate their was a mini Afghan Whigs reunion during the encore. This of course pleased the crowd tremendously, soince Greg Dulli was from Cinci at one point, and the Afghan Whigs has a very loyal following, many who have stuck with Dulli's new band the Twilight Singers.

So, the Twilight's initial set was great. Fanstastic. Superlative. Even better than when I saw them at teh Vogue a few months back. They exit the stage for the encore break. I go get myself and some friends a drink, figuring we'd be there another 25-30 minutes at least. When I am walking back, I think to myself, "Wow the crowd isn't as boisterous as I would have imagined. Given Dulli's reputation, I could see him not coming out for the encore." My friend Bruce was thinking the same. Shortly after I get back. House lights go up. Crowd gets unruly. Gear starts being taken down. Beer can flies on stage. And people start shouting at Greg Dulli's mom, who is in the balcony to get her son and the band back on stage. The house lights go up and down three more times before suddenly Dulli comes back out in sweats, and sits at the piano (the only isturment save one other mic not taken down by the crew so far) and tells the crowd, that they waited back there for five minutes and didn't hear shut so they didn't come back out. But Dulli then launces into a two or three song encore at the piano before calling it a night. It was a tense and ridiculous atmosphere. My friend Bruce called it, "the strangest concert I have ever been to that didn't end in tear gas."

This actually all happened. The guitarust Scott wrote on the Twilight's website...

So tonight, the exceptionally vocal and excited crowd suddenly became nonchalant and apathetic during the encore break. Honestly, we were surprised as we waited backstage taking the well-deserved five minute break that we rely upon before coming back out and tearing it up. So, we figured that the crowd was done and nobody (including you dear reader) likes to witness anyone else's sense of self-entitlement. So we went back to the bus. Show over, done deal.

So Jeff heads back into the venue fifteen minutes later and comes back on the bus to tell us that nobody has left and it looks like a riot is going down. I gotta tell you, we were a little shocked because it certainly didn't feel that way as we left the stage. So, after debating whether or not to head back onstage we decided that if the crowd felt that strongly about an encore, that we'd oblige. Due to the fact that our crew had torn the stage down and the only thing left was a piano and two microphones, we improvised.

Greg took to the stage, seated behind the piano and explained in only the way that he can why we'd not returned previously and then launched into what has become known as the 'Killogy'. At the end the rest of the band got on stage and provided vocal harmonies for 'Wolk Like Me'. All in all it turned into a remarkable musical moment and something I felt really proud of.

A unique night for sure and one I hope those of you that stuck around until the end will never forget, I sure won't.

Also now, Greg Dulli has an open letter on the Twilight's front page.

It appears that Scott's explanation of encore etiquette regarding the show in Newport, Ky on November 3 has drawn a divided response. Let me first thank those who wrote supportive words and expressed their grand enjoyment of that evening's performance. It means a lot and we all appreciated reading your observations of the chain of events that transpired. I too, thought it was a great show and the eventual encore had a unique and spontaneous magic to it that i truly enjoyed.

To those who expressed anger, confusion and/or feelings of betrayal, I offer my most sincere apologies for your having experienced these emotions. It seems that audience and band were on two different wavelengths in regards to how this particular show should come to a close. As Scott explained earlier, we waited in the back changing clothes and re hydrating in preparation for an encore. When we heard crickets, we believed that the evening was concluded and gave the signal that the show was over. This decision was not made with malice or disrespect, it was based on the five minutes of relative calm we heard from backstage. It was our mistake, perhaps, that we did not look out into the room to see that it was still full and I will take responsibility for that. And while I stand behind Scott's eloquent philosophy of the encore, I am humble enough to empathize with and respect those with a differing viewpoint. For those of you who traveled great distance and felt your evening incomplete, again, my deepest apologies. You mean a lot to me and the fellas and the last thing we want are bad feelings or unexplained unexplained decisions. We will somehow find a way to make it up to you in the future.

As for the full blown haters, I wish you the best and thank you for the love you once had for me. Based on a couple of you, it's probably best we end our relationship anyway. That wasn't a rock and roll concert for you, it was the Holocaust. Nasty, nasty and no quarter given. Ain't no good coming out of that and it's best we all move on.

As for me, I alternated between initial anger from the moment wishing to see the Afghan Whigs mini reunion that I had hoped for, since I never saw them live before. But the further removed from the situation I just laughed at the ridiculousness of it all. In the end, I fail to think of 5 concerts that were more memorable. The encore did have a spontaneous magic to it as was mentioned, even if it wasn't what I had initially hoped for. And as I said before, they are one of my favorite bands, and the set did not dissapoint.

So yeah, long live rock and roll. Or something.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Eyes Wide Shut

I threw in Eyes Wide Shut earlier in the week for the first time in a few years. Amazingly enough, this is still the only Kubrick film I have seen on the big screen. I remember it being released soon after I moved to Indianapolis. I remember being thrilled to see it, and I remember walking out and having loved it. Earlier this week when I watched it again, for only the second time since that day in the theater, I came away feeling even more strongly about it than I had before. This has been my favorite Kubrick film for a while. But I truly wonder if it will ever get the recognition it deserves.

First, when it hit theaters, it was shortly after Kubrick's death and three storylines dominated all talk about the film, Kubrick's death, the Kidman/Cruise were married in real life and playing a married couple, and finally the talk of the mask party sex scenes seemed to dominate even the previous two topics. Watching it years after it's release one can drop the Kidman/Cruise side story if they wanted, we are a bit further removed from the shock of Kubrick's death, but the mask party sex scenes still remain and seem to be what people remember most about the film. To me, that seems a bit unfortunate.

When I watch Eyes Wide Shut I am completely taken in from the very beginning. The connection between Dr. Bill and his wife Alice is fragile at the get go. Dr. Bill seems so secure in their marital happiness. She asks how she looks before they go to the initial party, he says great, but without looking at her. She is visably bothered by this and Bill gives her an almost demeaning kiss while telling her she always looks beautiful. At the party Alice is drunk dancing with a Hungarian, and Bill thinks nothing of it as he is off walking with two women who want to lead him to the "end of the rainbow." Is Bill this naive about moves other men will make on his wife, or is he overly confident in how secure she feels in their love. Why would she leave him? After all, he is a Doctor, something we are comically reminded up numerous times throughout the film.

When Alice then mentions to Tom, there are other men she has imagined being with, that she would have been with if only... Tom is then visably shaken, and from there the film either takes off or annoys the hell out of people. I love it from here on out.

The Doctor walks the streets wondering how his woman could imagine being with anyone else. And then, it is as if cosmic forces align and every single person the Doctor comes in contact with is sexually attracted to him or has sexual interaction. After the doctor gives the speech to Alice in the bedroom about the differences between males and females, she turns the table on him entirely and seemingly has the power while stripping him of any feelings of masculinity, or protector, or maybe worst of all sexual provider. So as Dr. Bill goes place to place haunted by his imagination running amok of pictures with Alice and another man, the woman with a dead father in the room comes on to him, then the prostitute, a bell boy at a hotel, the daughter of the costume shop, and of course the Mask party/orgy where the Doctor is asked to strip naked in fron of the crowd. All of these opportunities for the Doctor to either regain some feeling of sexual dominance or manhood, or possibly even get back at his wife.

It'd be ridiculous to not mention the party here as well. The party, to me was not meant to be sexy. The party is in a way a nightmare. There have been few films which have left me with the feeling in my chest that the party left me with. It's an ominous, all together uncomfortable and horrifying event. Those who have walked away wanting that part, or the overall film in general to be sexier may have been missing the point.

And as to the casting of Cruise and Kidman. Kidman, as usual is excellent, complex, and wonderful. Cruise may be punching above his weight with this script but that is in part what makes it work! When Cruise is walking the streets confused as hell, unable to tell if he is living a dream or reality, the fact that it is Tom Cruise helps it to make more sense. I mentioned to a friend yesterday, that I wished at some point down the line people would be able to seperate the persona of Cruise and Kidman from the roles they play in this film and just enjoy it, but that may truly be impossible. And if that is impossible, than the sheer absurdity of Cruise walking around in the enviroments and situations he has walked around in may in fact actually be an advantage to the already intriguing story.

Some critics have mentioned they see a false note with the ending, and the reconcilliation between the Doctor and Alice at the end. Some of these people (like Mr. Ebert) are the same that love a scene just prior when Ziegler (played by Sydney Pollack) gives the most ambiguous explination of the Doctors last 48 hours? Was the prostitute really killed, what about the piano player. Ziegler says they were not, but can we trust him? Likewise when we see the Doctor and Alice shopping with the child and they agree to attempt to stay together and work things out, and make mention that they must "fuck" as soon as possible, are we to believe that will remedy everything. That maybe the act of sex alone will bring back the obviously more fragile than he outwardly shows Doctor to a feeling of security in his relations with his wife, personal and sexual? I am not sure what to believe. I am not sure the reconcilliation is anything more than ambiguious as well, which to me is a fine way to end the movie.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sight and Sound's Critics and Directors Top 10's and 64th and Broadway's Top Ten

Four years have passed since the last top 10 from the BFI and Sight and Sound Top Ten Poll. But over at Greencine Daily yesterday they made note of it, and more specifically about Rules of the Game which I have inexplicably yet to see. About rules of the game, they said...

The Rules of the Game. There it sits at #3 in the most recent Sight & Sound Critics' Poll, #9 for the Directors'. And now that it's been restored from a master print, it's seeing a rerelease. J Hoberman: "It is required viewing, if only to understand the ideal that filmmakers from Robert Altman to Woody Allen have been after. And even if you think you know it, see it again for its newly rediscovered depth of field, and even more, for its infinite wellsprings of character and empathy."

That's then been bumped up a bit in the Netflix queue.

But the looking through Sight and Sound's top ten, and another gentleman's ambitious top 300 Movies list got me creating my own top ten list. One of favorite movies, which is slightly different than best movies. They are presented below...

1. Contempt - d. Jean-Luc Godard, France 1963 - Godard is my favorite director and this is his best. It's commentary on film, it's Homer's Oddesey, and marraige or at least the dificulty of marraige or love. On top of that it's beautiful to look at. And it has the most wonderful haunting score of all time. One that Scocese even borrowed for Casino. It's not for everyone. It may be viewed as cynical, but I love it and watch it at least once a month.

2. Band of Outsiders - d. jean-Luc Godard, France 1964. - Jean-Luc Godard once said all you need to make a movie is a woman and a gun. Here is a simple tale. An english class, a house by the river, a bundle of money, a romantic girl. It also contains my favorite film scene ever. You will know it when you see it. It oozes cool. This movie actually made me love film again after being lukewarm on it for years. And, Anna Karina is the most beautiful woman ever, and shines in this film.

3. Late Spring - d. Yasijuro Ozu, Japan, 1949 - Ozu is one of our greatest directors. His films move s-l-o-w-l-y. Some say at the pace of life. Here a father wants to marry off his daughter. She wants to stay and take care of her father. All Ozu films focus on generational conflict in Japan. This is the best and most affecting.

4. Au hasard Balthazar - d. Robert Bresson France, 1966 - - Yes its a film about a girl and her donkey and the hardships both go through. No it isn't just that. I was more affected by the life of this donkey than nearly any person in any film. Beautiful.

5. No End - d. Krysztzof Kieslowski Poland, 1985 - A woman widowed by her husband attempts to find solace by contiuing on his work in the Solidarity movement through legal trials, at least for a bit. Kieslowski is only behind Godard on my list of favorites. This may be the saddest of his works though.

6. Birth - d. Jonathan Glazer USA, 2004 - Yes, there is Nicole Kidman and a 12 year old boy she is convinced is her husband reincarnated. It's more than that, though. This film is all about memory though. And it's nearly perfect.

7. Before Sunset - d. Richard Linklater USA, 2004 - Before Sunrise should probably be counted in this too as one film. But this is the better of the two. As two people get older, they deal with memory, love, regrets, life, dreams. As romantic as it gets, and as perfect an ending as possible.

8. Ugetsu - d. Kenji Mizoguchi Japan 1953 - 16th Century Japan, two peasants try to get rich against their wifes wishes during war time. A timeless moral fable, and visually the most beautiful black and white film ever, save #10 on this list.

9.The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - d. John Ford USA, 1962 - The western is such an underappreciated genre. John Wayne may actually be an underappreciated actor. James Stewart is one of the all time greats.

10. A Place in the Sun - d. George Stevens USA, 1951 - The most beautiful black and white film ever made. Poor boy moves to LA to get job with rich uncle. Wants a place in the sun. falls in love with elizabeth taylor who was actually 18 and beautiful once, and then....Montgomery Clift is amazing in his lead role.

And just for good measure 20 which just missed the list...

11. Wings of Desire - Wim Wenders Germany 1987
12. Decalogue d. Krysztof Kieslowski Poland 1989
13. Small Change d. Francois Truffaut France 1976
14. Bob Le Flambeur d. Jean-Pierre Melville France 1955
15. Young Mr. Lincoln d. John Ford USA 1939
16. In the Mood for Love d. Wong Kar-Wai Japan 2000
17. Kwaidan d. Masaki Koboyashi Japan 1964
18. Do the Right Thing d.Spike Lee USA 1989
19. the Deer Hunter d. Michael Cimino USA 1978
20. Rear Window d. Alfred Hitchcock USA/England 1954
21. Crimes and Misdemeanors d. Woody Allen USA 1989
22. Three Colors d. Krysztzof Kieslowski Poland 1993-4
23. L'Aventura d.Michaelangelo Antonioni Italy 1960
24. The Searchers d. John Ford USA 1956
25. Beautiful Girls d. Ted Demme USA 1996
26. All the Real Girls d. David Gordon Green USA 2003
27. Solaris d. Andrei Tarkovsky Russia 1972
28. A Woman is a Woman d. Jean-Luc Godard France 1961
29. Le Petit Soldat d. Jean-Luc Godard France 1963
30. Eyes Wide Shut d. Stanley Kubrick England 1999