Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Brandon Born Again

Let the puns fly forth!

So, the Oscar nominations are in, and they are predictably gutless. I'm slightly surprised by the Malick and TREE OF LIFE nominations, but not at all surprised by many of their other awful picks. At this point, I think the Oscars may have even less credibility than the Golden Globes. But, let's be honest, both have been a disgrace since their inception so nothing is really new. Why do I even bother to care anymore?

Adrienne and John seem to have beaten me to everything I could possibly say about BROTHER BORN AGAIN. Like Adrienne, I don't want to be too harsh on it because it is clearly an amateur documentary using cheap cameras without much knowledge of filmmaking. I very slightly respect the documentarian for grabbing a camera and going to work despite her obvious deficiencies because it's more than I've ever done (and I wanted to be a filmmaker as a teen). But like John, I cannot give her any respect beyond this because documenting such a personal issue seems to be pointless, narcissistic, and phony. There's no real insight into anything here and no real awareness that an audience might have to watch what you are documenting. It all seems like a bad home movie/pointless reality tv show where the filmmaker assumes that merely pointing a camera at someone and having them talk is interesting or worthwhile. But none of it is. And none of it needs to be documented. This is a personal issue that should be dealt with...personally, not through the filter of spectacle. Though it appears to have been made in the mid-to-late 90s, it looks exactly like the narcissistic, tell-all, public grandstanding that has dominated our culture since the emergence of reality tv and social networking. It fits right in. Like John, it had all the elements I dislike about documentaries and for the same reasons as him. However, this film clearly gives documentaries a bad reputation and is probably not the best example you'd want to use if trying to legitimize their right to exist. It's pretty awful, but how were any of us to know? You win some and you lose some.

Let's be real, Brandon, my lists aren't even close to being as impressive as yours, but they also aren't intended to be. It's just fun to give yourself a reason to watch a bunch of great movies, am I right? Like you said with your 60s project, it's the experience of the films themselves that matter, not the quota or the ranking–that's just the extra stuff at the end. With that all being said, you are the list king so wear your crown proudly!

Here comes the biggest most vicious debate of the year: snow is more beautiful in color? Perhaps you're right. There are some absolutely jaw-droppingly gorgeous shots of snow-covered land in LOLA MONTES (and in MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS and DOCTOR ZHIVAGO among others). I also thought while watching it that some of the images might be the most beautiful things ever filmed in color. No doubt about it. However, I stand by the beauty of snow falling in black-and-white. It might just be me recalling the snow falling at the end of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE which in hand is triggering emotions of Christmas, childhood, warmth, and safety, but to me there is nothing like seeing big, globular flakes falling against a dark, colorless background. The contrast is just too perfect.

"SHADOWS is one of the greatest debuts in film history announcing the start of DIY filmmaking. Anyone who enjoys genres like mumblecore can thank this film for it. I think I just threw up in my mouth." I almost did a spit-take with my coffee while reading that.

I think THE DEFIANT ONES might still hold up. The surprisingly great partnership between Poitier and Curtis makes it all work I'd say, but maybe I'm crazy.

I think whatever LA RONDE lacks in narrative or insight, it makes up for with technical mastery. You have to be a genius filmmaker/auteur to make that work, and I think you'd agree that Ophüls fits the bill. But, I'd prefer something like THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE... to LA RONDE as well.

I'd have to watch L'AVVENTURA again before I'd be certain if it really drags or not, but when I saw it as a teen I definitely thought as much. I'm not a fan of lollygagging either. I can see how you'd find Antonioni to be guilty of this at times. Brevity is not his strong point. But he really likes to be reflective, to create strong atmosphere, and to continuously re-orient his characters through methodical staging. This can try the patience unless you are really hooked onto what he's trying to do. I think I reached the point where I was hooked while watching RED DESERT and BLOW-UP again. I felt like he had me and that made me love his work even more. I was David Hemmings watching an invisible tennis match and I got caught up in the game.

More Ozu is in order for me as well. 15 or so of his films are on Hulu+. I'm struggling between wanting to marathon them all because I'm addicted or saving them because I want to make them last longer. I wish one of his films were on NWI so I could make it my pick whenever it's my turn. A little Ozu should be experienced by all.

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