Supposed to be the first great work by Para(d)janov, whose other work I haven’t seen yet.

young Ivan:
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Film is divided into sections. At the end of each one the world turns red, then a bold title card introduces the next. Time is fluid here, sometimes passing slowly, sometimes quickly, and it’s hard to tell how much of it has passed… this is because Parajanov refuses to film anything that is not awesome for purpose of story or character clarification. This is a cine-poem, a work of art, not even the same medium as the David Schwimmer and Jim Carrey and Neil Marshall movies playing in theaters right now.

grown Ivan discovering Marichka’s body:
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Only a minute into the film we have a shot from a falling tree’s POV. Later, we see naked children, multiple axe-fights, a long-take shot travelling from a giant raft over an unseen bridge onto shore. Vodka. No sex, but suggested sex. A sorcerer and voodoo dolls, many deaths.

Palagna:
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Story is divided in half. When he is young, Ivan(ko)’s brother and father are killed in the same week, he meets a girl (Marichka, daughter of his father’s killer), they grow up in love but she drowns before they can wed. Second half, Ivan is depressed, brightens up enough to marry Palagna, then goes back to being depressed. She just wants to be rid of him, eventually gets her wish.

Actually sounds kind of depressing, but it is so beautifully told (and Ivan meets Marichka in a death dream at the finale, so it’s sort of a happy ending), a pleasure to watch.

Marichka reborn:
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There was a movie a few years later, The White Bird Marked with Black, directed by this film’s cinematographer, with the same lead actress (Marichka), written-scored-and-starring our Ivanko.

One tiny little complaint: I wish movies would not blatantly show characters biting into apples when they are about to give in to temptation.

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Wowie-hell, a super awesome movie.

D-D Lewis is Plainview, ruthless oilman and master manipulator who worked hard to get rich and aims to get richer and nobody better get in his way. Paul Sunday Dano (the kid from L.I.E., the vow-of-silence brother in L.M. Sunshine) plans to start a church and get rich off religion and nobody better get in his way. They get plenty in each other’s way but little Sunday is no match for the awesomely awesome awesomeness of fuckin Plainview, the scariest man in the movies. There is, finally, blood, but before it shows up, TWWB has already out-horrored this year’s batch of horrors.

C. Jerry Kutner:

There Will Be Blood is a well-shot, well-acted film with epic ambitions, but where it falls shortest is in its attempt to link Plainview to the greed and folly of the Reagan/Bush years. All the obvious elements are there – oil, blood, unfettered dog-eat-dog capitalism, and its unholy alliance with organized religion – but unlike, say, Chinatown or even Citizen Kane, There Will Be Blood never quite connects the dots. Thus, politically speaking, Anderson’s latest film fails to move beyond the specific to the universal. It remains a story about aberrant individuals, setting us up for some great unexpected insight about community and our present-day world that it never delivers.

Manohla Dargis:

It’s an origin story of sorts. The opening images of desert hills and a droning electronic chord allude to the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey, whose murderous apes are part of a Darwinian continuum with Daniel Plainview.

Glenn Kenny:

The “blowing” of this gusher causes H.W.’s deafness (conveyed in one of the few portions of the movie which adopt the subjective point of view, e.g. the dropping out of the soundtrack as Plainview rescues the boy and carries him to safety), and renders him alien to Plainview. H.W. has been the only person Plainview has ever really confided in. Now he can’t communicate with him. Plainview’s exchange with his right hand man Fletcher Hamilton (Cieran Hinds) is telling in a number of ways. “Is H.W. okay?” Fletcher asks. “No, he’s not okay,” Plainview says. Soon, he looks again at Fletcher. “What are you so miserable about? We’ve got an ocean of oil under our feet…and only I can get at it!” Note the use of the first person singular here. Of course it suggests Plainview’s selfishness, callousness…but it also suggests a sundered partnership. Had H.W. been standing with Plainview and Fletcher, uninjured and whole, Plainview would have been speaking to H.W., and he would have said “we.”

Michael Koresky:

For all its measured pacing, exquisitely framed long takes and parched period beauty, There Will Be Blood finally cannot contain the reservoirs of Day-Lewis’s intense melancholy. Not so much a slow burn as a damning accumulation of moments, unforgiving in their spareness, the film seems structured like a two-and-a-half-hour self-denial capped by a horribly therapeutic self-actualization.

I’ve gone back and forth a few times since seeing this.

FOR: the subjective camerawork from a bleary-eyed stroke victim’s point of view for the first 20 minutes is beautiful and avant-garde. The flights of fantasy mix and clash with harsh realities, like Bauby’s ex-wife and current girlfriend fighting over him via conference call, and there’s enough humor and absurdity to keep the whole thing light, even with the clouds of death and disability and shattered families hanging above.

AGAINST: it’s Schnabel’s third bio-pic in a row, and the story of a rich guy in hospital looking back on his life’s mistakes and dictating an autobiography by blinking his one good eye makes for the least essential story of the three. Bauby’s post-stroke struggle is interesting, but his life and character are not.

I feel like I should warn people against watching it, and at the same time, I want to run out and watch it again.

Max Von Sydow played Bauby’s father, and Ghost Dog’s ice cream man played his friend. His hot wife has been in a few Polanski movies (oh, she’s married to Polanski) and his even hotter nurse was in Ararat (the painting-slashing girlfriend, I think). Bauby himself starred in Assayas’s “Late August, Early September” and was billed just below Michael Lonsdale in “Munich”.

A sentence fragment from an IMDB review could be an alternate title: “The Patience of Others”.

I meant to go through the commentary and other material this time, but didn’t get to it, so I remain stupid to all the symbolism. Doesn’t change that I love this movie, one of my favorite films of the 90’s.

Plot follows the aftermath of Juliette Binoche’s car accident that kills her husband and kid… her initial reaction (attempted suicide), denial (withdrawing from all human contact) and acceptance (returning to music and her ex-lover). The camera work is sooo beautiful – cinematographer later did Veronique and Gattaca, but not White or Red. That along with the sound design (sudden symphonic bursts as the picture fades out and in mid-scene) are what blow me away, but Katy got me paying more attention to character details as well (K. doesn’t buy most of Juliette’s behavior).

Juliette is currently starring in Hou’s Flight of the Red Balloon. Her on-again lover Olivier (whose attempts to finish the husband’s millennial composition AND cluing in Juliette to the husband’s affair help return her to civilization) plays the dangerous and mysterious “Thomas” in Rivette’s Gang of Four. Lucille, the friendly stripper neighbor who lends Juliette her cat in the apartments, has been in at least two Eric Rohmer films. And Sandrine, the husband’s mistress whom Juliette invites to move in with her at the end, has been in nothing else I recognize.

Kieslowski on the color significance: the principle behind the trilogy is “how the three words liberty [Blue], equality [White] and fraternity [Red] function today – on a very human, intimate and personal plane and not a philosophical let alone a political or social one”.

The movie took a bunch of awards, including the Venice Golden Lion, but lost the French César to Alain Resnais’s Smoking / No Smoking. Katy’s not the only one who didn’t love it, though. Vincent Canby’s NYT review calls it dead, absurd, pretentious euro-art.

Derek Jarman’s Blue also came out in 1993. I’m sure the two are not very similar.

IMDB and recent reviews don’t list the same credit as the film’s official site & poster: “A Film By Rolf de Heer and the People of Ramingining”.

Young black-and-white Jamie Gulpilil (narrator David’s son) has a crush on his dad’s third wife. He’s joining the older men for the first time on the annual goose-hunt, and along the way, his dad tells Jamie the full-color story of a similar young man (also Jamie) in a similar situation, and how that turned out (father and another man dead, son comically inherits all three wives).

Lovely sidetrack details along the way, like the goose hunt itself (camping up in trees to escape crocs), the sorceror who watches over the town, and the rules that all tribes obeyed to prevent war.

David Gulpilil is humorously telling us the story of the black-and-white movie, which presents the story of the color movie, the hand-me-down nature calling attention to the storytelling itself and the fact that the events are said to have occurred many generations ago. The movie then collapses that sense of endless time by rendering the oldest events, the lesson-teaching ancient story, in vivid color, particularly in the lush greens of the trees and plants.

Apparently the production team strove hard for authenticity, adapting Aboriginal stories to bring the natives’ voices to multiplexes and call attention to the idea that they don’t need the modernization that is being forced upon them. Gulpilil tells us “it’s not your story – it’s MY story”, and so it’s unlike anything else in theaters, in storytelling and in visual style. Great movie, liked it even more than I thought I would. Katy liked, too.

Has David Fincher settled down? After a longer wait than ever between movies, Zodiac is almost a classical Hollywood film, not as showoffy as his others. Only showoffy bits were a Grand Theft Auto 2 perfect top-down cab follow, and some text-in-the-scenery which is just repeated from Fight Club’s Ikea catalog scene. Not that I’m complaining – he’s gone and made a great movie without tricky editing or twist endings or cameras flying through banisters.

We see most of the suspected Zodiac killings as they happen, and see the newspaper’s and police department’s reactions to the letters he sends, but since Zodiac was never caught, the movie doesn’t stop, barrelling forward in time all the way to the 90’s (starts in summer 1969). So it’s long, but it has a lot to cover and never drags.

Movie’s not “about” the Zodiac events so much as three characters surrounding it… newsman Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr, using both his physical comic acting and his drunken depraved acting in one meaty role), detective David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo, harder to track without the Eternal Sunshine beard) and cartoonist turned Zodiac obsessive Robert Graysmith (Donnie Darko, our central character if the movie has one).

Most impressive opening credits since A Prairie Home Companion. The three stars, then Anthony Edwards and Dermot Mulroney, whoever they are, plus Chloe Sevigny as Donnie’s wife, Brian Cox and Philip Baker Hall as guest experts, Elias Koteas and Donal Logue as cops, and Mr. Show’s John Ennis in one scene. I was too distracted by seeing Ennis in this movie to even realize who he was playing.

Based on the book by Robert Graysmith himself – probably the only Zodiac movie you’ll ever need. Funny, this coming out within a year of The Black Dahlia, a movie that starts with the facts, follows the same trajectory of the cops refusing to let the case go, working on it to the point of their lives falling apart, but then goes into fantasy territory with them finding a ludicrous resolution to the still-unsolved case. De Palma’s boasts a more inventive script and more inventive shooting style, but Fincher’s, sticking close to the facts and presenting them straightforward, is at least that movie’s match. I think most critics far preferred the Fincher to the De Palma, because they have no imagination or sense of fun.

An amazingly good movie. Can’t recommend to anyone or they’ll laugh at me (tried a few times already).

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Plot is too convoluted to go through. Crockett is sad-faced Colin Farrell and Tubbs is determined Jamie Foxx. Gong Li is on the drug lords’ team, falls in love with Crockett. Tubbs has a lovely wife who is inevitably kidnapped by neo-nazis. Supposedly our heroes are rooting out a mole in the FBI / DEA / System but get sidetracked by so many other things. Shot on crazy-looking HD by Dion Beebe, guy who did Collateral and Holy Smoke.

Didn’t really know what to say about this one until I read an article about it in Senses of Cinema (see below). I loved the movie, loved the unique beauty of the images and the out-of-control propulsion of the plot, but hadn’t thought about what, if anything, Mann was trying to express, what deeper meaning lay behind all the gunfights and high-tech drug deals. The article (written by a french M. Mann biographer and translated by Sally Shafto) brings a lot to light. Reading it feels like I’ve been given permission by a film scholar to love a big-bang action flick that even the general public didn’t like (or just didn’t see).

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From Jean-Baptiste Thoret’s analysis in Senses of Cinema:
Miami Vice is above all a great film on the human condition in a time of flux. Everything progresses at top speed (the meetings, the love affairs, the reversals, the cars) but essentially nothing really moves forward. … In the blurred passage from the cop’s face to the re-framing of the camera on the flow of the traffic, the man has thrown himself under a truck, leaving only a scarlet stain on the pavement. To become integrated in the flux is also to lose oneself therein. … The film closes as abruptly as it opened: Isabella escapes from the flux by the sea (the eternal utopia of Mann’s characters), Sonny turns his back on the sea and returns to the flux. And loses himself therein. Life suspended on one side, perpetual flux on the other. No dead time or respite: the system runs at full speed but on empty, and possesses no other end than that of its own stability. … In the world in flux that Miami Vice follows, the human is only an event, a lost atom in the multitude, similar to the one described by the hired killer in Collateral. It is either arrogance and/or naïveté of the couple, Sonny-Isabella, to have believed that the human could be stronger than the flux. … The men of Miami Dade only conform to the programs that pre-exist them, to respond to the electronic stimuli (a telephone call, a reaction). They turn out to be incapable of taking control of a disarticulated narrative. … The disappearance of the human, its dematerialization in the heart of an urban universe governed by technology, and thus its capacity for resistance, constitutes one of the central themes of Mann’s cinema and finds in Miami Vice its most accomplished extension.”

He also talks convincingly about women being “the only ones to possess the power to divert the narrative”, about flux being technology “and technology is death”, and sums up the ending with Isabella (Gong Li) driving away from Sonny in the speedboat, Sonny’s returning to the flux: “The world rediscovers its balance but loses a little more of its humanity.”

Katy thought Belle was dumb and the final scene looked crappy/fake and bits were stolen from Cinderella, but even she was impressed by the handheld candelabras.

One of the most beautiful movies ever, of course. Lighting, set design and costumes are completely perfect, acting and story and effects are all great. Probably not much needed to say since I’ve seen this a bunch of times now.

Learned from commentary: actor Jean Marais (Avenant, The Beast, The Prince) was Cocteau’s lover and suggested he make this film. René Clément (Forbidden Games, Purple Noon) co-directed. Beauty Josette Day starred in Cocteau’s Les Parents Terribles, which I barely remember. Given the post-WWII shortages, Cocteau’s illnesses and all the other problems involved in making this, it must be one of the biggest film triumphs in history.