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(05-17-2020, 10:40 PM)mnkykungfu Wrote: [ -> ]
(05-17-2020, 11:34 AM)TM2YC Wrote: [ -> ]I don't think the BFI's 2012 'Sight & Sound' magazine poll did 'Vertigo' any favours by declaring it the official "greatest film ever made" because it's just not, it's not even Alfred Hitchcock's best film. This is the 4th or 5th time I've watched it but I'm still not getting why it's considered the greatest. 

Totally with you on everything you said.  I've been digging in to the S&S lists recently, and various film critics' takes on them.  Roger Ebert wrote a piece the year when Vertigo displaced Kane where he commented on it.  He too said Vertigo wasn't even Hitch's greatest: he favored Notorious.  However, he said his mind was changed that year when he selected Vertigo for his famous Ebert Interruptus festival.  After going over the film frame by frame with an audience, he was convinced it was the better film.

I haven't watched it that way and honestly don't have the desire to.  Film is ultimately subjective and I find I disagree with the conventional critical take 90% of the time, so what's the point?  Maybe the best takeaway from critical standings is to view them as Ebert said he used to make them: to purposely put in films that he didn't think were objectively the best, but that he wanted to get stirring up conversation around.  Saying Vertigo is better than Kane or even Rear Window certainly does that.

I enjoy contentious, contrary or provocative lists (such as this one, also from S&S: https://archive.org/details/Sight_And_So...x/mode/2up) but I also like "authoritative" ones like the S&S poll, which seeks opinions from a large range of critics. According to this post: https://www.bfi.org.uk/films-tv-people/s...ndpoll2012 it was an aggregate of 846 top-ten submissions. So many of them must have had Vertigo in their top 10, I wonder how many would've actually chosen to place it at no1 though?

I found some more info on the Vertigo voting here (in which I notice it says that 25% of those asked were women): https://www.bfi.org.uk/films-tv-people/4...ndpoll2012

It was on just under 200 of the top-ten lists. You can also see what individual critics voted, like Ebert: https://www.bfi.org.uk/films-tv-people/s.../voter/142

We'll have to wait to 2022 to see if Vertigo slips back down the critical consensus. Surely by then they'll be able to poll 50% women/50% men and we could some different results.
61 years ago...

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Ashes and Diamonds (1958)
Director: Andrzej Wajda
Country: Poland
Length: 103 minutes
Type: Drama

'Ashes and Diamonds' ('Popiol I Diament') is ahead of it's time, you'd guess it was from the 60s, not the late 50s. The protagonist, an underground resistance assassin in post-war Poland played with quirky energy by Zbigniew Cybulski looks like a mix of James Dean and Chow Yun-Fat.  The black & white Cinematography by Jerzy Wojcik and Direction by Andrzej Wajda is beyond stunning. The shafts of light spilling into smoky, crumbling, antique interiors put me in mind of 'Blade Runner' (but maybe that's because I've been seeing a lot of it recently). Alcohol is a constant theme, we see people drinking 'til they're paralytic, toasting fallen comrades with flaming shot glasses, reminiscing about binges from their youth and several scenes take place at a drunken banquet, or in a bar. The Poles have just won their freedom from the Nazis but now face the Soviets, so nobody can decide if they are drinking at a party, or a wake. The assassination scene, backlit with fireworks, is a tragic image that'll stick long in my mind, as is the shot of a broken statue of Christ hanging upside down in a bombed out church. A total masterpiece that is sure to get even richer with repeat viewings.



A fantastic video essay on the movie...



The first Hammer Horror film in the book next!
(05-18-2020, 05:25 PM)TM2YC Wrote: [ -> ]I enjoy contentious, contrary or provocative lists (such as this one, also from S&S: https://archive.org/details/Sight_And_So...x/mode/2up) but I also like "authoritative" ones like the S&S poll, which seeks opinions from a large range of critics. According to this post: https://www.bfi.org.uk/films-tv-people/s...ndpoll2012 it was an aggregate of 846 top-ten submissions. So many of them must have had Vertigo in their top 10, I wonder how many would've actually chosen to place it at no1 though?

I found some more info on the Vertigo voting here (in which I notice it says that 25% of those asked were women): https://www.bfi.org.uk/films-tv-people/4...ndpoll2012

It was on just under 200 of the top-ten lists. You can also see what individual critics voted, like Ebert: https://www.bfi.org.uk/films-tv-people/s.../voter/142

We'll have to wait to 2022 to see if Vertigo slips back down the critical consensus. Surely by then they'll be able to poll 50% women/50% men and we could some different results.

That first link of yours appears to go to a full magazine issue?
The 2nd one...I liked checking out the Director's List.  I've come to believe that any discussion by a group of critics is inevitably shaped by the nature of their job.  They tend towards things that are jarringly different, even if they don't really work.  Because they have to watch 10 films a week and they get numbed to films that tow the line.  They tend towards techniques that subtly hearken back to film greats.  Because they all took Film 101, and 201, and maybe more, and they enjoy seeing that knowledge reflected back at them.  They're the first people to shout from the rooftops that some director is a new auteur and everyone should rush to see their phenomenal new work... and then the last people to actually put that work on any "Best Of" list.  Because they've been forced to "pay their dues" for 20 years and think everyone else should have to as well.  In short, what and how critics respond to film is a poor barometer of how an average filmgoer would respond.  The entire film criticism industry is kind of a big

circle jerk
, which is a big reason it has declined so much.

Directors of course are impacted differently by different things, too, as you can tell from looking at their list.  It's almost just a list of Best Directors, lol.  Personally, I'm more interested in actors' lists, as they sometimes are really impressed by a director's efforts, sometimes by performances, sometimes cinematography or script... they tend to have a lot more variety, and aren't afraid to throw in films that don't try to re-invent the wheel but are very emotionally affective.  

But I digress.  I like reading through your reviews of this list because, while you have far more love and tolerance of ancient films than I do, you seem realistic about their relative strengths and weaknesses.  It's good for making mental notes of which films I might possibly enjoy if I'm in a mood to "eat my vegetables".
62 years ago...

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Dracula (1958)
Director: Terence Fisher
Country: United Kingdom
Length: 82 minutes
Type: Horror

After Hammer scored a big hit with 'The Curse of Frankenstein' the year before, moving on to vampires was inevitable. The same two actors return, Peter Cushing as Van Helsing and Christopher Lee as Dracula, along with Michael Gough. It was titled simply 'Dracula' but re-titled 'Horror of Dracula' in the US to differentiate it from the earlier Universal film. The mix of garish red blood, Gothic atmosphere and sexuality set the blueprint for Hammer's own Horror sub-genre. Cushing looks so young, energetic and dashing as the hero. I watched the 2012 Hammer blu-ray restoration which incorporated a few extra shots that had been censored to achieve the original 1958 BBFC 'X' Certificate, sourced from a battered old near-mystical Japanese print. The quality is noticeably poorer than the rest of the film (although amazing considering the damaged condition of the source) but they do add an extra bit of impact.



Another Jacques Tati film next.
(05-09-2017, 07:44 AM)TM2YC Wrote: [ -> ]89 years ago...

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The Crowd (1928)
Director: King Vidor
Country: United States
Length: 103 minutes (1 3/4 hours)
Type: Silent, Drama

'The Crowd' is an unusual film, the kind where you are constantly thinking "Where is this going?". A thought it manages to stretch out 'til the last shot, when you understand it's been going nowhere, on purpose. You think it's a triumph-over-adversity story about a struggling family in the Big Apple, who are going to make it someday! But really they aren't going to "make it" because they are just normal and unremarkable people. Two contemporary reviews reacted differently, one positively "A powerful analysis of a young couple's struggle for existence in this city" and one negatively "a drab action-less story of ungodly length and apparently telling nothing". I think it's somewhere in between, maybe a film can be too realistic.

It makes you realise how very rare it is for a film to show random people, to which random things happen, over a random period of time... the end. It still has strong dramatic scenes (the death of a child, suicide and despair) but without the usual greater meaning that these things would usually hold in a structured plot with defined character arcs.

The male star James Murray overacts wildly but his female co-star Eleanor Boardman is grounded and convincing. Murray's life tragically reflected his character, becoming alcoholic and homeless. Vidor tried to help him when he found him on the street, offering him the sequel but he angrily rejected it and committed suicide not long after. His character in the movie drinks to excess, barely keeps a roof over his family's head and contemplates suicide after refusing a job out of pride. Life imitating art, in another King Vidor picture it seems. Carl Davis provides yet another great score (that's three in a row!).



By the way, I ordered the DVD for this from France and it turned out to be the new worst DVD in my collection. Not only was the picture clearly taken from an old VHS tape (and a very bad one at that) but it had burned in French subtitles and an appalling Jazz-band score that bore no resemblance to the action on screen. Luckily I found a version online that did have perhaps a worse image but no distracting subtitles and the better Carl Davis score. So that was a waste of money Angry . I'll give the movie another go when it gets a blu-ray release.

Next is the first film in the book by Josef Von Sternberg.

This sounds like EXACTLY the kind of film I don't have time for.  I can watch random things happen to no effect with wild over-acting in my own life, thanks very much.  (But no judgement on those who enjoy such things...also, I've got some home movies to sell you.)
(05-11-2017, 04:06 PM)TM2YC Wrote: [ -> ]This new teaser/scene for the just released BFI 'The Informer' blu-ray showed me I had to have it. The way the camera is still then suddenly glides away towards the crowd is great...




The real highlight of this scene for me is the score.  You don't often hear what sounds like a harmonica and an accordion used for a dramatic score, but the mood and rising tension they produce here is great.
^ Dammit, that Informer blu-ray is still sitting unwatched on my shelf. FYI: The score is by a guy called Garth Knox.



62 years ago...

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My Uncle (1958)
Director: Jacques Tati
Country: France
Length: 120 minutes
Type: Comedy, Satire

Like other Jacques Tati films 'My Uncle' ('Mon Oncle') utterly delighted me and tested my patience in about equal measure. It's packed with "jokes" but they are so subtle and small-scale that they stretch the definition of the word. I got enough little chuckles out of the two hours to enjoy the film and the dinner party scene did have some genuine big laughs. Again Tati plays his 'Monsieur Hulot' character, a gentle, absent-minded fellow who inadvertently causes chaos and disruption wherever he goes. This time he's the uncle to the son of two frightfully middle-class parents living in a ridiculous mockery of an ordered, modernist, automated 1950s home. My favourite bits were the silhouettes of two people in windows appearing to be eyes and Hulot destroying a fountain by accident. The whole film is a sharp satire of "progress", "efficiency", materialism, social-systems and daily routines. So even if you don't find any of it funny, you can appreciate it on that level. The densely layered soundscapes of whirring machines, trickling water and blaring buzzers is very David Lynch. I kinda want to watch it again already because I reckon it gets better with every viewing, as you spot more and more detail and comedic repetition.





Another Satyajit Ray film next.
(05-16-2017, 01:03 PM)TM2YC Wrote: [ -> ]87 years ago...

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'An Andalusian Dog' ('Un Chien Andalou') is the famous surrealist short by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí

Oh man, how can you not mention the eyeball cutting?  One of the most horrific images I've ever seen in my life.  I watched this at the Dali Museum in Florida, and that image was the big takeaway for me.  A mish-mash of ideas designed to provoke thought more than to say anything specifically: if you're going to do an arthouse film, this is the ultimate realization of that ethos.
(05-19-2017, 04:02 PM)TM2YC Wrote: [ -> ]Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)
Director: Charles Reisner & Buster Keaton
Country: United States
Length: 70 minutes
Type: Silent, Comedy


[Image: 34760825805_10071f2961_o.gif]
Cool!  I forgot what this was from.  Jackie Chan is a huge Buster Keaton fan, and he copied a scaled up version of this stunt for his film Project A II.  I'd never seen the original.
(06-04-2017, 03:34 PM)TM2YC Wrote: [ -> ]86 years ago...

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The best bits edited down to something like 30 minutes would be a riot, instead of a bit of a chore.

I'm looking forward to your 2021 series of silent-film fanedits.