Archive for May, 2010

Nathalie… (2003)

“Nathalie…” (2003)

IMDb

the good angel

the last film i commented on was something i considered offensive, “les anges exterminateurs”. It earned me some criticism by an angry reader, and i reviewed that film after so i could re-consider my opinion. I stand for my opinion: the film was offensive in how it assumed it was a film about voyeurism and its relation with sex while being simply the result of an adolescent approach to sex, and its director looks at those women as a 14 year old who gets to look at a girl’s locker room through a broken glass. It’s superficial, and offensive because it takes itself seriously.

So, after that, i looked for this one. Still french, still about picturing sex situations. But this is a whole different sport. It’s directed and conceived by a woman, and that is significant to the whole final product. I think women are more internal when looking to others. So this film has an interesting dimension of using the female body (and face!) to dig into the women. Those women are fictional, but good fictional characters. The two leading ladies acting is good and supportive of the director’s intentions i think. And above all, what we have is not gratuitous. Images come as visual supporters for a story, not as mere illustration. And most important, unlike “anges”, here we have images that allow for the development of the story in our minds (thus visual storytelling). In “anges” we had some story about some director wanting to make a sex film, that was a mere excuse for the depiction of nudity.

It is the honesty of this film that i crave, every time i see a film. The film may not be as original as it could (and this film certainly is not so original) but i praise its intellectual honesty.

Stick with this, it will mildly challenge you. Not the other one.

My opinion: 3/5

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3 years

I has 3 years, the materialization of this idea that i can learn by writing, that writing about films makes me organize mentally what i actually feel about them. As if i would find each film inside of me as i write about it. I believe that what i’ve been doing will work as a kind of intelectual induction, in which i will learn by acumulating examples, by the intensity and variety of the experiences i get with films. Maybe one day, but not yet, i’ll try to group and generalize somethings that i’ve been understanding and synthethizing, from the films i get to see. For now i’ll keep writing about films, within my possibilities, 1 by 1, as i’ve been doing lucidly since 2007.

So far i’ve commented on 264 films (84 last year). I sincerely would have liked them to be more, but it hasn’t been possible.

Right now, the wordpress statistics (which only contemplate on site visits) state this:

7Olhares:__________43 238 (15 411 last year)

7Eyes:_____________12 961 (6 261 last year)

7Ojos:_____________14 473 (5 877 last year)

Total:_____________70 672 (27 549 last year)

I thank the visits, and i always thank the opinions. I still want to be read, and i have been more and more, even if i write a little bit less. Thank you.

Les anges exterminateurs (2006)

“Les anges exterminateurs” (2006)

IMDb

simple masturbation

Sex is universal to every art in every time, in every culture. It’s universal because it’s as animal as every man is. So, no theme is more richly treated, and more thoroughly investigated as sex. That raises the bar of demand, in other words, if you want to do anything interesting that concerns sex you have only two choices:

-either you do something that, although not original updates somethings that had been previously done;

-you find any dark corner of sex, usually tied to other equally fascinating worlds, of the human mind or such; this film does nothing in any of the 2 options. it’s as dull as its writer sounds. This i say taking in consideration the lines, and an interview i saw on the DVD extras.

Apparently this film was made as some sort of provocation against some sex related charges related to this director’s previous film. I think he might see this as an exorcism or something that could be mapped into the realms of the “art” world. Some personal exploitation of the limits of voyeurism in sex; a man who studies female orgasm by watching (and filming) it. I suppose later in the process of developing this, Brisseau himself understood how thin the whole thing was, so he placed a couple of Wenders’ borrowed angels, to add a layer of mysticism to the whole watching game and, i suppose, so we could identify with the more active angel, as a voyeur of the voyeur situations.

This could actually work, but only if the director was more interested in making a film, rather than looking like he masters the inner depth of the female orgasm. As it is, this is a shameless depiction of the female body, some women are really and genuinely appealing, but the whole work is just dishonest. I really would prefer to have this made into a softcore exploitative film, than this annoying piece. Anything Brass or Franco do is better than this.

My opinion: 1/5

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The Drowning Pool (1975)

“The Drowning Pool” (1975)

IMDb

black tide

I assume that the purpose of this film was to explore the on-screen persona of a by than fully established Paul Newman.

This means we have a film built upon crystallized notions of style, associated with the comedy effect that comes with it. Basically, the film would live on the audience buying the Newman effect, and accepting that the fact that Newman was on-screen was enough for the film to be worth it. So, they use a stylish noir story, because that allows them to be around, and with Paul all the time, making everything happen around him all the way. He is (literally) our detective. This was released the year after Chinatown. I don’t know how much they took this into consideration, but i supposed suddenly noir was fashion again, and so this would make a film as this one even more appealing.

I’m not sure whether this worked in its days, but i can say that today this looks (and sounds!) incredibly awkward, and today i wonder how they expected to get away with it. But times change and it is possible that one day this might have sounded relatively appealing to a certain kind of audience. Those would be, i suppose, people of Newman’s generation, because his 50 years old might be curious to those days youngsters as much as, say, Harrison Ford was appealing to my generation (i’m 25), but he wouldn’t exactly be on top of a world already revered de Niro, Al Pacino, etc.

What really sounds bad is, oddly enough, Newman’s acting, which is over top and, i would say, lazy. He goes with the tide, does not take himself seriously (and that might be good) but than he spirals into self-parody, which sounds exaggerated and unnatural. Woodward is the only good part here, i think.

And the “pool” of the title is a good stunt, i admit. It has an interesting flavour, obviously enhanced by the almost naked bodies, which was clearly the intention, well, not so far away from the premises of any Bond film anyway. But the rest of the thing just drags.

Oh, and this was shot in an area that today is on the verge of ceasing to exist in its natural richness. The same oil that mcguffins this story is the responsible today. terrible.

My opinion: 2/5

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L’affaire Dominici par Orson Welles (2000)

“L’affaire Dominici par Orson Welles” (2000)

IMDb

the other side of television

This is a documentary on a “lost” documentary by Orson Welles. What a responsibility for those who were involved.

As you may know, Welles’ career is an opened one because some fundamental chapters of his last, more hermetic and thus more intriguing and seducing period are still to be unveiled properly. Among some certainly interesting but not so important projects, there is a film called “The other side of the wind”, which, just to be understood in terms of what happened during and after production, is a challenge on its own. The bottom line is that right now what does exist of that film that Welles was facing as his most important one, can’t be seen by ordinary mortals such as myself. And because editing had become so vital and fundamental with the evolution of Welles career, i really think that whatever he hasn’t edited properly, may be forever lost in its prime intentions: only he would know.

But his legacy is just too huge with what he left us, and the promise of what we are yet to see is just to great for anyone who cares to be satisfied. And from that perspective, anything we can put hands is worthy.

So does this documentary matter? yes. Why? Because it goes around an unseen documentary that Welles filmed and that was his first work for television. And television, though a fundamentally uninteresting and even harmful medium, at least from my point of view, was something Welles started doing in order to raise money for his private film projects, but eventually bent him and originated, remotely, his last phase. It is with television that he gains the pleasure for direct storytelling, halfway between pure oral culture of “telling stories” and the whole sublime manipulation of cinema. In doing so, he began what he would call “film essays”, something that still is to be explored.

So i suppose we all owe to television that it suggested such powerful concepts to Welles. And it all started here: the very choosing of the story, which had to matter and stand on its own, and also to allow itself to be bent, even manipulated, cast with ambiguity. What he does, being totally common today, was in some respects revolutionary to TV productions: he told the story of these murders from a number of different perspectives, apparently without interfering, even if he always established his own presence as the interviewer.

The good points of the documentary on the documentary are that in the first place we are all allowed to see the original documentary, in whatever form remains. The production process is finely presented, and interestingly enough, there are remarkable unknowing insights into Welles’ way of thinking by people completely outside cinema, such as the lawyer that explains the shots succession.

The low point would be that they eventually spend too much time revolving around the story of the Dominici case, instead of the story of Welles doing the Dominici case. Those two layers are there, but they should have been leveraged in a different way.

Also, for Welles, here and in his “around the world” documentaries, one can sense his powerful ability to write and rewrite stories, adding and manipulating layers. But the visual strenght that he would give it in “F for Fake” and whatever other excerpts we have today, is still not here, though it would still be the television to provide its roots (Portrait of Gina).

My opinion: 3/5

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