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falderal : a moving images blog

Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Top 5 favourites from each decade

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

My friend, Kathryn, wanted me to share with her my favourite films going by decade (top 5 + honourable mention allowed), which I thought would be really fun to do. It also gave me an excuse to blog, hahaha!

These are the movies I would watch over and over again. If a certain decade is missing or if there aren’t 5 films listed, it’s because I don’t have any films to list. I didn’t list them in order of preference but by the year they were released.

While working on this list, I realized that it’s hard to really pick a favourite because sometimes I’d be like, “UGH, HOW CAN YOU BE SO PEDESTRIAN.”, but realized that was stupid of me to even judge myself or care about what others think. A lot of these films are ones I haven’t watched recently, so I wonder if I’ll still like some of my “favourites” if I rewatched them. For example, I adamantly disliked Hitchcock’s Notorious when I first watched it but after rewatching it a few days ago, now it’s one of my favourite Hitchcock films. It’s also possible that I might like other films more than the ones listed but I don’t remember them that well and need to rewatch them to jog my memory.

Some decades were incredibly hard to do because there were so many favourites, such as the 1920s-1950s. I even told Kathryn about how hard it was and she told me how she imagined herself on a deserted island and how she tended to lean towards happier films so that helped me a lot because I knew that that is what I would have done too. But as someone who is quite sentimental, I had to make sure that films by my favourite actors and directors had to be on this list because if I was on a deserted island, I will need my dose of those! I guess that sort of skewed how I chose films because I would think “Well, there is a Hitchcock film from this decade, so maybe I don’t need another Hitchcock film? What would be the one Hitchcock film I’d pick over all else?”

Here is the list! Can’t wait to see yours, Kathryn! (And I’d like to know what you think of my list, if you have the time to respond.)

1910s
-The Rink (1916)
-The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917)
-Stella Maris (1918)

1920s
-Die Bergkatze (1921)
-Die freudlose Gasse (1925)
-Faust (1926)
-La passion de Jeanne d’Arc (1928)
-Show People (1928)
Honorable mention: It (1927)

1930s
-Trouble in Paradise (1932)
-42nd Street (1933)
-Glückskinder (1936)
-Swing Time (1936)
-The Women (1939)
Honorable mention: Dodsworth (1936)

1940s
-His Girl Friday (1940)
-Suspicion (1940)
-The Maltese Falcon (1941)
-The Major and the Minor (1942)
-Old Acquaintance (1943)
Honorable mention: The Lady Eve (1941)

1950s
-All About Eve (1950)
-Sunset Blvd. (1950)
-Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
-Madame de… (1953)
-The Teahouse of the August Moon (1956)
Honorable mention: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

1960s
-Lover Come Back (1961)
-The Parent Trap (1961)
-Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
-Send Me No Flowers (1964)
-Sedmikrásky (1966)
Honorable mention: Vivre sa vie : film en douze tableaux (1962)

1970s
-Il conformista (1970)
-Harold and Maude (1971)
-Cabaret (1972)
-What’s Up, Doc? (1972)
-Höstsonaten (1978)
Honorable mention: Vérités et mensonges (1973)

1980s
-Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss (1982)
-Victor/Victoria (1982)
-A Christmas Story (1983)
-Amadeus (1984)
-Dead Poets Society (1989)
Honorable mention: Valmont (1989)

1990s
-Reservoir Dogs (1992)
-Trois couleurs: Blanc (1994)
-Mimi wo sumaseba (1995)
-As Good as It Gets (1997)
-The Matrix (1999)
Honorable mention: My Own Private Idaho (1991)

2000s
-Harry Potter series (2001-2011)
-The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003)
-Down with Love (2003)
-Saved! (2004)
-Inglorious Basterds (2009)
Honorable mention: 8 femmes (2002)

2010s
-Toy Story 3 (2010)
-The Help (2011)
-American Hustle (2013)
-The Imitation Game (2014)

Pretension or interest?: My thoughts on my Criterion Collection movie marathon.

Monday, February 25th, 2013

My friend tagged me on a Facebook post and wrote:

has a lot of film catching up to do: Kes, a ton of Mizoguchi films I’ve yet to see, re-living my youth with some Godard, and way too much Fassbinder, [my name]!
http://gizmodo.com/5984370/the-criterion-collection-is-giving-you-access-to-all-their-movies-for-free-on-hulu-this-weekend

I followed that up with my own status update:

Thank you [friend’s name] for telling me about Hulu! Seems like this weekend is going to be full of Truffaut, Kieślowski, and Rohmer. Oddly very Frenchy, teehee!

In retrospect, that’s a lot of name dropping! At that time, I didn’t mean to sound pretentious but was listing off the directors that I wanted to see works by, especially Rohmer since I’ve been pushing him off FOREVER.

After watching each film on Hulu, I would write little status updates of what I thought about the film I watched. Here’s what I wrote:

Trois couleurs
I finally watched all three in a row! Absolutely fantastic, 10/10! I loved Bleu best.

I Married A Witch
5.5/10: Cute movie and Veronica Lake is adorable as ever!
I am starting to think that I don’t like René Clair’s feature films too much but we shall see!

Week-end
6.5/10: What I liked and disliked about the movie were the reasons why I like or dislike Godard films.
I have a feeling that it’s a film that I’m going to dislike when I get older, however, I definitely want to rewatch it again in the future.

Lola Montès
8.5/10: Beautiful and touching! Has many things that I love about films such as the overly artificial nature of it. I can see why Fassbinder liked it so much — I think that I should trust him and watch all of his favorite movies.

The Divorce of Lady X
5/10: Cute but very lacking. It reminds me of bad American screwball comedies and it just seems like England is trying to imitate Lubitschian screwballs and failing miserably. And the more I see of Merle Oberon, the more I think that she’s nothing but a pretty face. Laurence Olivier’s acting was brilliant and I hope to see more of his comedic roles!
Use of Technicolor did nothing for the film — it would have looked better in b/w.

21 Days
5/10: Reminds me of early Hitchcock pictures like 39 Steps and Jamaica Inn. Laurence Olivier was pretty good but Vivien Leigh was mediocre (funny how it’s the opposite in Fire Over England).

Les Grandes Manœuvres
9/10: I was worried that I was going to be disappointed with another Clair feature film but to my surprise, I really liked this one! The film had a dash of Wilder, Lubitsch, and Sirk, but the overall feel and style was unique. I love the whimiscal aspects of Clair films and this definitely had it!
Also, completely off-topic but seeing a young Brigitte Bardot was a shock. I guess her melons weren’t ripe yet.

Zazie dans le Métro
9/10: Whimsical, surreal, fantastic!

That Hamilton Woman
8/10: Korda production at its best! Viv and Larry were fantastic in it

Madame de…
9.5/10: My favorite Ophuls film that I watched! What a beautiful film and the story was great too. I never thought I’d say this but wow, Charles Boyer is a great actor — he definitely helped the movie shine and I loved watching him.

Le plaisir
6/10: Great cinematography + mise-en-scene but I didn’t like the plot much (and we all know how much I love plot!) The third segment was the best, in my opinion, and I really loved how the suicide scene was shot.

La Ronde
6.5/10: I liked the Ophulsian touches but the film didn’t do much for me. Also, the film features the most awesome cigar holder that I’ve seen in a film.

These little notes were ones I wrote to keep track of what movies I watched and my first impressions of them.

Yesterday, my friend treated me to dim sum (god bless her) and she jokingly said something along the lines of how I’m a film snob and that my status updates were proof of that. I told her that I wasn’t and we all tittered but then I started to truly wonder if I was.
This is what I consider a film snob: People who name drop all the time to make themselves look more intelligent. People who look down on others for not knowing certain things related to cinema. People who try to one-up each other with film knowledge.
I’m going to give it to you guys straight. Sometimes I act as such too but then I remind myself that there are so many things that I don’t know and that it’s really silly to judge others, especially based on specialized knowledge. After all, I still haven’t watched some of Fellini’s best-known works so who am I to judge? And I know diddly-squat about contemporary films so I am well aware of my weak points (But people, don’t get me started on Bette Davis, Billy Wilder, or Ernst Lubitsch. I will talk your ear off and ask you to fangirl/boy/gender-neutral/etc/SQUEAL-IN-DELIGHT with me!).
Long story short, I think judging is unnecessary and as my friend pointed out about me, all I ever say is, “No judgment!”

Now that is settled, let’s go back to my list of films and how my movie marathon worked out. Instead of watching Truffaut, Kieślowski, and Rohmer, I started off with Kieślowski and Truffaut and Rohmer dropped off the face of the planet.
How I decided which films to watch within a short period of time (I’m only human and had to sleep.) were based on genres (the strongest factor), stars, and then director. I ADORE comedies so I decided off the bat that I must watch all the comedies on the list of “MUST WATCH” films that I made for this movie marathon.
However, I decided to only watch comedies starring film stars I liked or ones directed by famous directors. This is where the pretension vs interest comes in. Am I watching this so that I can talk to other film people and be like, “Oh yes, I completely know what you are talking about. Ophüls’ camera movement is divine isn’t it? I know Lola Montès is his best known and loved work but I prefer Madame de due to the combination of plot, mise-en-scène and cinematography. What? You think plot isn’t important. Well sir, I have to disagree! Everything about this film is well-balanced and one aspect of the film complements the other!” (Oh god, gag me with a spoon!) or am I watching it because I really love films?

In the end, it all doesn’t matter what people think about me but I often wonder about how I choose which films to watch. If one is to label me a cinephile, I think that there are two aspects of me within this one label of “cinephile”.
One part of me is: A quest for knowledge.
The other part is: An instinctual love.
What I mean by the first part is that I watch certain films to educate myself. There are certain directors that many people know (even people outside of the ~film community~) so I feel some sort of obligation to know some of their works. What I mean by the second part is the love for films that I have that I can’t even describe in words. When someone asks me about why I love a certain film or a film star, I get starry eyed and blather some nonsense in an attempt to describe my feelings. There are certain actors that I am obsessed about and there are certain films that I can watch on repeat and never get tired of.
I guess that sometimes I have trouble accepting the first part because I feel as if I am tainting this “pure love” that I have for films (the second part). Both parts are equal and I do enjoy learning about new directors and such but I feel that the first part of me is less sincere even though my thirst for knowledge is sincere.

Oh well! One day I shall come to terms with it! And thanks to my curiosity about Max Ophüls, I found out that I really do like his works and want to watch everything that he directed! And if I seem like I’m name dropping, I don’t mean to come off as snobby but get carried away with my ramblings.

Morality and the New Woman

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Last semester was one that was both heaven and hell. I was taking classes that I enjoyed (for the most part) and the one that I was truly excited about was my independent study. My independent study was a research paper on Asta Nielsen and Mary Pickford and how both women portrayed the idea of the new woman overtly or subversively. Overall, I was pretty satisfied with my paper although I was worried about some of the holes I had in my argument, and the biggest hole is what I’m about to address.

I received my paper back from my professor and she brought up the same question that I had about my own paper: Is agency a good thing if one’s act is selfish and not moral?
I was using Nielsen’s film Hamlet as an example of how film portrayed a woman who embodied the idea of a new woman — the important part being what I considered to be a new woman. For me, the ideas of a new woman were ones tied to independence, intelligence, and worldliness, and the character of Gertrude was one that encapsulated all of them. Gertrude was just doing her thing throughout the whole film! She’d cheat on her husband, lie to her country, and kill her son/daughter and husband as a way to satisfy herself. In other words: she knew what she wanted and she’d do anything to get it.
To have such a character is refreshing because in cinema, many women are pushed around or are just “decorations” in a film (e.g. pretty girl being tied down onto a train track just to be saved, such as in Barney Oldfield’s Race for a Life, 1913) but It reminded me of something that I think I read awhile back (things are getting a bit murky in my head, I admit!) about how strong female characters in cinema are shown in somewhat an antagonistic light, for example, femme fatales.
Femme fatales are intriguing in that I personally find those characters to be absolutely amazing (They’re completely the opposite of me in character that I guess I want to live vicariously through them. But enough with the pseudo-Freudian analysis…) but it is true that people can see these characters as symbols of corruption. Instead of women being picturesque Victorian “ladies”, the shift in gender norms led to the creation of the vamp/femme fatale. Just think about what “vamp” means. Like a vampire, these women are ones that suck the life out of men and make them putty in their hands.

Coming back to Gertrude and my paper, I am honestly struggling with the notion of independence and morality in female characters in film. I don’t believe that one has the choose one or the other, heck, I used Mary Pickford as an example of a woman who used the patriarchal system to her advantage. But when it comes to independent women in early-1960s cinema, where and how do we (I?) draw the line?
Am I severely obscuring the term “new woman” to fit my own arguments? Probably.
Are there strong female characters in early cinema? Sure.
But how are these strong female characters shown? Usually with a flaw or something that appeals to the male audience to placate them.
At the top of my head, I can’t think of a woman who is good and strong. Katharine Hepburn in Holiday (1938) is the closest I can come to.
But then I wonder why is it so good to be good? Or am I on the verge of becoming amoral? And I wonder if I would be stuck with this big headache if these characters were male. Would I brush off their actions or would I be ruminating over this?

When I come up with some form of conclusion, it will be time for another blog post.

From Low Art to High Art: Film’s Availability to the Masses

Monday, June 4th, 2012

This is a ramble. Feel free to ignore.

The correlation between art and economics has always been present and the thought of art being “hoity-toity” even now is proof of this. Anything considered as something “above” is tied in with wealth — people assume that going to museums is for people who are wealthy and educated even though nothing about art itself is inherently tied to wealth.
In the Western world, art has slowly moved from being something private to something more public and for the masses. Paintings were usually for private use although statues and murals were for the public, but with the rise of prints, the availability of something grew. People were able to afford these non-originals and these prints were easily produced and distributed. I believe that films bring this to the next level. People in the beginning were suspicious of films and it was seen as a lower form of art. Yet with the rise of new technology, is film going towards a direction that is no longer for the masses? With the rising ticket prices, films are becoming something more exclusive. If one does not have the monetary means of being able to pay for a ticket, they cannot experience certain films the way they were supposed to be experienced. It is no surprise that people turn to pirating to get their “fix”. Back in the 30s during the Depression, Americans still flocked to the theatres to escape and to find shelter and amusement for a cheap price. Now the last thing people think about is spending their money on movies and if they do, they would probably want more bang for their buck and buy a DVD, which they can watch repeatedly.
It’s funny how the film medium, which has started as something quite egalitarian, has turned into something that is no longer that. What will films be like in the future and what will their place be in our lives? Will the movie going experience slowly die down or will gimmicks (most likely quite expensive) draw the audiences back in? i