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falderal : a moving images blog

Archive for February, 2013

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.