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Showing posts from January, 2013

The Bicycle Thief (1948)

I watched it for class. It's a great example of Italian neo-realism. Unless you're interested in the cinematography, I see no reason to put yourself through this, though the reviewers on Netflix seemed to like it a lot. I don't know why. It's realism, so the artifice of American melodramatic tensions, and emotional payoff don't appear at all, though it's ideologically stable, if somewhat momentarily inconsistent.

L'illusionniste

Sad. Sad, sad, sad. This animated feature, about an unsuccessful magician and the girl who believes he's truly magical, ends on an abruptly "coming of age" moment for what seemed to be static characters, rather than working towards a long, dynamic shift. I found the animation entertaining, and at moments beautiful, and comical, and for those who think "sad" is "happy for deep people," this should be your nirvana. I think happy is happy for anyone who can reject postmodern angst.The story, really, is about the magician, not the little girl. He craves adoration, but can only get it by fooling a child. His rejection of such trickery at the end seems to indicate his freedom from some kind of addiction. It's meant to be hopeful, but it means that the storytellers portray the child, as she grows into a woman, as frustratingly naive, and ultimately hopeless. She simply passes from one kind of belief in magic into another, while the magician moves from a …

Battleship Potemkin

I made a serious emotional mistake. This silent film from Sergei Eisenstein (1925) was assigned by my professor for a discussion of montage in film, and Eisenstein's abrasive montage style. Watching the film was not any kind of mistake; it's an intelligent film, if you overlook the broad propaganda. Eisenstein uses several different cutting techniques to create different kinds of montage, all for the purpose of Attractions; of shocking the audience with defamiliarization, and a quick sequence of synnergistic images (images which seem unrelated, extra-narrative, but combine inside the viewer's experience to indicate a third, further idea). Eisenstein wrote about his theories, and of course I got to read it.Battleship Potemkin was often difficult. Images of raw meat, violence, and long, geometric cuts all make the experience somewhat less than full of wonder. Also, the montages often felt like a mental assault. But it was clever, and artistic.Totally coincidentally, a film I…

Jane Eyre (1973)

This is the worst version of Jane Eyre I've ever run across. Though the novel was, in several moments, melodramatic, nowhere does the script necessitate chewing the scenery. And yet, I could see teethmarks.PASS. 1 out of 10 for picking a good book, and an eternity of hell for what they did to it.

Broken Blossoms

Now begins a new and exciting era of film viewing; a graduate-level film theory course, and the films it necessitates. I shall become insufferable on the subject of film.This abnormally depressing specimen by D. W. Griffith fascinates me for a few reasons. The colors shift from blue at night, sepia indoors, and red in China. They're nonspecific (the whole screen changes color), but fascinating shifts with interesting meanings. Dark blues (violet) in the street. . . What Does It Mean!?The scenes in China are strongly anglicized, I'm sure. The scene of the chinese family, the father giving children coins, feels English. The leading man's mission to convert the Anglo-Saxon is just European orientalism with the roles reversed (in London, he has a conversation with an English missionary, to emphasize the irony). Did the Chinese bother to convert the English to Buddhism? It doesn't seem an evangelical religion in the slightest - very welcoming, but not proselytized.The lead …

Broken Blossoms

Now begins a new and exciting era of film viewing; a graduate-level film theory course, and the films it necessitates. I shall become insufferable on the subject of film.This abnormally depressing specimen by D. W. Griffith fascinates me for a few reasons. The colors shift from blue at night, sepia indoors, and red in China. They're nonspecific (the whole screen changes color), but fascinating shifts with interesting meanings. Dark blues (violet) in the street. . . What Does It Mean!?The scenes in China are strongly anglicized, I'm sure. The scene of the chinese family, the father giving children coins, feels English. The leading man's mission to convert the Anglo-Saxon is just European orientalism with the roles reversed (in London, he has a conversation with an English missionary, to emphasize the irony). Did the Chinese bother to convert the English to Buddhism? It doesn't seem an evangelical religion in the slightest - very welcoming, but not proselytized.The lead …