Monday, July 30, 2007

Ingmar Bergman: in memoriam

I heard on the radio that Ingmar Bergman died this morning. So lets take a moment and discuss our thoughts on him and his work and his impact.

What are your favorite films of his? What do you think his main contributions were? What is is about Ingmar Bergman that makes him such a titan of international cinema?

I remember when I took Intro to Film at BYU, and we had a unit on "international film", and the three directors we discussed were Bergman, Fellini, and Kurosawa. Which is appropriate, I guess, since they tend to be the three most well known foreign directors. Why is that? What made Bergman so much more well known than Dreyer or Tarkovsky or Truffaut? Maybe becausw of a little help from Woody Allen?

The thing I appreciate about Bergman is that he made films about the big spiritual questions. Is there a God? What are we doing here? What happens after death? What is most important in life? He spent his life thinking about these things and working out his thoughts through his films. Which is probably why I don't respond as well to Godard and others who seem like they were more just trying to be edgy without having anything to say.

I haven't seen even a fourth of Bergman's films (he made over 50), but the ones I have seen leave a definite impact. You feel like you've really experienced something, even though it doesn't all make sense you can tell there's something There.

Some favorite moments:

In the Seventh Seal when Antonius Bloc and squire are questioning the witch, staring at her eyes as she dies to see what she sees.

The dream sequences in Wild Strawberries where the doctor sees himself in the coffin, and goes to judgement.

The single long take in Winter Light of the woman reading her letter to the Pastor. And also the discussion with the humpbacked church assistant about Christ's suffering.

The fade to red in Cries and Whispers

The Papageno/Papagena song in the Magic Flute where they both remove each other's pull-away clothing (sounds racy, but it's hilarious and delightful)

Anyway, let's here what the rest of you think...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Moviemakers' Master Class

I just got this book from the library yesterday. It is a fantastic read, very insightful, with some surprisingly important directors: Woody Allen, Coen Brothers, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Godard, Scorsese... It's basically what it would be like to have them visit your directing class for a half hour and share their insights on filmmaking.

From Woody Allen: "Comedy is a particular genre in that it is very demanding and very strict in terms of directing. The problem here is that nothing can ever distract the audience from what is suposed to make them laugh. If you move the camera too much, if you edit too quicly, there's always the ristk that you'll kill th laugh. So it's hard to make a fantasy-looking comedy. You hardly ever get a chance to shoot anything very dramaticaly. What you want, really, is a nice, clean open frame, like you have in the Chaplin or Keaton movies."

From Scorsese: "The biggest problem of young filmmkaers is that they have nothing to say. And invariably their films will be either very unlcear or very conventional and geared toward a arather commercial marketplace. So I think the first think you need to ask yourself if you want to make a film is "Do I have anything to say?" And it doesn't necessarily have to be something literal that can be expressed through words. Sometimes you just want to communicate a feeling, an emotion. That's sufficient. And belive me, it's hard enough."

From Tim Burton: "I origianlly wanted to get into animation, and after a few internships here and there, I entered the Disney animation team. but it quickly became pretty obvious that I didn't quite fit into the Disney style... I was pretty much left to myself for a whole year, and I started working on a lot of personal ideas. One of those proejcts was s tory called Vincent. Oriignally, I saw it as a book for children, but since I was at Disney, I figured, why not use the equipment and turn it into a short animated film? I did that, and the success of it encouraged me to make a live-action short, Frankenweenie, that some people liked so much that they offered to let me direct Pee-Wee's Big Adventure."

Friday, July 20, 2007

Another movie list

Over at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule they have another quiz. So if anyone wants to fill this out in the comments section feel free. I'll have mine posted sometime over the weekend.

1) Favorite quote from a filmmaker
2) A good movie from a bad director
3) Favorite Laurence Olivier performance
4) Describe a famous location from a movie that you have visited (Bodega Bay, California, where the action in The Birds took place, for example). Was it anything like the way it was in the film? Why or why not?
5) Carlo Ponti or Dino De Laurentiis (Producer)?
6) Best movie about baseball
7) Favorite Barbara Stanwyck performance
8) Fast Times at Ridgemont High or Dazed and Confused?
9) What was the last movie you saw, and why? (We’ve used this one before, but your answer is presumably always going to be different, so…)
10) Whether or not you have actually procreated or not, is there a movie you can think of that seriously affected the way you think about having kids of your own?
11) Favorite Katharine Hepburn performance
12) A bad movie from a good director
13) Salo: The 120 Days of Sodom-- yes or no?
14) Ben Hecht or Billy Wilder (Screenwriter)?
15) Name the film festival you’d most want to attend, or your favorite festival that you actually have attended
16) Head or 200 Motels?
17) Favorite cameo appearance(Try visiting here and here for some good ideas! This question was inspired by Daniel Johnson at Film Babble)
18) Favorite Rosalind Russell performance
19) What movie, either currently available on DVD or not, has never received the splashy collector’s edition treatment you think it deserves? What would such an edition include?
20) Name a performance that everyone needs to be reminded of, for whatever reason
21) Louis B. Mayer or Harry Cohn (Studio Head)?
22) Favorite John Wayne performance
23) Naked Lunch or Barton Fink?
24) Your Ray Harryhausen movie of choice
25) Is there a movie you can think of that you feel like the world would be better off without, one that should have never been made?
24) Favorite Dub Taylor performance
25) If you had the choice of seeing three final movies, to go with your three last meals, before shuffling off this mortal coil, what would they be?
26) And what movie theater would you choose to see them in?

Friday, July 13, 2007

I have seen 3 movies recently

Azumi: This a japanese movie about a hot chick named Azumi. She is a trained assassin in feudal Japan. She is way too cute and she kills everybody, it is great. The movie kind of slows down toward the middle when she starts regretting being an assassin but then she figures it out and goes on an all out killing spree. There is also this weird 80's guy in the film that carries around a rose all the time. He was kind of stupid but I think he was still able to achieve the desired persona. And if you have seen the japanese Shall We Dance? you may recognize Mr. Aoki in this movie. Unfortunately, he is supposed to be really tough, which is kind of hard for me buy. Anyway, I still really enjoyed because I just couldn't help but smile every time Azumi was on the screen and she was on the screen most of the movie.

Once: This movie makes me wish I could play and instrument. There is a scene where the male lead and the female lead (we never learn either of their names) play a song together and it is really great. It reminded me of the scene in School of Rock when Jack Black and the kids first start rocking together, I cried then too. Anyway, the movie had a really nice non-hollywood feel to it and the music was great.

Live Free or Die Hard: I think the Die Hard series is one of the best action franchises out there. This one suspends disbelief more than the others but it is still quite a bit of fun. Bruce Willis and Justin Long work really well together. I don't know what else to say other than I loved it.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Zardos, Starring Sean Connery

This isn't a review but it's about a film. I came accross this photo of Sean Connery on digg:

and I immediately sought out the trailer. I have to see this film. Has anyone already seen it?