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Posted on Nov 3, 2014 3:55:29 PM PST
I see the filmic landscape as a vast ocean of oneness. I cast my rod, and if I don't like what I catch, I just throw it back in. I caught two films from 1967 yesterday, and before that an odd, Lynchafied beast from 1977, and before that a 1991 piece of strange Crispin, and before that a hot piece of 1953 Lang, and backwards and forwards and all over the place as years and eras and genres all compete for a bite at my bait.

I'm indiscriminate! Well, sorta.

Posted on Nov 3, 2014 3:54:14 PM PST
D. Vicks says:
GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL is a modern classic.

Posted on Nov 3, 2014 3:50:22 PM PST
Budas Root says:
What I also think is bad about this deification of the past is that there is a tendency to only certify those current directors who hew closely to the form and content of older films. And a lot of that is just bad imitation. The Coens and Wes Anderson fall into that category for me. They tend to hook people who are starved for a "classic movie experience." But their films are just not as good as a lot of other stuff out there -- stuff that bears little direct relation to the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s.

Posted on Nov 3, 2014 3:45:08 PM PST
Budas Root says:
If I thought most of today's movies really sucked, I wouldn't be as enthusiastic about cinema, I wouldn't want to write about so many films or even watch them. So, I sympathize with people who feel "dead-ended" with movies. I hope it never happens to me.

Posted on Nov 3, 2014 3:40:51 PM PST
Budas Root says:
We have to have an active spectatorship, to an extent. We can't just passively hope that every TV channel will be showing great programming, that we can simply slip into any theater in the cineplex and see a masterpiece, etc. That was never possible in any era. The past, again, seems neatly squared away by time and consensus. But in 1958 most people *hated* Vertigo. Even cineastes who were in the know, many of them just hated it. You could easily have found yourself having the kind of arguments, back then, about Vertigo that we have nowadays about David Lynch or Refn or Denis Villeneuve. It takes guts to point to something current and say, "This is a true masterpiece." But that's part of the adventure of watching films, isn't it?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2014 3:36:47 PM PST
Re: Does anyone have nifty suggestions of how to better my diet of recent movies I may have neglected?

Nifty solution? No. However, watching every film released will enable you to see the gold. So punch some extra holes in that filmic belt and get to crammin'!

[shrugs]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2014 3:36:15 PM PST
Budas Root says:
I've written books about Gus Van Sant and Nicolas Winding Refn, so I would immediately suggest those directors. Look, it has nothing to do with the technology of current filmmaking. What I am seeing are lots of very smart, daring films that really take chances. I'm hearing less use of gratuitous voiceover and other lazy techniques; more open-ended, unresolved or even "unhappy" endings; interesting content in general.

Steven Soderbergh
Gaspar Noe
Derek Cianfrance
Denis Villeneuve
"Evergreen"
"All Good Things"
James Franco
Pedro Almodovar
Gael Morel
"Starred Up"
"The Liability"
Weersethakul
Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Ramin Bahrani
"A Prophet" and "Rust and Bone"
"Simon Killer"
"Two Gates of Sleep"
Bruno Dumont
Harmony Korine

That's a starter list, if you can't find a lot of great stuff there then I don't know, perhaps it's not cinema's fault. I know that for me there are the films I saw when I was young, and nothing exactly compares with them, because they struck me at a time when I had seen little or nothing else and so they claimed a sort of virgin space inside me. But my goodness, the films I'm seeing now are claiming space of their own because they are reflective of this moment, of the changes we've seen in western society over the past twenty years, and all of that is incredibly exciting to me.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2014 3:26:36 PM PST
Regarding Budas Root's: "There has been a deluge of great moviemaking since 2010 or so, really great stuff.",

Tony said: "It's easy to look back on 1958 and say, "that was a great year for films, Vertigo came out that year", but what other really noteworthy films came out that same year? Not many."

Can't say I agree with the notion that we're experiencing a world-shaking cinematic renaissance any time recently. That's one of the main reasons I'm seeing progressively less new movies each year.
While it's true that stubbornly nostalgic people tend to only remember the "classics" (right of you to point out that most greats of the golden age are dubious in their merits as any other vintage of pop favorites).
The reactionary mentality that hold up the past achievements as de facto superior to the current state of pop culture is no less delusional that the current moviegoer who believes things are naturally getting better than ever as the technology spellbinds at such a rapid pace.
The former's memory tends to erase and ignore the mass of mediocre junk that flooded the movie screens 40, 60 years ago, pretending it was mostly glory, not gunk.
The later is likely ignoring most of the movies 50 or 70 years other than the accepted "classics".
Real movie lovers fall between these two extremes, are more adventurous (or at least gluttonous) in their viewing habits.
Necessarily I'm closer to the 'old movie defender' position, since it's easier from this vantage of being a child of the home video age to spot so many greater triumphs and interesting developments in film of the '20s, '30s, on thru the 1950s-70s, moreover since for the longest time I've suffered from grass-is-greener syndrome of yearning for the unknown country of the past, the strange, unexpected.
What contemporary movie culture tends of hold up as important will rarely stand the test of time. That's generally true of any generation. Especially of the current one.

A relatively short list of 1958 feature-length movies I enjoy more than 'Vertigo' (and I love 'Vertigo'):

Ashes and Diamonds
Ballad of Narayama
Le Beau Serge
Bell, Book, and Candle
Big Deal on Madonna Street
Bonjour Tristesse
Brink of Life
Buchanan Rides Alone
Carve Her Name with Pride
Conflagration / Enjô
Cowboy
End of Desire / Une Vie
Endless Desire
Equinox Flower
Eroica
From Hell to Texas
The Hidden Fortress
Home Before Dark
Horror of Dracula
The Horse's Mouth
I Want to Live!
The Last Hurrah
The Line-up
The Magician
Modigliani of Montparnasse
Moi, un Noir
The Music Room / Jalsaghar
Saddle the Wind
...and parts of Touch of Evil' are as impressive as anything in 'Vertigo', although not on the whole for me.

Sadly, I cannot think of a single movie from the past four years that meets or exceeds the excellence of the above mentioned of 1958.
The most recent film I saw that I'm totally sure I'll be calling great for years to come is 'A Serious Man'.
Possible exceptions I might need to revisit in a decade to see if they're really modern classics in my eyes: 'Amour'; 'Another Year'; 'The Deep Blue Sea'; 'The Descendants'; 'Flamenco, Flamenco'; 'In Darkness'; 'Inside Llewyn Davis'; 'The Kid with a Bike'; 'The Past', a couple Abbas Kiarostami's and Wes Anderson's, some I no doubt haven't discovered yet from 2010-14, or ones I've momentarily forgotten.

Does anyone have nifty suggestions of how to better my diet of recent movies I may have neglected? I'll all eyes/ears.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2014 3:22:45 PM PST
Budas Root says:
Actually, we have never seen that before. There have always been independently-funded films, and also Hollywood films that have real artistic merit, in every decade. If I could see real evidence of what you're saying, I would agree, but in fact it's always been a very multifarious industry.

Oscar Micheaux, whose films have become an object of cult interest and also of great historic interest, financed his films on advances from the theaters that he personally distributed to.

The paradigm of "the funding comes from one place and goes to one type of films" is myopic and incorrect.

More importantly, hindsight is obvious (and inescapable) in any historic period of any art. Take the painters of the Italian Renaissance: do we really think there were only the ten or so who are remembered, celebrated and preserved today? Of course not. There were probably thousands of painters working in the same areas, decades, and styles. When we dwell too much on history and the way it neatly squares away the jungle of culture, we become convinced that the present is a "fallen" time in which venal fakers rule. It's a failure of perception to lapse into that kind of thinking.

Posted on Nov 3, 2014 2:45:35 PM PST
One the other hand, when one megahit begats another megahit then soon all the money will go to making yet another megahit and soon there will be no money available for financing the small, personal film. I believe we've seen this happen. It's tough to ignore.

When only sure-fire box offits hits get financed, then I don't get to see the kinds of films that mean something to me. Simple enough.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2014 2:34:26 PM PST
Budas Root says:
I don't look at movies that way. Industries thrive on certain products; to the extent that I want to see the movies thrive (because I love them, always have) I do not mind that there are box office hits that I don't personally go to see. There need to be those hits in order to have the entire ecosystem of the movies. There is no pristine utopia of moviedom where everything that is made is a five-star artistic masterpiece. Nor should there be, because as we have seen here, there is almost not a single film (even from sixty years ago) that we all want to agree on as being "great." So, I don't resent the box office hits, I am glad they are there, they don't bother me none.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2014 11:49:41 AM PST
Goal Hum says:
You didn't get my point at all.

Nightcrawler Box Office: ( opening week-end) $10 M
Ouija Box Office: ( opening week-end) $20 M
Transformers Box Office: ( opening week-end) $100 M

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2014 11:16:28 AM PST
Budas Root says:
Yeah, Tony, I am amazed by what's being done in recent films. I think it's an exciting time to be a movie lover! Tradition has its place, but so does the idea of Making It New.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2014 11:15:46 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 3, 2014 11:16:41 AM PST
Tony says:
WAS: I think I've said before that I'm not too fond of Austen, Elliot, or Hemingway. Faulkner was quite prolific and I personally think a lot of his better works are the less popular ones with the exception of "Lights In August" and "The Sound and Fury".

You would be suprised how factually incorrect and exaggerated "The Grapes of Wrath"(book and movie) really was. It was really just a bad piece of propaganda.

People on these threads have a hard time understanding what it means when a film is "dated" and I try to explain to them what I mean but they don't buy it. What criteria does a film have to meet to make it dated for you?

Posted on Nov 3, 2014 10:57:11 AM PST
A deluge of great film making in the last several years?

What planet are you on?

Paul Schrader noted, I think correctly, that there are few if any great films made recently. I would say few even good ones.

Thank goodness for the riches of film history.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2014 10:55:45 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 3, 2014 10:59:57 AM PST
Tony says:
Budas Root: I agree. It's really this acidic elitist attitude that some filmgoers have that if a movie is contemporary it's not as good as a film from way back when and may not even be be good at all. I find that to be bullcrap. If one were to really pay attention to what comes out year after year in both mainstream and independent film markets they would easily find films that were just as impactful as they were back in the supposed "Golden Age" of cinema.

Not too mention a lot of these supposedly "great" films from back then are not always so "great" and I'm just as familiar with older films as the next film buff.

It's easy to look back on 1958 and say, "that was a great year for films, Vertigo came out that year", but what other really noteworthy films came out that same year? Not many.

I'm actually having a really hard time thinking about what films from this year I'm going to put in my top five best because there's so many worthy candidates.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2014 10:54:35 AM PST
stevign says:
re: (Snowpiercer) "This is one fun dystopian sci-fi epic with a strong dose of social satire thrown in for good measure"

In other words, it's a religious-fundamentalist film. ;~)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2014 10:44:45 AM PST
Budas Root says:
There has been a deluge of great moviemaking since 2010 or so, really great stuff.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2014 10:41:54 AM PST
Goal Hum says:
How many ? 4 or 5 out of 120 crappy movies ?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2014 10:34:42 AM PST
Budas Root says:
Look how many quality movies there are in Tony's post alone. They are being made. It's just easy to bemoan "the state of movies" as being in decline but it's not true.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2014 10:31:55 AM PST
Goal Hum says:
Nightcrawler is brilliant indeed. But alas, as long as we will have a crowd supporting crap ( Transformers, Ouija), we will see less and less quality movies like this one.

Posted on Nov 3, 2014 10:25:43 AM PST
Tony says:
Room 237(2012)- 1/4 ( Documentary about a group of theorists who provide their interpretations of the classic 1980 "The Shining". I got about halfway through it before I became impatient with it and turned it off.On Netflix Instant.)

Starlet(2012)- 3.5/4 (This one starts with the materials of an ordinary movie and ends up becoming a rather special one. Now on netflix instant)

Oslo August 31st(2012)- 3.5/4 (An observant, powerful, and thoroughly engrossing portrait of a recovering drug addict.The themes are simple, but the emotions are complex. Now on Netflix Instant)

Snowpiercer(2014)- 3.5/4 ( Bizarre, fearless, and ridiculous. This is one fun dystopian sci-fi epic with a strong dose of social satire thrown in for good measure. On my list of one of the year's best. Now on Netflix instant)

Nightcrawler(2014)- 4/4 (Went to see it this weekend and it easily has a spot on my year's ten best list as well. Will write a review for it.)

Nebraska(2013)(rewatch)- 4/4 (Similar to Up In The Air, I think this is a future classic in the making.)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2014 10:16:18 AM PST
Budas Root says:
The only thing I disliked about the film was that it marked the Hartnett character as someone who would have to die because he had crossed too many lines. When he mercy kills the one old guy and everyone starts looking at him funny, he becomes more of an antihero by Hollywood standards and someone who will have to pay at some point. That seemed heavyhanded to me. It's actually sort of vampire-as-Christ, his immolation at the end. It all works, as a plan, because he's basically good hearted; he's a "good" man even as a vampire. That's another Hollywood conceit: that some monsters can be "good" if they learn to sacrifice themselves for the community; whereas the really bad monsters are nihilistic and disloyal to everyone, including their own kind.

I did think these were some of the scariest and most original vampires in recent films, almost a bit too realistic; I mean, they were really scary!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2014 10:10:07 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 3, 2014 10:29:12 AM PST
Goal Hum says:
"The ending wasn't so bad, Goal."

Well, what I found bad is the foolish decision taken by "Hartnett"(corrected) to inject himself the contaminated blood, to save his princess, without any guarantee that it will work as expected. Just because he noticed that people who got bitten didn't turn into those evil creature immediately ? But maybe the contamination by saliva is slower than contamination by blood injection ?

-What if the injection had turned him into a vampire-like creature quickly ? This could have been fatal to his companions and to his cheerleader.
-What if the fight took longer ? He would have turned into a vampire, and killed his cheerleader with his hands.
-What if the horde attacked him once he was beaten to death by their Alpha ?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2014 9:23:21 AM PST
stevign says:
I loved Lone Star. Even Kristofferson was good. Who knew?
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