NBooth

Film Club 2016: Revenge of the Film Club

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Since there seemed to be an agreement in this thread that reviving the film club might be a good idea, I'm taking it on myself to go ahead and start a thread discussing possible film club selections. It's been suggested to me via PM that a watch-through of Criterion Collection might be a good route to go. I like this idea; between the new streaming service and the regular sales of Criterion DVDs it shouldn't be hard to come up with a movie we can all watch. Other suggestions I can think of--both suggested in the above-linked thread and out of my own cranium--include watching through our lists (the upcoming list of Films on Mercy would be a good place to start) or picking a film-maker and tracing their work over a series of featured film discussions.

Ideas/suggestions/complaints/commiserations/condolences/convictions?

Edited by NBooth

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In the interests of keeping Film Club stuff consolidated in the same forum, I'm going to go ahead and bump this thread with the list of curators:

June Ryan H. [Assuming this isn't too much too soon on top of the Top 25 stuff]

 

July NBooth

 

August Joel

 

September Attica

 

October Andrew

 

November Rushmore

 

December Evan C.

 

.....

I'm up for July, so I should probably start a thread for the next film at the start of the month. Right now I'm torn between two movies: Spring in a Small Town (not available on DVD in the US, but apparently in public domain and so on YouTube, albeit in not-great condition) and 49th Parallel (Criterion Collection. On Amazon streaming though not, as far as I can tell, on Hulu Plus). Any opinions or alternate suggestions would be welcome; I've tried to confine my thinking to movies that haven't gotten much talk around here, but several options I came up with turned out to have existing threads. 

Edited by NBooth

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I love Powell and Pressburger, and I've never seen 49th Parallel, so I'd lean toward that as well.

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Just based on the IMDB descriptions, I'll also toss in a vote for 49th Parallel.

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Oooo, I haven't watched my copy of 49th Parallel in a while...

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Updating the list, with films watched:

June Ryan H. Tokyo Drifter

 

July NBooth 49th Parallel

 

August Joel

 

September Attica

 

October Andrew

 

November Rushmore

 

December Evan C.

 

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I have two possible directions for my August film choice, and they're both foreign directors with the initials of A.K.

Ten (2002, Abbas Kiarostami)

The Match Factory Girl (1990, Aki Kaurismäki)

I'm intrigued by the former film (which I haven't seen) due to the loss of such a significant director, and I'm intrigued by the latter film (which I have seen) due to its similarities and differences with the themes found in the Dardennes' films, my favorite non-American filmmakers. Any feedback or input would be welcome.

Edited by Joel Mayward

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I've seen both films and liked 'em both. My vague impression is that The Match Factory Girl is a little darker than Kaurismaki's usual fare, for whatever that's worth.

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I've never seen either. I've seen four Kiarostami films and would like to see more. I've never seen any films by Kaurismaki, and would like to experience his work. So, I'd be happy with either choice.

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My vote would be for Kiarostami.  I've found his work rather opaque in the past, and would love the chance to converse about a film of his.

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2 minutes ago, Andrew said:

My vote would be for Kiarostami.  I've found his work rather opaque in the past, and would love the chance to converse about a film of his.

Looking at summaries of the two, I've got the feeling that Kiarostami might be less approachable--and one that I would be less likely to approach on my own--so I'm inclined t throw a vote that direction, too.

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Both sound like good choices.

One piece of grist for the discussion mill in the event that we choose Ten:

The great Roger Ebert was not hard to please, yet he fairly consistently could not stomach Kiarostami. Ten was indeed one of the films Ebert struggled to appreciate. In his review of the film, Ebert made the provocative suggestion that AK's films basically only exist for film critics and film festivals. While I don't agree with this assessment, I think grappling with these kinds of objections would make for a great discussion.

 

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Updating the list, with films watched:

June Ryan H. Tokyo Drifter

 

July NBooth 49th Parallel

 

August Joel Ten

 

September Attica

 

October Andrew

 

November Rushmore

 

December Evan C.

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For September I nominate the Soviet Union film Repentance

 

A quick snippet about the film

"What might be lost to viewers today (and perhaps to this particular reviewer in 1990) is the extraordinary political significance of the film when it came out in the USSR. Released in 1984 on the eve of Gorbachev's perestroika and glasnost reforms, the film reopened the Stalin question for the first time since Krushchev was removed from power in 1964. The dead mayor Aravidze is of course the Stalin figure, and the constant reappearance of his corpse is an entreaty to Soviet society (and more importantly, to Soviet leadership) to acknowledge and deal with the terrible legacy of Stalin's regime, under which tens of millions died due to farm collectivization and political purges. Moreover, the film's surreal and phantasmagorical style is an attempt to recreate the conditions of living under the Stalin regime (and to some extent, under the Brezhnev regime), which were indeed surreal and phantasmagorical. 

The film's message is simple: you cannot bury the past. And it is in the atmosphere of this principle during the late 1980s that the last remnants of the Soviet totalitarian system were dismantled. The USSR soon thereafter collapsed.

-

A trailer

A couple of articles about the film.

Some places where the film can supposedly be accessed (although I haven't checked them out).

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If this doesn't work for people, then I also nominate, the Bothersome Man (which might be hard to access), and Cats Don't Dance (a wonderful gem of an animated film which kind of fell between the cracks at the time).

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That's awesome, Attica.  I'm a big fan of REPENTANCE, and would love to see that movie get a wider viewing, particularly among a crowd like this one.  I don't know whether it's an access issue, but I've never understood why the film hasn't had the sort of influence that might have been expected given its message and status.  As far as modern works of film art that approach political thought through a decidedly Christian lens, this might have been the first one I remember seeing.  My wife Ali saw it in an undergrad lit class around '91 and pretty much forced me to watch it.  We liked it so much that when our uni put together a regional lit conference a year or so later we did a little standup on REPENTANCE and EUROPA EUROPA.  She bought me an import r.1 DVD probably 10-15 years ago, so if there's anybody who can't see the film, I'll be happy to help make it happen. 

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Thank you.   :)

Yes it's quite the film.  It says much but often in such a subversive way but also with some very interwoven ideas.  It's also funny, inventive, surreal, and at times... just downright weird.  

I also own an import DVD.  At the time it was all I could find.

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I remember thinking how unique the tone seemed to me at the time-- I'd had some exposure to black humor and social commentary through BRAZIL, I guess, but the way this film wove somber meditations through absurdist, sometimes slapstick humor was pretty great, and such a contrast from the beginning-to-end weighty, earnest self-seriousness of the American Oscar bait that comprised pretty much the entirety of my exposure to political films to that point.  (I had yet to see DR. STRANGELOVE.) The influence of REPENTANCE's tone on later films like Kusturica's UNDER GROUND and the best of the Romanian New Wave seems pretty clear.

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I don't expect a film like this could have come out of North American sensibilities.  Even a film like DR. STRANGLELOVE has some wacky characters supporting the underlying serious themes, but it doesn't have some of the art house sensibilities found in REPENTANCE.  

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FWIW, the link to places where the movie can be streamed actually refers to a 2013 movie.

The whole movie is on YouTube. No idea how copyright works with Cold War-era Soviet films.

I'd be up for this selection.

Edited by NBooth

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6 hours ago, NBooth said:

 

FWIW, the link to places where the movie can be streamed actually refers to a 2013 movie.

 

Oops.  I guess I was a little too quick on the draw with linking to that!

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NBooth wrote:
: No idea how copyright works with Cold War-era Soviet films.

Officially, I believe copyright was considered irredeemably capitalist, which is why the Soviets produced adaptations of Winnie-the-Pooh without any authorization from Disney or the A.A. Milne estate. I don't know if modern-day Russia has retroactively copyrighted any of the Cold War-era stuff, though.

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