Posted in Film, Psychology, tagged cinema, Film, movies, perception, screenplays, self, self-consciousness, silent movies, the Artist on January 29, 2012 |
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I finally saw The Artist at the weekend. It’s great fun – I came out smiling. But I wouldn’t say it’s a great film. The two central characters are just not interesting enough to carry the film. I’m not sure if this is intentional. Maybe they are symbols of all the silent-movie characters who had to emote and over-act and gesticulate, but couldn’t reveal any emotional depth. I think it’s probably just a weakness in the screenplay: the lead male, especially, was basically a spoilt teenager; and the resolution [minor plot spoiler coming up...] was just him getting his toys back. I’m not complaining, just reflecting!
But the psychological experience of watching a silent film for the first time in years was interesting. I was more detached as an observer. I was more aware of my own experience of watching the film, as if there was a kind of veil between me and the situation on the screen in front of me. I was less caught up in the imaginary reality of the story, but enjoying it just as much.
It made me realise that in a normal cinema experience, it’s as if I am inside the world being portrayed in the film – lost in it. But in this silent experience, it was as if the film was in my head, and I was conscious of myself watching it, and of the film becoming a part of me – but not taking over. Put it another way, I didn’t lose my self-consciousness; or my ‘consciousness-of-self’ as the French put it (because they don’t have the reflexive use of ‘self’). Interesting.
What did you think of the film?
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Posted in Film, tagged Apocalypse Now, Brando, cinema, cinematography, Coppola, desire, Film, Hitchcock, longing, madness, Martin Sheen, Morality, movies, Vietnam war, violence, war on May 28, 2011 |
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Very nearly a masterpiece – if you have any doubts about the power of cinema or whether film is the highest form of civilisation known to humankind, you need to see the re-released version of Apocalypse Now on a very large screen straight away.
I kept thinking, ‘How did he do this?’ The cinematography; the set pieces; the editing; the music. It’s breathtaking. It’s a long time since I have giggled with sheer delight at the audacity of someone’s film-making.
What’s it about? War in general? The Vietnam war in particular? Madness? Morality? The risk of playing at God and thinking someone to be God and knowing that someone is not God? Possibly. Especially in Brando’s speech about the power that lies in the hands of those who are willing to dispense with moral scruples. Or is it about film itself?
This would have been Hitchcock’s answer: Film is not about anything – it’s not the content or meaning that matters – it’s the involvement of the viewer in the unfolding of the film itself, the momentum of desire and longing, the desperate need to know and arrive, and the delayed gratification of a story that is constantly twisting out of view.
It’s only the last half-hour that doesn’t quite work – too slow and too introspective. But then I’m not sure where else Coppola could have gone.
Do see this film on the big screen. It won’t be around for long. Here are the London listings for the next week.
PS – It was a joy to see this at Screen 1 of the Cineworld, Haymarket, just down from Piccadilly Circus, which is a huge old-fashioned screen with its proscenium arch still standing – such a change from the local multiplex.
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I promised a few days ago that I would post about my own favourite film scenes. And I feel it is time to push back the boundaries, to embrace new genres, to boldly go where no blogger with any self-respect has gone before. So here is my first quiz.
Here are the fifteen greatest scenes from the fifteen greatest films of all time (in my humble opinion). The clues are not cryptic – they are more-or-less factual descriptions of what goes on. So you either know them or you don’t.
If you think you know a few answers, then post them in the comments section below. I will leave the comments secret for the first week, just to give everyone a chance to compete with a level field. Then I’ll make them public and anyone clever can try and fill in the gaps. There is a major prize for anyone strange enough to recognise all fifteen films in the next week (the prize being: public recognition on the comments pages of this illustrious blog).
Here they are:
[FINAL UPDATE, 16 April 2010: So I have added the answers in below. Congratulations to Neil for getting the best score (10/15), to Berenike for giving the Polish language version of no. 1 (although was it first screened under the French title at Cannes? - only nerds need reply), and Radha and Fr Martin for mopping up the more obscure auteur films at the end.]
- A woman catches a glimpse of her double in a Polish square. (The Double Life of Véronique)
- A boy pretends he knows how to cast a bell. (Andrei Rublev)
- A spaceman discovers he’s not who he thought he was. (Toy Story)
- The mother of the saviour escapes from a psychiatric hospital. (Terminator 2)
- A man catches sunburn in the night on one side of his face. (Close Encounters of the Third Kind)
- An early hominid flings a bone into the sky. (2001: A Space Odyssey)
- A woman deals with the cops and escapes down a phone line. (The Matrix)
- Two men flee into the rush hour chaos of Waterloo Station. (The Bourne Ultimatum)
- A woman is transformed into the woman he once loved. (Note: I had scruples about giving this clue after I had posted it. As regular readers will know, I hate it when people give away twists and crucial bits of plot; and although this isn’t a direct piece of plot information, it could ruin what is one of the greatest ever moments in cinema. I count it as one of the great blessings of my life that when I saw this film at the NFT I had no prior knowledge about the twist and didn’t twig it until the last moment when it is revealed. And it blew me away with the force of an almost existential revelation. This is my convoluted way of saying that, in conscience, I can’t tell you which film this is! But if you have really never seen it, and really want to ruin it then go to this website and look for film number 65 . Yes, I’m making it difficult on purpose – to help you save your cinematic soul.
- Snow falls on snow at the end of the evening as the carriages pull away. (The Dead)
- A camera falls from the sky and a radio programme announces that it’s just some aircraft debris. (The Truman Show)
- A man wakes up to discover that today is yesterday. (Groundhog Day)
- A woman weeps on the top deck of a night bus as it takes her back to South London. (Wonderland)
- A French chef in exile delights the taste buds and lifts the hearts of her Puritan hosts. (Babette’s Feast)
- A hermit leaves his cell after his fall and finds redemption. (See note from no. 9. Click here and look for film no. 7 if you are desperate to know).
[UPDATE at 15 April: I've unhidden the replies in the comments section. Neil gets the prize with ten answers. I'll put all the answers together in a few days, but just to see if there are any film geniuses out there: No one has got the following four films yet (very difficult, so I have added some clues) - 9 (not Orlando; a classic, always in the Top Ten), 10 (not It's a Wonderful Life; the swan song of one of the great directors, who also has a daughter who is a famous actress), 13 (by a prolific contemporary British director with a film coming out soon), 15 (Italian directors).]
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