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If you don't understand where a film is going, then how can you feel anything about it?

I agree that my enjoyment of a lot of films is based toward a feeling a film gives me more then understanding the thesis the movie wants to put forward. However, if a movie uses a stylistic language I don't really understand, that I don't see where it goes, I cannot really feel the way the director wants me to feel.

And I can assure you that a 9 year old would go to sleep directly in front of a Tarkovsky

I can assure you that a 22 year old can go directly to sleep in front of a Tarkovsky too
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If you don't understand where a film is going, then how can you feel anything about it?

I agree that my enjoyment of a lot of films is based toward a feeling a film gives me more then understanding the thesis the movie wants to put forward. However, if a movie uses a stylistic language I don't really understand, that I don't see where it goes, I cannot really feel the way the director wants me to feel.
There is no "way the director wants me to feel", art is subjective: it is the interaction of the object with the individual experiencing it. Hence the individual's interpretation of the object's meaning can differ widely from the author's claimed meaning. Hence, there is no "right" way of interpreting art and thus there isn't quite something called "understanding" in the way Mark mean't, specially regarding more arthouse style movies.

Because a movie like The Mirror is not "representional art" it is "abstract art". In this case the meaning is more subjective than in a movie like Nolan's Dunkirk which is a very obvious representation of a clear historical event. While The Mirror leaves much more margin for interpretation. A movie like Stalker though is a much more rational and has a well defined linear plot but it's message is not clear and Tarkovsky, unlike typical Hollywood, is not trying to shove up "a message" down the audience's throats.

And I can assure you that a 9 year old would go to sleep directly in front of a Tarkovsky
I think that if I watched Tarkovsky when I was 9 years old I would be very deeply impressed.

For instance, I think if I watched Solaris or Stalker when I was 9 I wouldn't be able to sleep for days because of how scared I would be of them.

Though I noticed in this forum that I often have different reactions to movies than most people do. The "normal kids" that would sleep to Tarkovsky will become "normal adults" who will sleep to Tarkovsky as well.

I think Anglo-Saxon culture is patronizing to children and it really misunderstands sensibilities for intellect. Children after the age of 10 already have all the neurons in their brain an adult has and their sensibilities are different from an adult's sensibilities but that's because sensibilities evolve over time: a 12 year old has different sensibilities than a 30 year old and a 30 year old has different sensibilities than a 50 year old. Overall, there isn't such a clear cut thing as "children's sensibilities" and children tend to be underestimated by western culture (which is why Disney's movies are so dim-witted).

My brother already when he was 11 years old he was schooling my father who was 56 years old on emotional intelligence: he was teaching my father how to handle his feelings and was even manipulating him because he was already wiser emotionally than my father is. And given the difference in experience it shows how much emotionally smarter my 11 year old brother was than my 56 year old father was.



There is no "way the director wants me to feel", art is subjective: it is the interaction of the object with the individual experiencing it. Hence the individual's interpretation of the object's meaning can differ widely from the author's claimed meaning. Hence, there is no "right" way of interpreting art and thus there isn't quite something called "understanding" in the way Mark mean't, specially regarding more arthouse style movies.
I wasn't talking about the correctness of interpretation, I was talking about the capacity to enjoy a film. I don't pretend The Mirror is a bad film, I'm saying that even though I think I'm a pretty intelligent, open minded guy, I don't enjoy the film because it's narrative structure is very particular and that in order to enjoy it you need to have a certain tendency to enjoy abstract art as you say which isn't universal. The style doesn't appeal to me, I find it very cold and because it's cold I try to rationnaly understand it and I can't which makes it just unenjoyable to me. I don't have anything against Tarkobsky, I really enjoy Stalker and haven't seen Andrei Rublev, but he has a very cold, austere style which doesn't suit me.

I think Anglo-Saxon culture is patronizing to children and it really misunderstands sensibilities for intellect. Children after the age of 10 already have all the neurons in their brain an adult has and their sensibilities are different from an adult's sensibilities but that's because sensibilities evolve over time: a 12 year old has different sensibilities than a 30 year old and a 30 year old has different sensibilities than a 50 year old. Overall, there isn't such a clear cut thing as "children's sensibilities" and children tend to be underestimated by western culture (which is why Disney's movies are so dim-witted).

My brother already when he was 11 years old he was schooling my father who was 56 years old on emotional intelligence: he was teaching my father how to handle his feelings and was even manipulating him because he was already wiser emotionally than my father is. And given the difference in experience it shows how much emotionally smarter my 11 year old brother was than my 56 year old father was.
It isn't impossible, I am not an anglo saxon and don't know many. I would have the unproven tendency to say that Tarkovsky films are as much inserted in a particular ''adult culture'' which isn't what kids would naturally tend to like, just that this ''adult culture'' is different then the one in the western world, he was making films during the cold war and as I understand it from reading history sociologically the USSR was quite different then the west.
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Iron Monkey (Woo-ping Yuen, 1993)



Completely-fun kung-fu action-comedy-fantasy from master choreographer Yuen follows the exploits of a Chinese Robin Hood-type figure (Rongguang Yu) who thwarts a dastardly governor (James Wong) by stealing from him and giving to the local peasants to help them with just surviving. Early on, we learn that the Iron Monkey is actually a good doctor and he's aided and abetted by his nurse (Jean Wang) whom he earlier rescued from rape and abuse. Meanwhile, another doctor (Donnie Yen) comes to the Iron Monkey's town to try to capture him and he's accompanied by his young son (Sze-Man Tsang), but as the Governor's violent tactics increase, the "good guys" band together to fight the Governor's men and a group of Shaolin monks and nuns led by the super evil Hiu Hing (Shi-Kwan Yen). This Hong Kong fairy tale not only displays great bursts of wuxia action and some wonderful comedic elements, but it has a strong romantic theme throughout and certainly believes in the triumph of good over evil. The youngest character in the film, the second doctor's young son, is actually played by a girl and is set up to have a whole new series of adventures.

Note - For those of you who don't like "wire fu", remember two things. What these characters can do is basically no different than what Gandalf can do in The Lord of the Rings or the characters in Star Wars do using the Force. Secondly, this is a solid action-comedy, so although some nasty things happen here and there, it's prime mission is to entertain you for 90 minutes, which it certainly did me.
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Brand Upon the Brain! (Guy Maddin, 2006)



Utterly-insane, wildly-cinematic "silent movie" about housepainter Guy Maddin who's called home by his missing mom to a remote island lighthouse where he's supposed to give the old building "two coats of paint". All Hell breaks loose in a sometimes-horrific, but always amusing film which mixes the reanimation of life, a non-burial funeral, a sister in love with a boy who's really (and obviously) a girl, the import of dozens of orphans, a mother who grows younger and later grows back older, an obsession with Romania, vampirism, a scientist-turned-hamster (or is that vice versa?), a mother with a seemingly-unhealthy fixation on her "little boy", and dozens of other things which seem to have no relationship with each other. The DVD has Isabella Rossellini (from Maddin's The Saddest Music in the World) do the narrator duties and there are numerous sound effects, a couple of songs and a full-blooded musical score, so calling it a silent movie is a bit disingenuous. However, the film was meant to be shown silent at select theatres with an in-theatre narrator, a band of 11 instruments, and three foley artists. I find Maddin's My Winnipeg a step up from this, but that's mainly because he felt secure enough to have some silence on the screen during that newer film.



Nice thread Mark, I'm glad you're putting all of your reviews into one thread, and including them in MoFo's review data base.

Congratulations on making it onto the Top Reviewers reader board



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A Small Circle of Friends (Rob Cohen, 1980)




I believe that this flick has far more assets than it does debits, but sometimes it's difficult to tell. The cast is excellent in this tale of what it was like to go to Harvard during the late 1960s and the Vietnam Era. Brad Davis gets most of the big laughs and the histrionics while Karen Allen and Jameson Parker are expected to anchor the film into reality as much as possible. Although much of the flick comes across as cliched, it's amazing how entertaining the right collection of cliches can become if done in the proper spirit. The fourth most-important character is the wonderful John Friedrich (The Wanderers) who becomes the biggest radical of them all, and Shelley Long also has a major role. Yes, it's true, this was the first film directed by the auteur of The Fast and the Furious, xXx and Stealth, and it's got an annoying soundtrack by the composer who later wrote "Total Eclipse of the Heart", but as I said, while watching all the Vietnam protesting, the draft physicals and the birth of head shops, it seems to matter little. The film should be watched at least once for you to decide if it's just a pile of fake, overheated melodrama, or, if you agree with me, that it's one of the better melodramas about the era just because much of it is so over the top.



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The Pawnbroker (Sidney Lumet, 1965)
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Lumet's powerful treatise on how memory keeps alive the Holocaust within the dead soul of pawnbroker Sol Nazerman (Rod Steiger in one of cinema's greatest performances) even while he's living in the heart of Harlem where almost all the people are bought and sold in the marketplace by pimps and gangsters in a universe not that different from a concentration camp. Nazerman believes he's above all the ugliness he surrounds himself with because he just doesn't care, yet things at work and outside of it keep bringing him back to the past where he lost his beautiful wife and two children during WWII. He takes on an apprentice (the wonderful Jaime Sanchez) and tries to teach him how to learn a career but Nazerman's ghosts rear their heads and cause him to turn on the young man with horrible, yet perhaps, soul-saving results. The supporting cast is highly-unusual and terrific (Brock Peters, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Thelma Oliver, Reni Santoni, Raymond St. Jacques, Baruch Lumet, Warren Finnerty, and the mind-blowing Juano Hernandez). The Pawnbroker is a truly unique film which is still powerful today, not only on a human level but as an American piece of cinema which borrows some editing techniques from Alain Resnais and makes them connect with the viewer in an incredibly visceral way, almost as a precursor to the brilliant editing found four years later in Midnight Cowboy.



I wasn't talking about the correctness of interpretation, I was talking about the capacity to enjoy a film. I don't pretend The Mirror is a bad film, I'm saying that even though I think I'm a pretty intelligent, open minded guy, I don't enjoy the film because it's narrative structure is very particular and that in order to enjoy it you need to have a certain tendency to enjoy abstract art as you say which isn't universal. The style doesn't appeal to me, I find it very cold and because it's cold I try to rationnaly understand it and I can't which makes it just unenjoyable to me. I don't have anything against Tarkobsky, I really enjoy Stalker and haven't seen Andrei Rublev, but he has a very cold, austere style which doesn't suit me.
I see. So you agree with me about movies being "felt" and not "understood".

Anyway, I think Tarkovsky style is best described as "serious humanist". His style is very rich and emotional (it's anything but "cold" and "austere") but it's very slow and requires more patience than what audiences are typically expected. I guess the slow speed of his movies and their unconventional style makes audiences think they are "cold" and "austere".

But they are pure passion, loot at this scene of Andrei Rublev:



It isn't impossible, I am not an anglo saxon and don't know many. I would have the unproven tendency to say that Tarkovsky films are as much inserted in a particular ''adult culture'' which isn't what kids would naturally tend to like, just that this ''adult culture'' is different then the one in the western world, he was making films during the cold war and as I understand it from reading history sociologically the USSR was quite different then the west.
Tarkovsky's films are part of Russian culture, I don't think there is such a thing as "adult culture", besides everything culture related is made by adults so technically anything is "adult culture". I would add that Tarkovsky said he read Tolstoy's War and Peace when he was 9 years old and that his tastes for stuff were heavily influenced by it. He also complained that his parents didn't treat him as a grown up when he was around 40. Overall, I don't think people's minds have a huge change between the ages of 17 and 18 so this "kids/adults" dichotomy is a social construct and not a biological reality.

Russian culture is part of European culture, hence Western culture. Western culture is any culture of European origin and since Russia is an European country it's culture is definitely part of Western culture. Although its not Anglo Saxon culture which is culture of British origin, such as US, Australian and Canadian culture or British culture. Anglo Saxons often think that only Anglo Saxon culture is Western culture but that's only a small fraction of Western culture.

Now, Tarkovsky is not something kids will tend to like but Tarkovsky is not something adults tend to like either. I actually think if you show Andrei Rublev to 1,000 American kids of ages 10-17 and 1,000 American adults over the age of 25, the fraction of kids which will like it will be higher than the fraction of adults. That's because kids have fewer expectations regarding movies because they have less experience and so are more open minded regarding stuff that is different from typical movies and so they could better appreciate Tarkovsky. You should notice that the oldest members of this forum are the ones that dislike Tarkovsky while his fans are the younger ones, who are often called immature by the older ones.



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Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (John Sturges, 1957)



Sturges fashions Leon Uris's script into a taut, thinking-man's western with an exciting payoff in the title incident. Lancaster plays Wyatt Earp as something of an athletic saint but Douglas plays Doc Holliday full of self-loathing and self-destruction. The film is divided into two halves, the first where Earp is the marshal of Dodge City and the second where he quits to go help his brothers in their feud with the Clantons and McLowerys in Tombstone. The theme song by Frankie Laine sets everything up wonderfully over the opening credits and Dimitri Tiomkin's great music is an asset throughout, accenting the various tense incidents which fill out the movie. The supporting cast includes Rhonda Fleming as a lady gambler whom Earp romances and Jo Van Fleet as Doc's woman who runs off with Johnny Ringo (John Ireland) when Doc gets too ill from drink and TB. Other interesting casting choices include Dennis Hopper as Billy Clanton as well as DeForest Kelley (Bones on the original "Star Trek") and Martin Milner ("Adam-12") as two of Wyatt's brothers. Lyle Bettger, Ted de Corsia, Lee Van Cleef, Jack Elam, Frank Faylen and Earl Holliman round out the cast in my vote for the best O.K. Corral flick ever and probably the first western I watched over and over as a young kid.



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The Man Who Came to Dinner (William Keighley, 1942)



I honestly believe that anyone who loves Arsenic and Old Lace and/or Harvey will love this film. It's a tale about world-famous, egotistical critic/commentator Sheridan ("Sherrie") Whiteside (the awesome Monty Woolley), who, against his will, comes to dinner with a Midwestern couple, but slips on their frosty front porch and breaks his leg. He proceeds to turn the life of the couple and their young adult children upside down by taking over their home, as well as trying to torpedo the blossoming romance of his secretary (the wonderful Bette Davis) with the local newspaper editor (Richard Travis). Other major characters include a vain movie actress (Ann Sheridan, the "Oomph Girl" and the female version of Sherrie) whom Sherrie uses to try to steal Bette's beau, an actor/playwright/Renaissance Man (patterned after Noel Coward) played hilariously by Reginald Gardiner, the effervescent, sex-crazed Banjo (Jimmy Durante) [think: Harpo Marx with a voice], and the young nurse (Mary Wickes) who Sherrie constantly bombards, physically and verbally, at will.

Sample line of Sherrie speaking to his nurse: "My great aunt Jennifer ate a whole box of candy every day of her life. She lived to be 102, and when she'd been dead three days, she looked better than you do now!"

The nurse has to wait about an hour further into the flick to retort, but it's a doozy: "I am not only walking out on this case, Mr. Whiteside, I am leaving the nursing profession. I became a nurse because all my life, ever since I was a little girl, I was filled with the idea of serving a suffering humanity. After one month with you, Mr. Whiteside, I am going to work in a munitions factory. From now on, anything I can do to help exterminate the human race will fill me with the greatest of pleasure. If Florence Nightingale had ever nursed YOU, Mr. Whiteside, she would have married Jack the Ripper instead of founding the Red Cross!"



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Harvey (Henry Koster, 1950)


Elwood (James Stewart) keeps embarrassing his family by drinking and talking about his six-foot-three-and-a-half-inch invisible pooka friend Harvey, so his sister (Oscar-winner Josephine Hull) plans to commit him to an insane asylum, but this causes a series of mistaken events for everybody. Harvey is really quite funny, but you see, Elwood P. Dowd isn't really "funny". He's probably the perfect person to have as a best friend, a father figure or a confidante though because, even though he drinks a lot and "may" see things, he has just about the strongest grip on being a kind human being as anyone we've ever seen in our times. Elwood would never hurt anybody and always thinks the best of people, and even if that seems awfully naive, in a perfect world, it would pass for what's expected of everybody. No hatred, greed, violence, wars, etc. Just a lot of open, happy people getting together for the enjoyment of doing so. That's why Harvey is a classic, even if it's a tad dated. The sanest man in the world is seen as insane. This world would do well to take some lessions from Elwood and his friendly pooka Harvey.

"Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me."

"Harvey and I sit in the bars... have a drink or two... play the juke box. And soon the faces of all the other people they turn toward mine and they smile. And they're saying, "We don't know your name, mister, but you're a very nice fella." Harvey and I warm ourselves in all these golden moments. We've entered as strangers - soon we have friends. And they come over... and they sit with us... and they drink with us... and they talk to us. They tell about the big terrible things they've done and the big wonderful things they'll do. Their hopes, and their regrets, and their loves, and their hates. All very large, because nobody ever brings anything small into a bar. And then I introduce them to Harvey... and he's bigger and grander than anything they offer me. And when they leave, they leave impressed. The same people seldom come back; but that's envy, my dear. There's a little bit of envy in the best of us." - Elwood P. Dowd



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Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (Karel Reisz, 1966)


Wow! This one comes after that last "Russian" flick! (Runaway Train). David Mercer wrote a bizarre play about this young Englishman Morgan (David Warner) who isn't sure how exactly evolved he is. Is he beneath humans (or on a sidebar from them) and something akin to chimps and gorillas physically? Is he more-emotionally sophisticated than the average Brit who has already bought into a form of socialism? Morgan seems to idolize King Kong and Karl Marx in equal measures, but the thing he loves the most is his wife Vanessa Redgrave, who at the start of the flick, gets her divorce from Morgan. Of course, Morgan, being who he is, rejects basically the human legal system. so he continues to primitively act as Redgrave's husband. Morgan! (its alternate title) is certainly one of the most-unique films ever made. It's drop-dead hilarious in many ways, but it's almost as disturbing in just as many other ways. Morgan is a lovable character, but he IS dangerous ("You know, I believe my mental condition is extremely illegal.") I find Morgan to be one of the most-wacko flicks ever made. It's definitely both hilarious and subversive at the same time, and that's certainly why it's so important and why I love it.



Sorry if I'm rude but I'm right
"Let's make it slow, boring, with nothing in it so all the members of MOFO can intellectualize it for me!"
Pretty much what I had in mind making As I Was Looking At The Lustrous Beams Of Light In My Tea I Immediately Thought of Cupcakes
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Look, I'm not judging you - after all, I'm posting here myself, but maybe, just maybe, if you spent less time here and more time watching films, maybe, and I stress, maybe your taste would be of some value. Just a thought, ya know.



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By Love Possessed (John Sturges, 1961)

The Forgotten Space (Allan Sekula & NoŽl Burch, 2010)

Bittersweet Love (David Miller, 1976)

Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)



Is Kim Novak possessed or is it James Stewart?
Diane (David Miller, 1956)

Bachelor in Paradise (Jack Arnold, 1961)

Dave Made a Maze (Bill Watterson, 2017)

Dial M for Murder (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)


Beware of sharp objects.
Hounds of Love (Ben Young, 2017)

Rebels of the Neon God (Tsai Ming-liang, 1994)

The Leopard Man (Jacques Tourneur, 1943)

The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, 1963)


Did the Birds win?
The Angel Levine (JŠn KadŠr, 1970)
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The Great Bank Robbery (Hy Averback, 1969)
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Breathe (Andy Serkis, 2017)
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Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017)
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Blade runner Ryan Gosling tries to save former Blade runner Harrison Ford.
Great Catherine (Gordon Flemyng, 1968)

Come Worry with Us! (Helene Klodawsky, 2013)
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Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig, 2017)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Michael McDonough, 2017)
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Deputy Sam Rockwell reacts to the billboards paid for by angry, grieving mother Frances McDormand.



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The Great Ziegfeld (Robert Z. Leonard, 1936)



This Best Picture Oscar winner is often criticized for being too long and boring, and I'll admit that three hours is pushing it for a musical biography, but when I compare it to most other such bios, it's actually really pretty entertaining. The film begins with Flo Ziegfeld (William Powell and everybody loves him, right?) competing with his friendly rival Billings (Frank Morgan, the Wizard of Oz himself). Ziegfeld is pushing the strongest man in the world, Sandow (Nat Pendleton), while Billings is pushing the sexy "Little Egypt". Billings always seems to keep a step ahead of Ziegfeld, but Flo gets the jump on him when he snags French actress Anna Held (Best Actress winner Luise Rainer, who lived to be 104) away from Billings. Flo marries her and makes her a big American star, but eventually the insecure Anna asks for a divorce and Flo then marries Billie Burke (who later played Glenda, the Good Witch, another Oz tie-in). Burke is played by Powell's frequent co-star Myrna Loy who affects a cute Billie Burke voice. There is much more to say about Ziegfeld whose Follies and many Broadway hits made him the most-popular showman of the 1920s and early '30s. There are gargantuan musical numbers and scenes totally recreated from certain plays. Overall, yes, it's probably too-much of a good thing, but it's still good. The cast is crammed with names and faces from the era.



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Natural Born Killers (Oliver Stone, 1994)


OK, I'm not going to get too-seriously into the details of the plot because if any film didn't really care about its plot, it's this flick. Basically, the characters played by Woody Harrelson and Juliete Lewis have been treated horrendously for most of their lives up until they meet, and afterwards, they decide (without much planning) to pay back the world for dealing them such a lousy start at life. Tarantino wrote a script, but by the time the whole thing was shot by Oliver Stone, it didn't especially resemble whatever Tarantino's points were. This is the movie which proves that Stone either suffers from major league ADHD and/or that he's a major league drug user who's equally "happy" with uppers and downers. For the first half of the film, there are rarely 20 seconds at a time where the photography isn't filtered or distorted, the acting isn't arch, the presentation isn't ostentatious and the soundtrack isn't overboard. Even so, if that all doesn't throw you off, the film is watchable in the same way a train wreck is, and then later on, when they end up in prison, it somehow gets calmer, even with Tommy Lee Jones playing a warden who'd make Two-Face seem catatonic and Robert Downey Jr. doing his Australian accent (trust me, Downey's Sherlock Holmes is much-more nuanced). Sometimes I find this film to be bravura and other times I just think it's an older child masturbating in public. Somehow, I still believe my rating to be correct.