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Have you ever tried ranking the films after you watch them? I've done that sometimes with a running voting list, then other times not. I can't say if it helped me or not either? Just curious if you did that?
I've never done that, no. I've always waited until I'd watched them all before I started comparing and ranking them.

Though I did technically start my list last week in case Farewell My Concubine got disqualified before I got around to watching it. I grouped together my top three, middle three, and bottom three films, but they're not necessarily in their final order. That's why I said I have a vague idea of how I'm ranking them; I just need to work out the details haha.



I've never done that, no. I've always waited until I'd watched them all before I started comparing and ranking them.

Though I did technically start my list last week in case Farewell My Concubine got disqualified before I got around to watching it. I grouped together my top three, middle three, and bottom three films, but they're not necessarily in their final order. That's why I said I have a vague idea of how I'm ranking them; I just need to work out the details haha.
Mostly that's what I do too. I don't have any detailed ways of ranking them. I just move the movies around in order tell I like it...or get sick of reordering my list



@rauldc14 is Thursday in or out? I don't know if that was ever confirmed?
Probably out at this point. I'd still like to give her every opportunity to finish though, but people should definitely hold off on watching her film.



Probably out at this point. I'd still like to give her every opportunity to finish though, but people should definitely hold off on watching her film.
That's cool, I was just wondering.



Weird is relative.
Just wanted to leave an update... Pierrot le Fou I had seen before nominating it, and The Man from Earth I watched recently, so I'll be writing those up when I have a chance.

I have the others on hand... Le Trou, Anatomy of a Murder, Memento, and Ed Wood. I usually choose a genre to watch based on the mood I'm in, so not sure what I'll see next.






Sometimes when a filmmaker decides to make a litery adaptation they feel inspired and cut down to the meat and potatoes of the plot, characters, and essence of the story. In other cases we end up with Farewell My Concubine an ambitious through grossly uneven film.

The first act of the film covers the story of a prostitute who leaves her child with a theater troupe to get him out of that life. As the boy grows up in this tightly knit community we see the brutality of this life where beatings, and a cult like atmosphere are fostered. It's during this part of the film we get to know our central characters. However the next two hours of this film covers the characters as they grow up in China during the Japanese occupation and the cultural revolution. While the intention of the film is to cover a large collective of characters over a long stretch of time the problem is non of the older characters are as well-defined or well-performed as the young contemporaries.

Where the film should really excel is in the Opera performances however the films greatest fault is how these potentially compelling scenes are shot in such a flat dull and frankly cheap method that when the finale comes I had to rewind it and I thought to myself...well that's a let down. The film isn't entirely terrible, you have a collection of scenes that have a bit of a powerful impact, especially during the cultural revolution portions. Though sadly because the characters are so poorly drawn out you feel a sense of sterility at those scenes.





Raise the Red Lantern is a damn near perfect film, it tells the story of an educated woman who is sent to be the fourth wife (er third...mistress) of an elderly master in his palatial estate. The master having gotten tired of his latest mistress he is ready to move onto his next younger one.

One of the things that make this film so good is you would figure the master would hold a major position in the film, and while he does drive the plot he's always just in the background with his face obscured. We know who is he and what he does but the filmmaker shows a degree of restraint with him never pushing him into the monster level. What the film is really about is how the four wives interact with each other and play their games of manipulation and treachery for even the minor-est of conveniences.

And while the film has an epic quality to it, by keeping the story in the estate it slowly becomes more of a prison. You go from these lavish yet somewhat sparsely decorated rooms to a concrete courtyard where the Master decides which woman he'll bed for the night. Sex and violence is always in the background yet the director never gives us any gratification in those areas.

Another thing I enjoy about this film is how none of the mistresses are particularly sympathetic. Each one including the protagonist has good and bad sides that are demonstrated throughout the film. And finally I enjoy how every scene is shot with a degree of symmetry, the film goes out of it's way to project a sense of equity when the entire point of the story is the lack of equity for the women in the story.





Farewell My Concubine / 霸王別姬 (1993)
Directed By: Chen Kaige
Starring: Leslie Cheung, Zhang Fengyi, Gong Li

Farewell My Concubine follows the lives of two actors whose relationship is strained by personal conflicts while they are forced to suffer through an ever changing social and political climate. The film covers over 50 years of history, from the fall of the previous dynasty, through the Japanese occupation of China, to the subsequent Communist takeover and devastating Cultural Revolution. Due to its subject matter and critical depictions of the government, I wasn't surprised to discover that the film had been pulled from Chinese theatres and heavily censored. That's certainly a shame, but I'm glad the film remained intact for its international release.

The growing disparity between Dieyi and Xiaolu was handled extremely well. Although he is an excellent actor, Xiaolu doesn't truly understand the play or its nuances, simply accepting what happens because that is how it was written. He is also clearly willing to forego tradition, as long as it still benefits himself. However Dieyi's admiration for Xiaolu gives him a connection to his character that makes him feel like he's living the play, so he forms an attachment to it that he is reluctant to let go. In addition to the drama that their conflicting views generate, their turbulent history can be seen as a representation of how culture and politics fail to coexist, which is a major theme in the latter parts of the film.

It's unfortunate that the dubbing of Leslie Cheung's lines were so poorly handled, since his physical performance was completely stunning. His facial expressions in particular were quite captivating, and always managed to hold my attention. The actor who recorded the dialogue did a good job, but the poor lip syncing was often distracting. Trying to avoid looking at Cheung's mouth did at least give me time to appreciate the gorgeous theatre costumes. I do think the main actors remained too youthful looking for how much time had passed throughout the film, though that's a minor complaint.

While I was engaged from beginning to end, I think Farewell My Concubine could have benefited from spending a more even amount of time in each social period, or at least not glossing over certain elements, like the opium addiction. It's strange to think that some things felt rushed in a film that has an almost 3 hour long runtime, but since other parts seemed to go on for longer than necessary, a few changes in focus could've fixed that. This was definitely an interesting watch that I think would benefit from a second viewing, but despite thoroughly enjoying the film, I'm not sure if I'd want to sit through it again any time soon.


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I do like slow cinema but it took me two nights to get through the 3 hour movie which felt very long to me.
I didn't find Farewell My Concubine to be too slow, but when the film was over it had felt like an entire day had passed. My room mate even remarked that it felt like the film had been on forever, and he only saw flashes of it while walking past my room haha.

The individual scenes had this odd pacing that made me feel like I didn't get the emotional story that I should of. They didn't flow in the way they fit into the overall story, but felt like they were pieced together in a patchwork.
I definitely agree that the placement of some scenes (and the edits between them) didn't feel particularly natural. That's something I remember noticing at the time, but completely forgot about until now for some reason.

I might have had it written in my notes, but I deleted half of them when I saw how long my write-up was getting in comparison to what I wrote about the other films haha.



I just sent my list. I've never decided on a final ranking this quickly before!

Maybe for the next Hall of Fame I will try starting my list at the beginning, and updating it with each nomination I see. My usual method worked fine this time, but it was definitely an exception haha.






French jail (I don't think it's supposed to be prison) comes into play in this French New Wave classic from Jacques Baker, Le Trou. Not much can be written about Le Trou because the film has a unique position in that it's about two hours long, it's very thorough taking you through the escape point by point. Some might think that it makes the film seem long but I thought the film just flew by, and this was a re-watch for me.

Baker lets you get to know the characters and he is constantly building suspense throughout the film and this helps it tremendously. Also what I enjoyed about it was the dichotomy between the inmates and the prisoners, typically in a prison escape film the guards are portrayed negatively or cruelty but in this film they are just drones. Having a prison film with the melodrama or exploitation impressed me greatly because it allowed for a rise in tension with the inmates. Everything that happens in this film is earned rather than presented.

This was a great nomination and one of the big reasons I agreed to do this fourth film Hall of Fame. Good pick @Nathaniel



(I don't think it's supposed to be prison)
While I think the French only have one word for both jail and prison, the correctional facility in the film is certainly a prison, at least by Canadian standards. Jails here tend to be run by local police, and are never used for long term sentences which many of the inmates in Le Trou are facing. Though in most English speaking countries, a lot of people use the two words interchangeably anyway.



Well the whole plot point was that they need to escape before they are given "hard labor" so I'm not sure if this is "jail" and like Papillon is what "prison" is supposed to be but this seems to be point of the time period.



I do not remember any mention of hard labour as a sentence, just that some of them had a minimum of 10 years to serve. I could've missed it though, especially if it was just brought up once.

The film is based on a true story involving La Santé Prison, which English Wikipedia does list as a prison and not a jail, if that makes any difference.



Anatomy of a Murder



A classic movie that really checks off all the boxes on what a good movie is. First and foremost for me is the performance of James Stewart. I don't think the film would be close to as great as it is if he wasn't involved. It really is a convincing performance which keeps the viewer attached to what is going on in the film. The supporting cast is pretty impressive too, my favorite being George C. Scotts performance. If I'm not wrong, I believe he was also equally as good in the courtroom drama 12 Angry Men. Technically the film is real good too, lots of great camera shots, the film looks very crisp on the criterion and I liked the use of the jazz in the score. The story is told really well with strong direction from Otto Preminger. Overall, it's the second best movie of it's kind for me. Really cool to revisit it as I'd forgotten about all the details.

+



Anatomy of a Murder



A classic movie that really checks off all the boxes on what a good movie is. First and foremost for me is the performance of James Stewart. I don't think the film would be close to as great as it is if he wasn't involved. It really is a convincing performance which keeps the viewer attached to what is going on in the film. The supporting cast is pretty impressive too, my favorite being George C. Scotts performance. If I'm not wrong, I believe he was also equally as good in the courtroom drama 12 Angry Men. Technically the film is real good too, lots of great camera shots, the film looks very crisp on the criterion and I liked the use of the jazz in the score. The story is told really well with strong direction from Otto Preminger. Overall, it's the second best movie of it's kind for me. Really cool to revisit it as I'd forgotten about all the details.

+

FYI, George C. Scott wasn't in the 1957 movie 12 Angry Men, but he was in the 1997 TV movie.



George C Scott debuted in Anatomy of a Murder and went on to perform in 12 Angry Men (1997)..which was stacked BTW, (Lemmon, Gandofini, Vance, Davis, Mueller-Stahl, Cronyn, Olmos)




Anatomy of a Murder is one of those films where you can easily get lost in the terrific lead performance of Jimmy Stewart you miss out of the incredible ensemble work. I'm just going to list my top things I love about this movie other than the best work of Stewart's career.

10. Ben Gazzara, who might be the weakest link of all the main actors. The entire film is about the gray moralities and you would think that the defendant would be at the forefront but really he's just a small part of the whole story.

09. Muff the dog, Otto was such a little sneak naming that charismatic animal "Muff".

07. Sam Leavitt's Cinematography, Leavitt takes a small court room and shoots it in a timeless fashion. This film feels like it could have come out or been told at any point in the last 100 years of film and Leavitt and Preminger deserve a lot of credit for it.

06. Duke Ellington's cameo and score, you've got this seedy Jazz element running through the film and the characters.

05. Murray Hamilton who went on to be the mayor in Jaws is just spectacular as the bartender and lead prosecution witness. He walks a fine line between slime and charm and what could have been a nothing role carries the second act.

04. George C Scott I don't know if this was his best performance but it was pretty damn awesome. Mixing pathos with humor and playing a foil to Stewart Scott matches Stewart step for step and we he asks the wrong question and gets the wrong answer it's his body language that demonstrates the end of the case not the jury's finding.

03. Joseph Welch's Judge Weaver...bored putupon and sometimes hilarious, Welch get's to referee Scott and Stewarts banter and he does an excellent job.

02. Wendell Maye's Screenplay which makes 3 hours feel like 15 minutes, the film manages to go through most of the criminal justice process not just the trial and do so with zip, charm and great character work.

01. Lee Remick, the performance and character feel both revolutionary yet also authentic. We never know what really happened, however her scenes (first one with Stewart, second one with Scott) are likely the best parts in a great film. Laura is the one at the end of the film that leaves you with the most difficult questions. Did she set both men up? Was she the victim of rape? Is she a battered wife or a manipulative seductress bouncing from man to man. We never know and that's part of what makes this film so damn thrilling.