Cinematic Heritage / True Works of Art

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"Pushing Buttons"
You're pushing my buttons now!
idk if i've seen anything that fits the bill. maybe wavelength??
Yeah, it's quite unlike any other film that came before it. I'd go with Dog Star Man because it even further pushes the medium of cinema into its own territory.
I think there was a similarity of the two that left me not needing to seek out more in the immediate future
He's one of those great auteurs that has a style and follows it in all movies. Pretty much like Cezanne who painted the same mountain over and over again and then famously said "Look at this mountain - it was once fire". Like the late Ozu who perfected his technique and always harked back to similar themes. But Jancso's themes are quite varied. It's only his style that's similar to most of his films (not his late stuff, though), so it all boils down to whether you love that style or not. Repetition is good. Constantly wanting something new is corruptive to our souls. Trust me, I constantly seek new experiences in cinema so I know what I'm talking about.
Private Vices, Public Virtue
I haven't seen that one but heard it isn't top Jancso.
Just wondering, since you love Last Year in Marienbad, what's your favorite Robbe-Grillet? I strongly suspect you have one.
Successive Slidings of Pleasure and Eden and After are my favorites, though his earlier black and white films are more than worth seeking out, too. The Immortal One, Trans-Europ-Express, and The Man Who Lives is an incredible run of films. I've seen these and some others but I'm yet to watch his last two films.
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Yeah, it's quite unlike any other film that came before it. I'd go with Dog Star Man because it even further pushes the medium of cinema into its own territory.
the only reason i didn't say dog star man was because of how heavily prelude and part 1 outshine the rest of it. part 1 on its own though? absolutely at that level.



Victim of The Night
Yes. The issue with paintings (and sculptures) is that seeing them live is probably a god-like experience. But just looking at the pictures doesn't really cut it. I'd say that watching a film or listening to a piece of music at home is just different from seeing them at the cinema / live. Whereas paintings and sculptures are always better when seen in real life.
Memoria is not even Weerasethakul's best film, nor is it representative of his work as a whole. One issue with it is that it's not a film about a woman. It's a film about Tilda Swinton. It's a weird translation of Joe's art into another language. But it works somehow. And it's a masterpiece. It's oniric. It's metaphysical. And it delivers on its promise. An interesting pick, though I'd rather go for Tropical Malady or Uncle Boonmee when it comes to Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
I feel like this is a sort of provocation. Either way, hard disagree here. Avengers is an artless piece of blockbuster money grab. It has absolutely nothing of value in the long run. Any Johnnie To film, even his worst one, is still better and more interesting than Avengers, very much like even a bad Hitchcock or Ford film is more interesting than your average blockbuster, quoting the Cahiers guys. Anyway, Avengers is not auteur cinema. It's corporate cinema. It's commercialism cinema. It should be included in film history books but only to show everything that is wrong with blockbusters in the 21st century. I await the death of Marvel with optimism.
I agree with most of this. Memoria may not be his best film but it's the best film I've seen this year and so it's kinda always on my mind as an example of a number of positive things.
My Avengers point is not a provocation at all, though I figured you'd probably disagree, but it is a point on which we diverge.



Victim of The Night
Memoria and Avengers are both good = FINE

Memoria is excellent and Avengers is crap = FINE

Avengers is amazing and Memoria is OK = FINE

Avengers is the supreme masterpiece and should be part of cinematic heritage (and so is Memoria) = THIS IS BS!!!
Well, I didn't necessarily say it was a supreme masterpiece, I think I said something more like "It is the perfect example of what it is trying to be." And I guess I feel like every type of cinema should be represented in The Cinematic Heritage. I suspect you do not agree.



He's one of those great auteurs that has a style and follows it in all movies. Pretty much like Cezanne who painted the same mountain over and over again and then famously said "Look at this mountain - it was once fire". Like the late Ozu who perfected his technique and always harked back to similar themes. But Jancso's themes are quite varied. It's only his style that's similar to most of his films (not his late stuff, though), so it all boils down to whether you love that style or not. Repetition is good. Constantly wanting something new is corruptive to our souls. Trust me, I constantly seek new experiences in cinema so I know what I'm talking about.

And sometimes watching movies that are too similar along some unrealized axis of comparison, too close together (but weirdly if squeezed closer together as a double feature in a single day), can hurt the second one, so you want to give it some greater time between to give your brain a chance to reset.


Successive Slidings of Pleasure and Eden and After are my favorites, though his earlier black and white films are more than worth seeking out, too. The Immortal One, Trans-Europ-Express, and The Man Who Lives is an incredible run of films. I've seen these and some others but I'm yet to watch his last two films.

I still have Eden and After next up on the queue for him, but what you're saying matches my experience so far. I think the only one that didn't quite work for me was The Man Who Lives, but I don't know how much of it was my expectation of where the movie was going not matching where it actually went. I asked because I was curious if you'd come in with a different take (e.g. maybe not a fan of Slidings because it felt too constrained in the environment, maybe you felt strongly, either positively or negatively, about The Immortal One because it's the one that most closely resembles Marienbad. Etc)



Victim of The Night
I don't think reducing a painting to what its subject is (ie. a girl with a pearl earring) is the way to consider whether something is unique or not. Vermeer's style is what was unique. You look at a Vermeer and you know it is him. That is the value of a Vermeer. It's more than a girl. Just like Van Gogh's Sunflowers are more than sunflowers, or Turner's ships are more than ships.


As for unique films not necessarily being better....errrr....it's true that unique doesn't make something good. And it's certainly true that unique doesn't immediately catapult a work of art into masterpiece territory. But it is probably as close to as essential an element as you are going to find. And when something is unique, even if it is not particularly great, it is always worthwhile. Whereas something that is simply extraordinarily competent, is virtually never going to be worth thinking about generations from now (or even tomorrow)


As for Avengers, I suppose everyone can put whatever they want in their own museum. But that would be a museum I would skip on the tour if I heard Avengers was inside.



This doesn't mean interesting dialogue can't be made out of such a dull film. And I definitely believe a great deal can be gleaned from what this glut of mediocre to terrible superhero films says about our current generation (nothing good, I'm sure). But what I think is most important to address in your high opinion of it, is the fallacy that "a near perfect execution" of what it is trying to be, elevates it to some kind of awe inspiring value. To me this kind of statement makes about as much sense as saying my shopping list, as long as I return home with all of the items I put on it, also qualifies for masterpiece status.



Turning art into this thing with a very specific function, and that removes virtually any identifiers of who created it or what they are hoping to say, to me is always the Great Misstep in these kinds of discussions. While I'm not comfortable rejecting Avengers as being art at all (it's always silly to draw this distinction), I think it is still a wonky proposition to lump it in with films which we might give the capital A Art designation.



At best Avengers is like a well knit sweater. It fulfills its function (keeps you warm), and maybe even looks nice (depending on the technique of the knitter). But anything that has a very specific pattern for its creator to follow in order to make it, and all that gets in the way of its 'greatness' is whether or not a stitch has been flubbed, really reduces art to a skill that can simply be learned and practised, instead of felt and intuited. And I'm not sure that anything like this, beyond its possible importance as a cultural artifact, really says anything beyond the experience of watching an Avengers movie.



I think it is important that Art should not be something that can be manufactured and repeated, if we just get the formula correct. Yes, we can talk about Warhol doing exactly this, and that is clearly Art! But his act of completely disappearing into a process where he could almost cease to exist and be replaced with these gaudy cultural artifacts, was a clear autopsy on who Warhol actually was as a person. He was those paintings he cranked out factory style, even if he wasn't in the room as they were made. And The Avengers is not conceptual in this way. And even if it was, would we ever really need a second Warhol anyways, (I'm looking directly at you Jeff Coons, you talentless hack).
Well, obviously I disagree or I wouldn't have brought it up. I believe that anything can achieve art or greatness if it's done well enough and I think to exclude the super-hero genre from consideration while allowing Horror movies or really any other genre is poor policy.
The Avengers films (particularly the first one), in my opinion, are the best that the genre can be. And whether or not that makes them art because they are not unique enough for some (a point which I would absolutely argue by the way in that the only thing like them are imitators of them) that does mean they belong in the Cinematic Heritage.
Unless we're gonna just start saying that certain genres of film have to be excluded from consideration because certain people don't think they're art enough. Which is not a great place to put us.



Not sure where I stated superhero films should be excluded as a matter of course. I'm speaking specifically about why The Avengers isn't of any tremendous value, even if we accept it hit its goals perfectly. Really, my argument is much more to do with when an artist (or, as is the case with many big budget films, a committee) dial a film in to do one specific thing well. That it has one specific function. And this criticism would not only focus on a bit of entertainment like Avengers, but even politically dogmatic films which appear only to exist to push one specific ideology (not that great artistic statements can't be political, but they need to find a way to allow the audience in in a way where the can engage with the medium, and not simply be hectored by an ideology).


And while I struggle to find many examples of superhero films that have done this, that isn't me saying it cant be done. Of course it can. And horror would be a prime example of genre which can transcend. It does it all the time. It is almost designed as a purely cinematic force. But obviously it can also fall into the same traps superhero films do. It's why I'm obviously not putting The Conjuring in any heritage museum either, regardless if we also want to argue that one is flawlessly executed (even if we probably shouldn't) It exists for the sole purpose of 'being scary ' and what it does with the medium of film is expressly for that purpose. It does nothing with film beyond having a utilitarian purpose. It's a tool, like a shovel. Great if you want to dig a hole, but not much to sit and marvel at.



Like, if we are going to think about superhero films that we want to preserve, why wouldn't we first be looking to either of Donners first two Superman's. Or Raimi's second Spiderman film. Or Logan. Or, presumably, Ragnarok (I havent seen it, but it was made by Waitii)


These are films which actually have a cinematic personality. They don't feel flattened like the pre chewed Avengers. Like, I didn't hate the Avengers, it was totally competent as a little diversion. But why anyone would give it the time of day after they left the theater is beyond me



It's not really about excluding some genres. It's about the fact that some genres come with fewer masterpieces that can be considered true art / cinematic heritage. The superhero genre is a commercialized genre that was born from the pop art of comic books. There might be a Superhero film worthy of consideration, but I haven't seen one. And Avengers isn't even close to being a good movie, let alone a cinematic masterpiece.

Avengers doesn't do anything interesting artistically. It's shot in a very boring and ugly way. One frame of Heroic Purgatory has more worthwhile art in it than the entire Avengers franchise.



It's not really about excluding some genres. It's about the fact that some genres come with fewer masterpieces that can be considered true art / cinematic heritage. The superhero genre is a commercialized genre that was born from the pop art of comic books. There might be a Superhero film worthy of consideration, but I haven't seen one.
The Dark Knight, for an obvious suggestion?



Victim of The Night
Not sure where I stated superhero films should be excluded as a matter of course. I'm speaking specifically about why The Avengers isn't of any tremendous value, even if we accept it hit its goals perfectly. Really, my argument is much more to do with when an artist (or, as is the case with many big budget films, a committee) dial a film in to do one specific thing well. That it has one specific function. And this criticism would not only focus on a bit of entertainment like Avengers, but even politically dogmatic films which appear only to exist to push one specific ideology (not that great artistic statements can't be political, but they need to find a way to allow the audience in in a way where the can engage with the medium, and not simply be hectored by an ideology).


And while I struggle to find many examples of superhero films that have done this, that isn't me saying it cant be done. Of course it can. And horror would be a prime example of genre which can transcend. It does it all the time. It is almost designed as a purely cinematic force. But obviously it can also fall into the same traps superhero films do. It's why I'm obviously not putting The Conjuring in any heritage museum either, regardless if we also want to argue that one is flawlessly executed (even if we probably shouldn't) It exists for the sole purpose of 'being scary ' and what it does with the medium of film is expressly for that purpose. It does nothing with film beyond having a utilitarian purpose. It's a tool, like a shovel. Great if you want to dig a hole, but not much to sit and marvel at.
I don't feel that way about Avengers though, I think it was all still incredibly risky back then and it was a ballsy-as-hell thing to make, so the fact that they nailed it shut, other than Captain America's costume, to me is a very legitimate cinematic achievement, one the entire industry including Marvel themselves, has been chasing ever since.



The Dark Knight, for an obvious suggestion?
Ugh, it's okayish and watchable but Nolan is perhaps the worst contemporary auteur. I'd definitely not include any of his films in any kind of cinematic heritage.



Victim of The Night
It's not really about excluding some genres. It's about the fact that some genres come with fewer masterpieces that can be considered true art / cinematic heritage. The superhero genre is a commercialized genre that was born from the pop art of comic books. There might be a Superhero film worthy of consideration, but I haven't seen one. And Avengers isn't even close to being a good movie, let alone a cinematic masterpiece.

Avengers doesn't do anything interesting artistically. It's shot in a very boring and ugly way. One frame of Heroic Purgatory has more worthwhile art in it than the entire Avengers franchise.
I think what's happening is that I am parsing "true art" and "cinematic heritage". I think the former is incredibly subjective and hard to define and the latter doesn't actually necessarily require the former.



I think you guys are missing the boat on The Avengers, though I've expounded on that before and probably don't need to repeat myself, as the whole thing's likely at a natural impasse.

I will say, very briefly/broadly, that I think the value of it is not just in the film itself, but in the context. The build-up. There are any number of films that ask us to consider how much of their value exists outside of the work itself (like Boyhood), and this is one of them, however grandiose that might sound to someone who doesn't think much of the MCU.



I think you guys are missing the boat on The Avengers, though I've expounded on that before and probably don't need to repeat myself, as the whole thing's likely at a natural impasse.

I will say, very briefly/broadly, that I think the value of it is not just in the film itself, but in the context. The build-up. There are any number of films that ask us to consider how much of their value exists outside of the work itself (like Boyhood), and this is one of them, however grandiose that might sound to someone who doesn't think much of the MCU.

For me Boyhood (which I do like) gets almost all of its value from considering what it is doing outside of that actual film. The movie itself is maybe just slightly better than average, but having film be used as a window to watch a boy actually grow up, gives its sorta mediocrity a value it wouldn't otherwise have. I was moved by it, almost exclusively because of its 'novelty'


What Avengers has like this, I have no idea though. But that is also because I make no effort to learn anything about these productions. If it has to do with the giant scope of the effort they were going to undertake (ie. creating this giant superhero nest that would incorporate dozens of movies), I very much appreciate the ambition. But I still can't imagine anything about it actually moving me.



For me Boyhood (which I do like) gets almost all of its value from considering what it is doing outside of that actual film. The movie itself is maybe just slightly better than average, but having film be used as a window to watch a boy actually grow up, gives its sorta mediocrity a value it wouldn't otherwise have. I was moved by it, almost exclusively because of its 'novelty'
Aye. I actually wrote an essay about this idea: Boyhood, Bears, and Roger Bannister.

For the record, I think it's quite reasonable to consider the context in which something is made when evaluating it...but, and this is gonna seem pedantic, I think it matters whether we're talking about it as a film, or as a general work of art, if that makes sense. I think it should be possible to say "this isn't a very good film, but it is a good work of art," precisely for things like Boyhood, which rely on the story of their creation to have the most impact.

What Avengers has like this, I have no idea though. But that is also because I make no effort to learn anything about these productions. If it has to do with the giant scope of the effort they were going to undertake (ie. creating this giant superhero nest that would incorporate dozens of movies), I very much appreciate the ambition. But I still can't imagine anything about it actually moving me.
Yeah, it's perfectly fine if it doesn't move you, and it would be ridiculous of me to say you have to go and watch six other films (particularly since you can't rewatch the film for the first time having done so, anyway) in order to evaluate this one. But I think it's worth pointing out that so much of the value there is happening outside of the film's runtime.

Honestly, I think just perusing YouTube videos of people reacting in theaters to some of this stuff is moving in and of itself. I think it shows us there's something there. There are lots of things that don't move me, personally, but where I am moved by how much they move others.



I think it matters whether we're talking about it as a film, or as a general work of art, if that makes sense. I think it should be possible to say "this isn't a very good film, but it is a good work of art," precisely for things like Boyhood, which rely on the story of their creation to have the most impact.
Haven't seen Boyhood but you can say neither of these about Avengers. Anyway, this thread presumes we're talking about films that are works of art, not consumerist cookie-cutter products.

Yeah, it's perfectly fine if it doesn't move you, and it would be ridiculous of me to say you have to go and watch six other films (particularly since you can't rewatch the film for the first time having done so, anyway) in order to evaluate this one.
I see, you gotta watch the god-awful sequels to realize the first one was just awful, and not god-awful. :P

But I think it's worth pointing out that so much of the value there is happening outside of the film's runtime.
As is with many other movies. What I see happening with Avengers, or the entirety of Marvel, is that advertisement builds up hype around an entire universe that works in a way that makes every new film yet another slice of pizza the overweight audience will devour. It's not the best pizza but it's hyped so much that some people start believing it's a great pizza. Others are just fine with what it is, but realize it isn't quality food. Marvel films are pandering to the lowest common denominator of public taste. This thread assumes a higher standard than that.

Honestly, I think just perusing YouTube videos of people reacting in theaters to some of this stuff is moving in and of itself. I think it shows us there's something there. There are lots of things that don't move me, personally, but where I am moved by how much they move others.
People post videos of them strongly reacting to dumb memes or TikTok shorts. Does that fact make those skits worthwhile art?

For the record, I do get you probably mean the movies as a communal thing, and those people's reactions as a sort of haven't-seen-for-a-long-time thing. But at the end of the day, all members of the audience are alone. They're lonely people. They're experiencing the film alone. Don't be fooled by the presence of others. Film is (or anyway, should be) the art of loners. We're supposed to be watching a piece of art, we're not in a tavern.



Haven't seen Boyhood but you can say neither of these about Avengers. Anyway, this thread presumes we're talking about films that are works of art, not consumerist cookie-cutter products.
Implying those things are mutually exclusive is pretty clearly wrong, but this is irrelevant: I was not trying to convince you that The Avengers is an example of what you were asking for. I'm responding to the discussion about The Avengers that followed from it, to discuss what kinds of things actually go into evaluating a film.

As is with many other movies. What I see happening with Avengers, or the entirety of Marvel, is that advertisement builds up hype around an entire universe that works in a way that makes every new film yet another slice of pizza the overweight audience will devour. It's not the best pizza but it's hyped so much that some people start believing it's a great pizza.
If you actually believe I'm confusing marketing for my own opinions about things, then I lack the basic human agency that would be required for us to carry on a conversation in the first place. But I don't think I'm confused about that, and I don't think you really think it either.

Others are just fine with what it is, but realize it isn't quality food. Marvel films are pandering to the lowest common denominator of public taste. This thread assumes a higher standard than that.
We've had this discussion before, and it always goes the same way: you say it's bad, I say you're judging it along the wrong metrics and that breadth is just as important as depth, and then the conversation ends and repeats itself some months later.

People post videos of them strongly reacting to dumb memes or TikTok shorts. Does that fact make those skits worthwhile art?
The distinctions here are so obvious I'm very (very!) slightly annoyed you're making me expound on them, but okay:

First, those videos are posted by the people who are taking them for the express purpose of gaining attention. Their reaction is the content, not a byproduct of it. They are the reactor and the creator, so the reaction is plainly not genuine. The videos I'm talking about are surreptiously taken by others and are capturing actual reactions.

Second, the phrase "strongly reacting" is doing an awful lot of work here. People yelling in joy and surprise and applauding is a "reaction," as is someone's eyes bugging out in mock surprise, as is profound sadness, but despite all belonging to the untenably broad category of "reactions" they aren't particularly similar. You might as well say irritation and ecstasy are the same thing because they're both emotions.

Third, I did not suggest that anything someone reacts to a certain way is automatically worthwhile art. I said it should be part of the discussion, and that other people's reactions can move us.

For the record, I do get you probably mean the movies as a communal thing, and those people's reactions as a sort of haven't-seen-for-a-long-time thing. But at the end of the day, all members of the audience are alone. They're lonely people. They're experiencing the film alone. Don't be fooled by the presence of others. Film is (or anyway, should be) the art of loners. We're supposed to be watching a piece of art, we're not in a tavern.
I disagree with this completely.

I also find it plainly inconsistent: we're supposed to be moved by the joy of fictional people on screen, but not by the joy of actual people right next to us? How strange. And besides, I'm not positing that we experience it "with others," I'm saying that the "it" in "experience it" simply includes the context of the work itself. We're not floating consciousness viewing things in isolation and we never will be. You bring your history and biases to everything, and that doesn't taint your reaction to art: it's what makes your reaction potentially meaningful. The same goes for how and when we experience any kind of art.

Here's a thought experiment: imagine an art installation with a beautiful picture on the wall. But you don't get to see it: you're on the other side of a two-way mirror, and all you get to see are other people walking up to the picture, and how they react to it. You see them puzzle over it, smile at it, maybe look sadly or longingly at it. The entire work of art, from your side of the mirror, is based in the reactions of others to it. But it's still art, and still contains the same possibility for profundity, and the same capacity to inspire, as the picture those people are reacting to.



What films do you think are comparable to Michelangelo?
I've sort of been obsessing over this for a few days.

Michelangelo was paid an absurd amount of money to paint the Sistine ceiling. He had a "big budget" in other words. The work was based on an existing "IP", and had he strayed from the "source material" in the slightest the "fandom" would've been displeased, and he painted in the accepted style of the time, so he wasn't exactly pushing any boundaries. He painted it competently of course (said Captain Obvious), and the result was immensely popular with "the lowest common denominator".

I don't really have a point here, other than to point out that this sounds very much like a modern blockbuster film. I wonder if Renaissance hipsters hated Michelangelo?
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Yeah, it's funny how often great works of art were seen as commercial and disposable in their own time. Dumas stretched his novels out because he was paid by the word, for crying out loud. The modern idea of art and commerce as two ends of a spectrum (where the former is good and daring and the latter is bad and bland) doesn't really cut it.