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The feeling of watching an artistic masterpiece is really one to cherish.

Most films, while good when you watch them, end up as forgettable and "in the moment" experiences, whereas great art lives with you long after it ends.

There's absolutely value to watching mainstream and/or entertaining movies, including blatant cash grabs, even.

But I think that, ultimately, the strength of a film lies in how much of a unique experience it is. And ignoring the obvious "every experience is unique", no matter how much I love those mass-produced American film noirs from the 40s/50s or Hong Kong films from the 80s/90s, one artistic masterpiece can pretty much blow them out of the water. And one of the most significant factors why is the uniqueness of the art film.

But how many truly unique movies have you seen this year? And I don't mean original or smart films with some never-seen-before gimmick. I mean truly great works of art that you can call just that: Art. Films that you can compare to the greatest works of literature or painting or sculpture.

What films do you think are comparable to Michelangelo or Caravaggio or Bach in terms of being great works of art? What films should belong to the cinematic heritage?
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Registered User
The feeling of watching an artistic masterpiece is really one to cherish.
Ideally, but a masterpiece might also be repugnant, unsettling, and even disturbing.
Most films, while good when you watch them, end up as forgettable and "in the moment" experiences, whereas great art lives with you long after it ends.
Some great art is ephemeral.

Brian Eno, for example, went to considerable trouble to compose "music for airports" -- music which is pleasant and calming, but NOT melodically demanding and draining of denizens of airports as they shuffle in line and wait. The whole purpose of his project was to create forgettable art serving a real practical purpose (easing human beings as they make their tiring passage through that bottleneck-nodal point called the "airport") .
There's absolutely value to watching mainstream and/or entertaining movies, including blatant cash grabs, even.
I sense the fishing lure bobbing up and down in the water.
But I think that, ultimately, the strength of a film lies in how much of a unique experience it is.
It can be, but it can also lie in what a typical/representative experience it is--that great commonality that brings us together (Ah, yes! Isn't that true! That's my own experience!).
And ignoring the obvious "every experience is unique", no matter how much I love those mass-produced American film noirs from the 40s/50s or Hong Kong films from the 80s/90s, one artistic masterpiece can pretty much blow them out of the water. And one of the most significant factors why is the uniqueness of the art film.
I am not sure that you have yet secured this as a necessary or sufficient factor. A film can be uniquely bad.
But how many truly unique movies have you seen this year? And I don't mean original or smart films with some never-seen-before gimmick. I mean truly great works of art that you can call just that: Art. Films that you can compare to the greatest works of literature or painting or sculpture.
Uniqueness and originality are massively overrated. It's not about doing something new (what is really new, anyway?), but about arranging the familiar furniture in the room in a way that serves the needs of the moment. It is best thought of as a local/relative phenomenon and not a cosmic/existential one. What counts more than doing it first is doing it well, right?
What films do you think are comparable to Michelangelo or Caravaggio or Bach in terms of being great works of art? What films should belong to the cinematic heritage?
Yeah, I know this part. This is where we propose films and you tell us they suck.

I propose Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as they have a Michaelangelo in their ranks, and a Leonardo, and a Donatello, and a Raphael.

Top That!!!




Ideally, but a masterpiece might also be repugnant, unsettling, and even disturbing.
I can't see why you cannot cherish something that is any or all of those things.
The whole purpose of his project was to create forgettable art serving a real practical purpose
It's funny because if anything, it's one of the least forgettable albums to me. But in a different sense. I've been meaning to relisten to it for years and I constantly have it at the back of my head but never really gotten to relistening it. At this point, I'm a little bit afraid of what is going to happen after I give it a relisten. What other album is going to occupy my to-do list?
I sense the fishing lure bobbing up and down in the water.
I love hundreds of cheap movies many MoFos wouldn't even take a look at.
It can be, but it can also lie in what a typical/representative experience it is--that great commonality that brings us together
It can be both at the same time. As a matter of fact, most great movies that are the latter are also the former. In one way or another.
I am not sure that you have yet secured this as a necessary or sufficient factor. A film can be uniquely bad.

Uniqueness and originality are massively overrated. It's not about doing something new (what is really new, anyway?), but about arranging the familiar furniture in the room in a way that serves the needs of the moment. It is best thought of as a local/relative phenomenon and not a cosmic/existential one. What counts more than doing it first is doing it well, right?
I didn't use the word 'unique' in that sense. I underlined that I didn't mean original or smart films with some never-seen-before gimmick. It's a hard conversation to have because there are just so many variables and definitions you'd first have to agree upon. It's really more about people giving their picks and trying to articulate why they think those films fit the bill.
Yeah, I know this part. This is where we propose films and you tell us they suck.
I'm just curious about what MoFos perceive as equal to Bruegel.



Victim of The Night
The feeling of watching an artistic masterpiece is really one to cherish.

Most films, while good when you watch them, end up as forgettable and "in the moment" experiences, whereas great art lives with you long after it ends.

There's absolutely value to watching mainstream and/or entertaining movies, including blatant cash grabs, even.

But I think that, ultimately, the strength of a film lies in how much of a unique experience it is. And ignoring the obvious "every experience is unique", no matter how much I love those mass-produced American film noirs from the 40s/50s or Hong Kong films from the 80s/90s, one artistic masterpiece can pretty much blow them out of the water. And one of the most significant factors why is the uniqueness of the art film.

But how many truly unique movies have you seen this year? And I don't mean original or smart films with some never-seen-before gimmick. I mean truly great works of art that you can call just that: Art. Films that you can compare to the greatest works of literature or painting or sculpture.

What films do you think are comparable to Michelangelo or Caravaggio or Bach in terms of being great works of art? What films should belong to the cinematic heritage?
I hear what you're saying and I respect your opinion, but I disagree. I do not feel that a film has to be unique to be great or a masterpiece. Take "Girl With A Pearl Earring" (the painting, not the film). It is a painting of a girl with a pearl earring. God knows how many paintings are very similar. But, I have seen it up close, stood in the room with it and looked at it from every angle, gotten up close, regarded it from way back, and I can tell you, it is a masterpiece. I feel the same way about films. The unique ones stand out but they are not necessarily better films or higher art.
That said, in answer to your question, Memoria is both. It is unique, or close to it, and it is also breathtakingly executed, like GwaPE.
But, in my mind, Marvel's Avengers is also a sort of masterpiece and should be part of the cinematic heritage even though it is totally mainstream and not unique. Obviously, there were several like it before it and dozens after, but it is a near-perfect execution of what it is and that makes it a masterpiece and something that belongs in the cinematic heritage.



I'm just curious about what MoFos perceive as equal to Bruegel.

If we're talking The Triumph of Death Bruegel, the the movie I saw for the first time this year I'd equate the most to that is The Third Part of the Night.



Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is my answer to this thread.

I'll see your chainsaw battle and raise you a quad-barrell, demonic-dwarf-slaying shotgun and say Phantasm 2.



Registered User
I'll see your chainsaw battle and raise you a quad-barrell, demonic-dwarf-slaying shotgun and say Phantasm 2.

Nothing beats the double-double-barrel shotgun.



Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is my answer to this thread.
Human civilization met its doom. AD 4059. An alien spaceship lands on Earth and discovers a small screen attached to a perpetuum mobile wind power plant. On the screen, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 playing in all its glory. The aliens infer this film describes humans best. They start studying it, taking notes, and putting whatever they learned from the film to life. Their peaceful, pacifist civilization turns into mayhem, madness, and massacre. They forget their humane (sic!) ways and turn into cold-blooded psychopathic murderers. A war breaks out. Then, another. Their advanced technology allows them to produce weapons far more powerful than anything we had on Earth. Soon, their planet is but scorched land. Their civilization - gone. And its only remnant is a small screen connected to a perpetuum mobile playing Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Sir, you're an evil mastermind.
I think you need a hobby.
Yeah. I had thought about horse riding. But I don't have a horse. Do you think a vacuum cleaner would be enough?
A film as big as life but with a message so small yet so humane indeed deserves its place in the cinematic heritage and the hearts of cinephiles alike. Perhaps the perfect blockbuster that teaches us that "Between the mind that plans and the hands that build there must be a Mediator, and this must be the heart.". Ironically, it was written by Lang's wife, Thea von Harbou, who later supported the Nazis. Personally, I prefer Der müde Tod, as it's perhaps even more humane and closer to my heart. It's still quite epic. But it feels more intimate. I preferred it to Metropolis but I seem to be in the minority. Perhaps I should rewatch both for a quick reassessment.
It is a painting of a girl with a pearl earring. God knows how many paintings are very similar. But, I have seen it up close, stood in the room with it and looked at it from every angle, gotten up close, regarded it from way back, and I can tell you, it is a masterpiece.
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.
That said, in answer to your question, Memoria is both. It is unique, or close to it, and it is also breathtakingly executed, like GwaPE.
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.
But, in my mind, Marvel's Avengers is also a sort of masterpiece and should be part of the cinematic heritage even though it is totally mainstream and not unique. Obviously, there were several like it before it and dozens after, but it is a near-perfect execution of what it is and that makes it a masterpiece and something that belongs in the cinematic heritage.
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.
If we're talking The Triumph of Death Bruegel, the the movie I saw for the first time this year I'd equate the most to that is The Third Part of the Night.
Although Żuławski is usually a hit or miss for me, The Third Part of the Night is my favorite of his. It's a very interesting pick, but I cannot comment on it any further because it's been too long since I've watched it. Maybe a rewatch is due?!



I feel like this is a sort of provocation.
Why? It just looked like Wooley stating his honest opinion to me (and I say this as someone who didn't even like The Avengers, even).



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!!!



I watched Andrzej Zulawski's 'On the Silver Globe' recently. I was blown away.
It's unbearable. Total hogwash. But maybe people who don't speak Polish experience the pretentious monologues differently.

Anyway, as far as the thread goes, I wouldn't consider any Żuławski film to be good enough. Sometimes I wonder what I would deem worthy enough.



Professional horse shoe straightener
It's unbearable. Total hogwash. But maybe people who don't speak Polish experience the pretentious monologues differently.

Anyway, as far as the thread goes, I wouldn't consider any Żuławski film to be good enough. Sometimes I wonder what I would deem worthy enough.
One man's pretentiousness is another man's art.



It's unbearable. Total hogwash. But maybe people who don't speak Polish experience the pretentious monologues differently.

Anyway, as far as the thread goes, I wouldn't consider any Żuławski film to be good enough. Sometimes I wonder what I would deem worthy enough.

Honestly, I kind of wonder which examples of "the greatest works of literature or painting or sculpture" you'd consider unworthy for this thread if you held them up to the same level of scrutiny.


Unfortunately my knowledge for all the older art forms, and what makes an individual example "great," is shallow and wanting, which does make it difficult for me to have a reference point.


My gut though says the answer would be, "quite a few."



I hear what you're saying and I respect your opinion, but I disagree. I do not feel that a film has to be unique to be great or a masterpiece. Take "Girl With A Pearl Earring" (the painting, not the film). It is a painting of a girl with a pearl earring. God knows how many paintings are very similar. But, I have seen it up close, stood in the room with it and looked at it from every angle, gotten up close, regarded it from way back, and I can tell you, it is a masterpiece. I feel the same way about films. The unique ones stand out but they are not necessarily better films or higher art.
That said, in answer to your question, Memoria is both. It is unique, or close to it, and it is also breathtakingly executed, like GwaPE.
But, in my mind, Marvel's Avengers is also a sort of masterpiece and should be part of the cinematic heritage even though it is totally mainstream and not unique. Obviously, there were several like it before it and dozens after, but it is a near-perfect execution of what it is and that makes it a masterpiece and something that belongs in the cinematic heritage.

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).



I’ll echo the sentiments that my knowledge of non-cinematic artforms is pretty lacking, and that fine art is a lot easier to appreciate in a museum setting when you can get up close and spend time with a painting or sculpture. I don’t know if I can articulate why something is great, but it’s easier to feel said greatness in that context.

As for films that fit the bill, I’d have to chew it over. I’m leaning towards movies that have had a pure visual or sensorial impact, the kind of thing that transcends the context in which they were made and released (although said context is obviously key to appreciating them). Just a few that feel right at the moment:

Apocalypse Now
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Lawrence of Arabia
Legend of the Mountain
Suspiria
The Killer

I will probably come back and list more titles as I think it over, but these represent a kind of pure cinema for me, the kind of greatness that only works in this artform.



I realize I subconsciously applied a criteria of “if I remove all the dialogue, will I still grasp why this movie is great”?