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Movie journey with Mr Minio

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Setsuko Hara is my co-pilot
And surely you don't want to leave out early masters such as Vertov, Dovzhenko, Pudovkin
Part 3 will be the last part from Russia. The last but not the least. After we explore some other countries, we will get back to Russia.

have you heard of, or seen, Aleksei German's films?
Sure I've heard about him, but didn't see any of his films. I've got some on my watchlist, though.



Mr Minio, I like how interesting this thread has been and I think you could provide some interesting selections to our Hall of Fame. What do you think about joining up?

Edit: The last spots have just been filled, but you should definitely sign up for the next round. We could use some European flavor.



I don't think I'd join anyway. Lately, I haven't got too much time and I've got this thread to take care of.
Fair enough. I wouldn't want this thread being derailed. Keep up the good work.



Setsuko Hara is my co-pilot
It will.
I just finished my final exams and have some spare time. Going to watch more films and listen to more music, but will try to add the next part in a few days as well.
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Setsuko Hara is my co-pilot
Part 3 - USSR & Russia



In his masterpiece Tarkovsky adapted the famous novel of Strugatsky brothers. Back then Konstantin Lopushansky worked as a production assistant. Thanks to this he gained the filmmaking experience and inspiration to create his own films. The first one, Solo, is but a thirty minutes long short shot in black and white. I wouldn't say it's a must see, but it could be an interesting addition if you have seen all his full-length movies. It's very austere and quirky thus really unappealing for people not knowing Lopushnsky's other works. Six years later Letters from a Dead Man was released. In his best known film up to date, which is often regarded as his magnum opus, Lopushansky managed to conceptualize some ideas he used in the short. It's hard not to notice Tarkovsky inspirations as the film features very limited colour palette interestingly similar to Stalker's bleaker parts at the beginning of the film. It's pretty bleak, austere and almost hopeless being an considerable improvement in relation to the short. It's said to be the greatest Soviet sci-fi film on par with Stalker and/or Solaris.



One could think that after he has released his masterpiece, Lopushansky wouldn't have anything more to say. Surprisingly enough, only three years after, his sophomore film had its premiere. Visitor of a Museum seems to be even gloomier, almost mournful in its moments, religious in content, being even more Tarkovsky alike. Audience being used to simple formulas found it strangely equivocating and therefore the film didn't get too much praise. However, in my opinion it's even better than Letters from a Dead Man. The man being some kind of a messiah or seer to a group of handicapped fellows climbing up the mountain, struggling to reach the Absolute should be an image as known as the shower murder in Hitchcock's Psycho or the airport scene in Casablanca. It's so iconic yet having this metaphysical vibe to it. The film is worth seeing just for this one scene, but it's far more than that. Seeing the obscure, dingy, dilapidated world portrayed in Visitor of a Museum is an unforgettable experience, including the final shot with a post-apocalyptic landscape and a man walking away, quickly blending into panorama, which portrays nothing more but death. It's still, unmoving and the only living thing are these crows flying above being a harbringer of the end of the world.



Moving to the next film, Russian Symphony. Lopushansky didn't change too much and kept the theme he feels the best with - post-apocalyptic. Being not too different in style compared to two previous films, Russian Symphony still uses the colouring tricks, bleak atmosphere and iconic, metaphysical metaphors such as a pilgrimage, the most interesting protagonist comparing himself to the greats of Russian literature trying to give a speech, which results in some sort of Dies Irae and masterful ending being a penance or atonement. Another great masterpiece.



After three masterpieces, Lopushansky made another film called The End of Century being completely antagonistic to anything he has ever done. It's probably a family drama. I couldn't find it anywhere and we can forget about English subtitles. In his last film, The Ugly Swans, Lopushansky returns to his favourite genre creating another post-apocalyptic gem, once again including every trick, he has done before, yet not being recurrent or repetitive.



Unfortunately, Lopushansky never got adequate public praise and has been criticized for the seriousness of his works lacking humour and lighter moments thereupon not being "fancy" for mainstream audience. In spite of that I think that all his films are a must-see for either a post-apocalyptic theme lovers, arthouse film lovers, or Tarkovsky lovers. Being aware of the variety of the themes of his films I dare to say he's equal to Tarkovsky in metaphysical filmmaking. The later one was more diverse, but I've got pretty similar feeling from the films of both these geniuses.



Thanks to Harry Lime I watched Check-up On the Roads and found it to be a great film. I'd like to thank you, Harry. Would love to watch more of German films, but they aren't that easy to find. Great filmmaking.



Now moving to Russian animation, I'd just like to point I don't feel like I know too much about it, or about the animation in general, but I just wanted to introduce my two favourite animators. The first one, Yuriy Norshteyn, created his first film in 1968 and then made another two in 1969 and 1971. Although stylistically faultless, they didn't enchant me as his later films. Worth seeing, but after the newer ones. With The Fox and the Hare Norshteyn began creating child tales with very wise moral. Altough rather simplistic, they make adults cry and are proper for people of any age. He continues this formula in The Heron and the Crane and completely gorgeous Hedgehog in the Fog.



However, he reached his artistic peak with flawless masterpiece Tale of Tales. It combines top-notch animation and fairytale aesthetics with metaphorical naturalism, giving an outstanding results and it's still suitable for both kids and adults. The first group should like the beautiful visuals and characters, such as a small wolf (look at the picture, isn't he cute?), while the second enjoying the complexity rich of symbolism and many ways of interpretation.



Aleksandr Petrov, another Russian animator created shorts such as The Cow, Mermaid, Oscar-winning Old Man and the Sea and My Love, of which all are worth seeing due to their undeniable visual mastery. But it's The Dream of a Ridiculous Man, which adds more substance, creating a very emotive and philosophical Dostoyevsky-adapted story, full of symbolism, including some Biblical metaphors, some of which I still don't get.



Besides these two masters, there are films like The Cameraman's Revenge, made by a Pole, but in 1912 (!) when Poland was still annaxeted by Prusia, Austro-Hungary and Russia and thus treated as Russian film. It's truly incredible they managed to create such film about 100 years ago!



Another thought-provoking, or just plain enjoyable shorts include:
Cheburashka (1972)
Island (1973)
Budet laskovyy dozhd (1984)

The last one being a hidden gem, truly great short animation with post-apocalyptic theme to it.

That's it folks!

... to be continued (?)



Old Russian animation was a part of my childhood but, out of those,I'm only familiar with Hedgehog in the Fog,although I don't think I've seen it.I also remember Winnie The Pooh(Russian) very well and,of course,"Nu,Pogodi!"
There used to be an hour of old Russian animation shown on TV,so I've seen lots of it,it's very kind,warm and unique piece of film industry. )
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"Anything less than immortality is a complete waste of time."



Where'd you go? I miss you so. Seems like it's been forever that you've been gone.

Raise this thread from the dead, I want a Hungarian part so you can gush about Bela Tarr. Speaking of, have you seen The Man from London? I'm watching it now and it's my first Tarr, I was wondering your thoughts on it.



Setsuko Hara is my co-pilot
Sure I've seen it. Lately I've been very busy and had seen only 2 films in past week or so. I haven't seen Tarr early works, so without knowing them I don't think I'm capable of writing about him. Maybe I'll scribe something about South Korean cinema, though.



Sure I've seen it. Lately I've been very busy and had seen only 2 films in past week or so. I haven't seen Tarr early works, so without knowing them I don't think I'm capable of writing about him. Maybe I'll scribe something about South Korean cinema, though.
I look forward to it. Most of the acclaimed Korean films have already been added to my watchlist, but hopefully you'll have something in there I missed.



Setsuko Hara is my co-pilot
Part 4 - My thoughts on contemplative cinema

It's been awhile since my last post has been added to this thread and I feel like I have to expand it with new content. As for now I leave the country idea to more topic concerned theme, but it doesn't mean it's a pernament change.

While watching Ming-liang Tsai's highly appreciated 2003 film Goodbye Dragon Inn I was struck by its slowness and stagnacy. I've seen his two other works before, but none of them had reached such complexity with such minimalistic approach. It may have been the slowest film I have ever seen and I've seen a lot, believe me. It got me thinking about topics I'd been wondering about for about a year.

Right now I probably should have added a spoiler alert, but I don't even know whether it's needed, as Goodbye Dragon Inn isn't a film that enchants the viewer with nicely-developed scenario, or electrifying twists. Being almost plot-free it tells the story of allegedly haunted cinema, slowly evolving around several people, which are totally anonymous to each other. The only thing linking them might be the cinema itself, the incredible power of film, galvanizing them around a screening of wuxia cult film Dragon Inn.

For 82 minutes of Goodbye Dragon Inn the viewer contemplates people, observing their behavior and nature trying to learn as much as he can about them, while the director hides as much as possible. He or she can only suspect, as no answer is ever given. Is an old nervously looking around man sitting next to a child a pedophile or just kid's relative? Why has the movie moved another man so much he began to cry? Why is cinema such a powerful force? Why do we go to the cinema? What is left when screening is over?

Nothingness, which is hauntingly tangible, after everyone leaves the hall. The film is incredibly ironic and undeniably funny. I'm watching a film, in which people are watching a film. I'm staring at their movements. When they don't move it's fully understandable, as they're involved in a movie. But wait, as I am watching this film right now and contemplating it, I am involved in it as well. When another shot begins and I can see what they see, which is a screen with another film playing, I am watching and experiencing the same thing they do. I am watching a film in a film. Movie in a movie. I am observing someone observing.

Besides the screening room itself, the camera leads the spectator to the cinema's hallways and whereabouts. Once again its contemplative nature helps us to observe a Japanese guy awkwardly pushing his way through narrow pathways, trying to hug another man, which makes us suspect he might not be straight. Awkwardly stretched to the max scene in the bathroom is an another example of Tsai's style. Is he trying to make us think? What do the characters think? Why do they do what they do? Like in Tarkovsky Stalker's long railway scene, when we see three main protagonists' faces, we wonder what are they thinking. In this film it's kind of the same, but also ridiculous in a way. A man is standing before an urinal for a few minutes. Two other men at his sides. They stand. Do not pee. Do not move. After a while another guy leaves a closet. He washes his hands. Slowly. For dozens of seconds. Is Tsai making fun of the viewer, laughing at people trying to find sense in his work?

I just used Goodbye Dragon Inn as it's a perfect example of contemplative cinema, which has become my favourite film style. It's not a genre, as different films of various genres can be contemplative and, of course, it's a very contractual name. A lot of people find them boring, but I think they're strangely emotive, realistic and beautiful. Just think about a daily routine, say, walking from your work to home. In real life you can't cut the scenes. In a lot of films the director would have made a shot portraying the protagonist leaving the workplace and then used the cut and another take to depict him approaching his home. In contemplative cinema you most likely would have been forced to observe his walk. No cuts, no speed-ups. Just a man walking.

Call me mental, but I love to contemplate such shots! In my all-time favourite Werckmeister Harmonies such moments are utterly magical, but in Goodbye Dragon Inn they are as realistic as possible. Limp woman walking up the stairs. And again. Again. Again. You slowly begin to realize how hard is it for her. You already have known that before and instead of this slow, so-called boring film you could have watched an action-packed superhero movie, or blood-freezing thriller. But you didn't. You are watching a desolated cinema room. Nothing moves. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing happens. Nothingness. Why am I watching this? Am I bored? What is a boredom? It's an unpleasant state, in which we feel anxious. Why? Contemporary cinema has taught us there must be a cut every few seconds. What if there is not? Is it boring? And what if somebody's observing a static picture in real life? Isn't that boring? No pictures, only a big wall of text in this post. Is it boring? What's boring? Why is it boring?

I don't find contemplative films boring and I like that dizzy state they put me in. As I've said before there's no rule saying which film can be classified as contemplative and which one can't, but almost every film using long takes, portraying slow routines I regard as contemplative. I wanted to write even more, but I think that's it.

I am sorry if you expected another part as the previous ones or if you didn't like my mumbling above, but I just wanted to discuss this topic with you, guys. What do you think about contemplative cinema? Do you like "boring" films? What are your favourites?



I have no issues watching a slow movie. My favorite movie Taxi Driver is not a very fast movie, Tokyo Story is slow but beautiful, and The Road was pretty slow too.

But the one movie I watched that I can best describe as a movie where nothing happened would be Gerry. I did not like Gerry at all. It was literally Matt Damon and Casey Affleck walking through a damn desert. Nothing else happened. I don't know if this is a good example or a bad example of of contemplative cinema, or if it is even contemplative cinema since they do not show a routine. All I know was I was bored out of my mind.