Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The List: Week Two

The Leopard

The idea behind this was cool, but the execution was BORINGGGGG! Maybe I wasn't in the mood for it? The film shows Sicilian society in transition from a monarchy to its annexation into Italy. Burt Lancaster is dubbed in an Italian film, which was kind of off-putting. And while I got a definite sweeping "Gone With the Wind" kind of vibe from the costumes and cinematography, there was nothing in the characters to really keep my interest.

I had a hard time finishing because the characters were so flat, and watched it in several parts over the course of a couple of days. I think for something like this to work, and to be able to pull off the long running time, you really need to go big with the characters and melodrama, otherwise it feels limp. I thought the setting was a really cool point in history that I didn't know much about, and was interested in that part of the story. But I could of read a book on it too and not fallen asleep as much as I did during this monstrosity. I'm sure people in Italy and Sicily are still sore over the unification today, as Europeans never forget a slight regardless of if they were actually present or know anyone who was present during the period. Vendetta!!!

Wikipedia entry on Il Risorgimento:

Italian unification (Italian: il Risorgimento, or "The Resurgence") was the political and social movement that annexed different states of the Italian peninsula into the single state of Italy in the 19th century. There is a lack of consensus on the exact dates for the beginning and the end of this period, but many scholars agree that the process began with the end of Napoleonic rule and the Congress of Vienna in 1815, and approximately ended with the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, though the last città irredente did not join the Kingdom of Italy until after World War I.

The Conformist

This was another film that took me a bit to get warmed up to it, but then I really got into it and ended up loving it. This is the foundation for "The Godfather I & II" in cinematography and mood. The pacing is great, the tracking shots are awesome and the scene in the woods works so well and is such a great climax. Reminded me as well of "Miller's Crossing", which I'm sure this visually influenced, the woods scene in particular. The moral dilemma that the main character is going through works great, and has no real "right" answer. Or no easy one, at least. The main character is also quasi molested at one point, which I thought added another interesting facet to his character. Really just a interesting look at surviving within a fascist regime, and what it pushes you or allows you to do.


I've seen bits of this over the years, but finally sat down and watched it in full. I can see the importance of the influence on later work, and on the Cinema Verite style in general, and I thought it was a great example of low budget filmmaking. Otherwise, felt it was a bit stretched and wasn't really into it. Definitely glad I finally watched it in full, have no real interest of seeing it again. Though it made me want to see some of Godard's other films. Alphaville sounds cool.

The Long Goodbye

This was great. I loved the idea of taking Chandler's books and the genre itself, and twisting it to a more modern sensibility. It still works within the idea of Marlowe and the detective story, but throwing in Atlman's touches was great. Loved all of the mumbling Marlowe does when he's alone, which is a cool technique of getting exposition and interior dialogue generically done in voiceovers out fluidly.

Ebert: "Most of its effect comes from the way it pushes against the genre, and the way Altman undermines the premise of all private eye movies, which is that the hero can walk down mean streets, see clearly, and tell right from wrong."

Watched M*A*S*H shortly after and laughed hysterically. Altman's the man. Love his zooms, especially in this. Though there were some good ones in "The Long Goodbye" (Sterling Hayden killing himself in the background as Marlowe and his wife talk about him).

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

This was the very difficult subjects of growing old/ youth vs. elder views/ WWII vs. WWI modes of combat/ different thoughts on honor done right. The character is set up as a dodgy old man out of touch with modern thoughts on war, and thought to have an older sense of principles and honor code, shown in an extended flashback of how he got to that point. His life experiences that made him the man that the younger generation ridicules. It also shows him unwilling to stoop to the Nazi's level in warfare and that not all German's were Nazi's or in line with their thinking. Very powerful points presented behind a warm and humorously produced film, and released during WWII. Very cool that they were able and willing to make this film during a difficult time when you were expected and permitted to shut up and hate the enemy.

Bridge on the River Kwai

Beautiful film, kind of in step with Colonel Blimp. At least with the stiff British soldier bit. Re-watching for the list.

The Searchers

Badass film. Re-watching for the list.

The Fountainhead

This was fucking great! Never read the book, but I definitely will now. I love crazy industrialists striking out on their own (seen most recently in "There Will Be Blood" and "The Aviator") and this film goes down in history for the most ranting and speechifying crazy industrialist ever. There's not a scene in this film where he's not lecturing someone on how independent, self-serving, and self-reliant he is and I loved it. Gary Cooper hates a society that would tell him no or try to make him a sheep inline with the rest of the masses, and goddammit, I do too! Fuck you people with lame taste, Gary Cooper's going to make his buildings wildly modern, and if you had any sense you'd accept them!

Also, thought it was interesting that Rand wrote the script herself, which makes sense with every second being a 10 minute long speech she wouldn't let anyone cut or she'd murder them. You can certainly tell.


Always liked Psycho more than this one, but I think this might have overtaken it on this viewing. I really just love how thinly veiled this movie is for Hitchcock's sick fetishes. The man was a diseased genius.


  1. I'm glad that you loved the Fountainhead! Too bad you made fun of me for two months while I read it! Bastard! Told you it was like "There Will be Blood!"

  2. Definitely going to read it now. But I still reserve the right to make fun of you for anything I want!

  3. I saw North by Northwest for the first time at the British Film Institute yesterday. Enjoyed it and did my best to appreciate the technical abilities of the time although the green screens were distracting especially on the mount everest scenes.

    Vertigo is next on my Hitchcock list.

  4. Yeah, Vertigo's effects work a bit better than North by Northwest's as it's intended to be more surreal over the more realistic thriller stylings of NxNW. Kind of the same problem that I have with the Birds too. You lose any sense of horror from laughing at the hokey rotoscoping. If Hitch was so great, why didn't he invent better special effects. Bush league.

    Also, what were you doing at the British Film Institute? Just seeing the film?