Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Continuing the search for my Favorite Film

As I look back over the archives of my blog I see that I once promised to share my thoughts on every film I’ve ever rented through Netflix.

What was I thinking?

That’s 16 movies!

But I must let my “yes be yes” as t'were. And (who knows?) maybe I’ll find my favorite movie through all of this.

You must bear with me though. For, though I will try to fulfill my pledge, I shall do so in baby steps (since I am a recovering procrastinator) about three films at a time, I think.

I’ll try to do it in chronological order which means the first three will be:

Tokyo Story,
The Passion of Joan of Arc

Let me stress that these are not reviews and certainly not Plugged In style reviews (if a film sounds intriguing but you want to know if you can watch it with a six-year-old just leave a comment asking for specifics, I’ll try to oblige) these are simply thoughts and impressions on a odd little group of movies.

Tokyo Story

If you're looking for a film to put the aforementioned six-year-old to sleep; look no further! This movie has it all: black & white cinematography, meticulous pacing, and a grand total of two camera movements in the entire film! Plus the whole thing's in Japanese. No, this is not a film to watch when your tired.

That being said, you should know that this film also happens to be (at least, according to Roger Ebert) one of the five greatest movies of all time. Don't ask me what the other four are, I really don't know.

Tokyo's story is very simple: a couple of empty nesters living in post world war two Japanese suburbia decide to visit there kids in the big city. When they come it's clear that children view them as a burden. So after an unpleasant stay the parents go back home.

Like I told you: simple story. But for those who are willing to invest themselves in it, it can have powerful results. There's MUCH more to say about this movie but I've done such a bad job already. I think it's time to move on to

La Passion De Jeanne D’arc (The Passion of Joan of Arc)

According to the history books this is one of the first movies, if not the first, to show that films could be ART. But this is far more than just another museum piece. It's still a powerfully told (and surprisingly intense) story about a young women's devotion.

But devotion to what? Why did this maiden go to war? Did she really hear the voice of God?

How you answer these questions ultimately will effect how you ultimately view this work of art and whether you accept or reject its message.

But regardless of the conclusions you draw after watching this movie, I think you'll agree that The Passion of Joan of Arc is at least worthy of one viewing and discussing time. As with any great work of it's kind.


This is probably my least favorite of this particular batch. Don't get me wrong; you could do worse than to watch Sir Lawrence Oliver speak the words of William Shakespeare, but this is not my favorite of Mr. Shakespeare's plays. And the fact that Hamlet beat out The Treasure of the Sierra Madre for Best Picture at the Oscars doesn't help. However my mind has been know to change before and if anyone knows of some good study of Hamlet I'd love to read it.

Well, there they are; three shoddy pieces written on three excellent films. I hope my lack of eloquence will not steer you away from any of these masterpieces. Please enjoy, think about and share each one.

Onto the next batch...


JD said...

In your search for a new favorite movie I have a suggestion. Although I highly doubt that this will make your top, let's say, 25 movies, yeah your top 25 you heard me right. Ocean's Eleven is a, to me, a REALLY good movie. Although it says that robbing is okay in certain circumstances. But I mean it has, just to name a few, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt. How can you not like it? But no violance, no sexuality, except for at the beging in the background there are strip dancers, nothing explicet is shown, and a casino worker steals a key card from a guard by lap dancing, both are fully clothed. But that's as bad as it gets and it's only a for about, three seconds. Poker is highly involved. casinos and everything. But aside from that it's really good. You should rent it or barrow it or something and watch it.

midnitcafe said...

Does anyone go back and read old comments? I keep digging farther into this blog and making comments on old posts. Sorry.

This post makes me long for the Monroe County Public Library. Pre France I lived in Bloomington, IN and they had the best public library. They kept up an absolutely marvelous DVD collectin filled with old classics like Tokyo Story and Joan of Arc. I made it a habit to watch all these old, foreign art films. I'll have to add that to my list of things I miss.

I'm sorry if I keep deriding other posters on this list about their movie choices, but....Oceans Eleven? Yuck! I really enjoy most of Steven Soderburgs work. But I found Oceans to be really lacking. Sure it had tons of stars and even some really good actors and maybe that was my problem, there were too many. It seemed like the film spent all of its time giving little backgrounds to all of the characters and ran out of time to find a story. Maybe he will corrrect that with the sequel since we'll all know who the characters are by then. I'd recomend the Limey, Out of Sight, Traffic, and King of the Hill from Soderburg before you watch Oceans.

eucharisto said...

Interesting...I really want to see La Passion De Jeanne D’arc, and ironically, I was doing a practice SAT Test (I'm taking it on the 4th) this morning (oh, and by the way, as soon as I'm done with this one, I'm NEVER taking it again, it's a despicable test), and one part of one of the verbal sections was two articles, arguing on whether Joan Of Arc was a real hero, or just a forceful person. It makes me want to watch a movie like that. And, apart from that, we live in a culture where, if I mentioned Joan of Arc, the typical individual would probably say, "Oh, don't you mean Joan of Arcadia?" This culture (American) is in need of a revival in history and literature, and if that can be accomplished by watching such movies as this, then so be it.

eucharisto said...

Oh yeah, and by the way, if I could suggest my favorite (so far) foreign film, I think that everyone should see Life Is Beautiful. It is an incredible story of heroism in a dark time. If you really want to see what I think of it (for those of you who haven't seen it already), go to my blog, at
eucharisto.blogspot.com (it may be in the archives, but if you look deep enough, you'll find it).
I wrote a review about it. But it's a great story, and everyone should see it sometime in their lifetime.