Friday, July 31, 2009

MIFF 2009 Day 8 - 31/7/09

  • The Man Who Came With the Snow (Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Iran/France, 2009)
  • Une femme est une femme (A Woman is a Woman, Jean-Luc Godard, France/Italy, 1961)
  • Tony Manero (Pablo Larrain, Chile/Brazil, 2008)

The Man Who Came With the Snow
Nice-looking film that is made by an Iranian but set in a former Soviet country. The result: a film that has elements of Iranian cinema, such as the view of an adult world from a child's perspective, as well as the dark look of Russian cinema. In the middle of the night, a man escaping a blizzard enters a village hotel, disrupting the routine of these down-and-out whores, thieves and hustlers. Who is he? Where is he from? What is he doing here? A mystery, this is a nice festival film, something you won't see otherwise, and I like its relatively short length (about 75 minutes) - it's paced just right.

A Woman is a Woman
Another Godard, another soul-less film. Funny, yes. Smart, yes. Cutting edge (for it's day), yes but dated horribly. I sense that Godard feels superior to his audience. I don't perceive the anger with his audience that I do with others, but his films are distant and don't engage me. I'm still trying to understand Godard, and I really need to read Godard on Godard, which I will. Even understanding Godard's intent, I don't think will affect me. Godard doesn't aim to connect emotionally, he's looking for an intellectual or philosophical engagement. I don't watch films for that. For that, I read books or watch TV. Perhaps that's why Godard moved to television as his medium of choice.

Tony Manero
Sex, violence, disco - what more could you want in a film? Yeah, this is pretty weird and not what I was expecting. It's no Mister Lonely and it's no Red Faces (and if it was, I wouldn't want to be Red Symons). Our Tony Manero wannabe will do anything to win a look-alike competition - anything. The film is more social realist than anything and it has a pretty gritty (even grimy) look with hand-held camera work that is generally OK but sometimes a little too wobbly. The story is quite good but the visuals are a little spartan. It's OK for a festival film but I can't see how this could get a release other than being sold on its connection with Saturday Night Fever.


dmk said...

"It's no Mister Lonely"
You're right there - Tony Manero is much better. It is gritty, but it's also very funny. Very funny, at times.

I've got Man Who Came With the Snow booked for next week, so I won't read what you thought of it just yet. It doesn't have an IMDB page, so I'm watching it solely based on it being Iranian. Hopefully it doesn't disappoint like About Elly did.

Anonymous said...

"Another Godard, another soul-less film."

HA!'s amazing how many people really just don't understand the guys work...the kind of people that can't see below the surface until someone more perceptive explains it all to them! Godard seems to make people quite angry when they don't get his work.

I stop by here sometimes to have a laugh at just how static your taste really is's been a few years you've been doing this and you still haven't developed a deep cinematic understanding.

Paul Martin said...

That's right, Anon (and I presume it's Trent), I don't get it, and I acknowledge that. Maybe that's my limitation, maybe it's Godard's. Or a combination of both. I suppose I'm not his target audience.

I don't get the slightest bit angry with Godard; as I said, I sense he is angry with his audience, hammering them with his voiceover diatribes.

You have your understanding; I have mine. I think neither of us has a full understanding of the other's perspective, but I'm not berating you for failing to understanding mine.

Paul Martin said...

Anon/Trent, I believe your perspective is, like Godard's, largely dialectic/intellectual. Mine is largely humanistic. I don't find Godard's films have much of a humanistic element at all, and that's why I don't connect with them. I'm not judging Godard negatively, just that - at least at this point - he's not my thing. Just like Alkinos Tsilimidos of Krzysztof Kieslowski probably aren't your thing.

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

Paul what you see as 'dated horribly', I see as gorgeously evocative of its era. And that's what I love about early pre-1968 Godard - the textures, the playfulness, the atmosphere, the rhythm, the settings, the meditations, the zestiness, the youthfulness, the invention, the imagination - I'm in 60s France and it's wonderful. Woman Is a Woman is pure joy for me. Plus it has one of my favourite moments in cinema - in the middle of a teary monologue Karina flubs a line, then starts over unfazed. That's when I fell in love both with Karina and with Godard for leaving it in the finished picture.

Godard is comfortably in my Top 10 directors of all time (and I was ambivalent towards him for many many many years - up until about 2006 I think). However, I don't know if I necessarily react to his films in the way he would like me to - I think Pierrot le fou is meant to undermine glamour and swoony romanticism in cinema, but it's precisely the film's glamour and swoony romanticism that make me worship it.

Also - I don't think that books and TV have a monopoly on intellectual/philosophical engagement by any means, but I do find Godard's Vivre sa vie deeply deeply moving. Since that's also among Karina's (as well as cinema's) great great performances, I really don't understand why that isn't showing at MIFF as opposed to the interesting but second-rate-for-Godard Alphaville, in which she's basically just a decoration.

Also - the 1960s is my favourite decade for cinema - particularly European cinema - and Godard has a lot to do with that.

Paul Martin said...

Goran, perhaps if I enjoyed the film more, I might have shared your opinion, ie "gorgeously evocative of its era". By dated, I meant that the film is clearly experimental and pushing boundaries. It takes devices common with films of the time (eg music) and subverts them. It all seems too clunky to me.

I think Clèo from 5 to 7 is an example of a film I've seen recently that more beautifully evokes the period.

I note that it took you "many many many years" to get over your ambivalence towards Godard. Well, I'm still ambivalent. I haven't made up my mind about him because I don't understand him.

Glenn Dunks said...

I haven't even begun to delve into Godard's work, but the few I have seen have not impressed me at all. A lot of boring people waffling on about self-indulgent nothings.

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