Daily Archives: May 14, 2008

I liked Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey better.

42. The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)

My first Bergman, and despite the cool poster of a skeleton riding a checkerboard, somewhat underwhelming.

As I mentioned in my post on “Ordet“, I am/was quite religious(still a bit undecided on where I am now), and this film is pretty much indebted to the Christian interpretation of the world. Having seen a good chunk of both Dreyer‘s and Bergman’s work, I find that I can’t think of one without the other. And I think I like Dreyer’s work more.

I like that Dreyer’s work leaves things hanging. Bergman I find tries to make sense of things a bit too much, and seems preoccupied with exposing the hypocrisy of the church. I find Bergman to be focused on existentialism, and the inherent futility of the pursuit of understanding. Dreyer seems willing to narrow his focus to the church, and to good and evil. I like Dreyer’s work because it is so willing to explore the world, without passing such dreadful judgment upon it. I always get the sense that Dreyer is somehow willing to believe in something bigger than himself, while Bergman simply can’t comprehend any world view other than his own. Essentially God doesn’t give a shit, and life is meaningless.

I do like some of Bergman’s work, but I like Dreyer’s treatment of God, Religion, and life more. Dreyer just seems less cynical than Bergman, perhaps more willing to accept the role of faith and religion in life, whereas Bergman just wants to cast it aside.

I realize that both men were essentially agnostic, but somehow I admire Dreyer’s films for their willingness to accept religion as a part of life, where I find myself unable to relate to much of Bergman’s work for it’s dismissal of religion. Also I like Connect Four more than chess, maybe if Bergman used that I would have felt it more.

this realization is somewhat ironic given my current agnosticism, but for whatever reason I admire Dreyer’s seeming willingness to tackle religion as opposed to Bergman’s seeming dismissal of it.

On filmaffinity.com I gave the film a 6/10. It just didn’t resonate with me, and felt disjointed. I think I like Bergman’s treatment of life, moreso than his treatment of religion.

Grace, c’mere! There’s a sinister-looking kid I want you to see.

41. Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)

Ranking Hitchcock:

  1. Rear Window
  2. Strangers on a Train
  3. Dial M for Murder
  4. North by Northwest
  5. The 39 Steps
  6. Notorious
  7. Psycho
  8. The Birds
  9. Shadow of a Doubt
  10. Rope
  11. The Lady Vanishes
  12. Marnie
  13. Vertigo
  14. Rebecca

I have seen more Hitchcock than any other director, partly due to his having 13 films on the list, and partly due to the fact that he is consistently excellent. Even the stuff I didn’t like, it’s still interesting.

Anyway I like “Rear Window” the best for several reason. I am a sucker for Jimmy Stewart, I love how he can be the everyman, but on the other he can say the craziest shit and still seem perfectly normal(see “Rope” and the “moon beams” speech from “It’s a Wonderful Life“. That and how his voice cracks when he speaks. Just awesome. Plus Grace Kelly is straight ballin’. Seriously she is a candidate for most beautiful woman ever.

So basically the film combines Jimmy Stewart’s awesomeness and Grace Kelly’s hotness, throws in some Thelma Ritter sass, and to top it all off, one of the most suspenseful screenplays ever. A simply astonishing film.

Plus it was the subject of a fantastic Simpsons episode. Really what more can a film do to get in my good graces.

The only issue I have with the film is that nothing can really compare with the first viewing(I was swearing and almost in tears, tears of awesomeness). The end sequence is so suspenseful upon first viewing, that once you know how it ends, the film loses a bit of muster. I think all thrillers kind of suffer the same fate. It’s the price you pay for making a thriller with a suspenseful ending.

On filmaffinity.com I gave the film a 9/10, it’s about as close to a 10 as I can think of, and chances are it will become a 10 if I watch it again. Just a fantastic movie.

Learning…it’s fundamental.

40. Jules et Jim (Francois Truffaut, 1962)

This is one of those films that think I would appreciate now with some context.

I watched this film pretty early on in my journey to 1000, when I was struggling to get through the top 100. I didn’t know a thing about Truffaut, and this might even have been the first new wave film I watched. I basically knew nothing about anything. So all the mobile camera work, and other cinematic techniques didn’t really connect with me. As a child of the 80’s, and later the 90’s, the innovations of the French new wave are kind of lost on me. I am used to jump cuts, and heavily stylized film-making, and when I see them I honestly don’t notice them. It just appears to me to be conventional film-making.

II am getting better at noticing though. As I learn more about cinema and its history, I realize that some things were incredibly revolutionary at the time they were done. Thus the camera work in “Jules et Jim” with some context is something I realize was pretty exceptional, rather than conventional. Similarly my appreciation for stuff like “Citizen Kane” or “Applause” is heightened by the fact that I understand the history of film-making better and realize that the things I see in 2008 didn’t always exist. They started somewhere, and people like Godard, Welles, Truffaut, and Mamoulian did a ton to change the way the films are made.

That being said, I didn’t really like the switch from happy-go-lucky youthful romance of the first half of the film to the dissatisfaction and despair of the films climax. It seemed to be pretty random and out of place to me. I didn’t understand why Jeanne Moreau‘s Catharine went from being this incredibly sexy free-spirited woman to being up-tight and cynical. Maybe I just don’t understand women…or marriage…or French people.

On filmaffinity.com I gave the film 7/10. The tone and narrative shift from joyous exuberance to overall cynicism didn’t resonate with me. In other words the first half was bitchin, the second half didn’t really do much for me. That being said if I can ever find the Criterion DVD for a decent price, I am so there.