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[Shadow community thread, you may bring your snack ] - Page 14

post #196 of 257
Originally Posted by sipang View Post

Anyone watched yet ? Any thoughts ? Watching it tonight.

Watched which movie? The Great Beauty?

Visually, I thought it was fantastic - even if the aesthetics were a bit Monocle- or Dwell-esque at times. I wasn't 100% sold on the storyline. A lot (most) of the characters just drop out of sight at the earliest convenience, which is a bit annoying, though I suppose that it is "realistic" in that sense.
I feel like I may have missed quite a bit on first viewing, so I'd say that it probably requires multiple viewings to catch all of the tiny details.

One thing I didn't quite understand was the significance of the scene with the Japanese tourists. Opinions, anyone?
post #197 of 257
Originally Posted by dwyhajlo View Post

One thing I didn't quite understand was the significance of the scene with the Japanese tourists. Opinions, anyone?

A possible take on it...

From the NYT:
“(Walter) Benjamin wondered why the flâneur, born in Paris, did not spring from the glorious archaeological sprawl that is Rome. “But perhaps in Rome even dreaming is forced to move along streets that are too well-paved.” He suggested that for a flâneur, Rome’s “great reminiscences, the historical frissons” are so much junk better left to the tourists. The tourist, that familiar figure of contempt, plays a crucial role in “The Great Beauty,” which opens with a prologue set in the Janiculum, a hill west of the Tiber. There, scattered amid busts of heroes of the Risorgimento, the 19th-century movement for Italian unification, a smattering of Italians mill about while a group of Japanese tourists take in the sights — a view, a city, a people, a history — that, Mr. Sorrentino suggests, the natives no longer necessarily see.”

Personally, I thought the film was great. Would love to hear what you guys thought of the film. Or even how it compares alongside La Dolce Vita.
post #198 of 257
Thread Starter 
Didn't like. At all confused.gif

More thoughts in a minute.
post #199 of 257
Originally Posted by sipang View Post

Didn't like. At all confused.gif

More thoughts in a minute.

post #200 of 257
It's kitsch and cheesy.
post #201 of 257
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by snake View Post

I know. Huddler ate my post earlier, need to retype everything.
post #202 of 257
Thread Starter 
My main problem is that Sorrentino's filmmaking is pretentious, self-indulgent and about as subtle as a jackhammer. Sorrentino wants to expose the vacuousness of Rome's elite by contrasting its shallow and vapid lifestyle with the true and noble grandeur of Rome's glorious past and the authentic and meaningful lives of regular Romans and their everyday struggles (the stripper, the writer friend) but he chooses to do so in such a vulgar and obnoxious manner (cinematographically speaking) that the film comes to epitomize precisely what it intended to criticize: the vacuous, the fake. E solo un trucco, no shit.

Sorrentino favors that kind of maximalist baroque camerawork that seems to only exist for its own sake. Because if he can do it why not do it. Because more is more. The result is a frenetic succession of mostly arbitrary crane shots, tracking shots, zooms, pannings,... generally taken from totally different perspectives and stitched together to create what amounts to a scene. Now I'm not some buzzkill cinephile and I usually don't pay attention to that kind of stuff when I watch a movie but here it was so blatant and in-your-face that it's all I could think about and it pulled me right out of the film before I could even get in. Reviews are raving about a dizzying "sensorial experience" but I got none of that. I just see a slick show-off demonstration of technical skills with no purpose, empty affectations and no emotions or sensuality whatsoever. It reminds me of CGI rendering demos: objectively beautiful, virtuoso, soulless. Don't get me wrong, at times it does look beautiful and impressive but I'm never touched by it because all I can think of is Sorrentino trying to force his mannered and perfectly lit beauty down my throat (with some Arvo Part -no hate- starting right on cue so I know I need to feel something). It's botoxed filmmaking.

Directly related to that, the frantic editing is also problematic. There's never room for a shot --however beautiful or poetic-- to breathe, there's never time for it to last long enough so that it could maybe elicit an emotion. The rare sequences where Sorrentino create something with a genuine sensibility are totally undermined by this halting energy and as a result their potential is mostly wasted. The sequence with the keys and the Capitoline museums at night is a good example. Incidentally, even though it falls short, that's one of the only two scenes I really liked.

I mean look at this

or this

I don't find it much more convincing storywise. As far as satire or indictment goes, it's pretty tame. Sorrentino never bothers to challenge his antihero, by virtue of existential crisis between two conga lines and subsequent cliché epiphanies Jep instantly becomes some kind of sympathetic insider-outsider bullshit cutter beyond reproach. We are made to feel that he is in fact a better human being than his peers because he doesn't pretend it's not all rubbish but maybe he's just an hypocrite whose answer to Berlusconi's Italy mostly consists in being a dick to his friends and going through the motions with a mix of condescension and amused detachment.

The disjointed structure mirrors La Dolce Vita (which is the avowed model here) but Sorrentino is no Fellini: the episodic vignettes feel a bit gratuitous and their order arbitrary (or irrelevant) as the film lacks any kind of progression or evolution whereas their use in La Dolce Vita logically lead, in their succession, to the film bittersweet denouement.

And that's the crux of the matter. The Great Beauty mostly deals in complaisance and indifference, for all its kinetic camerwork it doesn't go anywhere, it stagnates. Despite all the epiphanies and the "going back to the roots," when the credits roll nothing has changed really. In contrast, La Dolce Vita shows a Marcello taking the opposite direction and slowly slipping until he finally turns into Jep (more or less) in the last 20minutes, which makes the whole thing infinitely more poignant and human.

The only poignant scene in The Great Beauty happens at the very end of the film when the contessa Colonna-for-rent haunts her palace-turned-museum. It lasts about 30 seconds and it's more powerful than the two hours that precede it.

There's that scene, the aforementioned night visit sequence, a couple of striking images (Costa Concordia on its flank) and Tony Servillo's acting. And there's everything else.

(Also, old statues are cool but contemporary art is just a scam (+ 'my kid could paint that' bonus). Now you know.)
Edited by sipang - 1/13/14 at 10:05pm
post #203 of 257
God damn, I was all set to watch this, now all I want to do is go back and watch La Dolce Vita again. (Maybe I'll split the difference and revisit City of Women instead).

Sipang, what do you think about City of Women? happy.gif
post #204 of 257
Thread Starter 
Haven't seen it unfortunately. Only saw two other Fellini (8 1/2 and Amarcord) a loooong time ago.

I suck at Italian cinema, but I'm working on it.
post #205 of 257
Haha, this surprises me. I'd say his other films from #9 on up are definitely worth a look, particularly if you're a fan of frantic whimsicality, and of course, big titties.

Thanks for the scintillating write-up. fistbump.gif
post #206 of 257
Man, sipang, I feel kinda dumb for not really paying attention to any of that stuff at all while I was watching this. It might have something to do with watching lots of like Fast and the Furious and Crank 2 style movies. I think my brain is readjusting to that sort of hyperactive style, and all I keep thinking is that I want to watch Speed Racer over and over and over again.
For the next selection, can somebody pick something that might help a bit with detoxing from contemporary action cinema? (Also, can someone else do it, because otherwise I'm going to choose something really dumb and you will all hate me more.)
Edited by dwyhajlo - 1/14/14 at 4:29am
post #207 of 257
Thread Starter 
Yeah, it's clear that if this was some action movie I wouldn't mind most of stuff I'm criticizing here (although some of the camera movements might still look preposterous) because it would actually make sense, it's just a matter of internal coherence after all (or lack thereof in this case). Well that how I see it anyway.

And obviously I'm only this harsh because of the film's boasting nature and because it has been praised so highly (and almost unanimously, which still kinda baffles me). It just won the Golden Globe for best foreign film btw.

I have a few ideas for the next pick if nobody else is up for it, though it might be useful to know how many people are still game first.

sipang (Little Odessa - James Gray, 1994)
dwyhajlo (Seconds - John Frankenheimer, 1966)
Lionheart Biker (Hana Bi - Takeshi Kitano, 1997)
noob (Sympathy for the Devil - Jean-Luc Godard, 1968)
g transistor (Un Prophete - Jacques Audiard, 2009)
snake (Paris, Texas - Wim Wenders, 1984)
dotcomzzz (True Romance - Tony Scott, 1993)
Ivwri (The Sky Crawlers - Mamoru Oshii, 2008)

A Fellow Linguist
the shah

Edited by sipang - 1/14/14 at 1:38pm
post #208 of 257

I´m game, though I already had my choice of film. So if any of the other participants have a selection, then  we could continue like before.


 I have some ideas of my own.. I was thinking about Kurosawa´s "Throne of Blood" (yes, once more a japanese director) but I´d love to hear what suggestions you have.


ps: without having watched "La grande bellezza", I enjoyed your dissection of it. I get where you are going by just watching the initial sequence.

post #209 of 257
Thread Starter 
But seriously that's just my take on the film. I realize it paints a pretty grim picture but I'd hate if ppl didn't watch the film because of it. I don't think I can be convinced that it's a good film but I'd still love to hear dissenting or more nuanced opinions or have some kind of discussion going if ppl feel like it because it's totally possible I overlooked some stuff.
post #210 of 257
Originally Posted by dwyhajlo 
can somebody pick something that might help a bit with detoxing from contemporary action cinema?

That would be an interesting list. Like some sort of filmic counter-antigen to the Michael Bay effect?

I'd think:

Claire's Knee
La Belle Noiseuse

Maybe Walkabout or Picnic at Hanging Rock. Or Antonioni's non-English language films on loop. Tarkovsky or anything early Russian.

It's weird, my grandfather was just asking for a similar (albeit more contemporary) list, alleging that his neurons were too old and serene to follow most of the post-NYPD Blue cop shows
Edited by noob in 89 - 1/14/14 at 6:32pm
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