His lovely voice was back on TV last night - and not to present an intro to a spaghetti western.
Not seen much of a build up to this but I really liked it, w/lots of qualifications.
- The good bits were the overlaying of visual ideas across time - e.g. Shoah's rail journey to Auschwitz/Kubrick's psych journey in 2001.
- Really good script (apart from the intro): packed a lot in a short period of time, but never felt like it - 180 degree, the cut, etc. beginnings of film language. Worst bit was 'punctum', he shouldn't have said where it came from!
- The filming of old fields of greenary w/the "in 1910 this was the centre of the film world"!!
- Lots of identitiy politics that you can tell he is going to rub in people's faces. But, seriously, good bit from that academic on how women script writers wrote so many of the early films at the beginning of Hollywood. He allows the space for a person w/knowledge to make a strong contribution instead of loads of talking heads.
- The promise of what is to come: which is to say Xala pisses all over new american cinema, WHICH IS TRUE AND YOU KNOW IT.
There will be some cranky stuff - the intro was overreaching, you know he'll get tangled up when trying to talk about Hollywood post-Star wars. And the assertion that movies are about ideas and not money is just...
The whole thing might collapse but so far I just liked the talk on silent films, having not seen one.
― xyzzzz__, Sunday, 4 September 2011 15:30 (1 year ago) Permalink
― zvookster, Sunday, 4 September 2011 15:33 (1 year ago) Permalink
was really psyched for this but just couldn't listen to cousins, turned off after about ten mins. Will give it another try, maybe.
― even blue cows get the girls (darraghmac), Sunday, 4 September 2011 16:23 (1 year ago) Permalink
man alive his voice is annoying
― extremely loud and incredibly highbrow (history mayne), Sunday, 4 September 2011 21:57 (1 year ago) Permalink
i like the clips. most of what he's said so far has been nonsense.
― extremely loud and incredibly highbrow (history mayne), Sunday, 4 September 2011 21:59 (1 year ago) Permalink
this money vs ideas thing is beyond facile
― extremely loud and incredibly highbrow (history mayne), Sunday, 4 September 2011 22:01 (1 year ago) Permalink
'fail to film the nazi gas chambers'... probably best to credit godard?
also the movies invented flashbacks? not even dw griffith thought that.
― extremely loud and incredibly highbrow (history mayne), Sunday, 4 September 2011 22:11 (1 year ago) Permalink
this was at best tasteless
― extremely loud and incredibly highbrow (history mayne), Sunday, 4 September 2011 22:16 (1 year ago) Permalink
Could never take Cousins seriously after this
― Number None, Monday, 5 September 2011 03:20 (1 year ago) Permalink
noticed this was on last night. lolled. didn't watch. fecking mark cousings.
― Frogbs (Pray Like Aretha Franklin (in Whiteface)) (Noodle Vague), Monday, 5 September 2011 03:46 (1 year ago) Permalink
i don't really know who mark cousins is, other than knowing his name, but the sight & sound article on this is terrific, in general - in talking about cinema as a kind of esperanto - and makes the series sound great. & i had no idea it was coming. so psyched to see it, not letting you guys get me down. has anyone read the book?
― cheerful sound ur (schlump), Monday, 5 September 2011 09:35 (1 year ago) Permalink
tests on lab rats prove it's physically impossible to get more than about 30 seconds into one of these spiels
― Frogbs (Pray Like Aretha Franklin (in Whiteface)) (Noodle Vague), Monday, 5 September 2011 09:52 (1 year ago) Permalink
thought it was p lolsome that he made some bold claims in the intro abt how this was a *NEW* history of cinema etc etc, before rather dutifully trudging through edison, lumiere, melies, porter, griffiths, california sunshine, and so on. if anything, i was surprised by how little attention he paid to things like caligari and the glories of early european cinema, but maybe that's still to come. i agree that the stuff abt continuity editing, eyeline matches, reverse angle shots and the like was well-explained, and think he'd better off sticking to this formalist approach rather than all that gibberish abt money vs ideas, cinema as esperanto (erm...NO) blahdidblah.
― Ward Fowler, Monday, 5 September 2011 10:22 (1 year ago) Permalink
good for u schlump. this thread is really ilx at near its worst.
― zvookster, Monday, 5 September 2011 15:27 (1 year ago) Permalink
sorry mark didn't realise you posted here
― placeholder for weak pun (Noodle Vague), Monday, 5 September 2011 15:36 (1 year ago) Permalink
really y'all sound like resentful little jerks nv.
can u not watch it from my link schlump? i have US headers on my browser to watch daily show clips etc. but i can watch it.
between movie clips cousins films a series of shots in wide- or long-shot from a cam on a tripod, moving photographs beautifully composed in widescreen, while over the top he says in essence, and often in actuality, "look at this:", "look at this:" The effect is immersive. he barely moves the cam for the whole hour. i don't know how you can watch it while tabbing back to a msg board to update yr predetermined displeasure, checking yr email and glancing at the tentacle porn u downloaded earlier.
above it's somehow facile to note that "visual ideas more than money or marketing are the real things that drive cinema. sitting in the dark it's images and ideas that excite us." and at the same time, it's nonsense? i don't think it's a particularly controversial idea. it's clearly one that's gonna drive the whole series.
i presume "rather dutifully trudging" is a stock phrase lifted wholesale from tory newspapers or whatever. there's no evidence of dutifully trudging thru anything. he returns again and again to porter in facination. he recreates melies' lost magic trick. and so on. it's true the early innovations are well-tread territory, but had you seen, for instance. benjamin christensen film in histories before? there was quite a bit of the unfamiliar.
it was obvious from the whole show that its focus was before cabinet of dr caligari, itself hardly the be all and end all of anything. just in case it wasn't obvious, there was a huge graphic at the start reading 1895-1918.
probably best to credit godard? such a petty point u make, but what makes you think he won;t? no need of credit in a sentence jumping forward in time from edison and lumiere to future reverberations, c'mon son.
this was at best tasteless staggering that linking two visual ideas is tasteless if one of them is in Shoah. you might as well make the point that Shoah is tasteless for using visual ideas. in fact it would be better to try to make that point, since it would demand more than a glib anti-intellectualism.
Moviedrome intros were more than a decade ago, when cousins was young, nervous, awkward, and had two minutes to depart his enthusiasm. people around here get annoyed when you bring up something they wrote two years ago. that said, were they really so bad? his spiel for Force of Evil still haunts me. still, i don't see the point of a youtube when you can hear the narration of the actual series in my link. i've no problem to objections to listening to cousins in this series. if that's a personal thing that's not so much to do with what he's saying as his manner. but personally i find his voice, yes a little precious, but also quiet, measured, lilting, and diffident-sounding even when putting over the poetic or the opinionated. quite a pleasurable effect imo.
― zvookster, Monday, 5 September 2011 15:53 (1 year ago) Permalink
you presume a lot
― Ward Fowler, Monday, 5 September 2011 15:58 (1 year ago) Permalink
not on this evidence
― zvookster, Monday, 5 September 2011 16:01 (1 year ago) Permalink
i missed that opening credit, so mea culpa, but yeah, i have actually seen christensen mentioned in film histories before - haxan is available as a Criterion edition, ffs, he's hardly an ultra-obscure director or anything. I stick by my point, such as it is, that for a self-aggrandizing NEW history of cinema there wasn't much that was new to film scholarship or history - and agree with History Mayne that so far, he hasn't said much, at the theoretical level, that's actually revealatory or confounding.
― Ward Fowler, Monday, 5 September 2011 16:08 (1 year ago) Permalink
that edition only came out in like 2001 so yeah it is somewhat new to see his film in film histories. you're totally exaggerating "a self-aggrandizing NEW history of cinema" just for rhetoric btw. i'm surprised you're acting like you don't want things like this to be on tv, because of course you could do better lol
― zvookster, Monday, 5 September 2011 16:11 (1 year ago) Permalink
i'll defer to yr impassioned defence and give it another go zvook. i do think "visual ideas more than money or marketing are the real things that drive cinema. sitting in the dark it's images and ideas that excite us." is a contradictory pair of statements that are, at best, more than a bit naive about the way the film industry has always worked tho.
― placeholder for weak pun (Noodle Vague), Monday, 5 September 2011 16:19 (1 year ago) Permalink
well, i'd have to go back to the tv prog to check, but iirc Cousins stating pretty clearly that this history was designed, in part, to refute previous narratives/assumptions about the 'odyssey' of film(think he called some previous histories RACIST because of the way they downplayed non-Western/Hollywood forms of cinema, which might be fair enough.)
i don't think you know me well enough to know whether I could do a better job than Cousins - my feeling is, I'd be better at some things than him, and much worse on other things. i can certainly think of a LONG list of people who I would rather had done than job; at the same time, I'll keep watching (and yr righteous fury might've led you to miss the parts in my original post where I praised the prog.)
i do find your hostile caricaturing kind of off-putting to further discussion. it's almost as if you're...taking this personally
― Ward Fowler, Monday, 5 September 2011 16:22 (1 year ago) Permalink
Had never occurred to me that Bronson's character in Once Upon A Time In The West didn't know that Henry Fonda offed his brother throughout the entire movie.
― pandemic, Monday, 5 September 2011 16:36 (1 year ago) Permalink
wait does that work
― Jolout Boy (darraghmac), Monday, 5 September 2011 16:50 (1 year ago) Permalink
see, i don't think it does
― pandemic, Monday, 5 September 2011 17:14 (1 year ago) Permalink
it really doesnt, he drops names throughout the whole film right?
― Jolout Boy (darraghmac), Monday, 5 September 2011 17:55 (1 year ago) Permalink
i don't know how you can watch it while tabbing back to a msg board
i opened a second window, jeez
had you seen, for instance. benjamin christensen film in histories before?
yes, in this: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1617347/
you're totally exaggerating "a self-aggrandizing NEW history of cinema" just for rhetoric btw.
no, at the top of the show he said: what we think we know is wrong (and racist). he absolutely said that what we thought we knew was wrong, which means he has to get things right. im not sure why im bothering to respond to you bc your post was weird, but there were things he said that struck me as wrong. like the idea edwin porter died a forgotten man, when he was credited in all the major histories as (pretty much) the inventor of narrative cinema. things like that!
more broadly, there's something odd about making it all about individual romantic geniuses (which im sort of OK with actually) but then bringing in a lot of very shallow identity politics. so hollywood is racist, sexist, heteronormative etc -- but also loads of 'male' genre films were written by women. he's sort of working both sides of the street there.
if it were only about ideas, and not about money, well, i guess he might have ended up mentioning the people who had ideas and no money (or no sense of how to use it), like william friese-greene. im not an expert on this, but when he said the lumieres invented the stop-start film-through-projector mechanism, i cd have sworn that they were not literally the first, but that they had managed to do it on a commercial basis. everyone needs money. that's why they call it money.
― extremely loud and incredibly highbrow (history mayne), Monday, 5 September 2011 18:05 (1 year ago) Permalink
re: Chistensen, again
now that I'm home i've checked my copy of A Pictorial History of Horror Films by Denis Gifford. There's a paragraph on Christensen ("one more Continental import whose creativity suffered in the cause of commercialism") which discusses not only 'Withcraft Through the Ages' but also his subsequent American-made horror films. This was written in 1973, published by Hamlyn, reprinted countless times and, along with Alan Frank's Horror Movies (1977, also with a paragraph on Haxan) devoured by British genre fans of a certain age (Mark Gatiss mentioned both books in relation to his excellent documentaries on horror films.)
― Ward Fowler, Monday, 5 September 2011 18:56 (1 year ago) Permalink
haxan is available as a Criterion edition, ffs,
lol because once something is issued by a niche label (in another country from where this programme is aired) it has entered public consciousness
everyone needs money. that's why they call it money.
props to this
when he was credited in all the major histories as (pretty much) the inventor of narrative cinema.
i think the idea was that, popularly, at the time of his death, nobody really knew who he was.
Anyway, the opening bit really annoyed me with its condescension (and, yes, his voice). As it went on, however, I began to really enjoy it. He does pretty well on a lot of things.
Also I'm a sucker for these kinds of movie histories, and he does about as well as you'd expect for this sort of thing. After all - and somewhat ironically given the ideas v money thing he talks about - you can't expect a 15-part TV documentary to be the kind of programme that will only cater to cinephiles who already know this stuff. The point of any TV documentary (maybe I should qualify that with a 'these days') is to appeal to a mass audience, and I think there's a lot of new/interesting stuff for said mass audience to take in. Don't know why anyone would actually bitch about that, and ftr, I think the bitching in this thread is more in a nit-picking cinephile way, not in a OMG I CAN'T BELIEVE HE DID THAT FUCK THIS ASSHOLE internet kind of way. If anyone actually begrudges that this exists they're obviously ---------.
I dug it a lot more than I thought I would, and I'm interested to see where it will go. It's not Histoire(s) Du Cinema, but nobody should have expected (or even, possibly, wanted) that.
― Gukbe, Tuesday, 6 September 2011 07:23 (1 year ago) Permalink
I'd be the reasonably ignorant masses. I was really looking forward to this, having heard about it. Certainly i'd have quite the opposite attitude to begrudging its existence. His intro, delivery, script, y'know- him- were really distracting, showy, kinda smug idk- imo basically everything i personally wouldn't want my floating expert in a project like this to be. The fact that the first couple sentences he then uttered as a statement of intent were pretty much, qgain, imo, rubbish was on top. And i'd never heard of dude before this.
― Jolout Boy (darraghmac), Tuesday, 6 September 2011 07:32 (1 year ago) Permalink
god no, i didn't want 'histoire(s)' -- i actually didn't mind it covering the basics, more the manner of doing so, the claim that everything said before was wrong.
i suppose edwin porter was not a 'household name' when he died, but 'forgotten' is simply wrong, especially in this context: cousins says g. a. smith and the rest of the brighton school 'invented' what porter was, at the time of his death, credited with.
the brighton school wasn't in anyone's consciousness till five years after porter's death -- it was invented specifically to scale back the claims made for porter. g. a. smith was known for his colour experiments but, i am as sure as it's possible to be, not for anything to do with film grammar.
obviously i don't expect these kinds of things to be discussed in the show. but cousins's annoying, fey style is unpleasantly accompanied by actually quite strident, non-negotiable claims that he shouldn't have made.
― extremely loud and incredibly highbrow (history mayne), Tuesday, 6 September 2011 07:32 (1 year ago) Permalink
i guess we're quibbling over the use of 'forgotten' which is a bit silly. porter was even talked about in the TCM docu series from a few months back.
i can understand a distate for the annoying, fey style though. i got used to it, but i was actively annoyed for the first part, and again, the writing and what he says in the opening are pretty poor.
but really i'm not sure what you're talking about with strident, non-negotiable claims.
― Gukbe, Tuesday, 6 September 2011 07:46 (1 year ago) Permalink
about his show, about dakar being more interesting than new york, about hollywood cinema being constitutionally racist/sexist etc (i guess 'it was' but then for some reason people liked it), about which individual 'invented' what*
*more sophisticated people than me say that individuals don't invent. whatever: but it does bear on the ideas/money thing.
― extremely loud and incredibly highbrow (history mayne), Tuesday, 6 September 2011 07:54 (1 year ago) Permalink
Ah, well, as I said, I didn't like that condescending intro either. But after that, and once I got used to his voice (both literally and presentationally), I thought it was quite good. Or at least enjoyable.
I should qualify that by saying that I absolutely adore Schama's A History of Britain, and I don't agree with a fair amount of it. So I might just be a sucker for series about things I like when they're done in a certain way.
― Gukbe, Tuesday, 6 September 2011 08:00 (1 year ago) Permalink
oh i like schama
some of this was just inane. 'the world was changing all the time in the early 20th century [unlike at any time in history]: the titanic sank, the first world war started. you might think the cinema was insignificant within all this, but you'd be wrong.' from memory, but pretty close: what is this shit?
― extremely loud and incredibly highbrow (history mayne), Tuesday, 6 September 2011 08:15 (1 year ago) Permalink
starting off w a sequence from Saving Private Ryan annoyed me, cos it seemed to right from the get-go signify an endorsement for a kind of cinema i don't really like v much, but i didn't have a prob w his delivery/manner (his emphatic way of speaking sometimes reminds me of Terence Davies, for some reason.) again, i have nothing against the prog existing, or cousins doing it, or it recapitulating the 'basics', or whatever - i'm sure there'll be things that are new to me, over 15 weeks, and some of the clips are gd! but progs like this almost EXIST to be argued abt - by cineastes, the 'general' audience, by filmmakers themselves - and the first episode def seemed to be inviting contradiction.
of course i wasn't suggesting that haxan being on criterion represents its entry into 'public consciousness', just that christensen's films have for quite a while been part of the accepted narrative of art film history, that they've been seen for a while now as something special, significant, worth preserving in 'special editions', even.
― Ward Fowler, Tuesday, 6 September 2011 08:23 (1 year ago) Permalink
i doubt you get a series like this made these days unless it's sold upfront -- to execs as much as anyone -- as "everything you know is wrong": education-as-stunt
and the extent to which TV histories end up standing or falling on the individual mannerism and vocal tic of the historian-presenter is very much part of this
― mark s, Tuesday, 6 September 2011 08:36 (1 year ago) Permalink
i agree that the stuff abt continuity editing, eyeline matches, reverse angle shots and the like was well-explained, and think he'd better off sticking to this formalist approach rather than all that gibberish abt money vs ideas
he should stick to visual ideas in other words
― zvookster, Tuesday, 6 September 2011 13:06 (1 year ago) Permalink
Part of the "everything you know is wrong" strategy is making ridiculous patronising assumptions about what the audience knows.
― Science, you guys. Science. (DL), Tuesday, 6 September 2011 13:22 (1 year ago) Permalink
eh the focus on the bombastic intro itt is out of all proportion.
― zvookster, Tuesday, 6 September 2011 13:26 (1 year ago) Permalink
it's probably as far as a lot of ppl got.
― Jolout Boy (darraghmac), Tuesday, 6 September 2011 13:31 (1 year ago) Permalink
― placeholder for weak pun (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 6 September 2011 13:34 (1 year ago) Permalink
cos, y'know, introductions are important
they should be but "reasons you really really should watch no honestly, compression of 15 hrs" that you have to sit thru before the real prog starts are not uncommon
― zvookster, Tuesday, 6 September 2011 13:37 (1 year ago) Permalink
and it's wonderful for msg boards since the assertions, if they're supported at all, are supported by the series not the intro
― zvookster, Tuesday, 6 September 2011 13:39 (1 year ago) Permalink
Episode 1:Saving Private Ryan (1998)Three Colours: Blue (1993)Casablanca (1942)Record Of A Tenement Gentleman (1947)Odd Man Out (1947)2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (1967)Taxi Driver (1976)The French Connection (1971)Employees Leaving The Lumiere Factory (1985)Arrival Of A Train At La Ciotat (1986)Annabelle Serpentine Dance (1985)Sandow (1896)What Happened on Twenty-Third Street, New York City (1901)Cendrillon (1899)La Lune a un Metre (1898)A Kiss in the Tunnel (1899)Shoah (1985)2001: Space Odyssey (1968)The Little Doctor and the Sick Kitten (1901)October (Ten Days that Shook the World) (1928)Once Upon a Time in the West (19??)The Corbett-Fitzimmons Fight (1897)The Life Of An American Fireman (1903)Sherlock Jr (1924)The Horse That Bolted (1907)The Assassination of the Duc de Guise (1908)Vivre Sa Vie (1962)Those Awful Hats (1909)The Mended Lute (1909)The Abyss (1910)Stage Struck (1925)The Mysterious X (1913)Haxan (1922)Ingeborg Holm (1913)The Phantom Carriage (1921)Shanghai Express (1932)The Story Of The Kelly Gang (1906)The Squaw Man (1918)The Empire Strikes Back (1980)Falling Leaves (1912)Suspense (1913)The Wind (1928)The House With Closed Shutters (1910)Way Down East (1920)Orphans Of The Storm (1921)Birth Of A Nation (1915)Rebirth Of A Nation (2007)Cabiria (1914)Intolerance (1916)Souls On The Road (1921)
― koogs, Wednesday, 7 September 2011 09:44 (1 year ago) Permalink
^ typed the above out whilst watching, figured i should post it somewhere 8)
am hoping a lot of the early stuff is out of copyright and available on archive.org. haxan certainly is.
Orphans Of The Storm was on monday night. was surprised at it's length (3 hours with adverts)
― koogs, Wednesday, 7 September 2011 09:47 (1 year ago) Permalink
Totally forgot about this thread...
Ward you wd totally make a better series than this! :-)
As someone who has watched quite a lot (both foreign and Hollywood) but haven't read much film history and only read some film crit this is really welcome. Can pick it apart when I get to know more/read more. I haven't watched Histoire(s)... but wd like to.
I find Schama nauseating. If that's the reaction some people here have for Cousins I totally understand.
I would say the Shoah/Kubric was tasteless, as an example, but the overall idea (there were a cpl of other examples) was ok.
On the interview on More 4 site his basic take home lessons were:
- Lots of African cinema is great- Japanese cinema of the 30s is ignored in film histories (even now)
and something else, so that will be part of the deal. You may want to run away.
A couple of articles have called this the Civilization of film history but I think it will end up being like that ONLY AFTER attempting to be John Berger-esque about film.
Lots of car crashing expected in the coming weeks.
― xyzzzz__, Saturday, 10 September 2011 12:55 (1 year ago) Permalink
― zvookster, Tuesday, 6 September 2011 Bookmark
But if you're gonna say 'ideas not money' after showing a clip of saving private ryan...what?!
Rather have a leaner, even nothingy intro where any pecularities show in the comeing weeks -- the overvaluing of certain obscure-ish films over others.
― xyzzzz__, Saturday, 10 September 2011 13:03 (1 year ago) Permalink
to be fair civilisation broached no new ideas whatever, surely? and nor did the world at war...
to establish the compendium of received opinions is not per se a dishonorable activity (very much the opposite in the current intellectual climate, actually) (if cousins is claiming to be a cool-d00d iconoclast that's maybe annoying, but also almost unavoidable: it's the default mode for being paid mainstream attention and perhaps getting a mainstream budget) (and blimey, he's got a 15-part series out of this = a not-to-be-sniffed-at achievement)
schama is excellent at framing interestingly spiky questions which he then entirely drains of interest by the consensual mudge he steers the rest of the programme towards: the opening chapters of his books are often excellent and even exciting -- and the one on "the gothic" remains interesting till about halfway in
my objection to cousins on moviedrome back in the day was that it bled way too easily into the fanboy side of auteur theory -- i recall a particularly aggravating interview with roman polanski (by no means an uninteresting subject in principle ffs, but how are the constraints of getting the interview cleared by his people not going to trudge all over anything you might get out of it... and actually cousins is a poor interviewer, his research presents largely as sucking up, which is horrible to watch even when yr subject isn't an international villain)
this sounds -- i haven't watched any yet -- oddly more like the godard than anyone's letting on: in content if not in framing
― mark s, Saturday, 10 September 2011 13:21 (1 year ago) Permalink
Sequence: Spike Lee --> Sayles --> Besson --> Carax --> Almodóvar
MC means to affirm Sayles as the eminence grise of US indie integrity, but this juxtaposition makes him see much more worthily wearisome than he actually is. (The 80s are hard to write about...)
― mark s, Saturday, 19 November 2011 22:06 (1 year ago) Permalink
haha i saw greenaway's "Zed and Two Noughts" *with* my cousin! He hated it...
this idea of "film as provocation to the establishment" is self-regarding toss: on the whole the establishment ignored these films, quite unbothered by them, allowed and even encouraged them
― mark s, Saturday, 19 November 2011 22:18 (1 year ago) Permalink
But was that the case in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe? Were there any other good brit films durng the 80s? I only really liked Greogry's Girl and Still Voices.. out of that lot.
Mark Cousins did point in an interview that he wanted to introduce people to more African cinema than they knew, and he's delivering on that w/sequences like the one for Yeelen - one of the best in the entire series. The Muratova was also brill. And when you see that cinema could really be this good you wonder why he's given so much space to the mundanity of Sayles. That interview didn't help.
Didn't know anything about Chinese cinema (apart from Hong Kong), so another plus. But again to praise well made tosh like House of Flying Daggers and then go on about denigrate films that come from a pop video background doesn't scan to me.
― xyzzzz__, Sunday, 20 November 2011 11:05 (1 year ago) Permalink
Wsn't able to see ths out due to ilx packing up in Dec, so a few points to conclude (didn't physically take notes so here we go w/my faulty mem):
- The ep with the MC waving hobbits as a sign of everything wrong w/cinema didn't convince. He does sound like a Bazin disciple - the pleas for realism got really tedious - but the problem is cinema surely is montage and realism and 'looks like our dreams' (as his intro used to say) so he needs to do better.
- His repping for Iranian doc/fiction (Makhmalbaf, some of Kiarostami's really strong early works) is another excellent discovery but they are gd films because of (among other things) the strng interplay w/notions of reality w/room for the 'poetic' and dreamlike, anchored to a mangled narrative that seems lived. This shd be distinguised from Von Trier, say, whose realism is derived from 'Homicide life on the Street'. Not that this is terrible - and hilarious when VT dropped this instead of confirming he was following on the footsteps of Godard - but 'Homicide...' has more going on in it than most VT films (cinematic TV was kinda missing here).
- Loved Clare Denis talking about Beau Travail. That ending is really great. Much more likely to buy her 'cinema is universal' than the Hollywood vs. rest of the world set-up that wsn't wrkng in the last few eps.
Since the thing finished I've been hunting down those African films on youtube: Yeelen and Hyenes are great. The stuff on non-martial arts Chinese cinema ws also pure gold, enjoyed Yellow Earth a lot.
― xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 3 January 2012 22:05 (1 year ago) Permalink
Don't think he ever resolved that conflict he had between this notion of realism and fantasy. I mean he loves Baz Luhrmann, so it just seems that he likes them as long as it gives the whiff of auterism at work, just calls into the whole auteur enterprise into question really.
- He didn't cover enough Japanses cinema: Kinju Yoshida (Eros Plus Madness is one of the great '68 films), Masahiro Shinoda (Double Suicide has that reduced theatrical spatial staging that SHAMES Von Trier's attempts at doing so in Dogville) or Toshio Matsumoto ought to have been featured instead of Tetsuo. Not that I've anything against that but another weakness were his attempts to cover genre films - they had to be Japanese or from Hollywood in the 30s and 40s.
― xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 3 January 2012 22:14 (1 year ago) Permalink
But but overall I did watch all the eps and found it all really worthwhile even if increasingly weak towards the end. Learned quite a bit and the concluding remarks were gd: we shd all talk about some of these films.
I left feeling in love w/films and cinema more than ever...
― xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 3 January 2012 22:20 (1 year ago) Permalink
He does sound like a Bazin disciple - the pleas for realism got really tedious - but the problem is cinema surely is montage and realism and 'looks like our dreams' (as his intro used to say) so he needs to do better.
sorry what i was getting at is that cinema can be everything: montage or realism or a mix, etc.
― xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 3 January 2012 22:22 (1 year ago) Permalink
gave up on this when i realised my irritation with the content was far outweighing any pleasure/insight i was getting. also came round to the idea that the subject is just too big for one person to properly tackle (and the fact that it's one person's 'personal' vision of film implies a unity and coherence that cinema, or any long-established artform, never actually has - ie it's a story of fragments, repetition, changes, diversions, false starts etc etc.) wld rather have seen different ppl tackling different genres/national cinemas and so on.
― Ward Fowler, Wednesday, 4 January 2012 10:41 (1 year ago) Permalink
Yeah, agree, but then again it wouldn't be an auteur's auteur vision. Which I'm not sure TV companies would buy into. Collaboration wd still need an overall 'editor' of the histories into a streamlined style.
Hope there is another attempt at this. Doubt we'll see anything soon, its amazing MC got it off the ground...you can tell there is a bundle of energy there, even if scattered over the screen.
― xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 4 January 2012 21:34 (1 year ago) Permalink
Keep checking this once a month to see what more I've seen:
- Daisies was another discovery.
- Badou Boy's, for its use of sound and rough imagination.
- Started making my way through the Japanese documentaries of the 70s - Minimata et al.
- Battle for Chile
- I am Curious (yellow)
otoh, the more I've watched (and I've watched more than ever these last 3-4 months) the more I see how little directors matter...I know they do, but it feels somehow oppressive to think about auteurs and artists blah. Much better to cover what it ws being said, not by whom, as there was a lot of common ground with the range of topics.
I know what I'm saying is rough and too general. All stuff I'm thinking about at the mo.
― xyzzzz__, Saturday, 3 March 2012 11:18 (1 year ago) Permalink
Embarking on this tonight--it'll be playing, two episodes at a time, for the next couple of months at the local documentary theatre. Hope I like it enough not to bail.
― clemenza, Sunday, 23 September 2012 20:51 (7 months ago) Permalink
make sure you've seen all the movies made up until now before you watch because it spoils the fuck outta like most of them
― let's get the banned back together (schlump), Sunday, 23 September 2012 20:52 (7 months ago) Permalink
Whenever they excerpt from the ones I haven't seen, I'll close my eyes.
― clemenza, Sunday, 23 September 2012 21:07 (7 months ago) Permalink
First impressions after two hours: the narration's going to wear me down, and the construction is quite scattershot. Sometimes allusions across time are noted (most of them valid, a couple rather tenuous--Chaplin into Bad Timing struck me as a reach), sometimes not. I'd like to see that Iranian documentary from the early '60s that popped up.
― clemenza, Monday, 24 September 2012 04:08 (7 months ago) Permalink
oh is that the house is black yeah i need to see that
― let's get the banned back together (schlump), Monday, 24 September 2012 04:09 (7 months ago) Permalink
That's the one--I was scrolling back, and someone said the same thing upthread. The friend I saw it with tonight says it's only 30 minutes long and available on DVD.
― clemenza, Monday, 24 September 2012 04:17 (7 months ago) Permalink
It is on YouTube, if you don't mind watching it that way.
― DavidM, Monday, 24 September 2012 19:45 (7 months ago) Permalink
Being so short, that might work until I can see it properly--thanks.
― clemenza, Tuesday, 25 September 2012 01:34 (7 months ago) Permalink
Parts 3 and 4 tonight. I like the obscure stuff the guy digs up (obscure to me, anyway): the Japanese film influenced by Caligari (A Page of Madness), the Brazilian film from the early '30s (Limite), the films of Ruan Lingyu. And I liked Blood of a Poet into Inception.
Realizing that you can't encompass everything, there are omissions that jar: Ford without Stagecoach, Disney without Fantasia, the '30s episode without Von Sternberg. (He made a brief appearance earlier.) The Hitchcock segment seemed quite scattershot. "Here are seven reasons why Hitchcock's so important"--a couple of times, I wasn't even clear what the reason was.
The two hours go by easily, though. I'm glad I'm not seeing it in three or four sittings.
― clemenza, Monday, 1 October 2012 04:16 (7 months ago) Permalink
I watched this when it was broadcast on UK tv this time last year, and the hour-a-week format worked really well for me; I tended to PVR it and probably had a couple of 2hr sessions as well catching during the run, but as you say it just slips by. The mid 20th century episodes were my favourites, esp. the wonderful interview with Kyōko Kagawa.
In honesty, despite the omissions and things one could take issue with, it kind of amazes me that a series like this could get made *at all* these days, so kudos to Cousins for getting funding and making it happen. A fair bit of the location footage seems to be him on solo travels with a camera, but the sometimes ramshackle feel of this was pretty beguiling too. Like a lot of people on this thread it certainly opened my eyes to a mass of films that I've never seen (or even heard of) as well.
― that mustardless plate (Bill A), Monday, 1 October 2012 11:26 (7 months ago) Permalink
Good point. Every time I complain about something, I feel a little petulant; he managed to get a serious 15-hour history-of-film made, and no one's going to see things exactly the same. I've already found out about a number of films I didn't know. (Which doesn't mean I won't have more petulant complaints for the next few Sundays...)
― clemenza, Monday, 1 October 2012 13:27 (7 months ago) Permalink
Part 5: A little sketchy on film noir, but he does give Stagecoach its due here. I don't think Capra was mentioned, but you could argue he belongs more to the '30s...except I'm not sure if he was mentioned in that episode, either.
Part 6: Film I most want to see from tonight: Cairo Station, in part for Hind Rostom. I liked the way he ended with The Searchers, Vertigo, Touch of Evil, and Rio Bravo as a group--those four films have always belonged together for me (as different as they are in many ways). The Apu films are among my favourites, but I thought there was a little too much time spent on Ray; Marilyn Monroe was barely mentioned. I partly associate the '50s with Biblical epics--not important, but maybe some acknowledgement of DeMille.
― clemenza, Monday, 8 October 2012 00:01 (7 months ago) Permalink
Lots of films I've got to see from parts 7 and 8. He's got a knack for choosing the right sequences, and the quality of the clips is fantastic--he'll show stuff I've seen and forgotten, and I'll think, "How did I not think that looked amazing at the time?" High on the to-see list: Trinka's The Hand and Chytilová's Daisies.
Things I puzzled over...I don't think of Tati as being on a plane with Bergman, Bresson, and Fellini (independent of my own feelings about each--just in terms of importance). Substituting Kurosawa or Dreyer for the pre-New Wave '50s would make more sense to me. Not mentioning L'Avventura is bizarre, especially as he often argues that this or that changed film grammar. Something schlump warned about upthread: his habit of excerpting endings. Black Girl, Nostalghia, one or two others--did no one tell him I haven't yet seen these films? The final segment on American film in the '60s was quite arbitrary, but I assume some of that will be smoothed over in the next episode on the '70s.
I can't complain, but sometimes I still do. I'm enjoying this quite a bit.
― clemenza, Monday, 15 October 2012 03:23 (7 months ago) Permalink
Catching up on your posts now Clemenza. Wish they put this on TV for a repeat, would watch. Makes me nostalgic for the time some of the initial participants sat down and watched this together.
I loved Davies. One of my 10 - 20 or so discoveries from watching this.
― xyzzzz__, Monday, 15 October 2012 10:12 (7 months ago) Permalink
Daisies I mean -- spelling fails again :-(
― xyzzzz__, Monday, 15 October 2012 10:13 (7 months ago) Permalink
Back at it after a week off. Once again, whatever carping I do does not mean I'm not enjoying this.
I knew I'd be extra nitpicky about the America-in-the-'70s episode. The following omissions wouldn't bother everyone, but to me they should be there: Hal Ashby, Paul Mazursky, Alan J. Pakula, Michael Ritchie, Bob Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces, at least). (I'm assuming Spielberg and Lucas will be used as bridges to the blockbuster era--a bit unfair to Spielberg, I think.) Starting off with Catch-22, and devoting a good five minutes to it, was perverse. Somewhat surprised there was no mention of Elaine May, Joan Micklin Silver, or Claudia Weill, just because they would have fit into Cousins' goal of an alternate history.
Much more inexplicable: no Nashville or Bonnie and Clyde. When the latter didn't show up in the '60s episode, I thought that made sense--it would lead the '70s episode. But nothing. Those two are non-negotiable.
The film I'd most want to see from episode 10 is that Japanese documentary about the negligent chemical company.
― clemenza, Monday, 29 October 2012 03:01 (6 months ago) Permalink
Minamata: The Victims and Their World is really awesome, yes! Opened me up to a few other Japanese documentaries from that time.
― xyzzzz__, Monday, 29 October 2012 23:50 (6 months ago) Permalink
Not as much American film in parts 11 and 12, so fewer complaints from me. Lynch and Lee are obvious benchmarks for the '80s; I would have maybe added Jonathan Demme, too. (And still no mention of De Palma.) I didn't think Sayles was a great choice for the turn towards indie films (implied, anyway)--would have gone with Jarmusch and/or Soderbergh instead. I could sense my friend squirming through the France-in-the-'80s segment, but he seemed to get Britain right. We were laughing about Canada turning up in the 12th hour: Cronenberg, skip back 40 years to Norman McLaren, forward to Jesus of Montreal, see you later.
Film I'd most want to see: I guess the B&W Scottish one from the early '70s about the old woman and her grandson (can't remember the name...xyzzzz?).
― clemenza, Monday, 5 November 2012 04:05 (6 months ago) Permalink
My Childhood--Wikipedia has a list of all the film clips.
― clemenza, Monday, 5 November 2012 04:46 (6 months ago) Permalink
All done. Good stuff from the last three parts:
--a few minutes on the ascension of documentaries starting in the late '90s; didn't expect that--the segment on Japanese horror--American coverage in the '90s was pretty good--the segment on Sokurov
--lots on the Coens, no mention of Fargo--as always, lots of endings revealed--calling Van Sant's Elephant one of the key films to come out of the '90s, two seconds before the actual date (2003) is flashed on screen--so much time given to Baz Luhrmann...I've never seen a Luhrmann film; based on what I saw last night, I don't think I'd last five minutes
Anyway, on the whole, well worth the 15 hours.
― clemenza, Monday, 12 November 2012 23:07 (6 months ago) Permalink
his voice is kinda making me want to kill myself, along with a lot of his ideas, but i've been just sick enough in the last week (i.e. unable to do anything but stare blankly when i get home at night) that i keep watching.
― back in judy's tenuta (strongo hulkington's ghost dad), Tuesday, 18 December 2012 01:26 (5 months ago) Permalink
so is this any good
― turds (Hungry4Ass), Tuesday, 18 December 2012 01:50 (5 months ago) Permalink
― back in judy's tenuta (strongo hulkington's ghost dad), Tuesday, 18 December 2012 01:51 (5 months ago) Permalink
I don't know about watching a bunch at a time, but once a week (assuming you can get used to his voice and his style), I think it's enjoyable.
― Gukbe, Tuesday, 18 December 2012 01:58 (5 months ago) Permalink
So this is on Netflix now, right? What's wrong with his voice? Is he Irish? Is that bad?
― Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 18 December 2012 02:05 (5 months ago) Permalink
He's Irish. He just has a way of speaking.
― Gukbe, Tuesday, 18 December 2012 02:08 (5 months ago) Permalink
An Irish way?
― Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 18 December 2012 02:19 (5 months ago) Permalink
Have a listen to a little bit of this:
― Gukbe, Tuesday, 18 December 2012 02:20 (5 months ago) Permalink
Sounds Irish, with requisite voiceover portent.
Did you know that when they broadcast "Planet Earth" in the US, they replaced David Attenborough's narration with Sigourney Weaver's?
― Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 18 December 2012 02:23 (5 months ago) Permalink
It's not that he is Irish. His voice his famously infuriating. But I got over it, for this.
― Alba, Tuesday, 18 December 2012 09:17 (5 months ago) Permalink
the shot selection and the connections are almost all brilliant, his theorising about art and commerce considerably less so
― A fat, shit, jittery fraud of a messageboard poster (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 18 December 2012 10:50 (5 months ago) Permalink
also, spoilers a-go-go
And for the subsequent Life, the voiceover script was rewritten for Oprah Winfrey.
― Michael Jones, Tuesday, 18 December 2012 10:55 (5 months ago) Permalink
"Critics in the nineteen sixties said..." is a big catchphrase in my house as a result of this show
― Blue Collar Retail Assistant (Dwight Yorke), Tuesday, 18 December 2012 23:39 (5 months ago) Permalink
I watched the first two episodes of this last night. Really great stuff. Some of the comparisons he makes are a little odd, but sometimes they seem inspired (his comparison of Ozu to Jeanne Dielman, for example).
― pun lovin criminal (polyphonic), Wednesday, 19 December 2012 18:26 (5 months ago) Permalink
Just started this and I know I'm going to love it, especially for the comparisons, which keep things fresh and personal. Have no problem with his voice.
― Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 19 December 2012 18:38 (5 months ago) Permalink
but sometimes they seem inspired (his comparison of Ozu to Jeanne Dielman, for example).
I think its a fairly standard comparison but its worth talking about film in this way on TV...certainly not seen anything like it.
― xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 19 December 2012 22:26 (5 months ago) Permalink
There are plenty of standard comparisons that I am unaware of.
― pun lovin criminal (polyphonic), Wednesday, 19 December 2012 22:29 (5 months ago) Permalink
Sure, same here :) Just wanted to say how he brings non-normal film talk on TV.
― xyzzzz__, Thursday, 20 December 2012 00:46 (4 months ago) Permalink
Ok, his voice is getting a little annoying, the way every sentence lilts upward like a question as he trails off. Still great, though.
― Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 20 December 2012 18:00 (4 months ago) Permalink