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This Year In Film / Re: Surfer
« Last post by jenkins on February 19, 2018, 06:54:29 PM »
he thanks Phil and i think everyone had a good night but oh i don't know about this movie's future --

Simon Barrett, The screenwriter of Blair Witch just watched his first movie in 18 months, so of course he wrote about the experience for Talkhouse:

Opening narration informs us that Surfer had a bad surfing accident and is now scared to surf, so he just fishes all day to be near the ocean. One day while fishing, he sees a man drowning, causing Surfer to cut his fishing line, run out into the water, run back to shore, then run back out into the water and save the man.

The man Surfer rescued turns out to be his father, Jack. Surfer is confused because he was under the impression that his father died “in a war.” Jack confirms that this is accurate, he is dead, and tells Surfer to feel his hand, shouting that it feels like “hard jelly.” He explains that he asked God to help him return to the mortal realm to give his son advice, and yells, “God made me out of squid and electricity.” That matter resolved, Jack gives his son advice in a lengthy oceanside monologue featuring a 12-minute continuous shot, during which Jack proclaims, “There’s always a whale crying somewhere in the ocean,” and at one point screams, “I am living in an iron maiden of pain, boy!” This causes Surfer to shrug uncomfortably and look at the ground, as if vaguely worried that some of his friends from school might walk by and see him. Anyway, the gist of the whole speech is that Surfer needs to confront his fear.

To move things forward, Jack forces Surfer to look at a dead whale, then tells him to go to an address and ask the man there, Banks, for money to go surfing. Once at this location, Surfer finds that it is a secret military hospital where, in a shocking twist, his father is a patient, alive but brain damaged. Banks, a military doctor, tells Surfer that Jack was an elite, government-trained assassin who, on his last mission, swam through shark-infested waters in order to attach a bomb to a boat. However, Jack was caught in the explosion and has been semi-comatose ever since. After a scene of hypnotically repetitive dialogue, Banks gives Surfer money to go surfing and Surfer goes surfing.

Narratively, this is the end of the film; however, we see Surfer surf, go surfing again, then surf some more. Roughly about half of Surfer’s 96 minute runtime is comprised of home movie and vacation footage of Surfer surfing. Sage Burke, to his credit, seems to be quite good at surfing, which is I suppose why his father decided to make a film about that. You will have time to contemplate this extensively.

At the screening I attended, Doug Burke was present for a Q&A, although his son was not. Doug cheerfully noted that Sage “won’t get anywhere near this theater,” and said that his now 16-year-old son told him, “I just can’t handle that right now.” Reportedly 11 years in the making, Surfer was conceived as a silent film, then transformed into something more like a narrative when Doug Burke decided to rekindle his longtime love of method acting.

Other key information delivered at the Q&A was that Doug Burke’s original cut of the film was 6½ hours long, at which time he asked the movie’s editor to help him shorten it, and the score was composed by Doug watching the final edit and humming along to it, then recording his humming and giving it to a composer. We all had many more questions. At one point in the film, Jack tells Surfer that Surfer was saved by the spirit of a sea lion, which is is never referenced again, causing me to genuinely think I imagined it. I asked about this, and Doug Burke’s reply was helpfully recorded for posterity by Jason Eisener in the video below:

Paul Thomas Anderson / Re: Phantom Thread
« Last post by wilberfan on February 19, 2018, 06:14:21 PM »
I've wondered about this since the first post-screening Q&A.  Everything I've heard since makes it sound (to my ear) like DDL helped shape the story and was involved to the point that I've never understood why PTA gets sole screening writing credit on this film.  Contrast that to the story we were presented with of him writing Magnolia by himself in Macy's (Vermont?) cabin (with the snake outside as incentive).  But here, too, I'm not familiar with WGA rules that might dictate who's considered responsible for what in terms of actual screen credit.
Paul Thomas Anderson / Re: Phantom Thread
« Last post by Lewton on February 19, 2018, 06:00:04 PM »
Seems to me that DDL would get a story by credit at most.

That was my initial thought, as well, but it's still hard to say. If PTA arrived with the basic bones of the thing -- the general gist, even if they didn't decide on the dressmaker aspect until later -- and Day-Lewis supplemented it through good research, then perhaps that doesn't warrant a "story by" credit?

Keep in mind, of course, that I have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about.
Paul Thomas Anderson / Re: Phantom Thread
« Last post by Jeremy Blackman on February 19, 2018, 05:48:28 PM »
Seems to me that DDL would get a story by credit at most. Didn't PTA describe them walking around and discussing the concept? I don't think they were handing the pen back and forth or anything like that. PTA also tends to emphasize the efforts of his collaborators when talking about the process, so his words should be viewed with that in mind.
Paul Thomas Anderson / Re: Phantom Thread
« Last post by Lewton on February 19, 2018, 05:28:29 PM »
The Cinema Scope review of the film (don't read it if you're totally avoiding spoilers) includes this line:

Quote from:
A large debt is owed to Daniel Day-Lewis, an actor who inspires some of Anderson’s best instincts and who co-wrote the screenplay, but apparently begged out of sharing screen credit.

Is this just speculation on the writer's part, or does it have some basis in an interview or something? Day-Lewis begged to be uncredited?

As far as I understand, DDL contributed research, but didn't do any of the actual writing. He also helped PTA reorient the dialogue so that it sounded authentically British (Manville did something similar during production). So, he researched and advised on the script, but that doesn't technically qualify as writing, right? I'm not sure if this has something to do with WGA rules about what does or doesn't constitute a co-writer credit.

I'm just trying to get a more accurate idea of the preproduction process. This particular point has been a bit foggy -- for me, anyway -- since the beginning.
2017 In Film / Film Stars Don't Die In Liverpool
« Last post by Something Spanish on February 19, 2018, 12:24:42 PM »

Checked this one out for the two leads, who both didn't disappoint, and because I had recently read Ebert's review for In A Lonely Place where he writes a brief summary of Gloria Graham's affair with the son of her then husband Nicholas Ray, an interesting little Hollywood fact I was not aware of. The story is pretty routine, one that deals with a situation taking place in the present (early 80's) yet interlaces (pretty seamlessly) scenes from the past to further illuminate the history of the story's main relationship. Benning is good as always, capturing the flair of a B&W starlet, and Jamie Bell does his thing (his stedicam walks were actually a highlight), but what really kept me in the game were the little strokes of authenticity, using footage from Graham's Oscar win and a clip from an old film.This is nothing new, but nothing new done well.
The Director's Chair / Re: Christian Petzold
« Last post by Just Withnail on February 19, 2018, 10:51:20 AM »
You still in Berlin JG? Let's grab coffee or drinks.
The Director's Chair / Re: Christian Petzold
« Last post by JG on February 19, 2018, 03:06:15 AM »
I saw transit in Berlin and I thought it was incredible. That said, all of those reviews say way too much and  over explain what they think the movie is trying to do. The ehrlich review strikes me as particularly awful.  I knew nothing going into this and I think that's how it should be!

Edit: after re reading the reviews, it's really only the ehrlich review that one should avoid.
The Director's Chair / Re: Christian Petzold
« Last post by wilder on February 19, 2018, 01:31:55 AM »
The first reviews of Transit, which premiered yesterday at Berlin


‘Transit’ Review: Christian Petzold’s Beguiling Refugee Romance Is Like a Kafkaesque ‘Casablanca’ — Berlinale 2018
February 17, 2018
By David Ehrlich

The director of "Phoenix" rises from the ashes with another beguiling drama about the specter of fascism.

A man arrives in purgatory, eager to learn his eternal fate. The divine judgement, however, is slow to arrive. The minutes turn to hours, the hours turn to days, and the days begin to blur together in a place where time has no meaning. Eventually, after what feels to him like a hundred years, the man begs for a verdict. “What are you talking about?” comes the reply. “You’ve been in hell since you got here.”

That grim parable is told to Georg (“Happy End” breakout Franz Rogowski) roughly halfway into Christian Petzold’s “Transit,” and yet the poor bastard doesn’t seem to realize that it’s about him. The inscrutable hero of an inscrutable film that unfolds like a remake of “Casablanca” as written by Franz Kafka, Georg has just escaped occupied Paris by the skin of his teeth, stowing away on a train to the port of Marseille. He doesn’t have much left to his name, and even that has become a luxury he can’t afford; in fact, Georg’s only hope for safe passage to Mexico is to assume the identity of a writer named Weidel, who committed suicide and left behind his visa papers. Georg’s ship is scheduled to sail in three weeks, but who knows what that means in a nightmare like Marseilles, where the only people welcome are those who can prove they’re leaving, and even the year is impossible to determine.

And so we arrive at the driving conceit behind Petzold’s beguiling “Transit,” which the “Phoenix” director has boldly adapted from Anna Seghers’ 1944 novel of the same name: The film is unstuck in history. Unlike the source material, it doesn’t take place in World War II, or even establish that World War II ever happened. The Nazis are still German, but they’ve been re-branded as generic fascists. And yet, while it was clearly shot on the streets of modern-day France (the roads hum with electric cars, and the cinematography isn’t aged in any way), Petzold’s telling isn’t necessarily set in the present. Digital technology is nonexistent, and the most relevant cultural reference comes when Georg mentions “The Dawn of the Dead” (and not even Zack Snyder’s version, one would assume).

This temporal confusion is never explicitly addressed, Petzold regarding his premise with the blunt senselessness of a dysfunctional bureaucracy. Wedged somewhere between fact and allegory, “Transit” trains one eye on the past and one eye on the present, until — like a Magic Eye illusion — they blur together in the middle, creating a new image that belongs to both and neither. Every refugee crisis is different, and every refugee crisis is the same.

What variations there are can be hard to spot, as the greatest commonality between exiles of various eras is that all of them are made to feel invisible. The dead are buried, but the desolate are just left to rot on the street. Watching Petzold’s characters mill about the sweaty visa offices and trap-like motels of Marseilles, the most crucial quote from Ai Weiwei’s “Human Flow” comes to mind: “Being a refugee is the most pervasive kind of cruelty that can be exercised against a human being. You are forcibly robbing this human being of all aspects that would make this human life not just tolerable, but meaningful in many ways.”

It’s that stranded, existential meaninglessness that Petzold is aiming to achieve, albeit it in a roundabout way that avoids contemporary signifiers as though they would only get in the way. Little distinction is made between the various refugees; the white characters might be granted a certain hope of getting across the ocean, but everyone is ultimately in the same boat. Even the people who manage to secure a magic visa for the transatlantic voyage all seem to wind up back in the same bar, having been displaced by army officers or foiled by some other cosmic occurrence.

Inevitably, people fall in love just to pass the time, at least until they learn that time doesn’t pass. A dead ringer for Joaquin Phoenix (all the way down to the scar above his upper lip), Georg keeps crossing paths with a mysterious brunette named Marie (Paula Beer), who likes to tap him on his shoulder before running away. Marie is shacking up with a mustached doctor (Godehard Giese), but it’s hard to parse the geometry between them, even as the characters begin to sort themselves into a halfhearted triangle. As Seghers once described the situation, this is a story in which “Two men fight over a woman, but the woman in fact loves a third man, who is already dead.”

It’s a predicament with no satisfying resolution, just a lot of uninterested flirtation and empty acts of sacrifice. “Transit” isn’t much of a comedy, but it only gets funnier as the surreality of its premise takes hold, and every attempt at leaving Marseille ends in morbid amusement. Imagine if Ilsa and Laszlo’s plane exploded on its way out of Casablanca, and the pair of them just showed up at Rick’s the next day like it was the natural thing to do.

And yet, the more that Petzold’s film finds its rhythm, the more you feel the absence of any greater emotional undertow. These characters never become more than ciphers for some abstract horror, their humanity only bubbling to the surface when the narrator (the local bartender, of course) begins to describe his memory of them. It’s only during these brief moments that we can fully appreciate Georg’s disarray or the contours of Marie’s crisis.

Petzold may not care about any of that, but his version of “Transit” is made to contend with obstacles that Seghers never introduced into the source material, and the film’s main gimmick — more successful than not — compounds the extent to which these characters were slippery constructs to begin with. The result is a film that lucidly traces the specter of fascism (never extinguished, always waiting to exhale), and how unreal it feels for it to cast its shadow across Europe once more. It’s also a film that feels stuck between stations, so doggedly theoretical that it borders on becoming glib. Once you realize that Georg is trapped in hell, there’s nowhere for his story to go.


‘Transit’ and the state of aimlessness
February 18, 2018
By Kareem Baholzer

Christian Petzold tells emotionally rich, often female-led stories, which he intertwines closely with the settings they are located in. But he is most of all known for the stunning conclusions of his narratives – these moments have often been considered the best parts of his work, films like Phoenix and Barbara seem to only come full circle during their last beats. The reason for that, is Petzold’s way of letting the temporal and spatial aspects of the narrative fade into the background for a moment, narrowing his gaze down on the humanist, universal and timeless truths that the characters are confronted with.

With Transit, a mainly Marseille-set story about a man that gets caught up in complications of love and identity while trying to flee Europe as a refugee, it seems like he wants to reshape the way he tells these stories – the film is a logical and very bold step forward in the context of his body of work.

The film is an adaptation of Anna Segher’s World War II novel with the same name, but while the narrative is similar in general plot points and dialogue, the film removes it from its original historical context and reframes it into a modern-day setting. One would expect Petzold to adjust the story to that new setting, but he doesn’t. It’s very strange and feels borderline kafkaesque, but it works immensely well. The narrative manages to comment on its real-life context by highlighting universality instead of being specifically descriptive – the refugees of today’s Europe get a part of their story told too, even though the book template is broadly based on the experiences of refugees more than 70 years ago.

Petzold shows what a visionary auteur he truly is. Transit is a grand (and maybe all-time great) humanist elegy to the state of aimlessness and uncertainty, that manages to capture parts of the mindset of refugees in the same breath as the deeply resonant, human feeling of being in a state of limbo – there is no way back, and the future is a puzzle. This also ties into the main theme that flows through Christian Petzold’s body of work, the mystery of identity. As an example: In a 2012 interview for Zeit Online about Barbara, the director linked the concept of identity to the way humans function in the system – in terms of interhuman connection, but especially related to how western women have for many years been defined through their work, since societal constructs and expectations pressured their identities into certain templates and left little room for individualism.

But in every single one of his other works too, the mystery and the essence of identity, how they shift and get lost, found and re-invented, play a huge role in the characters lives. Transit once again examines this theme, it portrays how with fleeing there also is a desire to reinvent oneself in a way that has some sort of self-owned control. The necessity of reinvention after one’s life gets disrupted unwillingly is obvious. But the will for a good life in the future, a life that is not anymore controlled by chance and the cruelty of the world, but by oneself is even greater.

Petzold introduces this theme through the attendance of love, the journey these characters are going on is one that seems much easier through mutual, real love – something that is not bound to circumstances, something that exists in a vacuum and that is connected to the mentioned control. He poses the question: Is there a point in a continuation of life without a perspective of love? For the characters there isn’t. A sense of security that love brings is needed as the stepping stone for a Transit in life – the next level of uncertainty in life seems pointless without a checkpoint, without a purpose. But it also means letting go of the past, of past loves, of past emotions – something that is difficult by nature. These complications accompany the story that Transit tells, and finally define it in its final act.

Marseille, a city shaped by its position close to the sea, a city that encapsulates a port atmospherically and visually (and in this case also thematically), is the perfect setting for this narrative, and Petzold manages to give it a warm and quiet texture that is permanently confronted by the urgency of the narrative. It’s a visually understated film, but it looks beautiful and it also finds some beauty in that aimlessness that the narrative brings. Uncertainty is a part of the human condition and its something very natural, and thus – in its own way – beautiful. Cafés play a huge role in the setting, they are the place where people meet, where connections are made and lost, where many things happen on the inside. They portray some sort of hope for the future, since you never know who is gonna come through the door in the next moment.

In the next big role after her breakout in Francois Ozon’s Frantz, Paula Beer shines as Marie, a woman clinging onto the remains of the past. The searching nature that shapes her aura, is permanently reaching through the screen. She has a face that works like a landscape, every emotion she feels can be seen and felt. Beer’s acting is so accomplished, because she knows exactly how to work her expressive face, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else in her place. Her presence is a part of the narrative, since it explains why Georg, played by rising star Franz Rogowski, feels so connected and fascinated by her, besides the bigger narrative-based reasons that play into their relationship. Latter captures his character to an all-encompassing extent, he fluidly transforms himself into Georg, his face and his interactions permanently radiate the uncertainty that defines his character. The casting of these leads is perfect in its complementariness, like two damaged fragments they fit together in some way, even though its not clear in which one exactly.

I feel like Transit might get the acclaim it truly deserves only over time, being a very unusual film that might be easier digestible on a rewatch – but all the same, I do think that this is an incredible work of art, one that works through strong human emotions, and an incredibly innovative attempt at storytelling, only possible within the realm of cinema. It’s one of the most interesting and accomplished dramas I have seen in a long time, but it’s also a monument of empathy towards the people that are currently confronted with the reality of the state of Transit, not only from an allegorical perspective, but from a literal one.


by theomac93:

Off the back of career high (and also his first film not to premiere in Germany in years) Phoenix, veteran director Christian Petzold returns to Competition at Berlinale with an anti-thriller that blends American noir sensibility with the moralising of Michael Haneke. Transit takes place in an alternate present (or maybe past) where Germany is still in power after world war 1, and is rounding up refugees and dissidents. The man with Joaquin Phoenix's mouth and Jean Paul Belmondo's nose, Franz Rogowski, plays a concentration camp survivor who stays safe with the identity of a dead writer, something like Morvern Callar, except where Lynne Ramsey takes her character into uncharted territory, Petozld plants his firmly in a circular and liminal world. Phoenix has a masterful screenplay where the protagonist returns from a concentration camp with facial reconstruction surgery and her lover does not recognise her, yet in Transit the character is anonymous, has only intentions of fleeing to Mexico, and emotion is substituted for concerns of male transience and nihilism.

Crucially, there are no attempts to change or hide the film's contemporary reality, so present-day Marseilles is depicted exactly as we know it, with Napoletana pizza on the menu and kids in polyester football shorts. The effects of this are twofold: we are reminded of humanity's rush to declare its hands as clean of the mess of human history after the war, and how in this century we have seen the treatment of immigrants and refugees in Europe revert to a similar standard of that in Nazi Germany. In this sense, Petzold's film is moralistic, although the urgency of this is perhaps tampered by the sun-bleached noir aesthetic relating to the harassed mind of Rogowski's protagonist. He is like if Robert Mitchum's masculine self-assurance dissipated into the preoccupation of rolling cigarettes. The film also features the mould of a femme fatale, Paula Beer, who as an actor is able to convey feelings of nostalgia and vulnerability, but as a character serves more as a means of supplying feeling behind the male's expressionless mask. Transit falters because its appeal to modern morality gets derailed by a love relationship already better articulated by Phil Marlowe: "to say goodbye is to die a little".
DVD Talk / Re: Random DVD and Blu-ray announcements
« Last post by wilder on February 18, 2018, 08:59:33 PM »
May 29, 2018

Roger Donaldson’s Smash Palace (1981) on blu-ray from Arrow

Premiering at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival, Smash Palace was the second feature of Roger Donaldson following the success of Sleeping Dogs, a film which had heralded the arrival of the New Zealand New Wave.

Smash Palace concerns itself with the marriage of former racing driver Al (Bruno Lawrence, The Quiet Earth) and French-born Jacqui (Anna Jemison, Nomads). The pair had met when she nursed him back to health following a career-ending injury. They married, returned to Al’s native New Zealand to take over his late father’s wrecking yard business – the Smash Palace of the title – and had a child. But over time stagnation has set in, Jacqui’s resentment of Al has grown, and things are threatening to spill over…

Playing out as a darker, more haunting New Zealand variation on such US separation movies as Kramer vs. Kramer or Shoot the Moon, Smash Palace offers a brilliant, vivid messy portrait of masculinity in crisis, driven by Lawrence’s immense central performance – once again confirming his status as one of New Zealand’s finest actors.

Smash Palace (1981) - Amazon

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