923-924 Beyond the Hills & Graduation

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
jbeall
Posts: 2227
Joined: Sat Aug 12, 2006 9:22 am
Location: Atlanta-ish

923-924 Beyond the Hills & Graduation

#1 Post by jbeall » Tue Mar 05, 2013 9:06 pm

Beyond the Hills

Image Image

With this arresting drama based on notorious real-life events, Cristian Mungiu mounts a complex inquiry into faith, fanaticism, and indifference. At a desolate Romanian monastery, a young novice nun, Voichiţa (Cosmina Stratan), reunites with her former companion Alina (Cristina Flutur), who plans to take her to Germany. But Voichiţa proves unwilling to abandon her calling, and Alina becomes increasingly desperate to reclaim her devotion, putting the outsider at odds with the monastery's ascetic priest—and precipitating a painfully misguided, brutal attempt to save her soul. A naturalistic tragedy with the dark force of a folktale, anchored by the fraught dynamic between cinema newcomers Flutur and Stratan (who shared the best actress prize at Cannes), Beyond the Hills bears powerful witness to individuals at cross-purposes and institutions ill-equipped to help those most in need.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION:

• 2K digital transfer, approved by director Cristian Mungiu, with 2.0 surround DTS‑HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New interview with Mungiu
The Making of "Beyond the Hills," a documentary from 2013, produced by Mungiu
• Press conference from the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, featuring Mungiu and actors Cosmina Stratan, Cristina Flutur, Valeriu Andriuţă, and Dana Tapalagă
• Deleted scenes
• Trailer
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: An essay by film scholar Doru Pop


Graduation

Image Image

Blending rigorous naturalism with the precise construction of a thriller, this Cannes award–winning drama from Cristian Mungiu sheds light on the high stakes and ethical complexities of life in contemporary Romania. As his daughter nears high-school graduation, Romeo (Adrian Titieni), an upstanding doctor, counts on her winning a competitive scholarship that will send her to university in England. But when an injury sustained during a sexual assault compromises her performance on an important exam, Romeo's best-laid plans for her threaten to crumble, leading him to seek favors in a world that runs on backscratching and bribery. Suffused with quiet dread, Graduation takes a humane and deeply ambiguous look at how corrosive rampant corruption is to moral convictions.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION:

• 2K digital master, approved by director Cristian Mungiu, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New interview with Mungiu
• Press conference from the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, featuring Mungiu and actors Adrian Titieni, Maria Drăguș, Mălina Manovici, and Rareș Andrici
• Deleted scenes
• Trailer
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: An essay by film critic Bilge Ebiri

Grand Illusion
Posts: 534
Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2007 7:56 am

Re: Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, 2012)

#2 Post by Grand Illusion » Wed Mar 06, 2013 5:56 pm

jbeall wrote:I know this got a little bit of discussion in the Cannes 2012 thread, but since it's about to open stateside, it's probably time for a thread. I thought 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days was remarkable, so I'm really looking forward to this.

Sacrifice at the Altar of Intolerance

There's also a very good interview w/Mungiu in the Winter 2012 issue of Cineaste.
Wow. I didn't know this was getting distribution so soon. I do such a horrible job of keeping up. This is one of my most anticipated films.

4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
is a masterpiece of performance, pacing, and tone.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Posts: 11769
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, 2012)

#3 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:14 am

Really wanted to see this at the Philadelphia Film Festival but there were too many scheduling conflicts; can't wait to catch up with it.

User avatar
Lemmy Caution
Posts: 2431
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 3:26 am
Location: East of Shanghai

Re: Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, 2012)

#4 Post by Lemmy Caution » Thu Mar 07, 2013 5:11 am

Beyond the Hills was the Romanian submission for Best Foreign Film, and made the shortlist (which is longer than the final list). Written and directed by 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days Cristian Mungiu, it is in many regards similar -- closely observed details of quotidian struggle, two female protags with a close relationship strained by circumstances, indifferent bureaucracy and unhelpful/harmful institutions.

But I thought this was not nearly as successful. Mainly the film is far too long. 2' 35" of fairly repetitive behavior and problems got to feel rather tedious. No one is going to accuse 4, 3, 2 of being swift, but it does move along at a deliberate pace and wraps up in under 2 hours. 4, 3, 2 would not nearly have been as good with an extra 45 minutes. Beyond the Hills would have had more impact with much tighter editing (as in cutting out 45 mins to 1 hour).

The film takes place mainly in a rural church community. I liked that the Orthodox priest looked a lot like my brother-in-law, but I probably won't be sending them a slow-paced 2.5 hour Romanian film, with religious themes.
There were a few powerful scenes and some good images, so you can see what the film was going for and what could have been. Also the lead girl is fairly interesting in a muted and ambiguous role. At times the film felt like Mother Joan of the Angels Meets Mr. Lazerescu, which is odd and possibly intriguing, but not exactly good. The main problem is the same ground is worked and re-worked and the whole effect becomes drained (and draining). Fwiw, it is based on an actual event which occurred in Romania in 2005, though I'm not sure what the outcome was in the real world.

User avatar
zedz
Posts: 10339
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, 2012)

#5 Post by zedz » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:39 pm

I basically agree. It's a good, tough film, very well made, but not as taut, or original, or something as the films it reminds you of. It doesn't quite take off. It does, however, have quite a bit of stuff to recommend it, especially the way that
SpoilerShow
the total immersion in the world of the film gradually twists your sympathies around so that the behaviour of the sect starts to appear much more reasonable than it actually is. When the outside world and its more rational perspective intrudes, it's like getting a bucket of ice cold water in your face.

Plus, there's a magnificent final shot as a reward. So I'd say it's worth checking out (with lowered expectations) if it sounds like your kind of thing.

User avatar
jbeall
Posts: 2227
Joined: Sat Aug 12, 2006 9:22 am
Location: Atlanta-ish

Re: Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, 2012)

#6 Post by jbeall » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:24 am

Lemmy Caution wrote:Fwiw, it is based on an actual event which occurred in Romania in 2005, though I'm not sure what the outcome was in the real world.
It doesn't fill in all the details, but see the fifth paragraph of the NY Times article I linked in the OP for more info.

I always try to temper my expectations of a new work by someone who's blown me away in the past. In this case, it means reminding myself that Mungiu's new film isn't 4, 3, 2. So I'm kinda expecting what both Lemmy and zedz have written; it should still be worth the price of admission (especially in Montgomery AL, where Argo = arthouse cinema).

User avatar
bigP
Posts: 456
Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2008 10:59 am
Location: Reading, UK

Re: Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, 2012)

#7 Post by bigP » Fri Mar 08, 2013 3:39 pm

Artificial Eye have a 10th June street date for Blu / DVD releases.

rs98762001
Posts: 600
Joined: Mon Jul 25, 2005 6:04 pm

Re: Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, 2012)

#8 Post by rs98762001 » Sat Mar 09, 2013 4:20 pm

I actually thought this was as strong as 4/3/2. It's not as tight or focused, and occasionally can be trying to watch, but its power sneaks up on you. By the time that fantastic last shot comes up, I was overwhelmed. Mungiu is such a fucking talent.

User avatar
repeat
Posts: 721
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:04 am
Location: high in the Custerdome

Re: Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, 2012)

#9 Post by repeat » Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:31 am

Nice interview with Mungiu on Beyond the Hills, by Liza Béar, from the current issue of BOMB - available online in its entirety. Very much looking forward to seeing this in a couple of weeks!

Grand Illusion
Posts: 534
Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2007 7:56 am

Re: Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, 2012)

#10 Post by Grand Illusion » Sat Mar 16, 2013 8:30 pm

While not as great as 4 Months (what is?), I still found this to be a great and powerful film.

Beyond the Hills does move deliberately, but I didn't find any parts hard to sit through at all. Every moment leads logically to the next and slowly turns up the heat on the situation. It doesn't play that differently to a classical narrative. I contrast this with something like Police, Adj. which while much shorter, I found to play much longer.

My favorite aspect of the film is that Mungiu doesn't try to pull any magical bullshit. By that I mean, it'd be so easy to take this story and use "movie magic" to have the audience wondering if the girl is/isn't possessed the whole time. Instead, by staying truthful with his observation, the realism really enhances the tragedy.

Also, while the religious critique is perhaps the easiest here for a master filmmaker of Mungiu's talents (easy because it's so deserving), the film goes far beyond that. Superstition is insidious in this society and all its institutions, as is apathy.

Mungiu shows a Kurosawa-like aptitude in balancing his compositions with each character perfectly placed in the frame according to their power and position in the story. Perhaps it's even more skillful than what Kurosawa does on a purely technical level due to Mungiu's insistence on a lack of cutting. His blocking requires everyone to land perfectly within the frame. And of course all performances are subtle and excellent, echoing an entire history between the two protagonists in tiny gestures. The psychology is deep and rewarding.
rs98762001 wrote:Mungiu is such a fucking talent.
Basically this.

User avatar
Finch
Posts: 2768
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 5:09 pm
Location: Edinburgh, UK

Re: Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, 2012)

#11 Post by Finch » Thu Mar 21, 2013 3:31 pm

Have to agree with Lemmy Caution: this could have been a great film if Mungiu had condensed everything down to 90 or even 120 minutes. As it is, it feels needlessly padded out and I found that frustrating because the acting is excellent and the script is so well-written that I was constantly questioning my own sympathies for specific characters.

User avatar
NABOB OF NOWHERE
Posts: 1849
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 12:30 pm
Location: Brandywine River

Re: Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, 2012)

#12 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Thu Mar 21, 2013 4:02 pm

Finch wrote:Have to agree with Lemmy Caution: this could have been a great film if Mungiu had condensed everything down to 90 or even 120 minutes. As it is, it feels needlessly padded out and I found that frustrating because the acting is excellent and the script is so well-written that I was constantly questioning my own sympathies for specific characters.
Well I'm in the camp that finds the pace of this magnificently gauged. I can't really identify any real spare fat and think that the rhythm and detail of all the scenes gradually combine in such a way so precisely that you get sucked in and feel complicit with the actions inside the monastery.
So much so, that as zedz alluded to, the return to objective/ banal everyday reality is like a slap in the face making you realise what you have colluded in.
The writing is so well struck that key 'counter-balance' scenes such as the initial hospital visit with its impotent rational analysis and patriarchal head doctor, who seems like a pale imitation of the charismatic priest, could have been so heavy handed. Munglu however tailors it immaculately so it slips into your subconscious adding weight to your tolerance of what unfolds in the church.
I'm not sure that a slicker faster paced cut would allow this sort of osmosis but would like to hear what you and others found superfluous.

User avatar
zedz
Posts: 10339
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, 2012)

#13 Post by zedz » Thu Mar 21, 2013 4:54 pm

NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:So much so, that as zedz alluded to, the return to objective/ banal everyday reality is like a slap in the face making you realise what you have colluded in.
I think a big factor here is that it's so rare to see a film that actually takes the worldview of extreme religious groups seriously and doesn't turn them into cartoon villains. The key to why this film works the way it does is that the 'villains' are acting out of the purest of motives and are genuinely trying to help, however grotesquely misguided they might be, whereas most filmmakers wouldn't be able to resist throwing in a few indications that it's really all about sadistic power plays / personal animus.

Come to think of it, the exploration of the ways in which institutions and systems, rather than individuals, are 'evil', or perpetuate injustice, could be explored as a common thread of the Romanian New Wave. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days and Police, Adjective fall into that category as well.

User avatar
NABOB OF NOWHERE
Posts: 1849
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 12:30 pm
Location: Brandywine River

Re: Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, 2012)

#14 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Thu Mar 21, 2013 5:02 pm

Re Instutions, one of the main 'villains' implicitly culpable, albeit invisible, in the girls emotional torment is the orphanage that they grew up in.

User avatar
Black Hat
Posts: 1131
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 5:34 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, 2012)

#15 Post by Black Hat » Tue Apr 16, 2013 3:38 am

Beyond the Hills aka How Horribly Selfish Human Beings Are aka People Born With No Chance was an interesting film, definitely one I see myself pondering and telling friends about. Felt the film's length and repetitions actually worked to its advantage for if you're going to have any sympathy at all for these characters it has to come from the environment they are a part of as their actions were so heinous as to leave you without any sense of compassion or understanding for their choices if taken in a vacuum. In fact in this regard the film seemed to be a competition to see who was the most ignorant, self centered asshole of them all. By the end did anybody come off well? Maybe the policeman but not really. All that said the film broke my heart to my pieces, which is quite an accomplishment considering how much I detested all of its characters.

j99
Posts: 239
Joined: Wed May 27, 2009 10:18 am

Re: Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, 2012)

#16 Post by j99 » Tue Jul 09, 2013 6:23 am

Lemmy Caution wrote: At times the film felt like Mother Joan of the Angels Meets Mr. Lazerescu, which is odd and possibly intriguing, but not exactly good. The main problem is the same ground is worked and re-worked and the whole effect becomes drained (and draining). Fwiw, it is based on an actual event which occurred in Romania in 2005, though I'm not sure what the outcome was in the real world.
Those two films came to mind when I watched it. It was like watching an amalgam of the two, which made it a lesser film for me, as it was somewhat dominated by its influences, although I didn't realise it was based on a real event. It would be interesting to know what actually happened.

rohming
Posts: 79
Joined: Thu Jun 06, 2013 5:40 pm

Re: Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, 2012)

#17 Post by rohming » Tue Jul 09, 2013 4:36 pm

great interview in BOMB in that link. i've been wanting to see this movie for ages now, can't wait to get a chance now that it's gonna be more widely available on DVD/Blu. loved 4, 3, 2 and i'm usually not even in that big on the social realism-type flicks. but Mungiu just has a way about his approach. so smart, so even-handed, and so involving then because of those qualities.

User avatar
RSTooley
Posts: 134
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 9:35 pm

Re: Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, 2012)

#18 Post by RSTooley » Tue Dec 16, 2014 7:31 pm

Beyond the Hills was added to Netflix Instant this morning.

User avatar
swo17
Posts: 13552
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

923-924 Beyond the Hills & Graduation

#19 Post by swo17 » Thu Feb 15, 2018 6:34 pm


User avatar
perkizitore
Posts: 2530
Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2008 3:29 pm
Location: OOP is the only answer

Re: 923-924 Beyond the Hills & Graduation

#20 Post by perkizitore » Thu Feb 15, 2018 6:40 pm

Isn't Graduation Spine 924?

User avatar
mfunk9786
Posts: 11769
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: 923-924 Beyond the Hills & Graduation

#21 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Feb 15, 2018 6:41 pm

I had sent Swo a PM about that incredibly innocuous oversight too, he has the most thankless job in show business

User avatar
swo17
Posts: 13552
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: 923-924 Beyond the Hills & Graduation

#22 Post by swo17 » Thu Feb 15, 2018 6:47 pm

I literally created this thread while distracted by an important call at work. Where is the Romanian New Wave film about my life?

Soothsayer
Posts: 126
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2006 2:54 pm

Re: 923-924 Beyond the Hills & Graduation

#23 Post by Soothsayer » Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:25 pm

Thrilled for both, esp Beyond the Hills. I was thinking about that film for days after seeing it.

User avatar
DarkImbecile
Posts: 1249
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 6:24 pm
Location: Albuquerque, NM

Re: 923-924 Beyond the Hills & Graduation

#24 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:35 pm

Off topic: Every time Swo or Mfunk change their avatar, I get thrown off for like a month.

User avatar
swo17
Posts: 13552
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: 923-924 Beyond the Hills & Graduation

#25 Post by swo17 » Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:36 pm

mfunk literally made me do it.

Post Reply