The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
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therewillbeblus
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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#76 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Jun 12, 2021 11:52 pm

I recently caught up with my missing pieces in Mann's 60s output, including The Fall of the Roman Empire and El Cid, and didn't like either- they honestly bled together and I would highly recommend watching the incredible Amazons of Rome instead as an example of how to make a lean, economic and formidable epic in half the runtime. Though while I shrugged at those two behemoths, nothing compares to the godawful The Heroes of Telemark, which must be the most tedious action-adventure-spy-thriller ever made. I already wrote more about it, but Cimarron is a subtly-inverted western that simultaneously pitches us against and with our protagonist, avoiding confrontation with our psychologies via form. Mann's last film, A Dandy in Aspic, is an acid-infused half-serious spy flick that is nonetheless an amusing ride, especially with Tom Courtney playing against type as an antisocial foe.

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knives
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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#77 Post by knives » Sun Jun 13, 2021 12:06 am

Now if we ever do a final feature list that’s one that would rank for me.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#78 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Jun 14, 2021 10:32 pm

Michel Deville

Ce soir ou jamais (1961)
Adorable menteuse (1962)

À cause, à cause d'une femme (1963)
L'Appartement des filles (1963)
Les petites demoiselles (1964)
Lucky Jo (1964)

On a volé la Joconde (1966)
Martin soldat (1966)
Benjamin, ou Benjamin ou les Mémoires d'un puceau (1968)

Bye Bye Barbara (1969)


Ce soir ou jamais and Adorable menteuse are two underseen nouvelle vague masterpieces that should be vying for spots on anyone’s list (they’ll likely be the only two Devilles to make my own). Ce soir ou jamais makes use of the bohemian theatre world to turn a melodramatic portrait inside out, regurgitating romantic expression in a fresh, honest form. You also get two of the most vitalizing releases of conventional technique in the nouvelle vague, and Françoise Dorléac’s frenetic exit isn’t even as exhilarating as Anna Karina’s spellbinding dance number! The meta-theatre exercises run deeper than you might think (the eventual reveal is like a gentle version of Sleuth), and the final few minutes are at once joyous and unsettling, reminding us of the roles we play, the deceit we hide behind, the soft and aggressive manipulations we implement to seek affection and become affected. This film is a love letter to social dynamics and all the games we play to get and give what we and others need.

Adorable menteuse serves as a kind-of bifurcated narrative, beginning deceptively as a tale of two sisters before clarifying itself as a film about one sister in particular and her emergence from wolf-crying immaturity refracted into the outside world's grounding austerity. Deville toys with multiple genres in light and heavy tones, and even delves into rather uncomfortable exposition with at least one empty threat to repeat Les bonnes femmes’s finish. The stream-of-consciousness narrative design is incredibly appropriate and welcome, emulating the inevitable disruption of harmonious sisterly intimacy in safe comforts of youthful irresponsibility. Deville proposes loving unions to be makeshift prisons for these in-betweeners, who are defensively compensating for facing the irreparable undoing of both history breeding reputation and the development that has usurped freeing connectivity. Deville sensibly leads us deeper into the trenches of the isolative concerns of maturity, eventually into a corner of existential concern in the final frame. How else could such a liberated film “end” when a finale signals death of the inspiration?
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I love how after Vlady spends so much time trying to convince her beau and us that she’s earnestly in love, her ultimate revelation is that she has perhaps been lying to herself all along, and forcing a belief that runs counter to her nature and is in step with the assessment of others. Once she’s finally proven herself to her now-committed partner, she can look in the mirror and come to terms with her desperate motives for delusion. What a gut-punching lasting image of alienation, caustically in beaming sunlight with a sought-after lover!
À cause, à cause d'une femme begins as a Kafkaesque waking nightmare indicting toxic masculinity with a comic bite and temporarily surrealistic narrative structure. The trigger for the plot turning out to be real is jarring, but the descent into a slapstick Keatonesque anti-chase sequence afterwards (with a mass of four detectives overlapped in an editing sequence though physically subverting the expectations of 'action' by going nowhere!) conveys Deville’s ability to infuse his darkest subject matter with teasing non-sequitur sight gags. The ensuing setpieces of Charrier using a series of women he beds to evade capture emphasizes the banal and empty life of a womanizer, and shares empathy with the women who are duped, like a lighthearted version of Good Time’s electric adrenaline-fest, that here blends breezy ‘wrong man’-genre adventure comedy with a sober examination on weaponized masculinity.

L'Appartement des filles is a pared-down series of joyful interactions, finding novel molds to craft with sustained interest as Deville contains the best of his action primarily in one setpiece. It’s not quite as great as I remembered, but the dynamics between our male lead and the three coquettes make for solid fun. Les petites demoiselles is a cute little short that allows these women to have their cake and eat it too as they balance their independent identities with codependent partners of men in a patriarchal world without framing this as an aberrant contradiction. It’s light, fun irony. Lucky Jo has Eddie Constantine play a hip yet clumsy career-criminal in this hardboiled crime comedy. It’s not peak Deville but features his usual exuberant magic, refusing to tether the material too tightly to the genre sandboxes he’s playing in.

On a volé la Joconde is a mostly forgettable picture that nonetheless exhibits symptoms of Deville's ethos of twisted relationship dynamics and features a fun final setpiece, though these strengths are not enough to see this over any other film this decade. Martin soldat is a goofy spy farce that I liked well enough, but is admittedly occasionally off-putting by resting on a lead who is rather tritely awkward to sell the gags. Still, I found the film to be entertaining and laughed my fair share, so it's recommended. Benjamin, ou Benjamin ou les Mémoires d'un puceau is a perfectly fine movie that doesn’t stick out in any special way when I reflect back on it, though I broadly recall the film being notable for Deville stepping up his game as a director of actors and flexing their comic and dramatic poles with confidence.

Bye Bye Barbara, his last film of the 60s, is also one of his best. Deville takes on neo-noir with a confident elasticity that elides some genre beats in favor of welcome surprises, refusing to even announce itself as a genre film until it plays several Brechtian tricks and slapstick gags on us. Deville always manages to flex the boundaries of his films and breathe life into its corners where unwritten laws of cinema haven’t dared to wander, and this film is no different, but far more mirthful for its unapologetic fusion of playful twists within an ostensible genre piece.

Amusingly, this film takes my favorite part of Adorable menteuse (where one character plays ‘Spy’ and creates a solipsistically-fictitious narrative out of it) but with the same degree of austerity to the material, which is to say hardly any; though Deville surprises us in both films, and many of his most ungrounded giddy works (including his 70s masterpiece), by infusing some alarmist ultra-serious meditations into the mix. These elusive gifts are often of the existential variety, but also- as in here- of gendered systemic oppression on the micro and macro levels. The film subverts and feeds into various expectations of genre, and the parodying can come across as a James Bond screwball comedy (it even apes Thunderball(!) in several specific plot devices) or venture into dormant pathos that abandons us without the catharsis we thought we had (Five Easy Pieces stole its ending from this film, even if it didn’t know it did).

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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#79 Post by swo17 » Mon Jun 14, 2021 10:45 pm

I take it red means "masterpiece" and slightly different shade of red means "slightly lesser masterpiece"?

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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#80 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Jun 14, 2021 10:50 pm

Yeah.. I try my best to stick to red and black, but I also hate binary assignments of value (on-brand, I know) and already did this once with Woody Allen, so I was compelled to do it again, especially in a decade that's going to involve a lot of prioritized viewing in a sea of excellence

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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#81 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Jun 17, 2021 6:26 pm

Lover Come Back would be an exceptional double bill with Sex and the Single Girl- so many beats play out in a similar fashion between these consistently engaging and impressively risqué sex comedies, and while I think the Quine is the better and more intelligent film, Lover Come Back has a more alarmingly audacious ending (though Quine's film has a very dark implicitness to its resolve, that rivals any ending in its tacit thesis) where
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Hudson and Day not only consummate their romance without either's consent, but Day becomes pregnant as a result! There's no time for an authentic streak of their relationship to work at erasing the dishonest past, a necessary third act arc often preceding 'next steps' by involving the duo in transparent exchanges of agency to reclaim their intimate energy formed under fraudulent conditions. So although they clearly had a developed attraction, Day's hysteria upon waking up is beyond unsettling in its implications. Of course they had to "get married" beforehand, but within this genre dissecting liberation of interpersonal codes, Day gets married, fucked, and impregnated without her own permission or consciousness, and must still resign herself to her circumstances- we get a happy ending as she's going into labor, but even that moment is high-strung and catharsis is not arrived at under stable states devoid of intoxicating influences. Day is arguably at her most powerless in that instant, immobilized and horizontal as she's entering the operating room in surging pain- but I guess she needs a man by her side when she's that vulnerable... nevermind, this is exceptionally dark in its connotations, as well as its surface-level violations!

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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#82 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Jun 18, 2021 1:38 pm

A Big Hand for the Little Lady: Even with all the talented principals involved, I never expected this western-dressed chamber thriller to be so engrossing. Cook’s immaculate direction of Carroll’s juicy, acidic script makes for a steadily involving development of social dynamics with creative forward momentum around (mostly) a single hand of cards! I was reminded of Mamet, as domino wrote in his initial writeup, but also Tarantino’s primarily concentrated-setting theatre pieces, in that Cook manages to take a space pulsating with aggressively combative energies, and imbue it with a tonal zest that is intimately inviting rather than claustrophobically repelling. The scene-chewing dialogue is appropriately hammy at times when delivered by characters who are offensively hammy as front personalities, but then the dialed-down explanations and self-conscious exchanges as power dynamics shift between individuals are equally intoxicating, and demonstrate the eclectic hold these collaborators have on their material. This is a film that understands several things on levels of mastery: how to get the most out of performers, how to stage scenes and modulate a screenplay’s humor, wit, and suspense without defaulting to intrusive action, and most importantly, how people function in groups. Like Mamet, that last strength's observational talent permits the script's elasticity around the ‘realism’ of dialogue, because the authenticity of behavioral psychology is so apt that the rich lines don't need to be. The narrative evolution that takes place in 90 minutes under purely social conditions is nearly unparalleled in cinema, and I highly suggest everyone who likes movies check this out. It seems to contain all the broad enticing gifts of cinema that should be universally respected and enjoyed amongst members here.

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knives
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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#83 Post by knives » Fri Jun 18, 2021 2:35 pm

In fact this film has been a board favorite for years.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#84 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Jun 18, 2021 2:43 pm

knives wrote:
Fri Jun 18, 2021 2:35 pm
In fact this film has been a board favorite for years.
A "board favorite," really? A cursory search shows exactly two back to back writeups by you and domino a decade ago and zilch since. It made three lists for the last western project and was an orphan for the last 60s project. I have no doubt that others climbed aboard the train, but if there's some ongoing praise between then and now that makes my writeup an ignorant 'late to the party' plug, please point me in that direction. Regardless, perhaps giving it some more love for the members who signed onto the forum within the last few years and participate in these decade list projects has some value.

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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#85 Post by knives » Fri Jun 18, 2021 4:25 pm

I wasn’t trying to say you were being an ignorant late to party plug. My comment was intended to co-sign your enthusiasm for those who might be reading.

As an aside I really wish you wouldn’t constantly be reading my comments in the worst possible interpretation of them. I am finding that exhausting and unpleasant.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#86 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Jun 18, 2021 4:58 pm

I apologize knives, I interpreted your one-line response to be a 'point of information' aimed at negating the final line of my writeup that urged others to see this, and did not detect any co-signed enthusiasm in it at all. I do not intend to read your comments in the worst possible interpretation but find they don't always translate well. Mine don't always either, and as a fellow nitpicker/devil's advocate/pushback-branded poster who strives to provoke thought/test arguments with comments that can come across as "difficult," without that as an intention, I appreciate your advocacy for broader intent and your role on this forum. I suppose that I feel like your comments in the past have also been "exhausting and unpleasant" in situations that specifically invalidated my arguments in an aggressive manner where the shoe has been on the other foot, and so it can be challenging to judge whether or not that's happening again in any given instant. That's not an excuse, but an admission of a trigger with evidenced history attached, and I will try to be more mindful of my preconceptions going forth and not jump to assumption. I'm sorry if you feel like this is a pattern because from my perspective we see eye to eye quite frequently in discussions, and I can't find any recent "constant" trend, let alone single example, of cruelly-misinterpreted disagreements (the opposite, actually) unless you're referring to the Mudbound comment where I expressed genuine confusion over your point in a manner that did not seem volatile.

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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#87 Post by knives » Fri Jun 18, 2021 5:07 pm

I wasn’t referring to Mudbound which was a genuine my bad moment.

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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#88 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Jun 18, 2021 5:53 pm

Then I'm at a loss for the constance you speak of. This is something I've been working on for a while, will continue to, and acknowledge I blundered today. I need reminders like this to get back on the beam so I appreciate being called out. I hope others feel like I am approachable via PM regarding any instances of perceived hostility (or any and all matters), but if you aren't, this is an open invitation. I do accept feedback, it's part of my life program of endless stepwork and I'm doomed without it, though I am impulsively imperfect here and elsewhere, and a work in progress.

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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#89 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Jun 18, 2021 6:25 pm

Image

Thérèse Desqueyroux

Hoping to find some symbiotic catharsis in the midst of some personal stuff, I decided to revisit Franju's masterpiece today, and if this isn't a novelistic subjective appraisal of clinical depression, I don't know what is. The film gets the indefinable nature of the mental illness so correct, where Thérèse can only explicate her condition by finding comfort in the dendrological pines that are segregated from her, rather than vying for an ecological harmony that her depression subverts on principle. I love how 'reason' is elusive, only 'feeling' subscribes to a tangible internal logic. The juxtaposition between subjective therapies necessary to treat her psychologically and the dated culture plaguing this milieu only reinforces the divide between external pragmatic connections and internal enigmatic disconnect. This could have been an average programmer without Emmanuèlle Riva, who sells the character in a way that makes us identify with her suffering despite her own bubble of detachment orbiting her person, that should create a distancing effect in any other film struggling to strike this fragile balance. It's a marvelous depiction of the power of performance elevating art, and Franju's adaptation is one of the best films of the 60s as a result, and perhaps France's best melodrama. Thérèse's lamenting at the impermanence of happiness as she ends her stimulating conversation with Jean is the most devastatingly earnest reframe of our depressed internal part blending with us even at the heights of passion for life's possibilities. In the face of this monstrous, unrelenting mood that becomes our God, wellness wanes.

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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#90 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Jun 19, 2021 7:17 pm

Image

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

Continuing on the depression train, I revisited Pollack's masterpiece for the first time since roughly exactly one year ago during the early stages of the pandemic. In full transparency, I'm reposting a portion of that writeup interspersed here, because I feel no differently and the analysis remains more relevant than ever to the film's central thesis as a microcosm of the wavelength where western civilization still rests today.

Over the film's opening credits, Pollack offers a contrast in images and sound (a bizarro world mainstream Godard would be proud) before arriving at the same bitter end. We are presented with a memory or dream of a young Robert chasing a horse, in an expansive field that deceptively signals open possibilities, and juxtaposes this imagery with the derby announcer’s voiceover issuing aggressive restrictions framed towards failure, and reinforcing the ceaselessly exhaustive aspects of this no-win suppression of agency in the maniacal “round and round and round..” verbiage. Then we see that the flashback scene also lead to an unhappy finish that usurps freedom with debilitating, irredeemable injury.

These ellipses feed into the film's structuralist blueprint on the other side, as the ominous flash-forwards of Robert being questioned about the ‘present’ narrative signify a flow of experience where time matters not, but only because existential agony permeates all corners of life: past, present, and future. Robert can’t even look at the ocean without the autocratic referee intervening to banish him away from the beautiful symbol of hope, freedom, and dreams, and back to the corporeal prison of the Sisyphean game- literally at the derby, figuratively encompassing all elements of life itself. This film isn't selling our society as inherently meaningless, but stripped of value through social constructionism. Every gear in the film is operating on America’s problem-focused mentality. In an early competition, Rocky -the emcee- doesn’t open up the event to instill hope about the winners (he actually tells the audience not to focus on that) but instead repeats that there will be three 'losers.' In this world, being first is meaningless, but being last will destroy you.

This decree, bathed in the same bleak tones of this photographically brown and grey milieu, is the devotion to a state of hopelessness. The threshold is set so firmly at what not to be, rather than what to be, that it's no wonder everyone is miserable. The exploitation works because of the desperation, and since we are immersed into an environment this oppressive- perhaps naturally, but certainly perpetuated by other human beings- we feel the pain of a missing dress as if we’re trapped and powerless right there with York's Alice. The races themselves envelop us into the intoxicating subjective horrors of the participants’ torturous desperation, especially that grisly initial competition where we watch the first eliminated couple lose every ounce of their individual stabile psychologies during a ten second count right before our eyes. That this occurs in the midst of visually dizzying suspense exacerbated by auditory bombardment only affirms the hell that is at stake for the principals against the empty and blind promise of freedom, that is kept out of all discernible tangibility, from reach to visualization- just like the ocean Robert's low bar is set on admiring from afar.

One of my favorite scenes in the film transpires between Alice and Rocky, during her nervous breakdown in the shower. His approach is unquestionably one of multidimensional compassion, but he is impotent to connect with her in any meaningful way for a variety of reasons outside of each of their control in that moment. Their relationship isn't established as a safe one of equal power dynamics, and Rocky's allegiance is ultimately compromised in favor of still playing by the internal logic of their milieu, but on a far more macro scale, neither party has faith for intimacy because neither holds the capacity to merely perceive a worldview that could be a foundation for this faith to bloom!

Rocky declares that people struggling while being beaten down is “the American way” and the crowd cheers. This is the collective sociological ethos of the spectators, and the exploiters, but also the exploited themselves. This film could be shown at nihilist training camps, with the titular allegory as their mantra. The phrase posits a mordant query, of why humans are afforded less actionable empathy than animals who are confined and oppressed, under the philosophy that to be compassionate in this despairing and demoralized environment may involve the elimination of misery via depressingly finite methods rather than ongoing progressive routes- though is this depressing to the ones experiencing depression, if they end their depression? Could such an objectively cynical solution actually be the most hopeful one under the umbrella of toxic culture?

While the film is appropriately set during the Great Depression, the thematic relevance is far reaching. It’s fascinating to watch this in our current age, because of how (only recently) many fields in America have made a concerted effort to operate in strengths-based fashions. Most businesses, schools, and certainly mental health modalities, put a lot of effort into listing strengths first and problems second. And yet we still default to problem-focused thinking patterns, to think of what we could do better, what we don’t have, what an employee or client hasn’t done or needs to do to meet a goal. Even in my field this is a constant, and the impulse to be grateful, skills-based or solution-focused feels like a continual uphill battle. What does that say about America- that we need to push ourselves to adopt a mindset against our nature and still fail most of the time? I don’t know how much of this is human nature by way of simply existing in a social world or how much is environmental conditioning, but regardless, this is a film about the history that aided in capitalizing on and perpetuating this mentality.

The schadenfreude that would be repurposed for reality tv, shows like Cops, Jackass, hell- even the daily news- is alive here in the contests’ advertising model; and even the public hold up signs that ask the contestants not to disappoint rather than rooting for them to win! The cold dog-eat-dog world contains people who enter on their last legs, and when their sole supports are removed, either fail publicly in the means designed by the competition to mask the financial, esteem, and identity destruction that comes with this loss, or adapt with futile resilience to stay alive until they burn out in even worse fates. The trenchant view of spectacle in the entertainment industry ironically pains the performers with burdened constraints rather than providing them with vehicles for creative liberation- their personified worth reduced to “knees, knees, knees!” in dehumanizing debasement.

And what does this film’s existence say, on a culturally-reflexive level, about the processing we have as viewers in marveling at another’s expense without thrusting our own agency? Did I watch this movie today -or last year during the early stages of lockdown- because I want to align with these people’s pain, to empathize in the midst of a stressful global event or personal mental health crisis, or to feel better about my position in relation to this nightmare? I think about these dual subconscious intentions often. The show Jackass is a great example of a program seemingly devoted to schadenfreude, and yet since we have all experienced pain- isn’t it also designed, on a psychological level examining superficially physiological relatability, for us to access another's pain through communal relation? I don’t think it needs to be one or the other. I experience this a lot in self-help meetings, where you hear someone share about going through a difficult time and you feel better as a result of that identification. You don’t want that person to be hurting, but it feels better not to be alone- so one can be relieved by another’s hardship in comparison to theirs, as well as join with them, in simultaneous isolated and harmonic rhythms.

This film was released at the time of the Vietnam War, in a year of great change and during an era of disillusionment in the American people, and I wonder the extent to which the country needed to be relieved and to join in suffering. Well, Pollack and his phenomenal cast provided that suffering here. The default to a problem-focused perspective in America is never expressed better than when Rocky says, “I may not be able to spot a winner, but I sure can spot a loser,” igniting our leads' ultimate descent into surrender. And as they throw in the towel, America’s weaponized heartless engine of victimization, purposed for the invaluable commodity of voyeuristic displacement, continues on with sustained fervor- and probably always will.

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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#91 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Jun 20, 2021 12:26 pm

Le Samouraï. A turn for the director towards more pronounced stylization, the plot somewhat less complex than in the previous Melville policiers. Still a lot to enjoy, especially in terms of the preciseness of the director's work matching his (anti-)hero's, but there's four others from this decade that I probably like more.


Torn Curtain. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this one this time, despite the flaws. It's not just Herrmann that's gone, but other key players - Burks, Tomasini - of the team that together made the nearly flawless run since Rear Window. Artistically definitely a backward step after the expressionistic “pure cinema” of Marnie, and sometimes Hitch feels a little dated in his methods (like a bad process shot used for a simple dialogue scene on a Copenhagen terrasse, or the pronounced fake studio "exterior" hill where Michael reveals to Sarah the truth of his mission). But there are many more moments where the director shows his continued mastery of his craft, and overall it's a lot of fun, a nice mixture of effective suspense, romantic drama, comedy and adventure that's like an updated Foreign Correspondant for the Cold War. Hitchcock was apparently forced to work with Paul Newman and Julie Andrews but they do more than adequate jobs, and they're an important part of why this works.


Medium Cool. It's remarkable how vital and undated this feels, like it was shot yesterday, not so much in terms necessarily of its relevancy (which it would be hard to argue has diminished), but just in terms of the modernity of the filmmaking itself and the sense of present moment aliveness it creates. There's something also very impressive and powerful in the way the film manages all at the same time to be captivating in its metafictional formal inventiveness, to be so intelligent and aware in its political and sociological analysis, and at the same time able to create a very realistic personal character-driven story at the core that draws you in and is moving. DePalma early in his career wanted to be the American Godard, but Wexler nailed it right here.


Kes. Beautiful film but I always have a hard time with that last scene, it's so heartbreaking it depresses me no end.

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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#92 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Jun 28, 2021 11:05 pm

Les Scélérats

Robert Hossein helms and stars in this genre-pivoting dissection of malaise with an unexpectedly bitter aftertaste. The film begins its narration with an aloof Rear Window-framed curiosity before our faux-innocent lead slides into the observed melodrama with ambiguous levels of intrusive intent. Hossein immaculately balances the natural suspense occurring between segregated characters who all have their own desires and histories kept deliberately at arm’s length from one another, and by proxy us, and the film shines in its reflection of these futile efforts to connect with the broken. In the last act, Hossein tweaks the melodrama to elevate the themes- if not a full-step tone- into noir, but with a twist:
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Here the fatalism is manufactured from reverse-displacement of emotional hurt, as Perrette Pradier concocts a poisonous lie to harm the man who she ‘knew’ would reject her. Hossein may have sealed his own destiny by negating any affection turned his way, and Michèle Morgan certainly completed suicide out of a surrender to her depression. However, the sickest noirish punchline stems from Pradier- a naive youth (whose austerity would ostensibly be grounds for exclusion by cliques of coquettes) who appears to be resilient in her secret persistence to change Hossein- but who has actually sought to destroy her possibilities at love, as well as narcissistically infect the scarce ripe patches left on Hossein’s tattered soul, because she has sewn her own fate in the clouds before she gives herself the chance to officially proposition the man of her affections. It’s a nasty look at how even the most discernibly strong and adaptable people we meet can be preemptively setting fire to their vicinities under the guise of strength.
On n'enterre pas le dimanche

This nouvelle vague noir has already been written up much better by domino, so besides co-signing the first act's brilliance (especially the bizarre walk through the streets of Paris cloaked in an "odd job" disguise I won't spoil, under stirring voiceover narrative that cements Valence's feelings of social estrangement; but also the surreal introduction of his love interest, which occurs with simplified yet uneasy dreamlike art direction recalling modern Refn), I can only offer an alternative perspective on the last act's success:
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While I agree with domino that the film may have been more interesting if Valence's insecurities were left as enigmatic prisons, the gut-punch ending is arguably darker for validating the specific paranoias of this marginalized man, as opposed to feeding into the toxicity born from self-doubt. In this film, jealousy doesn’t so much seal one's fate, but the self-(and externally) prompted burdensomeness and innate alienation of a black man in a white society endorses these anxieties into actuality. It's not just a self-fulfilling prophecy but a comprehensive destiny of psychology’s intersection with environmental truths.

The key scene of the film for me is Valence's interaction with his Swedish white girlfriend following the murder, because only once he has a secret to hold over her does he feel a reprieve, solely from the high of a (fleeting and meaningless) subjective sense of power in the dynamic. The nastier reveal is how easily this brief security is violated by his girlfriend immediately guessing that he is the culprit, for a) it connects the racist undertones full circle, with his partner incapable of allowing that love to blind her from sociopolitical judgments, and b) her assessment is sourced in Valence behaving “strange” since the employer’s disappearance, with his strangeness operating on a level of tranquility. For this to stand out so drastically as to accrue suspicions of such a vile accusation with swift connectivity, Valence's negative core beliefs of being noticeably problematic, difficult, and anxious are objectively reinforced, becoming an evidenced reality beyond his internalized fears, that which were previously allowed to be ambiguously irrational.

The branding is inflicted from all angles, and we remember back to Valence wandering the streets of Paris isolated in his costume, wondering if he should shed it, bare himself, and embrace the world that he feels will not embrace him with compassion. We remember his suicide attempt, and his subsequent drive to capitalize on life's offerings. The film eventually offers a two-faced answer: That perhaps he shouldn't have taken off that costume, or wrestled himself out of that noose, because he has two worst enemies: himself and the outside world. Either way, he was doomed.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#93 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Jun 30, 2021 12:24 am

Carambolages: Bluwal's other masterpiece this decade is an electrically-paced corporate satire, the perfect antidote to Le monte-charge's brooding noir. I liked this zany comedy a lot the first time but is even better on a revisit, for beyond the absurd horseplay that populates its continually-swiveling narrative, upending expectations of trajectory with eclectic unprecedented stimuli, exists an extra layer of humor derived from just how strong morality’s powerful pull is on Brialy. Enough satirical farces have been made where morality is a wry secondary consideration, or contrarily rooting the principal's concern in morality as an outlier as the rest of the world pummels him to an early existential grave, but Brialy's oscillating ambivalence between authentic conscientious empathy and mechanical greed-as-need usurping the love language of his milieu, finds a very broad sweet spot as the variable coating these shenanigans in relatable psychosocial chaos. You can guess what wins, but even the inevitable punchline to end the film involves a full awareness of the choice, including the sacrifice's weight on our surrogate.

nitin
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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#94 Post by nitin » Mon Jul 05, 2021 6:22 am

Any love on the board for The Pumpkin Eater?

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knives
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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#95 Post by knives » Mon Jul 05, 2021 6:35 am

Yes. The recent news with Brittany Spears had me thinking of it as well. It’s definitely Clayton’s best attempt to make a horror film out of a story in another genre.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#96 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Jul 05, 2021 11:07 am

Seconded, Clayton's formalist approach to Pinter's scab-picking at emotional sensitivity through memory to find horror is creatively unnerving. My writeup from the film's dedicated thread:
therewillbeblus wrote:
Sun Apr 05, 2020 6:00 pm
Pinter and Clayton take what could be a straightforward unimaginative drama and sharpen their tools in implementing startling intrusive camera angles and dreamlike imagery that shifts across time with turbulence. The aggressively close proximity during interactions between people can be horrific at times, finding the unmanageable disturbing qualities in the banal. The voicemail Mason leaves and especially the scene at the hairdresser is one for the books, so desperate and threatening (and now reading through the thread after writing this I see this is a unanimous high point of surreal terror - how refreshing!) The late conversation with Mason gets so close that we feel suffocated and haunted by his words, our point of view smothered by his mouth filling up the frame, chanting disturbing slurs inescapably bloated like a nightmare.

The scattered narrative dissolves into itself repeatedly as we are witness to someone else’s memories bleeding into each other, personal dialogues with characters panning out to reveal a new scene with others present at an unspecified time in relation to the previous scene, indicative of the chaos that drives the memories’ anguished recall. I don’t know if Bancroft has ever been better, and confidently sells us on joining in an alliance with this distressed person who may not be perfect but deserves our sympathy for struggling to make meaning out of her expectations and desires while she remains trapped in a cycle of hopeless dissatisfaction. On a rewatch I appreciated this film much more, having found some stable footing in discovering how the fleeting plot plays out, and able to give undivided attention to the themes’ impact through the performances and style. It’s definitely on the long list of films to see twice. The ending doesn't fix our problems but does give a glimpse at the moments we must hold onto to break free from our own ennui towards acceptance and gratitude.

nitin
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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#97 Post by nitin » Tue Jul 06, 2021 12:41 am

I will come back later with more comments on both but one of the discoveries of the year for me has been Pinter penned screenplays, especially when mixed with the formal stylings of Losey (also new to me) and Clayton in Accident and The Pumpkin Eater.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#98 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Jul 06, 2021 2:28 am

Those are both great films, but I think The Servant is his best screenwriting work- another Losey collab, that takes the idea of class only to broadly demonstrate that any system of social roles is more elastic, and our identities more fragile, than we ever imagined. The horror of order being a pliable ruse, and our scope myopic to its disruption, is executed with harsh impotence. We even begin to root against our initial sympathies, with the most obnoxiously pretentious and inaccessible character, because his downward mobility signals our own sobriety to our frail positions. We can only access him when we ourselves are threatened, and this punchline infects the entire thematic and atmospheric purpose of Pinter and Losey's exhibition.

nitin
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Re: The 1960s List: Discussion and Suggestions

#99 Post by nitin » Tue Jul 06, 2021 4:03 am

Yep, that's one I plan to watch before this list is done.


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