Experimental films is one of my favorite genres (even though when I was younger I considered them a slog to sit through) and after seeing The Trial I’ve gained a new appreciation of the genre. My favorite would probably have to be Man With a Movie Camera but there are a lot of great ones. But what would you pick?
…Say what you like, but The Trial is the best film I have ever made.
It’s well known that Orson Welles was exiled from Hollywood for a majority of his career, with much of his post-Citizen Kane work tampered and cut by studio heads. The Trial was an exception to this reckless studio intervention: backed by a group of European investors and filmed there in cities like Rome and Paris, The Trial has Welles purest vision since Kane. Based on Franz Kaftka’s novel, The Trial is less direct and domineering than Welles’ other pictures, instead taking a surreal and bleak journey, a theme among Kaftka’s work, questioning the meanings of justice.
Voiceovers tend to be the trickiest technique for filmmakers to pull off. I’ve always felt that voiceovers typically are an easy way out for directors to do tell story, preventing the audience from figuring it out. There are exceptions (the narrations in Apocalypse Now and GoodFellas help add to the themes of insanity and power in each respective film). The best use of a narration though in my opinion would be Barry Lyndon, where the voiceover acts as a domineering force that control’s Redmond Barry’s life. The cold indifference of Michael Hordern’s voice is like an oracle that foretell’s Barry’s fate.
But what do you think?
Anyone interested in studying film within the past few decades has been affected by Roger Ebert in one way or another. My first introduction came from back when I was probably about 10 or 11. As I can recall, I was flipping through the newspaper my parents left out on the kitchen counter when I came across a movie ad with a recommendation by Roger at the top. At the time I didn’t know who he was other than a name on a poster; it was only a couple of years later when I started getting serious about film when I discovered the rich history and writing of this critic. I followed Roger’s thoughts, read his books, and took his recommendations to the extent that I can almost fully contribute my love for cinema because of him. When Roger passed away last year, I grieved for a man I knew only in writing, but his prose made him seem that I’ve known him all my life.
Whenever I’m asked what’s my favorite TV show, I often supply different answers depending on how I’m feeling. Some days it’s The Simpsons or The Sopranos, others it’s Fawlty Towers or Breaking Bad. Seinfeld is a series I probably most often tell people is my favorite. There is no sitcom more influential over the past few years over Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld’s dryly hilarious series. Seinfeld‘s widespread appeal on how a show about nothing was really the show about everything. David and co. gave wry and clever commentary on how the small irritations in our lives that constantly hinder our day-to-day routine that for Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer should not be tolerated.
Yesterday, Seinfeld celebrated its 25th Anniversary, so for today’s question, I thought I’d ask what’s your favorite Seinfeld episode? For me, it’d be the 1991 episode “The Parking Garage,” though there are plenty of other episodes I could also choose (“The Contest” and “The Puffy Jacket” are two of my other favorites). But what about you?
Community‘s goal of “six seasons and a movie” got one step closer as Yahoo! Screen picked up the canceled NBC sitcom for the show’s sixth and likely final season, saving the series just hours before the actors’ contracts expired yesterday. It’s a move that I don’t think anyone expected; especially after Hulu rejected the idea and Netflix made no or little move about the possibility of taking Community.
The show, according to Vulture, will have thirteen episodes streamed online, retain creator Dan Harmon as the show runner, and, in Vulture’s own words, receive a production value that “will not be dramatically different than the most recent NBC season of the show.” These conditions free Community from much of the pressure it received on air, where it continuously struggled in its time-slot against The Big Bang Theory, as well as giving Harmon the creative freedom to do what he wants. It’s just about every Community fans’ personal dream.
I’ve loved Community since I first saw “Modern Warfare” in 2010, but I’m a bit worried about the series’ fate online. While Yahoo’s guidelines are certainly encouraging, it’s hard to predict what they have planned in store for formatting the series for streaming, whether having it as a lengthened webisode or in series’ typical full-length episode structure (like in Arrested Development‘s fourth season). Other than that, Community has gone on for nearly 100 episodes now, making me wonder if Harmon and co. can keep the same quality as the past five seasons (minus the fourth).
Still, I expect that Community will do well on Yahoo and look forward to watching the series when it returns.
In a recent Q&A with the AV Club, TV critic Todd VanDerWerff talked about the proper qualifications for film criticism, drawing the line between reviews and picking out the flaws of a movie. He declared that:
The spread of the “Cinema Sins” style of YouTube criticism might seem innocuous to many, but underneath it all there’s this pernicious belief that criticism is applied not to the whole of a work but to its bits and pieces. These videos often seem to confuse “pointing out continuity errors and logical inconsistencies” with offering insightful thoughts on a work. Don’t get me wrong: A great, scathing review is one of the best pleasures in life. But these are not assembled via the anal-retentive means these videos apply.
The rise of the Internet over the last twenty or so years has certainly encouraged the growth of online criticism, but I agree with VanDerWerff that simply riffing a picture doesn’t make it proper film criticism. Real criticism focuses on the development of the picture, examining the story, judging the actor, and the visual and allegorical techniques the director is using among many more things. While like VanDerWerff I love Mystery Science Theater 3000 as well as its follow-up RiffTrax, they’re different than say a review by J. Hoberman or Jonathan Rosenbaum.
But what do you think?
Watching a Michael Haneke movie is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle: it’s a process that can be frustrating to some but the accomplishment easily compensates the effort. Caché, Haneke’s masterpiece, epitsomizes that metaphor; it’s a tense thriller whose mystery remains unexplained by the film’s conclusion. The Laurent family (composed of George, Anne, and their son Pierrot) finds tapes of their Paris home along with crude drawings of violence. Future tapes eventually lead George to suspect Majid, the son of an Algerian couple who worked for George’s family over forty years ago. When Majid’s parents are killed in the Paris Massacre of 1961, George’s family wished to adopt Majid, but George, angered at his parents’ decisions, tricks Majid into killing a rooster, causing him to be sent into a foster home. But by Caché’s conclusion, Majid, upon discovering the tapes, commits suicide, and the Laurent family’s mystery is still up in the air.