cléo from 5 to 7

April 14, 2008

firstly, i was shocked at how great and intricate the camera work was in this film. i haven’t seen a whole lot of new wave, but from what i remember about godard, camera work was not of great interest to him. i’m gonna go ahead and use a modern day basketball analogy to illustrate my point. godard was more like the golden state warriors and agnes varda (at least in cleo) is like the san antiono spurs. godard was more of a run and gun style of film making, while varda’s seems meticulously planned out. i mean that scene when cleo is buying the hat? amazing! i can’t exactly recall if it was one long take, but the mise en scene and composition are fantastic. it seems much more thought out than godard, and it is something that i can really admire.

(excuse this next paragraph as i try to comment on the film’s dealings with feminism. i am in no way an expert on the subject, nor do i really know what i’m talking about so take it with a grain of salt)

i also like the way varda deals with feminism in the film. contrasting cleo with women who seem, on the exterior at least, much more ambitious and self-reliant. the first time we see this is when cleo takes the cab ride with the female cabby. the cab driver tells the story about dealing with customers who don’t want to pay the fare, and how she isn’t afraid of who to pick up. contrasting that with cleo who is afraid of getting cancer, and to a greater extent loosing her beautiful appearance. also cleo with her friend who poses for the sculpting class. she has this sort of independence, self confidence, and freedom that cleo does not.

but now for what i had problems with. if you’ll recall and earlier post i had about the seventh seal, i said i thought bergman was the biggest pessimist the world has ever known; which i still think is somewhat true. i had a problem with this film because it seems to say that the world doesn’t care about people.  we get the scene when cleo goes into the cafe and plays one of her songs, then proceeds to strolls around the aisles waiting for someone to recognize her.  when she realizes that no one does or no one even cares, i feel like the film is generalizing this for the whole world.  that people don’t care about other people’s suffering.

but overall i think the film does stay away from trying to make any overt statements.  and just from a technical aspect, i think this film is a joy to watch (plus i feel like i’ve left out a great deal of things to discuss).

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12 angry men

April 9, 2008

the exposition is great. i mean if you’re going to praise this film, that’s really the only thing you could praise because that’s pretty much all there is. exposition. or words or talking or discourse or discussion or chat or conversation or the exchange of ideas or dialogue or whatever (clearly i am a master of it as well). 11 men think the defendant is guilty, 1 does not. he then spends an hour and a half to try and convince all of them that they’re wrong.

the film runs then risk of becoming preachy because of that. one man trying to blind our preconceived notions about who this kid is or why we believe he is guilty, but we as an audience don’t really know who the defendant is (which i think is to the films advantage). we don’t have the same knowledge about the trial as the jurors do, so it’s not henry fonda trying to change our minds. we can be silent observers.

i love the way the film reveals information. the way we slowly go through each of the different jurors and see how their minds are being changed, and learn about their previous prejudices. the pacing is perfect as it feels like we spend an entire afternoon with these jurors when in fact it’s just over 90 minutes

all of the performances are great, and even though it’s 2008 i actually felt like i was living in the 50’s. the film does a great job of creating setting and tone without ever leaving the room.

lumet has definitely moved up my own personal ranks of best directors.