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Looking for some direction


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#1 of 29 OFFLINE   Dennis Castro

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Posted August 24 2003 - 04:37 PM

I am a budding movie buff. I have loved movies my whole life. It's only recently that I have discovered how much. I have found that I enjoy film on a different level than most of my friends. After I finish viewing a film I love to discuss the technical aspects and the script and how I might have approached it and stuff like that. This discussion usually leaves my friends bored to tears.

I would like to take it to the next level from having a more than average knowledge of film to a well versed one. My problem is that until Netflix came along I never really had been exposed to a lot of the classics. I am aware of them and their influences but I have only seen a few of them. Also, I just watched a great documentary on the filmmakers of the sixties and how they influenced the filmmakers of the seventies such as Scorsese (which happens to be my favorite). This exposed me to names such as Godard and Felini in which I'm excited about checking out.

The problem is that when I go on Netflix there is so much I get overwhelmed. It's like a sensory overload. I guess what I'm saying is that I want to get past the mainstream and get down to the meat and potatoes of it all. It's just where do I start?

I have been checking out this place for a while and it seems like a knowledgeable yet nurturing environment, a place where I can grow and learn. I have faith that the members of this community can guide me in the right direction.
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#2 of 29 OFFLINE   Andy Olivera

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Posted August 24 2003 - 06:40 PM

Though I'm no connoisseur of the classics, I think my method would work in that category, too. When you see a film you like, check out the other films of that director. Then when you've seen all or most of his work(or enough to know that one film you liked was a fluke) check out someone else. That'll make the selection much less intimidating.

A warning, though: don't watch a film if you don't want to. Never watch something just because it's a classic or just so you can say you've seen it, because nine times out of ten it'll be a totally empty experience. I speak from experience. Posted Image
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#3 of 29 OFFLINE   Holadem

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Posted August 25 2003 - 12:52 AM

I disagree. You owe it to yourself to watch acknowledged classics, even if it can often be a painful experience. The goal is not so much to like them as to appreciate them, meaning to know why they are considered so grand.

Placing them within the context where they were created and released is key to that appreciation, as I find a great many of those films have considerably aged and are NOT timeless even if that word is thrown around all the time. Psycho scares no one today, but Casablanca will still make you fall in love.

Do not be intimidated in pretending you like'em, and feel that you have to sing gushing praises for everything you see. But DO see everything and form your own informed opinions Posted Image.

The AFI and S&S lists are good starts. Should take you a couple of years.

I would start with more accessible directors such as Hitchcock, Wilder, Kurosawa... Nothing like an Andrei Rublev to disgust you from classics forever! Posted Image

Have fun.

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#4 of 29 OFFLINE   Scott D S

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Posted August 25 2003 - 02:13 AM

Check out this thread.

A month or two ago, I found myself in a similar situation. Basically, I thought I was a fraud because everyone I know refers to me as the "film guy" and it is the career I want to pursue but I haven't seen many classic films.

Thankfully, the members of this forum pointed out more than a handful of good films and my Netflix list is now packed with goodies.

Good luck! Posted Image

#5 of 29 OFFLINE   Dennis Castro

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Posted August 25 2003 - 02:39 AM

Quote:
A month or two ago, I found myself in a similar situation. Basically, I thought I was a fraud because everyone I know refers to me as the "film guy" and it is the career I want to pursue but I haven't seen many classic films.

Thankfully, the members of this forum pointed out more than a handful of good films and my Netflix list is now packed with goodies.

Good luck

Hey thaks!

Sounds very similar to me. I write reviews for my friends web site but you won't see them here. Right now they are rather amateurish. I'm very hard on myself. I figure the more I write, the more films I see, the better I'll get. I'm going to be taking classes in January that will gear me towards film and writing.
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#6 of 29 OFFLINE   george kaplan

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Posted August 25 2003 - 04:06 AM

A warning, though: don't watch a film if you don't want to. Never watch something just because it's a classic or just so you can say you've seen it, because nine times out of ten it'll be a totally empty experience.
I would disagree with this also. You'll never know if a film is one you'll enjoy or not unless you watch it. And you can get plenty of surprises. Lots of films you think you'll love, you won't. And some that you don't think you'll like, you will. I watched a film by a director who had made the film I most despise. And yet this film turned out to be great.

Being a film buff is all about having seen (or wanting to see) the great classic films, even if you don't like a lot of them. I would never watch a film I didn't like a second time, but that's a different story. Posted Image
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#7 of 29 OFFLINE   DeeF

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Posted August 25 2003 - 04:14 AM

One thing I've discovered only in the last 2 years: it's important (to me, anyway) to have a large enough TV to really see the film. (The original aspect ratio plays into this, as well.) Many films which I originally saw on television, in horribly edited and faded versions, I didn't like at all, despite general critical praises.

One must actually see the picture, with details intact, in order to appreciate it.

I own 1000 DVDs, mostly classics and foreign films, and a large assortment of comedies and musicals from the 40s and 50s, my particular favorite movies.

My television is a 50" widescreen plasma, perfect for watching and enjoying movies at home. It is a great compromise between theater viewing (too large for a home) and TV viewing (too small to really see the movie).

#8 of 29 OFFLINE   Jason Seaver

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Posted August 25 2003 - 05:22 AM

Quote:
A warning, though: don't watch a film if you don't want to. Never watch something just because it's a classic or just so you can say you've seen it, because nine times out of ten it'll be a totally empty experience.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I would disagree with this also. You'll never know if a film is one you'll enjoy or not unless you watch it.
While this is, of course, true, I have found that I seldom truly enjoyed a movie if I was seeing it out of some sort of sense of obligation - "Well, Chicago is nominated for all those Oscars, so I should probably catch it before the awards in three days" or "The Hidden Fortress is only at the Brattle tonight and everyone says it's a classic".
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#9 of 29 OFFLINE   Lew Crippen

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Posted August 25 2003 - 06:16 AM

Check out the Sight and Sound and Sound (2002) Greatest Films Club. This has a ranked listing of 341 films that represent all eras of cinema and most of the film making countries.

While there is almost no chance thet you (or anyone) will like them all give some (perhaps even some obscure ones) a try. As George and Holadem have already suggested, watching even the ones you turn out not to like, has a great deal of value, plus you will likely get some unexpected pleasures.
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#10 of 29 OFFLINE   Tim Raffey

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Posted August 25 2003 - 10:29 AM

Quote:
...I have found that I seldom truly enjoyed a movie if I was seeing it out of some sort of sense of obligation.

True, but I can distance my experience of watching a movie from my retrospective view of it. Case in point: Nostalghia--the first Tarkovsky picture I'd seen, perhaps not coincidentally--was agonizing for me to watch a couple years ago. However, when my view of what art can/should do changed, so did my view of that movie.
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#11 of 29 OFFLINE   Chad A Wright

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Posted August 26 2003 - 07:34 AM

"The Hidden Fortress is only at the Brattle tonight and everyone says it's a classic".


Just for the record, it is a classic Posted Image at least in my book. In the last year or so, I have been exposed to so many classics and even foreign films that I never would have given a second thought before. Now these are some of the most prized films in my DVD collection. All of them have come from watching something I wouldn't have normally seen, but is considered a "classic". I believe that this has given me a greater understanding of the art of film, and has broadened my horizons greatly.

I also agree that oar viewing is the key to it all. I too have seen many movies in my childhood that were just on TV, and never really liked. As I've gotten into DVD, widescreen, and cinematogrophy, it has changed the way I look at films.

I never truly appreciated Jaws until my first oar viewing of it on the current DVD. It is now my favorite film of all time. Things change a lot when seen on the widescreen pallete they were intended.

My advice to you is to take in as much as you possibly can. I too have started by checking out directors that are considered to be great, and then working through their films.

#12 of 29 OFFLINE   Jason Seaver

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Posted August 26 2003 - 08:03 AM

Quote:
"The Hidden Fortress is only at the Brattle tonight and everyone says it's a classic".
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Just for the record, it is a classic.
No doubt. It was also the second film in a twin bill on a Tuesday night when I probably wasn't entirely in a "two subtitled black-and-white movies" mood. I did enjoy what I didn't sleep through. Posted Image
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#13 of 29 OFFLINE   Holadem

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Posted August 26 2003 - 08:31 AM

Well, I saw it at home, and while entertaining in some parts, it mostly annoyed the hell out of me. Easily my least favorite Kurosawa so far.

But of course, I don't regret seeing it, I just won't see it again Posted Image

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#14 of 29 OFFLINE   Nathan V

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Posted August 27 2003 - 06:09 AM

Look into the criterion collection if you haven't already done so. They have outstanding dvd editions of tons of new wave classics (400 blows, contempt, 8 1/2, etc), and also a lot of kurosawa.
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#15 of 29 OFFLINE   ChuckSolo

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Posted August 27 2003 - 07:35 AM

This is a very interesting thread. What exactly is a classic anyway? I have to admit that for being a movie buff, I had never seen "Citizen Kane" all the way through until recently. I had either caught the beginning or the very end. The last time I was in the video store I decided to rent this "classic" just so that I could say I had seen it. What I saw was probably the most over-rated movie of all time. I ask again, what was so "classic" about this movie? Was it Orson Wells? It couldn't have been Joseph Cotton. Was it just because it was supposed to be about a guy in the same vein as William Randolph Hearst? I say if you want to see a movie see it, just because you consider yourself a movie buff doesn't mean that your opinions are any less legitimate if you haven't seen the so called "classics." Heck, some people coniser the Japanese "Godzilla" movies classics. Get my drift?

#16 of 29 OFFLINE   george kaplan

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Posted August 27 2003 - 08:17 AM

Chuck,

I've said it before, I'll say it again.

You don't have to like the classics to be a film buff. You don't have to have seen all the classics to be a film buff. But if you don't at least want to see classic films at least once, you're probably not a film buff.

Citizen Kane is a classic for all sorts of reasons. Hell, I'll even admit that Lawrence of Arabia is a classic even though I don't like it. An individual liking or not liking a film doesn't make it any more or less of a classic.

As to the particulars of Kane, I'll leave it to others to explain, or provide links as to why it's a classic.

some people coniser the Japanese "Godzilla" movies classics.
Those would probably be more accurately considered cult classics than classics, but you're never going to get 100% agreement on which films are and aren't classics. But 99.9% would probably consider Citizen Kane a classic, although fewer than that like the movie.
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#17 of 29 OFFLINE   ChuckSolo

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Posted August 27 2003 - 08:40 AM

George, you are absolutely correct. I don't think that I didn't "want" to see CK, I just never actually got around to it. Here are some movies I deem to be "classics":

"Gone With the Wind"
"Casablanca"
"White Heat"
"The Wizard of Oz"
"A Star is Born" (Janet Gaynor, Frederick March)
"On the Waterfront"
"The Magnificent Seven"

Just a few. There are literally hundreds one could mention if left to ones various opinions.

#18 of 29 OFFLINE   Holadem

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Posted August 27 2003 - 08:43 AM

Quote:
As to the particulars of Kane, I'll leave it to others to explain, or provide links as to why it's a classic.

Ebert's commentary is gold.

That said, I feel some technically brilliant movies with more compelling stories such as Casablanca or Seven Samurai are better suited for the title of Greatest Movie of all time. But that's just me Posted Image.

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#19 of 29 OFFLINE   Lew Crippen

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Posted August 27 2003 - 08:50 AM

Quote:
What exactly is a classic anyway?
Opinions vary, but a classic is a film that has stood the test of time. One that is still highly regarded by a majority of experts (not the same as critics) and well-rounded lay persons (in cinematic terms) after a considerable period of time has passed. I’m not exactly sure what constitutes a ‘considerable period’, but I’d put a minimum of 25–30 years (some might think more) as a reasonable base.

Which means that Star Wars is just at the point where it can begin to be considered as a ‘classic’. The Lord of the Rings has a long way to go, although you will read some who called these films (and many others) ‘instant classics’, an oxymoron by definition. Not that these film cannot or will not become classics, it is just that the requisite time has not yet passed.

Now there is a subset of films that are ‘important’ because they have made a statement or advanced the art in a way that had not been done before (or sometimes this is a codification of several things that had already been done into a whole). Not all of these films are ‘good’ in a strict technical sense, but they too become considered classics, because they remain in the film lexicon (I can’t think of the correct word here) and are studied over and over and viewed time and again.

Quote:
some people coniser the Japanese "Godzilla" movies classics.
Here there is a substantial chance that the original would be considered a classic, though the other Japanese monster films would at best be ‘cult classics’. Why? Because it made an important statement about how the Japanese viewed the atomic era and did it so well that it resonated with people around the world. It is still studied by film scholars and historians today and watched by the rest of us for fun.

Bride of Frankenstein is every bit the classic that Lawrence of Arabia is—being a serious drama is not a part of the definition of classic.

I hope this helps. I’ll not go into why Citizen Kane is a classic (and even why I think it a great movie), as it is not one that you like. Just as there are classic movies that I don’t care for: for example I really find Ben-Hur to be boring, though I acknowledge this is a minority opinion (I don’t mean a popular vote here). But deep in my heart I think that surely in another 25 years we will all find out the truth.
¡Time is not my master!

#20 of 29 OFFLINE   Lew Crippen

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Posted August 27 2003 - 09:02 AM

Quote:
I say if you want to see a movie see it, just because you consider yourself a movie buff doesn't mean that your opinions are any less legitimate if you haven't seen the so called "classics."
Don’t take this the wrong way Chuck (and you should not, as your list in your next post is solid gold—well except for GWTW Posted Image), but actually those people who have not seen the classics (or at least a good many of them) cannot have ‘informed opinions’. By definition they have uninformed opinions, and they may have good and accurate observations and comments, but these opinions have been made without a sound base for comparison.

In my opinion it is hard to have a legitimate opinion if it is uninformed. Posted Image
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