Escape from Elba
Exiles of the New York Times
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Author Topic: Movies  (Read 40633 times)
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lulu
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« Reply #1455 on: August 11, 2007, 09:02:50 PM »

Has anyone seen this disturbing picture starring Isabelle Huppert as the teacher?  I just saw it and after 2-1/2 hours I thought I needed a shower.  It was repulsive, hypnotic, chilling and unforgettable.

Erika's mother makes Mama Rose from Gypsy look like a sweetheart.  She has her daughter totally under her control (with the two of them sharing the same bed) while her daughter hits the porno movies/bookstores.  By the time the movie ended I wasn't saw who was vicitim/victimizer, including the unseen father who is mentioned only in passing.  I wondered whether the father's madness affected the mother who took her feelings out on her daughter by keeping her under her thumb.  Or the mother was crazy and drove the father crazy or whether the daughter inherited her increasing instability from her father (or mother).  Then comes the young student who for some reason is attracted to the teacher.

I'm still trying to get this picture out of my mind.
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madupont
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« Reply #1456 on: August 12, 2007, 09:22:55 AM »

lulu

I thought that i had but when I looked up Elfriede Jelinek, the Nobel Prize winner for literature several years ago, I began to realize that I had not and have it confused with some other film adapted from one of her novels. Part of the confusion stems from the dual title which you automatically used at the title of your post, when her book The Piano Teacher becomes the Pianiste because of a French star, although Jelinek is an East German writing about emotional comprehensions closer to home, maybe it is even "writing-therapy", as she knows whereof she writes.  Not that Huppert is one of my favourite types to contend with since I feel that she can actually make a movie quite dull despite the premise.

When looking for film information, you discover of course that there is also The Pianist, the wonderful film, starring Adrian Brody, about the Polish radio pianist who survives WW2 and watches the Warsaw Ghetto uprising from his hiding place in a clandestine locked apartment. I really feel that Brody has been short-changed because, on the strength of his acting in this film, he should have been offered more then has come his way in scripts and directors who do not make use of his talent. He has been kept in the position of a "juvenile actor" when he has so much more ability. After all he won an Academy Award for this film, granted in the ironic position that this was the year that Nicole Kidman wore black to set the pace of Hollywood toned done and gone into mourning because we were at war; here is Brody playing a survivor in a film that should teach you something about war, getting an award, and the Academy gets together in a the smallest possible venue and sits on their hands to respect a war on terrorism produced by Washington,D.C. and a good PR department

Guests also winners were stars of Pedro Almodovar's "mother film"(but amidst the friendly international context,  this is the year that Michael Moore was booed for making Fahrenheit 9/11)  I may prefer Almodovar's,
Habla con Ella, as a more complex modern reality than the simpler film about a woman whose  underline might have been,"I burn my candle at both ends; but, oh, it gives a lovely light..." in a last burst of life-force because she is about to die; just the same Jelinek kept exploring something culturally familiar to her which got in her way and impeded her life.

It is difficult to talk about since the film you saw comes out as a code for something else. "I wondered whether the father's madness affected the mother who took her feelings out on her daughter by keeping her under her thumb."

Where Jelinek came from, not necessarily the East, while Germany was yet divided, but the experience in common to WW2 produced madness in a lot of people. I can remember my mother having a cleaning lady whose husband was off in the funny farm; and that was exactly why my mother had a cleaning lady.

So it is not that the mother character is merely keeping her daughter under her thumb but that the mother is emotionally dependent on her daughter; just as Almodovar's "...Madre tambien" has a flare of sexual eroticism before extinguishment.

Huppert's character becomes pathological due to restriction of an independent emotional life while confined to emotional support of her mother.

Jelinek finds this theme interesting in her writing as a way of investigating her own development.  As such this is an example of European radical feminism, and it did win a Nobel in Literature, not for the film itself but Elfriede Jelinek's development of a literary style in her examinations of the kind of repressions expected in society that emphasized,"kuche,kinder,kirke".  In Germanic culture, it is more obvious in the usual menopausal syndrome where the mother recognizes the daughter as an emerging threat to her own idiosyncratic authority; if not for that, we would not have Grimm's collection including: Snow White, Sleeping Beauty,and possibly Repunzel.  I think the French gave us Beauty and the Beast,but not sure? while everybody takes credit for Cinderella.  Germans are great believers in "Chain of Command", ever since they noticed "the pecking order".

Which of course brings me to the Anglophile version of such matters, Jane Campion comes up with a film: The Piano.  Beautiful cinematography, interesting plot, interesting acting -- out of Harvey Keitel to say the least; but could there be anything more horrible imaginable to discover, for anyone who plays the piano and wanders in to view this movie?   This is not new to Hollywood of course, which has had this theme running as insistently as Dr.Sardonicus, demonstrating that there are people in this world who really have it in for piano players.

We get Truffaut's,Shoot the Piano Player, which I never did get a chance to see.

But nowhere thus far have I discovered the film that I actually saw and thought you were going to talk about (about a different kind of pathology and piano brought together) in which there is also quite a bit of gorgeous music involving a piano teacher, jealousy, and murder. When I discover what the heck I saw, you will be the first to know.

I'm beginning to think that Elfriede Jelinek probably played the piano before she sat down to write.
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madupont
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« Reply #1457 on: August 12, 2007, 09:35:27 AM »

Ps, 

Whatever did happen to Holly Hunter?  She was at her peak at that time.  I know, I saw the publicity shots; but she has been underplaying her own ability for quite some time now.  It's the thing that all the experienced women of the screen complain about; they don't want to put us on screen at our age.  Furthermore, they probably don't even want stories over the age limit of the celebreality chart near the head of the forum list.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #1458 on: August 12, 2007, 10:06:17 AM »

I saw that it was a black week last week for auteurs, with both Bergman and Antonioni passing away.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #1459 on: August 12, 2007, 10:16:28 AM »

In regard to martin's comments:

None Porteñito.Bergman and Antonioni where the two directors that named and filmed our deeper emotions and therefore made them visible to us.

They were cinematics giants, but bowed out a few years ago.  Bergman essentially passed over the reins to Bille August, who did a super job with Best Intentions. And I thought Pelle the Conqueror was pretty good too.
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madupont
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« Reply #1460 on: August 12, 2007, 11:25:05 AM »

Dzimas,

I notied that there is a due respect offered to Bergmann by Woody Allan in today's nytimes.com but I have not read it as yet.
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Ricolo
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« Reply #1461 on: August 12, 2007, 11:45:31 AM »

My favourite Bergman’s film is The Seventh Seal. It is not about the threat to Religion by science, nowadays fundamentalists feel threatened by the Theory of Evolution;  is atheism versus God. The ravages of war (man made) and the plague (and act of God) makes the knight doubt the existence of God. But the personification of Death and the impersonation of a priest by Death, makes me think that Death is an agent of God in Bergman’s view.

I did not like any of Antonioni’s Italian movies, however I liked The Passenger; that scene where the camera travels from the hotel room down to the town square through the window, seamlessly it is a cinematic wonder.
Blowup did not do justice to the short story by Cortázar . The misinterpretation of the events based on a grainy photograph reminds of a similar error in The Conversation, where a noisy almost unintelligible sound recording hides the truth

Both Bergman and Antonioni died years after their prime so cinematographically they had died a long time ago.

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nytempsperdu
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« Reply #1462 on: August 12, 2007, 02:06:56 PM »

Quote
as Almodovar's "...Madre tambien" has a flare of sexual eroticism before extinguishment.

Y tu mama tambien wasn't Almodovar, but Alfonso Cuaron.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2007, 02:14:21 PM by nytempsperdu » Logged
Lhoffman
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« Reply #1463 on: August 12, 2007, 02:19:26 PM »

Quote
as Almodovar's "...Madre tambien" has a flare of sexual eroticism before extinguishment.

Y tu mama tambien wasn't Almodovar, but Alfonso Cuaron.

Almodovar did some nice work on Volver.  A very good look at mother/daughter relationships, misunderstandings and the recurrence of the past. 

I've been meaning to have a viewing festival of his other works.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #1464 on: August 12, 2007, 03:03:38 PM »

Antonioni was hit and miss, as far as I'm concerned as well.  I've tried watching Blow-up any number of times, but the film is badly dated.  However, The Passenger is timeless.
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madupont
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« Reply #1465 on: August 12, 2007, 04:43:40 PM »

Quote
as Almodovar's "...Madre tambien" has a flare of sexual eroticism before extinguishment.

Y tu mama tambien wasn't Almodovar, but Alfonso Cuaron.


Muchas garage-bands, nytempsperdu,
I knew it as a flamenco song,Y ma madre tambien; so, what other Alfonso Cuaron films might I look for?

Take a look at, Talk to Her, although as lulu  was persuaded with The Piano Teacher, I know it is not everybody's cup of tea, from Almodovar. I keep imagining that perhaps somebody is in the cast who was also in Gaudi Afternoon(which has Juliette Lewis among others)unless it is just that the transvestite resembles Marcia Gay Hardin. Her was either on the way to becoming transexual or had been there/done that.   Can't entirely remember but it is about the relationships of "women" and motherhood even if one is transexual or about to become.

It is  not Gaudi Night, which is a Dorothy Sayers story made into a movie.The kind of thing you watch on PBS.

Gaudi Afternoon which was not shot by Woody Allen but by Susan Seiderman(?) in Barcelona, of course has shots of Antoni Gaudi's architecture, I think that was the whole point because a film about that many women is a bit much.
My friend, Julio Orlandini, used to explain Gaudi, a Catalonian, to me. He and his father, Matthew, did the fancy plaster-work that decorates different periods of interiors, one of which I lived in that was like a Hollywood 1920s apartment in an Italian neighborhood. Julio's ambition was to reconstruct an urban area that was becoming useless, he told me that it would have grande vistas and now it probably does, because I got the impression he pulled it off and turned it into an artists' Quarter in a  region where that is improbable in the US.




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madupont
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« Reply #1466 on: August 12, 2007, 04:46:50 PM »

Dzimas:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/12/movies/12alle.html?ref=movies
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barton
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« Reply #1467 on: August 12, 2007, 05:16:20 PM »

Dzimas, I was just thinking about The Passenger, and had added it to my Netflix queue.  Back before Jack Nicholson became iconic, he was a pretty good actor.

Am on a 70s kick now -- just watched That Obscure Object of Desire, Bunuel's last film, and what a pleasure to find Bunuel just as surreally funny as I remembered him.  One of the most eloquent and comic arguments ever made on the futility of possessing a woman.

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"History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes."
barton
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« Reply #1468 on: August 12, 2007, 05:28:11 PM »

Also saw Bourne III at the thee-ater and liked it, though this one seemed even more earsplitting and lacking in breathing spaces than the first two.  Agree with Oilcan that Paddy Considine was under-used.  It used to be the black guy that caught the bullet in the first reel, but this has become too cliche and nonPC, so now they're shoving Irishmen into the crosshairs. 

Anyway, it was interesting to see where Bourne "came from" and how he tries to find his way back to his original identity.

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"History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes."
Ricolo
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« Reply #1469 on: August 13, 2007, 05:50:42 AM »

Antonioni was hit and miss, as far as I'm concerned as well.  I've tried watching Blow-up any number of times, but the film is badly dated.  However, The Passenger is timeless.

The Passenger has been re-released in DVD. The ending is a touch ambiguous, is he waiting to be killed?

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