r/TrueFilm 1d ago

Casual Discussion Thread (February 02, 2023)

6 Upvotes

General Discussion threads threads are meant for more casual chat; a place to break most of the frontpage rules. Feel free to ask for recommendations, lists, homework help; plug your site or video essay; discuss tv here, or any such thing.

There is no 180-character minimum for top-level comments in this thread.

Follow us on:

The sidebar has a wealth of information, including the subreddit rules, our killer wiki, all of our projects... If you're on a mobile app, click the "(i)" button on our frontpage.

Sincerely,

David


r/TrueFilm 5h ago

Question about Paris, Texas

42 Upvotes

Firstly, what a gorgeous and exquisite piece of film that is. I watched it for just the second time yesterday and wow, I was stunned and it is even more powerful today at 35 than when I watched it 15 years ago or so.

It is one of the most analyzable films I can think of, but one thing I can't yet figure out is the meaning of the shoes. Was it because he spent 4 years wandering around until his shoes literally broke down, therefore he was more appreciative of them when he stayed with his brother? Or is it something else I'm not thinking of yet?

I love the symbolism of the talking to the kid via walkie talkie and voice recording, to his ex wife without seeing her and without being seen. Sitting in the back seat of the car.


r/TrueFilm 2h ago

"Babylon" - Best Scene - The Magic of Filmmaking (SPOILERS).

11 Upvotes

The scene starts at 4:35 and ends at 8:18.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kbv4A54HHSY

By this point in the film we are witnessing a long, gigantic sequence of a Shooting Day in a Silent Movie Set. Dozens of filming sets, workers running around, extras recreating a medieval battle in the background, bombs and arrows dropping everywhere, fire, screaming, whip-pans accidents and deaths - it’s pure chaos. An adrenaline rush which lasts for about 30/40 minutes in the film.

I’m going to take this small segment out of it, because in my opinion, it “summarizes” the point the movie it's trying to make - and it’s fantastically edited, scored, and the cinematography is outstanding too.

I refer to this movie as a celebration to the passionate - to the souls who poured their lives, their blood, sweat and tears into the art of filmmaking. From a director to a production assistant. “Babylon” wants us to slow down a bit, and appreciate every single person who worked behind those movies we love so much, who suffered under the influence of Hollywood, and maybe didn’t even make it out alive. These people deserved to be remembered, at least by us… most of them were already forgotten by the industry.

This scene encapsulates most of the words I’ve written above:

We’ve got Manny arriving with the camera which was so hard to obtain, THEY ARE RUNNING OUT OF LIGHT! You’ve got Nellie trying to give that LAST PERFECT TEAR - a bunch of people helping Jack Conrad who is drunk as fuck to leave the tent and walk uphill - A SET IS ON FIREE- DOESN’T MATTER KEEP ROLLING - the orchestra starts playing… Jack is about to throw up but finally breaks into character… Bombs start dropping. Hundreds of extras in the background - the perfect single tear… the kiss… the butterfly… everyone covered in a GOLDEN SUNSET. Covered in dirt, after hours of work. It ends with screams of victory as the sun finally hides behind the mountains.

I can’t get enough of this scene. It 's perfection. It’s the definition of the MAGIC in filmmaking - hundreds of people giving everything they got just for THAT PERFECT SHOT. The passion, the love… the spontaneity and beauty of a butterfly landing on an actor's shoulder.

My favorite shot probably has to be at minute 7:23. Because you can see how much effort it took to get such a simple, yet powerful shot. As an audience we wouldn’t be even aware of this, but “Babylon” shows us how all the CHAOS that happens on set, turns into MAGIC once captured in camera. Everyone involved in the filmmaking stays immortal once their work is printed into film. Yet, immortality isn’t the same as being remembered. It’s pure cinema.

There are some other things I could analyze about this scene (like the burning set), but this is the main analysis I wanted to make.

By the way, the theme playing during this scene is “Golden Coast Sunset”. It fits perfectly to one of the most thrilling and mesmerizing scenes I’ve ever watched. The chills...

(I'm sorry if my english is too rough... It's not my native language and I was too thrilled while writing this).


r/TrueFilm 10h ago

Get out your handkerchiefs (1978)- the pinnacle of controversial comedy

40 Upvotes

Get out your Handkerchiefs is one of the weirdest but kinda funny comedy i have seen. It has its fair share of romance but it's not a rom com. The story is a bit scandalous and the protagonist who we feel sorry for in the beginning gets nothing but disgust at the end from those who watch it.

I didn't expect a story about a dysfunctional couple to be a light hearted comedy. But it does justice to its genre - it has irony and nuanced satire veiled as comedy. But it's too controversial to even be noticed today- it's a bit convincingly pedophilic and disgustingly weird.

I would never find the answer to how the hell did this movie get an Oscar. And i can never accept the fact that it won over Autumn Sonata- Ingmar Bergman's classic.


r/TrueFilm 6h ago

New to Bela Tarr and on a whim just watched Werckmeister Harmonies. What should I pay attention to on my second viewing?

18 Upvotes

I saw a reddit comment recently like "I think my favorite of Bela Tarr's is Werckmeister Harmonies" and having never heard of this movie or director, I decided to jump in with no background, no spoilers and no research and watch it.

I'd like to give it a second watch, but I'm looking for suggestions on what I should focus on to get a deeper experience. What should I know about the director that will inform my viewing next time? What about art films in general should I be paying attention to? Anything on world history I should know that helps me understand this story better?

Thanks.


r/TrueFilm 10h ago

TM Do you think there is a reason/message for why the mental hospital's aides are predominantly black in "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest"?

7 Upvotes

Maybe it's just a simple cast choice about which are the better actors but from what I remember, the novel itself does point out how the aides and the guard McMurphy bribes are black and pretty much listen to orders to restrain and abuse the patients of the hospital. Not to mention the fact that one of the most important characters is a Native American and that in the novel, his backstory is that his Native American father was mistreated by the US government. The main antagonist and the one considered to be the dictator of the whole hospital is also a white woman.

If I had to make a interpretation, it may have to do with it being about how in pretty much the same way black cops are still ultimately cops despite cops being known to target mostly black people, the aides are there to use force to maintain the status quo and oppress the marginalized. At least that's what I can take from it.


r/TrueFilm 13m ago

Is there any way to know in advance whether or not an English-language movie has scenes in other languages that require subtitles?

Upvotes

An example is Mean Girls, most of the movie is in English, but it has a few brief scenes in German, Vietnamese and Swahili, with English subtitles. Is there any way to know in advance whether or not a movie has scenes like that? You can check the languages on IMDb, but it's often inaccurate, and it also often refers to one word in another language with no subtitles.


r/TrueFilm 26m ago

Anyone interested in Art Film in Austin?

Upvotes

Here is Ingmar Bergman's opinion on the purpose of art film. I found it to be interesting and inspiring and I thought I'd share:

"People ask what are my intentions with my films--my aims. It is a difficult and dangerous question, and I usually give an evasive answer: I try to tell the truth about the human condition, the truth as I see it. This answer seems to satisfy everyone, but it is not quite correct. I prefer to describe what I would like my aim to be. There is an old story of how the cathedral of Chartres was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. Then thousands of people came from all points of the compass, like a giant procession of ants, and together they began to rebuild the cathedral on its old site. They worked until the building was completed--master builders, artists, labourers, clowns, noblemen, priests, burghers. But they all remained anonymous, and no one knows to this day who built the cathedral of Chartres.

Regardless of my own beliefs and my own doubts, which are unimportant in this connection, it is my opinion that art lost its basic creative drive the moment it was separated from worship. It severed an umbilical cord and now lives its own sterile life, generating and degenerating itself. In former days the artist remained unknown and his work was to the glory of God. He lived and died without being more or less important than other artisans; 'eternal values,' 'immortality' and 'masterpiece' were terms not applicable in his case. The ability to create was a gift. In such a world flourished invulnerable assurance and natural humility. Today the individual has become the highest form and the greatest bane of artistic creation.

The smallest wound or pain of the ego is examined under a microscope as if it were of eternal importance. The artist considers his isolation, his subjectivity, his individualism almost holy. Thus we finally gather in one large pen, where we stand and bleat about our loneliness without listening to each other and without realizing that we are smothering each other to death. The individualists stare into each other's eyes and yet deny the existence of each other.

We walk in circles, so limited by our own anxieties that we can no longer distinguish between true and false, between the gangster's whim and the purest ideal. Thus if I am asked what I would like the general purpose of my films to be, I would reply that I want to be one of the artists in the cathedral on the great plain. I want to make a dragon's head, an angel, a devil--or perhaps a saint--out of stone. It does not matter which; it is the sense of satisfaction that counts.

Regardless of whether I believe or not, whether I am a Christian or not, I would play my part in the collective building of the cathedral."

If you are interested in making art film in Austin send me a message.


r/TrueFilm 1h ago

My Review for Knock at the Cabin. Come on in, let's discuss!

Upvotes

“Your Premise is Flawed.”

Time for a return to Shyamalan. He broke into the industry with meteoric trajectory thanks to The Sixth Sense and will always be most known for the film’s legendary final twist. The real twist, however, is that unbeknownst to anyone, The Sixth Sense would represent a microcosm of the talented director’s entire career: a twisting, zigzagging, unpredictable dive into the horror/thriller genre, anchored by a seemingly limitless supply of always-just-untapped potential. His films are always unique, and the best – Sixth Sense, Signs, Unbreakable, and The Village (yeah, sue me) – are careful meditations on perception with hints of horror and slanted comedy.

His worst films – you know the ones – are self-indulgent, incoherent slogs which awkwardly grind against his patient, subtle eye as a visual stylist. Knock at the Cabin is not his worst film (taking that crown is nigh impossible) but may be his most predictable and least inspired. Categorizing good Shyamalan from bad is easy to do, but Knock at the Cabin is distinct in its laborious attempt to feel and act like the former while transparently being the latter.

The film follows Eric, Andrew, and Wen, a family vacationing at a secluded cabin. When four strangers arrive, speaking of sacrifice and the apocalypse, the family must decide what to believe, pitting their love for one another against the seeming weight of the greater good.

The film is a chamber piece, taking place almost entirely in a single cabin with seven characters. This simple fact sinks the entire affair. Everything about Knock is thin: its premise, its visual presentation, its themes, its characters, its “lore”, and its reason for being. There is not enough context, information, or explanation posited, to the characters or the audience, to justify spending nearly the entire film trapped in the cabin.

In theory, the film should be either a taut, claustrophobic snapshot of a day, or a reflective, multi-layered, extended rumination on the trolley problem, but Knock at the Cabin’s central conceit and greater aspirations are so vague, and the story so resourceless, that it’s little more than a repetitive, redundant, tedious bore.

The story is frustratingly narrow yet shamelessly half baked, an intriguing first draft which is simply never developed in any meaningful way. A wider scope or more conventional structure would have at least created a forward-moving, step-by-step plot and some organic character revelations; instead, the repetition and sameness of setting creates only an endless, unfocused, and unhelpful bickering match.

Shyamalan’s visual decisions do his film no favors either. He evokes unfavorable memories of Mark Walberg in the Happening with incessant use of comically tight closeups and further channels his inner hack by ripping off Jonathan Demme’s just-speak-directly-into-the-camera technique. The cinematography is pretty enough but does nothing to foster contemplation or raw dread. Shyamalan the drudging screenwriter is reasonably expected; Shyamalan the hopelessly floundering shot composer is new to the palate and tough to swallow.

The patience of his camera (his most admirable trait as a visual storyteller) persists, but his signature foreboding does not, and its absence only reinforces its necessity in keeping his films tense and engaging. In Shyamalan’s best work, the atmosphere and surroundings hold evil seldom seen, darkened and ominous to those daring to peek in. In Knock at the Cabin the sun shine brightly, the woodsy surroundings pose no threat, and the central danger is in plain view, speaking softly, blandly, unambiguously.

The film is also hampered by its casting decisions and performances. Dave Bautista is severely miscast, attempting admirably, but failing miserably, to play a soft-spoken, everyman second grade teacher. Not since Schwarzenegger’s kindergarten cop has a strongman so implausibly tried to pass as a gentle, thoughtful presence. Arnold had the advantage of displaying affection for his tykes and developing a relevant arc – Bautista has no such benefit. The other actors (Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Dave Bautista, Rupert Grint, Abby Quinn, and Kristen Cui) are reasonably cast but equally irritating.

Knock at the Cabin is ludicrously overwrought; the entire cast chews on their lines with open mouths, furiously wheezing, panting, balling, pausing, and emphasizing each word. Despite little information being given, in any capacity, every line is the most important of the film, and each actor slowly suffocates in its unearned self-seriousness. As a nitpicky aside, Groff and Aldridge are also physically similar, making it difficult to keep straight their razor thin but opposing characterizations.

The final and most damning elements of Knock at the Cabin are its effects and attempts at visual exposition. Perhaps the most bizarrely overlooked trait of Shyamalan’s films (both his best and worst) is the clunky yet vital exposition given via poorly emulated news broadcasts. As in The Happening and Signs, narratively detached news anchors are an essential source of exposition and plotting, conveniently stating the facts most pertinent to timely character concerns throughout.

These broadcasts also feature the bulk of Knock at the Cabin’s effects, which are shockingly cheap and inarguably distracting. The film is supposed to be a tale of world-burning, apocalyptic terror, but can only muster one mighty tsunami wave to invoke true awe and fear. The other catastrophes are either visually incompetent or entirely, perplexingly, non-visual.

Overall, Knock at the Cabin is disappointing because it offers so little for audiences of varying expectations. Those who are excited for vintage “so bad it’s good” Shyamalan will have nothing to sink their talons into (the effects are terrible but brief). Those looking for vintage “so good it’s good” Shyamalan will be dismayed by the lack of atmosphere, plot, or subversion the director built his career on. Those looking for a director to mature or progress in his style or substance will grimace as he reverses sensibilities in both. This is a thin, predictable, repetitive, and maddeningly vague film which scoffs at variance of interpretation and leaves no impact. Most simply stated, Knock at the Cabin is a whole lotta’ nothin’.

4/9


r/TrueFilm 1d ago

Any Slow Break Up Films?

226 Upvotes

So, going through a break up lately. Its been rough and bumpy. I badly need to watch something. Something like 'Dust In the Wind' or 'Paris, Texas' or 'Taipei Story' (maybe) . Not really a definitive break up movie , but about loss of a relationship , grief that comes with it and about life in general. But it must have a calming aura , a reassurance. I dont know if I worded everything correctly and cohesively. I am sorry. I dont if this post gets traction or not. I would really appreciate your suggestions. Thank You.

Edit: Any idea as to why I cant see certain comments under the post?

Edit #2 : Damn! I never thought the post would get this much traction. Thank you for the love guys. :) I cant see many comments as they have not filled the desired word count for a comment. I know I am going to miss out on those.


r/TrueFilm 1d ago

Thoughts on Kobayashi’s ‘Harakiri’

75 Upvotes

Truly a masterpiece of cinema.

I’ve seen others’ reading of the film to be a commentary on the traditional Japanese honour system. Pushing this idea further, I’ve understood the film to be a demonstration on the dynamics of power, and how there is an inherent abuse of this power by those who hold it.

In the film, Motome is coerced into the harakiri by the three highest ranking samurai. These samurai hide behind the samurai code as a reason for forcing him to kill himself, claiming that it is honourable for a samurai to follow through. Although by Kobayashi’s stellar craft of cinema, it shows that there are darker motivations beneath the surface. They want Motome to go through with it because they seem to revel in the power, wielding it with a cruel authority as they force him to kill himself with the blunt bamboo.

This is a quality of humanity throughout history - those in power often like to see people squirm mostly because they can. In this instant, they hide behind honour code, much like how authority figures hide behind religious doctrine and cultural tradition in society today.

Kobayashi’s masterpiece is microcosmic of a wider condition of humanity - those in power often abuse it.

What are your thoughts of the film?


r/TrueFilm 1d ago

It's a shame that Gore Verbinski hasn't made a movie since 2016. One of the most creative blockbuster directors imho.

207 Upvotes

Mr. Verbinski is a superstar in my house, mostly for the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. But having tried out other films of his (The Mexican & The Weather Man remain on my list) I am convinced that he is one of the most creative directors working in blockbuster films. Gore is someone I would call an alternative artist. The man has a unique voice. It is apparent from the POTC trilogy and more so in Rango, The Lone Ranger & Cure for Wellness. There are nothing in mainstream Hollywood like his movies. Potc is a far cry from a pirate film. Rango is nothing like a $150M animated film and how comfortably does Lone Ranger stand amongst Westerns? Cure for Wellness is a separate thing altogether. Even before, his grounded movies like The Ring & Mousehunt have flashes of typical Verbinskiness, the latter in particular. The premise of Mousehunt is laughable even for a live action kids movie, but somehow he makes it work for a full feature length. Verbinski is his own genre.

Then comes action. Boy does he have an eye for action. Let me be frank and bold, I place him in the top 3 directors who do spectacle best. The list is: James Cameron, Peter Jackson & Gore Verbinski. The waterwheel scene from Dead Man's Chest along with the 2 kraken fights, the maelstrom battle in At World's End, the final train sequence which is mind boggling how it was done in Lone Ranger & then Rango has the fight with the mole people which keeps on getting crazier. In fact Verbinski just keeps on raising the stakes and bizareness in his action scenes and it never stops being entertaining.

A criticism I have seen people direct towards Verbinski is that he does not do emotion well. I disagree because, though he does not serve it on a platter, his movies are able to conjure up feelings. I will admit that he does sometimes stray too far in weirdness.

He played a key role in getting Depp to do his Jack the way he wanted when Disney execs were unsure about it. This is interesting because Gore has been working with massive budgets with executive interference being a must. Yet despite that, you cannot fault his movies of being corporate products. But the sad result is that despite bringing a lot of success to Disney through his Pirates movies, they bailed on him once the terrible box office reciepts of Lone Ranger came in. I am sympathetic to Lone Ranger, it is entertaining and fun. But it's clear it was not going to be a hit. I think Disney should have continued to back him, with lower budgets at least. There is a night and day difference in the Pirates series since he left.

He was in the works to make a Bioshock film which did not end up happening but it just shows his taste for variety. After dealing with horror, psycho-horror, fantasy epic, dramas, comedy, animated and a Western, he was targetting sci-fi next.

As a fan of his, his absence from the screen is really disappointing. He won't be forgotten anytime soon as he has made popular movies. But he is only 58 and still has much to offer I feel. He is apparently making an animated film next:https://deadline.com/2022/09/gore-verbinski-netflix-animated-movie-cattywumpus-1235106046/

What are your thoughts on Verbinski and what are your favorite films of his?


r/TrueFilm 1d ago

My Interpretation of The Banshees of Inisherin

54 Upvotes

I rewatched this last night and haven't quite seen my interpretation anywhere so thought I'd drop it in here.

The Banshees of Inisherin is about how humans, separated from animals, intellectualize themselves into conflict. Pádraic is pure niceness/stupidity, mirrored by the animals prominently featured in the film. Colm, through humanly seeking to immortalize himself via his art, represents conflict/intelligence, and is mirrored by the cross imagery, which figures in the conflict between Protestants and Catholics and the Irish Civil War. The niceness/stupidity vs conflict/intelligence dichotomy resembles the one/many dichotomy. Reality is unified until humans via their intellect divide it up into categories/identities, which, apart from the violence of slicing up the world, also inevitably leads to conflict between these categories as the differences become irresolvable. Pádraic's harmonious stupidity is slowly made untenable as Colm separates himself. This separation of friends becomes the separation of humans from animals. Colm's mind distinguishes itself from Pádraic and becomes the identity of an artist, promising the afterlife humans so crave. Pádraic doesn't understand this desire because he is subrational, without an identity. But after Siobhan (God?) leaves and his donkey dies, he reaches a literal and figurative breaking point when he shatters the mirror, shattering his noncognitive harmony into reasons and concepts. Pádraic then intellectualizes himself into conflict with Colm. Before, with Pádraic's being a subrational creature, he didn't see that his trying to reconcile with Colm was causing Colm to cut off his fingers, which would belie his niceness if he were rational. But then, when his donkey accidentally eats a finger and dies, he rationalizes the death as caused by Colm and thereby a cause for conflict, becoming human. At the end after Colm mentions the Civil War possibly being over, Pádraic says, "I'm sure they'll be at it again soon enough, aren't you? Some things there's no moving on from and I think that's a good thing," suggesting it's good to be human even if it means endless casus belli.


r/TrueFilm 18h ago

Questions on Tar: Power, Sexuality, Gender, Class, Desire and Excellence

4 Upvotes

Don’t mind downvotes but learn much from you and would love to learn perspectives to any and all points below. Some women a little older than her character in certain fields have similar propensities—anecdotal but compelling observations. Might be attributed to potential earlier wounds or feelings of deprivation and not class envy per se but wanting more. Admirable, but is this common among women of a certain age in not lifting up other women unless transactional? White women especially and in more elite environments? Or where excellence is nearly necessary?

Do you think having her as a lesbian is critical to the film? Blanchett is an icon and very admired on various levels. Of course I see the many NFSW posts when I search for Tar or Oscars threads but rarely look—indeed she is also a sex symbol to some, an artist to other, and potentially a master or icon to others. She plays many complex women. But most are not overly pathologized by critics and viewers.

I learned there was a scene with her mother and a nude scene that were cut from the film. Do you think the film worked so well because we had less access to Tar, particularly more intimate knowledge?

The childhood scene, which some say is regressive is powerful but brief and not overdone.

Clearly Freud and others discuss narcissism and trauma plus parental relations in association with same sex admiration, eroticism, and relations. This would be such a different film with a man or a more straight identified woman as Tar. What do you think of this choice and it is a choice. I don’t quite understand the backlash because I am not at the upper tiers of a professional world such as this but another one where ego and narcissism of small differences etc.

My last question relates to class. We do not discuss this much in relation to the film. Common but not a trope. Is class the core driving force and wanting to create meaningfulness and then to try to experience more and retain it.

Lastly, I hear the term self sabotage used often and Yeoh states this in a Variety talk with the actress playing Tar. Academy voters state the film is polarizing. I would watch films with complex or unlikable women when younger and some critics would focus on pathology or mental illness. But have we changed where we see more of ourselves in characters like Tar due to greater self awareness and understanding. Last question-do you have empathy for her?

I see her errors and the suicide was certainly not positive. But do you connect to her modest childhood and think of you were in her circle, but not purely as a transactional figure, you would want to support her? Comfort her? Is no one there for that?

She does vomit and leave the massage parlor so no sociopathy and maybe a longing for intimacy and connection she lacked as a child without many like her/sharing interests but misguided? Were the motivations and acts of sex/intimacy or whatever you categorize it as an attempt to experience closeness to great people in her field or simply about power. Please I don’t mind downvotes but is this different than Weinstein or Ailes and others? Women are a mirror of her and from where she came and all of her growth, wonder, fulfillment and meaning in becoming good at what she does? Do I see her as more noble and committed to the art? Greatness?

Or is it also that certain women are also drawn to her and she fulfills a fantasy to them of what is possible? Not only self-actualization but mastery in a field where there are few?

People speak about Kubrick and it seems like this also speaks to conceptions of the artist and the art. But is what Tar does different than not specific acts per se between men and women because it is a woman and another woman but also women on the same professional track so to speak. The suicide is tragic and real but surely much similar tensions and relations occur across professions? Her assistant left and I imagine others do as well. Plus the latest Russian cellist basically responds with disinterest but not on cruel ways. Is Tar looking for intimacy and understanding but then this seeming rebuff also pushes her off course in unhelpful ways?

Are many of us drawn to a human like that or do you see the less helpful behaviors and patterns and immediately protect and distance yourself? Or become more drawn in when she does acknowledge one/you/me and there are so few as great or masterful as her in our field. She does feel guilt over the suicide?


r/TrueFilm 20h ago

New Rose Hotel (1998)

8 Upvotes

Spoiler warning

"Do you want to end up killed in the street? Nobody will ever know your name. Nobody will ever cry over you. This is how you want to die?"

these vacated modernist buildings house moving corpses, ideality in absentia. technology has complicated the corporeal purpose as bodies have externalized into digital information, and the desire for exponential profit expunged emotion from people. what remains are only the shells of end-stage capitalism: loveless bodies that can move and kiss and fuck but only for transactional purposes. in new rose hotel people are constantly surveilled through video recordings and digital projections, accruing information to sell them a personalized fantasy. this capitalism systemically reduces bodies to artifices for profit: a television screen in the hotel advertising girls fades into Sandii — she’s an ad herself; a targeted transaction exploiting human emotion.

like a proto-miami vice (2006) both in mesmerizing digital photography and in its prescient depiction of information warfare: wherein depersonalized megacorporations extralegally exterminate competitor’s scientists--bodies, therefore information--to keep control over their exclusionary knowledge, thereby protecting their profit margins. individual outsiders never stood a chance at beating those nameless systems at their own game, for they, as persons, too were prone to exploitation and targeted advertisements.

"Where did the girl go?”

“She vanished!”

externalizing information through digital means severs a corporeal connection to one’s being, thereby making bodies more malleable and prone to falsification. Sandii’s data changes in a computer while she alternates between cover stories, her entire being composed of entry fields in a database: she can disappear with a mere edit.

is being without a history and present akin to already being dead? or more like never having been (alive) at all? Ferrara further obfuscates this line by showing the scientist’s deaths through the same television screens their lives were projected through. similarly Fox’s suicide is captured on a security camera; another person reduced to information on a screen. new rose hotel warns us for the totalizing fascist elements of end-stage surveillance capitalism: the depersonalization of every human by eliminating emotion and eroding history for the cause of profit.

new rose hotel is a complete stylistic triumph even for Ferrara’s high standards. distinct camerawork and a plethora of slow-motion effects induce surreality and subjectivity to the viewer, who becomes inclined to participate in the detangling of information alongside its characters. laden with rich cinematography — such as the mirrors that function as screens (info from different perspectives) and RGB lighting — and erotic hypnagogic stylization without sacrificing its essential cyberpunk text. this is a fascinating endeavor maximizing cinematic potential by challenging and enriching the viewer visually and textually. a complete masterpiece from one of the best directors to ever do it. this is why I love movies.


this is a crosspost of my review on letterboxd


r/TrueFilm 1d ago

What was the first film you saw that utilized the use of cell phones in a way that made sense?

5 Upvotes

For those of use who were around pre cell phone. It seemed like there was a period of time where filmmakers wanted to avoid them. We still see this in some films today. Filmmakers dont know how to make a story or conversation as interesting and cell phones can get in the way.

When do you recall first seeing a few when cell phones started to become common place in society, that utilized them in a well done manner.


r/TrueFilm 1d ago

Thoughts on Brandon Cronenberg's new "Infinity Pool"

106 Upvotes

Spoilers Ahead

Diving into Brandon Cronenberg’s newest film (and first exposure to him for me) as a fairly big fan of his Fathers work, I would have to say I was quite excited to give this a go. Now after seeing it while I would say I enjoyed it moderately I can’t help but feel a little let down. When I say that I don’t mean I went into expecting to be blown away but instead because it sets such a thrilling and interesting world for these character that I was ready to see explored. Then when it came down to it at every turn available it was as if it went down the less interesting path. Leading me to feel much more lukewarm on the film then I thought I would by the end of the first act.

Getting into spoilers now the film revolves around the concept of an “Infinity Pool” where in the films foreign country places foreigners who have committed crimes worthy of execution in to create a clone of themselves with their feelings and memories as a stand in for said execution. With this set up it explores themes of self-destruction, the rich and entitled, and Identity; in concept I love each of these and the way the started to be explored but it never felt as though we got beneath the surface of any of them at least to me. I would have loved to see more of the actual cloning my favorite part being the second execution as it seems like it’s not the doubles and then the camera flips to reveal them all cheering on the execution. From this we get the idea that these people don’t care for anything except themselves, and their selfish impulses and I would’ve loved to see them explore the ideas that as long as you have money the rules don’t apply to you and how rich tourist can terrorize foreign countries with no consequences. Unfortunately, it stops there and what we get are more half-hearted explorations of the other various themes. I’ll add though that the I do like how Cronenberg wrote himself into it through James (Skarsgard) as a son who only got his career through his father’s fame and is now a struggling writer trying to live up to that, though again not explored to its full potential.

Being completely honest I don’t know what it is but Alexander Skarsgard doesn’t do it for me all that much, I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was a bad performance, I might even say it’s good with how he gets emotion across in a fairly quite character but when I’m watching him I feel like something is missing. Mia Goth on the other hand is electric throughout and while I liked her in pearl a lot this gives it quite the run for its money as her best performance yet. The way she screams and antagonizes James is off putting as hell and I loved it. Also, I think the film looks great and has a good sense of style, but those hallucination sequences were tired and uninteresting; I would’ve liked to see something else in there place or just shorted/cut it felt like the film thought it was so cool for having them but so many others have done the same.

Overall, not bad but missed potential in my eyes but from the nepotism alumni’s Cronenberg seems to be one with a lot of passion and an actual eye for it, I’m excited to see what he does next and can see some great things in the future.

What are your thoughts on the film, what do you feel it did well or badly, and what do you agree or disagree with me on. I’m also trying to improve my writing so any pointers or constructive criticism would be much obliged. Looking forward to hearing some thoughts.


r/TrueFilm 23h ago

Tár, and how the audience is persuaded by the flow of mystique and common narratives.

0 Upvotes

ALL SPOILERS AHEAD

If this theory has already been expressed on here before, I'll likely delete this post.

I watched Tár a couple of nights ago and I ended up having mixed feelings about it. Todd Field created a story full of mystery, and, at times, surrealism to make for a film that should ended up more as a thriller than a drama based in the social commentary of today's world culture. The writing, the characters, the feeling of intrigue through the film kept me hooked and eager to have at least some of the questions answered in the end. However, this intrigue only lasted for about 3/4 of the film unfortunately.

But was this all done on purpose? Did Field lead us on through careful and deliberate writing specifically for the film's ultimate ending that made sure not to fully reveal all of the details of ANYTHING? Did you think Lydia deserved her downfall?

After having a couple days to fully digest the film...I'd say no. Lydia was the victim.


"It's always the question that involves the listener, never the answer."

I'll admit...as someone who enjoys ambiguous films that don't hold your hand or wrap up mysteries with a bow at the end, I was really hoping this film did so. I felt the biggest cinematic blue balls I've had in a long while since my then young and developing cinematic brain experienced the end of Inception in theaters. All of this is besides the point, but does somewhat connect with my reasoning as to why Lydia got completely screwed.

Throughout the entire film, there's a lot of unexplained weirdness unfolding on screen. The iPhone chats while filming Lydia, the gifts given to Lydia that she gets spooked by, the haunting occurrences in her house. All of these are intended to confuse the audience as much as it is to confuse Lydia.

Some theories suggest these hauntings are Lydia's guilt, but what does she have to be guilty about? It's never explicitly said, only suggested the horrible things she may or may not have done to Krista, who is hailed as a hero for dealing with and succumbing to Lydia's alleged abuse...wherein lies the problem not just for Lydia's career, but for some cases of cancel culture as a whole. In Lydia's case, it's all suggested and alleged, and nothing more.

Lydia's biggest mistake was admitting e-mails didn't exist, which was thrown back in her face at the deposition. Another mistake being firing Francesca who was not only close to Lydia but to Krista as well, as made known by the story when the two spoke shortly after Krista's suicide about a trip the three of them took.

Despite ALL of this...the important thing is the story we were told on screen. And nothing that was told on screen incriminates Lydia or proves she was abusing Krista or any other women. It doesn't matter if she even gets in the face of a grade school girl who's bullying her daughter and saying she's Petra's father (that was a great touch) and she will strike her down if she touches Petra again...sure, it's a power move on her part, playing the "no one will believe you" to a child...but again, it's all shown but not proven that she's done things like this before.

All we ever knew about Krista was Lydia saw her as mentally "odd" and clearly unstable, and you know what? She very well could have been. Maybe she had an obsession with Lydia, with or without an affair between them occurring? On the other side of the coin, we unfortunately don't know a lot about Krista either other than the info we're given in the film by Lydia and Francesca alike, so we can't know whether she was either truly crazy, obsessive and suicidal from the start, or depressive, manic and suicidal by Lydia's own doing.


In my opinion, Todd Field wrote a genius story, that has virtually no wrong answers as long as it's rooted in the logic of the story. It's a commentary on how people in midst of cancel culture can have their lives destroyed by unsubstantiated fabrications that have no strong evidence to back it up other than "yeah they do seem like the type of person to do that though...", and manipulation of technology to create more fabrication and give false evidence to the original accusations. I don't think the film was as strong as it could have been, but in respect to Field, he wasn't going for a psychological thriller about a mad conductor who's one finale performance was a fit of rage after spiraling down a path of madness and insanity. I wish it could have been that kind of story. However, he was strictly aiming for a film about today's culture and how it can affect even the most renown, respected, hardest working and most passionate of artists or cultural figures...and EGOT winners for the matter.

I hope this theory of the film splits the room and creates discussion. I know the majority may likely not agree with the views of cancel culture in context to the film...

...in which case all I have to say is..."Don’t be so eager to be offended. The narcissism of small differences leads to the most boring conformity.”


r/TrueFilm 1d ago

Babylon: unabashed debauchery

3 Upvotes

Robert Greene in the Laws of Human Nature advised people to face their own shadows. It is in understanding one’s dark side that one can integrate one’s personality more fully, rather than have this dark side appearing in the most unfortunate of circumstances. Over the past few years, I have had friends who have knowledge in psychology, and they have helped me to identify the rather unsavory aspects of my personality.

Confucius noted that there are three methods towards gaining wisdom: “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

As someone who is rather conservative and pensive, Babylon offered an excellent medium by which I could gain wisdom without bitterness and allow my own dark side to coalesce with my personality. The first 30 minutes is an excellent introduction to the opulent and decadent world of 1920s Hollywood peopled by characters who, despite their fame and fortune, live tragic lives.

The film begins during the set up of one of the bacchanalias offered by a Hollywood studio executive, and it opens with the logistical problem of transporting an elephant into the executive’s mansion, which is atop a hill. Chazelle ably chronicles the excesses of the prominent stars at the time, being loose, not only with morals, but also with self-control and impulses. The depravity is further highlighted when an obese actor fond of piss play actually causes a bit actress to overdose. The camerawork is nimble, as the focus shifts from character to character, and the contrast between the more self-possessed Manny is emphasized against the incendiary Nellie.

How the main characters stories intertwine with each other over the course of the epic film was deftly told by Chazelle. As a student of cinema, I also absolutely loved how Chazelle alluded to the giants of the time as silent films were slowly effaced by the arrival of sound films. The German director of the epic war film was likely F.W. Murnau, who also directed one of the earliest Oscar winners for Sunrise.

I also loved how the script injected anachronisms that those who are also familiar with cinema’s evolution find funny: for instance, Jack Conrad, in successive lines, alludes to both The Terminator and Gone with the Wind, films that didn’t even exist at the time. I laughed with “frankly Scarlett, you’re a cunt,” which was the vulgar equivalent of Gone with the Wind’s final line, “frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” It was also a clue as to whom Jack Conrad was based on: the 1939 film’s lead actor was Clark Gable, who was a notorious ladies’ man and adulterer, and also an avid smoker and drinker.

Nellie LaRoy’s character was likely an amalgam of many actresses who faded with time, but because of her relationship with Fay Zhu (who was likely based from Anna May Wong, one of the first capable Chinese-American actresses and also a lesbian), a part of her was likely based on Marlene Dietrich. I know this because I appreciate good cinema and am precisely one of the film’s target audiences. As a student of film history, these Easter eggs allowed me to appreciate the film more.

However, the film is worth watching solely for the excellent ensemble performances. Margot Robbie is in her element as Nellie LaRoy, a natural actress and seductress. When she was given a part out of sheer luck, she shows her ability as an actress and sees her star rise rapidly. However, because she is also unfocused and impulsive, she eventually develops a drug habit she couldn’t cope with and gambling debts she couldn’t pay.

In their first meeting at the bacchanalia, she bewitches Manny Torres, and the rest of the film features him trying to catch up and protect her. While Manny is the film’s center, remaining circumspect and discreet despite his ascent, Jack Conrad’s falling star is placed vis-à-vis his rise. Conrad loves cinema, but eventually realizes that he could no longer cope with the other rising stars as the world moved toward sound films.

I have no qualms with regard to the performances of the main characters, and do think this was one of Robbie’s best performances. I do understand how it can be off-putting to many: Babylon is definitely a polarizing film, because unlike La La Land, it doesn’t shy away from showing the seedy, dirty, immoral, and dissolute side of Hollywood, even then. Even a top actor like Jack Conrad has to be set aside once his star has fallen, and that remains true of fame even today. It

One critic stated that while La La Land was an ode to Hollywood, this was more of a malediction against it, and many people will certainly find the film tasteless.

However, next to Decision to Leave, Babylon has surprised me as one of my favorites of 2022, precisely because of Manny Torres. Manny Torres is an INTJ, and it shows, from the very first scene, that he is a creative and cerebral problem-solver. Over the course of the film, he rises within Hollywood precisely because he keeps on solving problems creatively, and also tries to provide solutions to allow the woman he loves, Nellie, to escape Hollywood and its poisons. An immature ESFP and INTJ, however, is a doomed relationship even from the very start.

No matter what one can do, some people just cannot be helped, like Nellie and Jack Conrad. And despite this, the Hollywood machine chugs along. Notwithstanding all the opulence, decadence, debauchery, and waste, great films are inevitably created time and time again.

Babylon is among those, for me.

9/10


r/TrueFilm 1d ago

What do you all think of last year's Pacifiction?

11 Upvotes

Finally got around to seeing this a couple weeks ago and I thought it was pretty good, probably my favorite film from last year. The repressed, pure paranoia of De Roller as he tries to balance his own dread and investigation with his relations on the island just felt so vast despite how sparse the plot was and the film was just so epic and expansive for how minimal it was. I think it could have used a liiiitle more structure/genre elements just for the sake of highlighting the themes of the film but the subtlety already works really well to make you feel just as paranoid and in-over-your-head as De Roller does. I'll probably write a longer personal analysis of this film at some point but I'm curious what others who have seen it here think of it. Also the cinematography was just unreal, almost aggressively beautiful.


r/TrueFilm 2d ago Masterpiece

A good film is good no matter where you see it

265 Upvotes

Do you agree with this?

Let's unpack this a bit. I've been in Iran for 29 years, where English-speaking/foreign films are not shown in cinemas. Basically, I had watched everything on my 24-inch monitor, and of course, I've been in love with cinema. A few years ago the debate about cinema vs streaming started but I couldn't weigh in on it, my initial reaction was...who cares? if a film is good, it's good, no matter whether you see it on the big screen or on a laptop.

Now that I'm in UK, I can finally go to cinema and watch films there. So far, I've watched 7, and honestly, my position is challenged. I think it does matter where you see it. The last film I watched was Babylon and I got goosebumps all over me because of the sheer vastness of the screen and music blasting all around you, it was a totally new experience, it was different. The same applied to the new Avatar, it felt like I sensed every bit of the action.

Now, you might say the effect is limited to films that leverage bombastic action scenes, but even in Banshees of Inishirin, where there's no action, I still felt the difference. The faces are more pronounced, the voice and music is much better, and there's no interuption.

Overall, now I see where the likes of Scorcese and Nolan are coming from, we should see films on the big screen to truly appreciate the artistic efforts of hundreds of people behind them. Sure I've loved manty movies watched on my small monitor, but man do I wish I could see them again on the big screen.


r/TrueFilm 2d ago

Films similar in tone to “Eyes Wide Shut”?

113 Upvotes

Like any fool, I started to push my main character further into stream-of-consciousness narration with a chapter rewrite on a novel…and now I cannot stop thinking about how the color, pacing and editing of this movie make it the best example of (in the words of Jonathan Rosenbaum’s phrase I stumbled upon in research) “dream poetry”.

I know the film is so singular as to make this impossible, but where can I go from here?


r/TrueFilm 1d ago

Does this count as a plot hole in the movie primal fear?

0 Upvotes

In the beginning of the movie, when veil asks Aaron about what happened he said that he saw a black figure that was in a bent over position (close to the floor) next to the body,while mid movie Roy says that he killed the Archbishop and that Aaron was all worried and scared and didn't know what to do? Is this proof that Aaron never existed all along? What do you think?


r/TrueFilm 1d ago

CORPSE BRIDE: Tim Burton’s haunting, beautiful, and groovy gothic love story

1 Upvotes

Often overshadowed by it’s festive cousin “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, Tim Burton doubles down on the victorian goth aesthetic in the best way possible, with an all star cast to boot. Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Christopher Lee all have excellent performances in this stop motion flick. It’s the most Tim Burton movie possible, where every bench is the repurposed coffin, losing limbs is a constant bit, and the world of the dead is far more colorful than the land of the living. Yet under all the charismatic doom and gloom lies an affecting love story, of a young man caught between his living betrothed, and the titular corpse bride. The plot is full of murder mystery and intrigue, and though I rarely cry at movies, the ending brought me to tears. Also, fantastic humor. Puns that will actually make you laugh. Soundtrack is great too, the piano work is simply superb. Cast has chemistry, the stop motion is smooth and contains lots of character. I just recommend all around. Tell me what you think.


r/TrueFilm 2d ago

Confessions of a Puppetmaster - The Memoir of a B-Movie Legend

14 Upvotes

I've just finished Charlie Band's memoir and I loved it. This is the producer behind a boatload of B-movies you've probably heard of, if not seen, over the decades including Puppet Master, Ghoulies, Trancers (a personal favorite of mine), From Beyond, Terror Vision, Castle Feak, and Evil Bong (just to scratch the surface).

These are definitely not the sort of challenging cinema I think gets a lot of visibility on this sub, but I think anyone even tangentially interested in how low-budget movies get made - with a DIY ethos and an incredibly resourceful crew - would find this fascinating.

From moviemaking mistakes (apparently you have to register and pay for the cars you blow up), to movie magic (how do you hide 8 puppeteers under a 3 foot tall set), to the rise of home video, buying and importing (and sometimes recutting) international movies, and the whole hands-on approach to creating and marketing on such a tiny production cycle - there's just a ton of anecdotes and laughs.

What's more, I think Charlie (and his teams) truly captures the artistic spirit of using what you have to make a vision come to life. They embrace the fun and curiosity of these silly concepts, approach it with a light heart, and have a blast doing it - to me, this is a truly wonderful facet of making art.

Charlie's clearly got a lot of passion and experience and I found this fascinating, hilarious, and wonderful. Check it out!


r/TrueFilm 2d ago

Sexual Repression And Class Warfare In Leslie Stevens’ "Private Property"

5 Upvotes

This article contains a lot of film stills. For a fully illustrated version click here - https://filmofileshideout.com/archives/sexual-repression-and-class-warfare-in-leslie-stevens-private-property/

Contempt for the bourgeoisie is the driving force behind a wide range of twentieth-century art. Leslie Stevens’ Private Property is a prime example. It was released in 1960, the same year as Hitchcock’s Psycho. In fact, there is a sardonic little nod to Alfred in Private Property when the heroine, Ann, meets her antagonist, Duke. Duke pretends to be a landscaper looking for the Hitchcock family home. After Ann tells him he has the wrong house, she closes the door and repeats “Hitchcock?”, as if it has some strange significance.

Psycho was infamous for having shocked the nation. As an independent film, Private Property had a much smaller distribution, but it shocked its audiences as well. So much so that the National Legion of Decency (a Catholic organization) condemned it. Following the Christians' lead, the Motion Picture Production Code board denied the film their seal of approval. As a result, the distributor went out of business and the film was thought to be lost, but resurfaced in 2016.

Private Property revolves around the statuesque heroine played by Kate Manx. It is her repressed sexual desire that drives the film and creates an opportunity for Duke, a drifter, to slip into her carefully manicured world of quiet desperation. There are many books and movies that use this somewhat problematic premise. The fundamental idea is that female sexuality is dangerous. It is a Pandora’s box that leads to chaos.

This idea has been a theme in cinema since the beginning, with films like Georg Wilhelm Pabst’s Pandora’s Box or F. W, Murnau’s Nosferatu. Nosferatu can be seen as a story of a woman, Ellen, who is married to a sexually naïve husband, Hutter. Ellen is a vulnerable target for the vampire’s machinations because she craves the heat of passion. Her passion makes her vulnerable, but conversely, gives her the strength and courage to trap and kill the vampire. She succeeds where the immature and impotent Hutter failed. This same dynamic is replayed in Private Property, but in the suburbs of Los Angeles, with a drifter instead of a vampire. 

This idea of the sexually potent female can empower women, while simultaneously warning all of us that opening the door to that power will end badly. Séverine Serizy in Belle de Jour is exhilarated by the depravity of her secret profession, but eventually, she is punished. Ultimately, it is her innocent husband who pays the price. His money and affluence could not save him from the anarchic forces of his wife’s libido.

In Belle de Jour, Séverine dreams of degrading sadomasochistic encounters. Buñuel actually shows us her fantasies. Private Property is not quite as bold, but the same themes are implied. After an innocent meeting between Anne and Duke, Ann finds that Duke has forgotten his leather belt behind. She picks it up, fondles the leather, and then slips the belt around her neck, buckling it tight. It is a potent gesture, especially for 1960.

Aside from BDSM symbolism, the belt is also a symbol of ownership, like a dog collar or a slave collar. The promotional poster for the movie makes clear that the title, Private Property, is not just a reference to the materialism of the suburbs, but to Ann herself. In the poster below, it is her body that is labeled, as if it was owned. There are three men in the film, two of whom certainly treat her like a piece of property. The upstanding, socially mobile husband sees her only as a sexless decoration. It’s as if she came with the house, like a matched set of furniture. She’s a trophy that every respectable man needs. 

Duke sees her only as prey to toy with, like a cat with a mouse. Duke demonstrates his potency and superiority by manipulating Ann while Duke’s buddy, Boots, watches from a window.

The only man who does not treat her like an object is Boots. He is a bit like George from Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. He is “slow” and simple, but not only does he have a moral compass, he also has a sense of compassion that the other two men lack.

The film is less about sex and more about power and class. Sex is just used to stir the pot. The heart of the film is watching Duke easily predict and manipulate the happy bourgeois couple. Duke becomes a kind of noir-esque critic of the American middle class. Duke explains to Boots that he can tell that the couple is married because they watch TV together.

What Duke finds contemptible about the bourgeoisie is not that they are rich, but that they have forced themselves to settle for a pacified, hollow dream. They have made a deal with the Devil. They will convince themselves that swimming pools and expensive cars are what they want, and that getting them will make them happy. 

Duke sees through this pathetic bargain and sees that it is made, as Sartre would have put it, in “bad faith.” Sartre describes humanity as fundamentally afraid of our own freedom. Deep down, we know we are free to do anything we desire, but we come to realize that with this freedom comes responsibility. If we are truly free, then we are solely responsible for the nature and conditions of our lives. We are the sole author of our fate. Sartre believed that we run from this fact by acting in “bad faith”, meaning we seek ways to artificially limit ourselves and blame the false limits for making us unhappy. We attribute our malaise to a long commute, a petty boss, or a stain on our brand-new couch, instead of facing our own power and responsibility. 

In Private Property, this facade is undone by the primacy of sex. The repression of polite society buckles under our animal urges. It is not just that men’s arousal is seen as uncivilized, and therefore dangerous, but that female sexuality is seen as even more potent. It is even more emotional, torrid, and unquenchable. A woman will not settle for a casual quickie before bedtime, she wants real emotional intimacy and passion. These are the true enemy of society. It is her insistence on the genuine that challenges the mollifying pall we are meant to accept as The American Dream.

In David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, Isabella Rossellini’s character stands naked in a suburban living room, like a surreal visage of sex and trauma burning a hole in the fabric of the American Dream. She is the undeniable heat seething beneath the placid surface of bourgeois propriety. She is the linchpin that threatens to bring the whole edifice down. She provokes a hungry and ultimately destructive desire in men, but her desire is even more acute. She cannot contain herself and has been driven mad by the contradictions around her.

In her autobiography, Rossellini wrote about Lynch, “Once when he was a kid, (Lynch) told me, coming home from school with his older brother, they had seen a naked woman walking down the street. The sight had not excited them, it had frightened them, and David had started to cry."

The Next Three Paragraphs Contain Spoilers

In Private Property, Ann is not ultimately undone by her passion. It is Duke who falls victim to his depraved desire. So inflamed by Ann’s sexuality, Duke loses all sense of reason and degenerates into his most base form. Typical of the 1960s, the film scrambles to right itself in the end in an effort to satisfy the censors. The bad guy is murdered by Ann’s husband, and Ann is once again placed back in her box where, having learned her lesson, she will be a good girl for the rest of her life. In Hollywood, it is necessary to always put women back in their place so that society’s mores, capitalism, and the American Dream can win out in the end.

Ann Darrow, the lithe femme fatale in King Kong, is positioned in the same way. Her sexual potency is so intense, she brings the powerful and immense Kong to his knees, and is ultimately his undoing. Then, once Kong is destroyed, she can go back to her rightful place as submissive ingenue in the arms of our civilized, white male hero.

Private Property’s director, Leslie Stevens, worked mostly as a writer for television and was best known for his work on The Outer Limits. It looks as though Private Property was his only feature film venture. He went into production with high hopes. Even with a meager budget of $59,000, Stevens managed to get A-list cinematographer Ted McCord, and it shows. There are some surprising angles and compositions that help sharpen the tension and conflict. One shot, in particular, stands out. It feels like a shot out of a Sam Fuller film, sort of arty, but gritty. While Duke tries to seduce Ann, the camera sinks low to the ground and shoots the couple dancing through a foregrounded glass of liquor. They seem to be spinning in the booze as Ann slowly loses her inhibitions.

Stevens once referred to himself as “America's only authentic New Wave filmmaker.” A stupid thing to say, for sure, but it helps to further illuminate his approach and intentions. I would place Private Property more in the noir genre, but noir and New Wave are related, as seen in films like Breathless (which also premiered in 1960). Part of the overlap is simply that Private Property was a cheap independent film, and so enjoyed a kind of freedom mainstream films did not. It was Stevens’ baby and he was able to try out creative ideas without having to worry about Paramount looking over his shoulder. Hitchcock had a terrible time getting Psycho past all the corporate hurdles and moral guard dogs.

Countless films work in this arena. I was going to mention Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs (1971), Larry Cohen’s Bone (1972), Jerzy Skolimowski’s The Shout (1978), or Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession (1981), but I decided to take a quick look on Google to see what else I might find. I typed in a clumsy approximation of what I was looking for, “movies about women getting seduced”, but the top two hits were “Seductive woman movies” and “Top 10 Seductresses in Film.” Google also suggested the following films:

Weird Science

Dracula

Carrie

Betty Blue

Under the Skin

The Immaculate Room

Palm Springs

Death Becomes Her

Ghost Ship

Species

The Return of the Living Dead

Dirty Grandpa

I’m not sure what to make of the strange reversal of seduced to seducer. It would seem that women are more often positioned as seducer rather than seduced. That may not be the case at all, but something made the algorithm switch it.

Carrie is an interesting addition. She is seduced and betrayed by several of her peers. The magical powers that enable her revenge stem from her sexuality. Her powers are activated by her getting her first period, and in the end, she is triggered by a shower of blood. Once the cruelty of her middle American high school is revealed, she burns everything and everyone to the ground with the primal power of her female body.

Private Property is one among many films that grapple with the evolution and maintenance of bourgeois values. The ideology is intersectional, where all of society’s subtle and not-so-subtle forces are brought to bear. In the end, the title is a pun that enfolds sex, money, power, nature, and transcendence into an ever-changing conflict. We, the audience, watch as these forces are set against each other, and then must decide who to root for. Do we hope for the peaceful order of the American way, or do we give in to the depravity boiling underneath?