Ingmar Bergman

Persona Movie

Looking for any excuse, Landon Palmer and Scott Beggs are using the 2012 Sight & Sound poll results as a reason to take different angles on the best movies of all time. Every week, they’ll discuss another entry in the list, dissecting old favorites from odd angles, discovering movies they haven’t seen before and asking you to join in on the conversation. Of course it helps if you’ve seen the movie because there will be plenty of spoilers. This week, they celebrate a movie that violently forces its way into your mind while discussing its personal, emotional impact and contemplating the way Ingmar Bergman makes Lars von Trier look like a ray of sunshine. Plus, they foolishly try to understand why a streaming service would suggest Sex and the City as a follow-up. In the #17 (tied) movie on the list, a nurse called Alma (Bibi Andersson) takes charge of an actress named Elizabet (Liv Ullmann) who goes mute during a performance and refuses to speak. They go to a secluded lake house and let the horror of being small in the face of massive world tragedies wash over them. But why is it one of the best movies ever?

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Criterion Files

The Criterion Collection’s motto makes explicit its devotion to “important classic and contemporary films,” but it’s also clear that the Collection has dedicated itself to the careers of a select group of important classic and contemporary directors. Several prestigious directors have a prominent portion of their careers represented by the collection. Between the Criterion spine numbers and Eclipse box sets, 21 Ingmar Bergman films are represented (and multiple versions of two of these films), ranging from his 1940s work to Fanny and Alexander (and 3 documentaries about him). 26 Akira Kurosawa films have been given the Criterion/Eclipse treatment, and Yashujiro Ozu has 17 films in the collection. Though many factors go into forming the collection, including the ever-shifting issue of rights and ownership over certain titles, it’s hard to argue against the criticism (or, perhaps more accurately, obvious observation) that the films in the Collection represent certain preferences of taste which makes its omissions suspect and its occasionally-puzzling choices fodder for investigation or too predictable to be interesting (two Kurosawa Eclipse sets?). And while the Collection has recently upped its game on the “contemporary” portion of its claim by highlighting modern-day masterpieces like Olivier Assayas’s Carlos and Andrew Haigh’s Weekend, for the most part attempts at forming a complete directorial filmography via within the Collection has typically been reserved for directors whose filmographies have completed. Except, of course, for the case of Wes Anderson.

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The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: The Phantom Carriage (1921) It’s New Year’s Eve and in the story of this film’s mythos it is said that the last human being to die on the stroke of midnight of the new year is to take on the responsibility of reaping the souls of the dead for the next 365 days. In the lifespan of Death a minute’s worth of the human clock is like a lifetime, filled with the torture of bearing the endless task of taking the essence of a person into the next realm of existence. They will feel the regrets until their time is done and the next will be forced to endure the suffering. On the brink of death is Edith, a woman whose last wish on her deathbed is to speak with the community’s local brigand David Holm to tell him something she has been keeping to herself since she first met him. Edith is, in every sense of the word to the local community, a saint with the purest of kind hearts. Why she wants to speak […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly collection of links and stories from around the world of movies, television and other mixed mediums. It’s a column that has worked hard this week, and would like to be a bit silly on Friday night. Do enjoy. We begin tonight with an image of William Shatner wearing a Proton Pack. The folks at Topless Robot are holding a caption contest for this one. My entry: “Of course I have a Proton. Pack. I’m William. Shatner.”

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A lot of thought went into what quotes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail would be used for this intro. In the end, though, it was decided that you all probably know this film by heart, anyway. If you don’t, what are you doing right now? Get to memorizing. When you’re done, though, be sure to come back for this special, little treat we have in store for you on this week’s Commentary Commentary. Monty Python and the Holy Grail had not one, but two directors to it, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones. The rest of Monty Python did their own commentary track, but it’s separate. Something about a death threat or something. Anyway, this week we’re listening to Gilliam and Jones, the directing team behind this comedy classic, some would even consider it among the greatest comedies of all time. What could they possibly have to say that this film doesn’t say already? Let’s find out. We may even find out what the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow is, but I’m not holding my breath. Right. Off you go.

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Despite having only made seven feature films, Andrei Tarkovsky is largely considered one of the most important Russian filmmakers of the twentieth century, perhaps second only to Sergei Eisenstein (who was, aesthetically-speaking, his polar opposite). However, after enduring enormous troubles with Soviet censors, Tarkovsky expatriated to Italy, where he made his sixth film Nostalghia (1983) and later to Sweden where he made The Sacrifice (1986), which became his final film as he succumbed to lung cancer shortly after its production. Earlier this summer, one of Tarkovsky’s most beloved titles, Solaris (1972), was updated to Blu-ray by Criterion, and now Kino has updated their DVD of The Sacrifice to Blu as well, making this summer something of an embarrassment of riches for American Tarkovsky fans who have longed to see the filmmaker’s intricately beautiful work in high-definition.

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as Dontwannamissathang and AffleckFan23 in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the pair tries to envision a movie world where Armageddon was never made. How would people survive that? As a result, the merits of the film’s acting, philosophy and subtext are brought to light. Comparisons to Ingmar Bergman are made. Lives are changed. Spoilers for The Sixth Sense and Armageddon are revealed. Fortunately, this nightmarish landscape is only imaginary, because Armageddon did get made, and it’s available to watch whenever we feel like it.

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Culture Warrior

A very strange thing happened at this year’s Golden Globes ceremony. Somewhere between Ricky Gervais’ biting monologue/critique and Robert De Niro’s uncomfortable lifetime achievement acceptance speech, an epic international arthouse film won the award for Best Made for Television Movie or Miniseries, beating out the other nominations in the typically HBO-dominated category. Olivier Assayas’ Carlos is, from an American perspective, quite difficult to classify. We first heard about it when it was met with rave reviews at Cannes and other festivals, then it was distributed theatrically through IFC (in its original 5 ½ hour run time) while it had a three-episode “miniseries” run on the Sundance Channel just as it had done in France when originally commissioned for French television. Now, before an explicitly planned DVD release (though there is some certainty that the film will be the latest IFC release to get the Criterion treatment), it’s available streaming in its three-part miniseries form via Netflix (which is how I eventually saw it). All this is to say that it’s quite a task to say with any certainty precisely what Carlos is and in which medium it belongs. The film was financed by French television, yet it’s shot in a widescreen aspect ratio (2.35:1) typically reserved for theatrical cinema, and its 3-episode structure doesn’t follow the expectations of brief closure at the end of each segment typical of, say, an American television miniseries (it comes across more like a necessary break for exhibition and an arbitrary break in storytelling). Now […]

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Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. This trailer spoils a major plot point for the movie, because that’s how it was done back in the day. So don’t watch it unless you’ve seen the Ingmar Bergman classic that gave Bill and Ted their model for Death. Max Von Sydow plays the tortured soul who struggles with doubt, trying to hold on to the faith in God that sent him to the crusades. Meanwhile, a traveling acting troupe family juggles their baby alongside the tomatoes that get thrown at them. Think you know what it is? Check the trailer out for yourself:

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Criterion Files

Though it isn’t typical of this column to focus an article’s actual material towards the relevance of the chosen title for the week ‘s relation to the time of year we currently find ourselves in, I’m making an exception for the spirit of the holiday in which we often tend to make many exceptions. Stores open earlier and stay open later for customer convenience (and monetary benefits), people you happen to dislike you may briefly get along with, or just dislike a little less, and even though you don’t attend any services any other days throughout the year on December 25th you may find yourself amongst fellow members of your community or neighborhood (some of which may be amongst those people you happen to dislike) at a nearby church of chosen denomination.

Considering the relative lack of pure ‘holiday’ pictures in the Criterion library due to the sub-genre finding itself as a non-point of interest to center the theme of an entire picture on for the eclectic group of filmmakers that make up the majority of the library’s shelf space, I’ve selected a film that thematically and, as it pertains to the rest of the filmmaker’s body of work, is somewhat characteristically different in terms of how we view the events of the film and is representative of what we consistently try to regain as adults throughout the weeks leading up to December 25th; and that is to experience and see the incidents of life, both tragic and blissful, as we did as children.

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This Week in Blu-ray

Another week gone by, another round of Blu-ray buying and trying, avoiding and really avoiding here at Reject HQ. The release slate is slim and for the most part, it would appear as if home video distributors are afraid of the direct to video level junk they are throwing out there this week, as many a title didn’t arrive at our doorstep. Stuff like Jonah Hex and The Lost Boys: The Thirst are probably best left unreviewed by yours truly. Similar to the way a 30-year old man dominates a toddler tee-ball league, I was looking forward to busting some heads. Sadly, we’ll stick with a more intimate collection of releases this week, including a few nice surprises as we go through This Week in Blu-ray.

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Criterion Files

Beginning in the mid 1960’s with the inspired psychodrama Persona, Ingmar Bergman began a substantial working relationship with actress Liv Ullman. Over the course of the next decade Bergman and Ullman would team up for nine pictures culminating in this drama about the attempted reconciliation of a musically gifted, yet self-absorbed, mother and the daughter she would continuously abandon physically by leaving and emotionally when present.

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I met Death today. We are playing chess. Antonius Block returns from the Crusades and jumps out of the fighting and into the black plague as the flesh-rotting disease hitches a ride all over the beautiful Swedish countryside. On a rocky beach looking out over the water, a cloaked man approaches, introduces himself as Death, and Block challenges him to a game of chess on the condition that a victory will secure his life.

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Ramin_Bahrani

The man who Ebert has called the “next great American filmmaker” took some time out of a busy schedule to talk about his latest movie, Goodbye Solo, the importance of showing the bad parts of life, and a giant pile of trash floating around in the Pacific.

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