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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:26 pm 
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Now we're talking. Props, CC.

Quote:
- Audio commentary for In Vanda’s Room featuring Costa and Gorin
- Selected-scene audio commentary by critic Cyril Neyrat and author-philosopher Jacques Rancière for Colossal Youth

Might actually listen to one of these things for once!


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:31 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2008 4:11 pm
foggy eyes wrote:
Now we're talking. Props, CC.

Quote:
- Audio commentary for In Vanda’s Room featuring Costa and Gorin
- Selected-scene audio commentary by critic Cyril Neyrat and author-philosopher Jacques Rancière for Colossal Youth

Might actually listen to one of these things for once!

...And when you consider In Vanda's Room is nearly three hours... Yeah, I'm really looking forward to this set as someone who has never seen anything by Costa (or Gorin, for that matter).


Last edited by James on Tue Dec 15, 2009 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:59 pm 
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I'm glad they haven't announced a boxset featuring his debut "Blood", and if you havent picked up the Second Run DVD of it, do yourself a favor!


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 10:02 pm 

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manicsounds wrote:
I'm glad they haven't announced a boxset featuring his debut "Blood", and if you havent picked up the Second Run DVD of it, do yourself a favor!

I want to do that, but I'm going to wait and see if it drops a pound first.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 5:20 am 
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james wrote:
...And when you consider In Vanda's Room is nearly three hours...


And much as I love the film for its rigour, those three hours sometimes seem to go more slowly than Sátántangó, as you [spoiler?] sit there watching a heroin-addicted woman in a dingy bedsit coughing away incessantly, with one of those wince-inducing hacking coughs.

There are some who might object to Costa's aesthetic framing of real-life impoverished drug addicts, dismissing it as highbrow slum tourism, but then I suppose his argument is that he had no control over his subjects' habits, and was merely allowing them to tell their own story.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 6:56 am 
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Gropius wrote:
james wrote:
...And when you consider In Vanda's Room is nearly three hours...


And much as I love the film for its rigour, those three hours sometimes seem to go more slowly than Sátántangó, as you [spoiler?] sit there watching a heroin-addicted woman in a dingy bedsit coughing away incessantly, with one of those wince-inducing hacking coughs.

There are some who might object to Costa's aesthetic framing of real-life impoverished drug addicts, dismissing it as highbrow slum tourism, but then I suppose his argument is that he had no control over his subjects' habits, and was merely allowing them to tell their own story.


I was curious up until the reference to Bela Tarr's film. Having not seen any of the three Costa films, Is that a fair comparison? Bela Tarr's films leave me cold, so even the mention of his name makes me take a step back from this set. I'l be interested to read others remarks, both for and against, in the coming months.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 8:09 am 
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tajmahal wrote:
I was curious up until the reference to Bela Tarr's film. Having not seen any of the three Costa films, Is that a fair comparison?


No, not really. Their only obvious point in common is the slowness of pace, and perhaps the preoccupation with socially marginalised characters. Costa works with a plainer, more documentary visual style, using low-rent DV for two of these three films, with, as far as I recall, no camera movement at all. If anything, Tarr's work seems positively 'lush' in comparison.

As far as the acting and delivery of dialogue goes, one could more usefully compare Costa to Bresson or Straub & Huillet, although apparently without the religious undertones of the former or the Marxist ones of the latter: deadpan, austere, making few concessions to 'entertainment', but with an occasional hint of black comedy in the presentation of everyday injustices.

There are some out there who regard him as some sort of new Messiah of art cinema, but personally I'm only a moderate enthusiast.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:13 am 
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Quote:
There are some out there who regard him as some sort of new Messiah of art cinema

You could probably put me in this category. While I think that the descriptions of Costa's cinema that have been provided in this thread are adequate/serviceable, I don't really think they capture the intricacies or subtle radicalism of his work. I think the only way to really immerse yourself is to spend as much time reading about it as you do watching it.

As Quintin put it in a recent Sight & Sound article (and I'm paraphrasing), Costa's work isn't about reinventing cinema; it's about re-examining the way we appreciate it. The Criterion box-set seems to be the perfect way to initiate that appreciation.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:24 am 
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Guido wrote:
As Quintin put it in a recent Sight & Sound article (and I'm paraphrasing), Costa's work isn't about reinventing cinema; it's about re-examining the way we appreciate it. The Criterion box-set seems to be the perfect way to initiate that appreciation.


Unfortunately that article isn't available online, although from the same issue we can read this interview with Costa on the BFI website and this online exclusive by Miguel Gomes.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 11:19 am 
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Quote:
Unfortunately that article isn't available online

I remember downloading the Quintin article as a pdf a few months ago, can't remember where though...For those with French skills, I highly recommend Rancière's article 'La lettre de Ventura', which was published in Trafic a few issues back. Luckily, it has been posted on Sempre em marcha, a great Costa resource:

http://pedrocosta-heroi.blogspot.com/2008/03/la-lettre-de-ventura.html


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 6:58 pm 
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Good list of extras for this box but where's the complementary CineScope subscription


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 8:14 pm 
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domino harvey wrote:
Good list of extras for this box but where's the complementary CineScope subscription

=D> Consider me equally nonplussed with arguments that begin, "in order to appreciate difficult film x, you must also read unrelated critical analysis y."


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 8:34 pm 
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here is a page with lots of Costa related links :

http://filmstudiesforfree.blogspot.com/2009/09/pedro-costa-retrospective.html


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 12:43 am 
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Quote:
Consider me equally nonplussed with arguments that begin, "in order to appreciate difficult film x, you must also read unrelated critical analysis y."

Sorry -- I didn't mean for my comment to come off that way. I'm not implying that one needs to read those texts, but rather that they serve as a collection of resources through which you can engage with the body of work in different ways. I've seen so many sites and blogs that have done tremendous work in constructing a kind of Costa archive, which, to me, seems quite admirable; they manage to display (and sustain) a kind of critical passion that's cohesive, inventive and intelligent.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 11:43 pm 

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None of the above is accurate. You don't need to read anything to appreciate them. They're enormously SENSUAL and intelligent and instinctive works, and have nothing about them of "social anthropology" or "slum tourism." Not even the word "documentary" holds for In Vanda's Room. It's not a documentary.

Also: to flag his medium as "low-rent DV" is inaccurate. Before these films you'll have never seen images of this magnitude of power and beauty, from one shot to the next. The accumulation is tour-de-force — total humanism, total sublimity. No window-dressing. Costa's films restore the "monumentality" to cinema. More than Nicholas Ray's film, these are the truly "bigger than life" works being released on this Criterion slate.

If Costa had only made one shot in his career, say, the cat running through a Fontaínhas alley (from either Vanda or Youth), his place would be secure for the ages. It's genial to be fair and inclusive about any other 'contemporary' artists on the so-called festival "art-house" scene (disgusting term), but he is much, much greater than practically everyone else. If you haven't seen a Costa film before, you'll see after viewing these films. And if you don't, there's the chance your great-great-grandchildren will, because these films will survive all of us.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2009 12:00 am 

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Wow. Well. I can't say I know any more about these movies after reading your post, but at least I know now what not to expect. Regardless, my anticipation level has taken a sharp increase.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2009 12:21 am 
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Well put, Evillights. There's a sense of mystery that pervades his films, that allows them to exist in some strange space where our simple (or even complex) categorical definitions no longer hold. And despite all the stuff I've read over the last three years, it never erodes; it's always there, building from shot to shot in the most beautiful of ways. It's a cinema of absolute respect, for everyone involved.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2009 5:06 am 
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evillights wrote:
Also: to flag his medium as "low-rent DV" is inaccurate.


That was admittedly a poor wording: I didn't mean to imply that his images were visually impoverished, merely economical. It is in fact exciting to see serious directors embracing video, rather than declaring the medium to be irremediably inferior to celluloid (an argument we've heard often enough). Colossal Youth in particular (I still haven't seen Ossos) contains many conventionally beautiful cinematic images, although it could be argued that it represents a slight step back from the radical austerity of Vanda in that respect.

evillights wrote:
Before these films you'll have never seen images of this magnitude of power and beauty, from one shot to the next. The accumulation is tour-de-force — total humanism, total sublimity. No window-dressing. Costa's films restore the "monumentality" to cinema. More than Nicholas Ray's film, these are the truly "bigger than life" works being released on this Criterion slate.


I know you may be writing partly for rhetorical effect, but I'm afraid this (along with the imperious dismissal of all previous posts with 'None of the above is accurate') reads like the kind of hammy cinephile evangelism that I alluded to above. Personally I would confidently state that I have indeed seen 'images of this magnitude of power and beauty' in hundreds of films, which is not to detract from Costa's achievement: as a connoisseur of classic Hollywood, I'm sure he'd agree. I don't know what 'total humanism' and 'total sublimity' entail, but surely totality is an ideal that can only ever be aspired to, and not attained.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 1:53 am 

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Gropius wrote:
I know you may be writing partly for rhetorical effect, but I'm afraid this (along with the imperious dismissal of all previous posts with 'None of the above is accurate') reads like the kind of hammy cinephile evangelism that I alluded to above. Personally I would confidently state that I have indeed seen 'images of this magnitude of power and beauty' in hundreds of films, which is not to detract from Costa's achievement: as a connoisseur of classic Hollywood, I'm sure he'd agree. I don't know what 'total humanism' and 'total sublimity' entail, but surely totality is an ideal that can only ever be aspired to, and not attained.


It wasn't a dismissal of all posts — just a scan of some of the other things on the page. Sorry if you felt your words were being slighted or slagged. That said, I personally wouldn't say I've seen 'images of this magnitude of power and beauty' in "hundreds" of other films. If we're talking about classic Hollywood, I don't know, it's probably better to talk about blocks of directors' oeuvres than individual films — otherwise it's a matter of saying, "Ah, we see such power maybe not in War-Gods of the Deep, and only 57% so in Berlin Express, but certainly in Canyon Passage and Out of the Past," and then that would only cover J. Tourneur, and it goes on... so it's easier to say, "There are Costa, Tourneur, Ford, Laughton..." For me, Costa supersedes, let's say, a Borzage, who is certainly great, but Costa is simply that much greater — because there's no 'down-time' in the pictures — because every second counts, like in Murnau or Ozu or Straub. I respect your cool assessing (assessational? — we need a new word) remove, but it doesn't quite correspond to my own reactions watching them, which derive from a sensation that one only rarely encounters (or rather, that I've only rarely encountered) and which seems to me to emit from every second of every film in an oeuvre — this bespeaks the company of a Dreyer, or Godard, or Bresson, or Eisenstein, or Hou, or Monteiro, or Straub, or the best of Mizoguchi. Costa is that great. In a quick forum post that addresses some of the questions people who haven't yet seen his films might have before making the plunge, I think it's alright to rhapsodize his work (as it's done in good faith), and clearly contextualize, yes, just how high is his place in the so-called 'cinephilic' pantheon. Maybe Olympian altitudes demand hotter ovens, I don't know. But whether the films are only a few years old or not, it's a non-subjective fact (perhaps I'm playing with unfair rhetorical rules... dear...) that each film by Costa is truly as great and extraordinary an object as, say, a then-contemporary Antonioni work in the '60s or '70s. It's easy to feel blasé about declarations re: cinema when lists circulate citing the latest Lars von Trier thing as the current event of chatter, but Costa is a reminder that the cinema can be much, much more than the accustomed 'buzz'-film or festival talkabout.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 5:07 pm 
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does anyone know of any 35mm screenings of IN VANDA'S ROOM and/or COLOSSAL YOUTH in North America in the next month?


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:36 pm 
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khan0890 wrote:
does anyone know of any 35mm screenings of IN VANDA'S ROOM and/or COLOSSAL YOUTH in North America in the next month?


Colossal Youth on Feb. 7 and In Vanda's Room on Feb. 8, both at TIFF Cinematheque in Toronto.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:03 am 
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thanks fierias. i may have to make a trip up there to visit my sister to see the 35mm.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:35 am 
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Glad to help, although I do think that both films were shot on DV (not HD) rather than 35mm, so the only difference between the Cinematheque screenings and the upcoming Criterion DVDs will be projection size, in case that effects your travel decisions.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:32 pm 
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This may be getting a little off topic, but I'd be very interested in seeing those films on 35mm. Costa, during a Q&A at NYFF this year, mentioned that he much prefers the look of his features on celluloid, and seemed a little disheartened by the fact that both Rabbit Hunters and Tarrafal hadn't yet received the same treatment. May seem a little inconsequential, especially given the medium, but you never know. I recall Inland Empire looking quite interesting (and different) during its theatrical run...


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 3:38 pm 
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I haven't yet bought into the 'DV tranferred to 35mm has an interesting look' camp. I saw INLAND EMPIRE 3 times in the theatre and 3 times on the DVD and my experience with the aesthetics was unaffected. In the theatre, it just looked like pixelated DV with intermittent dust specks that I would only really notice if I was looking for them. I could see an argument that this jives with some of the themes of that film, but I wouldn't say that the look was in anyway bizarre or interesting other than on a conceptual front.

Also, I wouldn't be surprised if the Costa screenings at the Cinematheque in Toronto in February were from DV rather than 35mm. For what it's worth, I saw Colossal Youth in Toronto a year ago in their European Film Festival, and it was shown from a video projector.


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