Forthcoming: 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days

The scuttlebutt on Criterion, Eclipse, and Janus Films. Lists and polls are STRONGLY discouraged.
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jbeall
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Re: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Christian Mungiu, 2007)

#76 Post by jbeall » Sun Feb 01, 2009 12:00 pm

Metropolisforever_2 wrote:There is no real observation about anything, and no character development - neither of these girls learn anything, and the viewer doesn't either. The film is merely a failed attempt at turning a small-time drama (abortions were common in this period, even though they were illegal) into something that is apparently supposed to characterize a whole era in a country's history.

Apparently, all you have to do is show a few bad things and - viola! - you have yourself a masterpiece. If you take a camera into modern-day Romania, you will still find many of the things you saw in this movie. A lot of the things still look the same. However, there was (and is) much good about Romania - which, of course, you won't see here. Bring the French a movie showing a few bad things about Romania, and they'll feel much better about themselves. This movie has a lot of historical inaccuracies, also.
No, and no.

MichaelB has already suggested that Ottilia is changed by the experience, and I'll argue that claim more forcefully. The most obvious evidence, IMO, is that the experience causes her to rethink her relationship with her boyfriend. Again, Mungiu doesn't give us clear resolution--does she leave him or not?--but Ottilia is clearly reflecting on these events, what they tell her about her boyfriend, what they tell her about her own naivete. It's simply written all over Anamaria Marinca's face; no need for expository dialogue, and in fact she forecloses that possibility at the end by telling Gabita not to speak of it again. This is partly b/c there's such a gulf in the understanding gained by the two women, partly b/c as the street-smart one, Ottilia wants to make sure Gabita doesn't get them in trouble by doing something profoundly stupid and immature. After all, Gabby's got a track record at this point.

(While I'm at it, Anamaria Marinca's unease during the dinner scene with her boyfriend, the way she reacts to the phone ringing in the hall, was just tremendous.)

I don't think the film is claiming that abortions were common. Gabita knows someone who had one, but that's about it. The film is clearly less about abortion than totalitarianism. The elements of a panoptic state are everywhere, esp. regarding the IDs at the hotel desk. (Interestingly, abortion was outlawed in Romania in the late 60s, so the two women could very well owe their existence to the abortion ban.) The secrecy, paranoia, and yes, the way that Don Bebe takes advantage of them characterize the era very well. This is hardly a "failed attempt at turning a small-time drama" into a characterization of the country as a whole; it's highly successful in that regard.

As to your second point: Romania has changed a great deal since then. To take one example, the windows in their dorm room were horribly insulated, and after the fall of communism, just about everybody replaced them. Mungiu had to go way out into the countryside to find a building that still had those old windows. Of course the movie has historical inaccuracies--I watched it with a good friend who happens to be Romanian, and she pointed several of them out--but the crew also did a lot to hide them, and there are numerous historical details that non-Romanians simply won't get without a native to explain them.

That said, you don't have to be Romanian to find the movie compelling. The scene where Don Bebe negotiates a higher, ahem, "price" for his services is very skillfully done, the conversation slowly coming around to what he actually wants. (Incidentally, Gabita's surname--Dragut--means "nice" in Romanian, so when Don Bebe says "You're nice, I'm nice, can't we all be nice?", he's playing on that). The way it explodes into naked threats--accentuated by the rigorous camerawork--was startling, and even as you know what's happening while Gabita's waiting in the bathroom, it's again shocking when Ottilia storms in half-naked. Although I already mentioned it, the dinner scene is highly compelling, and Ottilia's tension, esp. as the phone rings (barely audibly), is masterfully done. At this scene of a banal birthday celebration, the tension between the drunken conversation (and the unintended insults to Ottilia's background), Ottilia's personal drama, the boyfriend's unease b/c of her distance, Ottilia's stifled anger at being insulted, and the way she interprets her boyfriend's failure to come to her defense, is phenomenal; everything in that scene just comes together.

You don't have to like the film, metropolisforever, and nobody's saying that you do. However, the film's failure to show the positive aspects of the late Ceaucescu era is hardly a failing--are you criticizing the movie for not being sunny enough? That seems to be the thrust of the passage of yours that I've highlighted with italics. If so, that speaks much more to your own ideological biases than to the film itself.

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exte
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Re: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Christian Mungiu, 2007)

#77 Post by exte » Sun Feb 01, 2009 1:20 pm

Metropolisforever_2 wrote:Apparently, all you have to do is show a few bad things and - viola! - you have yourself a masterpiece. If you take a camera into modern-day Romania, you will still find many of the things you saw in this movie. A lot of the things still look the same. However, there was (and is) much good about Romania - which, of course, you won't see here. Bring the French a movie showing a few bad things about Romania, and they'll feel much better about themselves. This movie has a lot of historical inaccuracies, also.
I take it that you're of Romanian descent and you find the film offensive as it highlights some of the harsh underbelly of your country? That you have a lot of pride in your homeland and this was not the best piece to be so widely seen? If this is true, I can somewhat understand. I saw a shit show on one woman's travels in Greece that I took great offense with. It was very poorly produced and she didn't seem to try to find what it is Greece has and what has made it so great... On the other hand, if you're not defensive in a patriotic way but truly find this film to be so lacking, then I just disagree. There is A LOT going on here. It may be slow going, it may have few locations and events, but it is masterfully told and presented. There are many insights in this film, and the acting is superb. If you disagree with it politically, because of the abortion itself, then I can't help you. I knew someone from college who refused to see Harry Potter or LOTR because he was so religious. I never understood it as he was a film student, but apparently he was a-ok with shutting himself off from those films - nevermind the art of the storytelling and high level of filmmaking that he could perhaps learn from...

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Re: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Christian Mungiu, 2007)

#78 Post by swo17 » Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:23 pm

exte wrote:I take it that you're of Romanian descent and you find the film offensive as it highlights some of the harsh underbelly of your country? That you have a lot of pride in your homeland and this was not the best piece to be so widely seen? If this is true, I can somewhat understand.
Yes, other than the fact that just because a film comes from Romania does not mean that it has to stand as a document of Romania as a whole. I don't think anyone arguing in favor of the film is doing so because it "finally shows what a terrible country Romania is."

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Re: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Christian Mungiu, 2007)

#79 Post by tavernier » Sun Feb 01, 2009 5:08 pm

I knew Romanians in NYC who were upset back in the mid-90s with Pintilie's masterworks The Oak and An Unforgettable Summer because the films reminded them of their country's not-so-stellar history. They wouldn't admit the films' greatness, and railed on Pintilie instead for daring to show things that were less than flattering (especially The Oak).

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Re: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Christian Mungiu, 2007)

#80 Post by MichaelB » Mon Feb 02, 2009 6:21 am

zedz wrote:Let's just accept that this thread is jinxed for new posters and move on. (But I really enjoyed reading many of the defences - it's great to see that this film can withstand so much ongoing analysis.)
I agree with you - one of the great things about arguments like this is it really gets you thinking about the virtues of the film. And the more I think about 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, the better it gets: I've seen most of the recent crop of Romanian New Wave films, and admire them all hugely, but I think this is the one with real staying power. Mungiu has a real gift for conveying an encyclopaedia of dramatic and emotional information using the most minimal means possible - that extraordinary dinner party scene being merely the most obvious example.

Incidentally, has anyone seen his first feature Occident? That's one that's eluded me so far.

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Re: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Christian Mungiu, 2007)

#81 Post by jbeall » Mon Feb 02, 2009 10:02 am

MichaelB wrote:one of the great things about arguments like this is it really gets you thinking about the virtues of the film. And the more I think about 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, the better it gets: I've seen most of the recent crop of Romanian New Wave films, and admire them all hugely, but I think this is the one with real staying power. Mungiu has a real gift for conveying an encyclopaedia of dramatic and emotional information using the most minimal means possible - that extraordinary dinner party scene being merely the most obvious example.

Incidentally, has anyone seen his first feature Occident? That's one that's eluded me so far.
I agree about its staying power. I thought the film was tremendous, but enjoyed the opportunity to revisit my reasons for that opinion. Your comment about the complexity that Mungiu manages to convey through minimal means is spot-on, and given that several posters on this thread have already commented on that, even offering up specific details, gives those arguments a bit more weight than metropolis forever's sweeping dismissal. But enough of that.

I have seen Occident, btw. Because Mungiu basically financed it himself (and before he had any name-recognition), the production values are really low, and on the disc I have, the subs are noticeably out of sync. Nevertheless, it's clearly the work of a talented filmmaker. The film is very funny in parts, and does a great job of setting up expectations and then dashing them to the ground.

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Re: Criterion & Eclipse Cover Art & Packaging Babble-on Vol.

#82 Post by thatobscurecharm » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:50 pm

Sorry if this has been answered before but whatever happened to 4 Months, 3 Weeks, & 2 Days? I would've loved to see it alongside the other two films of his.

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Criterion & Eclipse Cover Art & Packaging Babble-on Vol. 7

#83 Post by movielocke » Tue Feb 20, 2018 1:24 am

If I were to guess, criterion or mungiu probably wasn’t happy with the extant digital masters available to them, but those in charge of allowing new masters or harvests to be made put up fiscal, legal, turf or logistical roadblocks to prevent criterion from accessing the materials to generate new harvests&masters.

The suggestion a recent master is sub par is a fairly offensive one, and someone with authority once prickled possibly isn’t budging.

So worst case is that in five or six years, criterion and mungiu give in and do what criterion did after five or six years of standing on principle for for Le samurai, release the “older” master anyway because the roadblocks in place to making or accessing a superior master are functionally insurmountable.

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Re: Criterion & Eclipse Cover Art & Packaging Babble-on Vol.

#84 Post by black&huge » Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:04 am

what is the story behind Le Samourai with not getting a new master?

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Re: Criterion & Eclipse Cover Art & Packaging Babble-on Vol.

#85 Post by tenia » Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:33 am

black&huge wrote:what is the story behind Le Samourai with not getting a new master?
I suspect that whoever holds the material rights estimated the financial offer made to them wasn't interesting enough so they didn't give access to them. I wouldn't be surprised if the reality of this was a slight variant : a "take it or leave it" stance from Pathé, who only offered Criterion their new awful restoration and nothing else.
With no access to the material, it was either using the awful Pathé restoration or re-using the older Criterion master.

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Criterion & Eclipse Cover Art & Packaging Babble-on Vol. 7

#86 Post by movielocke » Wed Feb 21, 2018 4:07 pm

On the other hand, the hold up could be mungiu wanting to tinker with the film’s edit.

On the latest episode of criterion now, David blakeslee implied (from what he learned at his visit to criterion’s office) that mungiu was never happy with the “work in progress” he showed at Cannes, but that after the film won, his producers nixed the idea of further editing and insisted on releasing it as is.

So the upshot is that we may be waiting on a directors cut of the film, the downside is that could take a while and reviving digital non linear editing is never a reliable process (presuming the unused film material even still exists and wasn’t recycled)

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Re: Forthcoming: 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days

#87 Post by Close The Door, Raymond » Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:10 am

Artificial Eye release date: 23 April 2018

With Special Features:
Interviews with Director Cristian Mungiu
Interview with Actress Anamaria Marinca
Interview with Producer Oleg Mutu
The Romanian Tour Featurette
Alternate & deleted scenes

Does this mean a Criterion release will be soon?

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Re: Forthcoming: 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days

#88 Post by domino harvey » Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:20 am

This isn't new, AE released it in their Cannes Blu-ray box already

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