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djhender

Worse original programming?

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I think this History of Film is probably the worse original programming TCM has done. Mon and Tues and it goes tru the end of Oct or into November from what I've seen on the schedule - why can't they just show old movies?

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In moments like this, I am reminded of Gabby Johnson's famous lines in Blazing Saddles, "Rangr warrer nenor a ninann orrer wrawr," and I feel good about the world again.

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I will say that watching it on TCM is preferable to watching it on DVD where one didn't have the option of subtitles rather than listening to Cousins.

 

No, it's not his accent - I've got enough family members who speak with a strong Irish accent. It's that he has a monotone delivery (except for the quirk of making almost every sentence sound like a question) and often sounds as if he can't finish the sentence without a long pause to catch his breath.

 

He's also rather dismissive, taking a shot early on at CASABLANCA doesn't bother me, that's one of those films that's been a target for years simply because it is so loved. But if the purpose of it all is to promote awareness of world cinema, dismissing 30 years of Scandinavian films as worthless is rather

pompous. So much for the likes of Gustaf Molander.

 

And please - at least wear some socks and comb your hair. The guy looked as if he slept in his clothes.

 

la-et-classic-hollywood-pictures,0,41328

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There was another thread where everyone seemed to love this doc. I did not. I found the narrator so distracting it seriously interfered with my ability to watch the doc, not because he has an accent, but because his odd hissing style of enunciating and strange way of ending every sentence like it's a question, and going from very soft to loud, was a constant distraction from the content. The doc also seemed at times to be preaching or talking down to its audience, like we might be too provincial or racist to have even seen Kurosawa or heard of Goddard, let alone anything really avant garde. Does loving "Casablanca" mean you aren't smart enough to also love more obscure fare? I don't think that's the case, I think TCM viewers are a pretty savvy lot on the whole. I was so looking forward to this series, but now I find myself trying to remember the name of the film history series I saw a few years ago which, while Hollywood-centric, was clear and thorough and more enjoyable. The emphasis on foreign films is okay though, since other film histories tend to concentrate on Hollywood, and there are a lot more foreign films and "art house" films on TCM these days, and this corrects a flaw with other film history series like "Moguls and Movie Stars" or "The Big Screen." But part one seemed unfocused and meandering to me and the narration finally made me turn it off.

 

Edited by: MrWham on Sep 4, 2013 1:32 PM

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I agree with everything you say, Clore. I found the doc's attitude sort of preachy and off-putting, and by no means am I provincial or Hollywood-centric. Perhaps they thought it would be, I don't know, more 2013 if they gave it more "attitude." I can roll with that to a point, but the narration was really, really distracting. Maybe I'll try watching it with my closed captions on, but that seems a little counter-productive for a documentary, lol.

 

Edited by: MrWham on Sep 4, 2013 1:30 PM

 

Edited by: MrWham on Sep 4, 2013 1:31 PM

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I liked it only when the narrator showed the progress of how new camera movements and camera angles were discovered, and how editing was discovered, but the guy is much to Euro-Centric. I didn't like some of his more stupid comments, such as "Hollywood films are not classic but Japanese films ARE classic." That?s absurd.

 

He also said some Scandinavian country "invented" the art of film photography and they discovered "the use of light" (or something like that).

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The benefit for me is the halo effect that the series has on the schedule. We'll get to see many of the films mentioned, and thus be able to form our own opinion.

 

I've actually seen a good number of them already, but there are many who haven't and hopefully they'll find some gems worthy of their attention.

 

Also, I expect to see some people here expressing opinions as we get to the point where Cousins discusses film noir. I won't say anything here, I don't want to prejudice anyone, but I expect some reaction.

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>The benefit for me is the halo effect that the series has on the schedule. We'll get to see many of the films mentioned, and thus be able to form our own opinion.

 

I agree. I think some of this old history of film stuff is very good for young people to see.

 

I first saw this kind of stuff in the 1950s, because there was one syndication service or film distributor in the 50s that rented a whole silent film and early film package to local TV stations, and the narrator was a film historian. He had been saving old films since he was a young man, and finally with the invention of TV, he was able to widely distribute his old films. That's when I first saw Birth of a Nation, around 1958 on a local TV station, and it contained some narration about its historical implications to film. The "race" topic was not mentioned, since it was obvious to anyone who watched the film.

 

I don't like any film narrator telling me what I should think about any film. Just show it and I'll make up my own mind. I like to hear about the history of the development of film and of Hollywood, but I like to make up my own mind about each film I see.

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Very funny spoof posted on YouTube:

 

 

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Another poster chose the right idea I was searching for when viewing this first episode. The documentary came across as condescending to me assuming his target audience doesn't know who Victor Sjostrom, Benjamin Christensen, or Yasujiro Ozu are by stating something similar to "Casablanca is not classical but Late Spring is classical". Why can't both films be classical to audiences in different ways?

 

I'm sure there are people who aren't film fans or fans or international cinema that don't know who these people are but to those of us who do, the filmmaker comes across as the irritating alpha male film student that spits out a bunch of names in a film history book and tells you how awesome he is for knowing these people and how film was started in New Jersey USA(insert some generic white teenage Jersey girl going out to see the latest installment of Hunger Games) but JUST KIDDING not really....cause it was really a sophisticated French thing and an Uber-Euro Scandinavian thing, you dig you stupid people? You love the bubbles in the 3 films I showed? Yeah that's pretty darn deep and has nothing to do with anything regarding silent cinema but lets talk about the great Ingrid Bergman and Greta Garbo, these are wonderful artists that came from Europe, the real birth of cinema because really people, America can't produce art of their own..... we have to claim Film too since we invented just about everything else artful and sophisticated. America destroyed Hollywood because it used to be a place that had weeds and flowers growing all over the place and Christmas ornaments hanging in close-up.

 

At least that's my impression of it.

 

I liked his explanation of the development of film language using technical camera angles and shots and that's about it.

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*MerryPickford said:*

*The documentary came across as condescending to me assuming his target audience doesn't know who Victor Sjostrom, Benjamin Christensen, or Yasujiro Ozu are by stating something similar to "Casablanca is not classical but Late Spring is classical"*

 

That's the trouble here, Cousins put the "target" in "target audience." He's from the U.K., the series premiered there and got the bulk of its funding there, but rather than pick on David Lean or Carol Reed, his first swipe is at a man who best exemplifies the Hollywood studio system.

 

He knocks Hollywood for not preserving the sets for INTOLERANCE, but let's face it, there isn't enough room in Hollywood to preserve all the sets built for all the films made there. Film itself has preserved them. Should we knock Broadway because it doesn't preserve the sets for a show once it closes?

 

And what to do with the sets if preserved? Have tours, which only emphasizes that it's all a commercial venture?

 

Early U.S. cinema may not be as "pure" as that of other countries, but then again, neither was the early U.S. population. We're a nation of immigrants with wildly diverse cultures, film had to appeal to all of them. It was totally different in Japan, or the individual European nations where the citizenry was not as diverse and thus the themes and subjects appear more unique which gives it a highbrow appeal.

 

It was that same diverse appeal that enabled American films to reach a broader market than its own shores. This does not equate to it being better, just different. Films from any country with a broader theme, or more universal themes, did enjoy an audience outside its country of origin.

 

It still comes down to the ability to promote world cinema should not depend on the denigration of American cinema - it should be able to stand on its own merits. However that wouldn't create controversy and controversy creates curiosity.

 

By the way, my ex-wife's maiden name was Christensen. She and her whole family would have cringed each time Cousins mispronounced the name.

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Some of the criticism is baffling to me. He gives credit to what happened first when and where, whether in the U.S. or elsewhere. Those are facts, not opinions.

 

I'll make up my mind about the worth of the whole series, and its supposed prejudices, after it's concluded -- not based on just the first episode. But the comments below have certainly been interesting.

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This is fascinating reading.

 

I started watching and then got a phone call and got distracted and then it was late and I was tired and decided to watch it later, and I seem to think I heard the commentator saying something about Mister Steven Spielberg.

 

Anyone know what said commentator was saying about Spielberg, as it is by his position on said director that I shall make my decision as whether it is a noteworthy piece of viewing or not.

 

I shall always remember the honorary dinner for Akira Kurosawa, organized I believe partly by Spielberg, wherein Akira regaled the audience with a philosophy not so akin to his director admirers sitting at the dinner tables. I shall leave it to those who've seen this broadcast to figure out my stance on the movie mogul.

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I also posted on the other thread. I never made it past the intro. I couldnt stand the narrator (his accent, style of speaking and pretentious opinions) I knew watching the rest would just be torture, so I quit and erased it all. I dont need someone preaching or teaching me what to appreciate in films. Anything he would recommend I would consciencely avoid, so I'd rather not know what he approves of filmwise........

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*I shall always remember the honorary dinner for Akira Kurosawa, organized I believe partly by Spielberg, wherein Akira regaled the audience with a philosophy not so akin to his director admirers sitting at the dinner tables. I shall leave it to those who've seen this broadcast to figure out my stance on the movie mogul.*

 

Okay, I haven't seen this and can't find a reference to it on-line. Can you provide a link or summarize for those of us in the dark?

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I also posted on the other thread. I never made it past the intro. I couldnt stand the narrator (his accent, style of speaking and pretentious opinions) I knew watching the rest would just be torture, so I quit and erased it all. I dont need someone preaching or teaching me what to appreciate in films. Anything he would recommend I would consciencely avoid, so I'd rather not know what he approves of filmwise........

 

Good thing you don't like romantic comedies and musicals. ;)

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I do. But I wouldnt want to listen to him talk about them. UGH.

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Ok, what did I "learn" from watching the second chapter last night:

 

According to Cousins, *The Crowd* was the first film to shoot extensively on NYC locations. Just counting features, Walsh's *Regeneration* predates that by over a decade.

 

He claims that Chaplin founded United Artists - totally ignoring the operative words of the organization name meaning more than one artist was involved, and it's not as if his partners were low-profile. In fact, they supplied more releases than Chaplin ever did.

 

While discussing *Greed*, he intros a canned interview with "von Stroheim's cinematographer Karl."

 

Karl who? Not Freund, he was still in Germany. Find someone named Karl listed as cinematographer on a von Stroheim film of that period. Also, it's not really enough to cite the director as an abused genius and one victimized by "the system." Something should be mentioned about his extravagances (such as insisting that expensive period garments be placed in the drawers of an on-screen dresser - even though the drawers weren't intended to be opened).

 

The second segment is about 1918-28, yet the first 20-25 minutes feature mostly clips of sound movies (in addition to shots of a Christmas bauble and contemporary trains and buses).

 

I may watch the segments that concern the 40s and those about the post-war European scene, but my concern here will be as it is for any similar presentation - just how accurate is the information? So far, I'm not that impressed. I am impressed though by the halo effect the series is having upon TCM's schedule and that I will have the chance to see a good number of titles mentioned during the program.

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Though I'll probably continue to watch the rest of this series, I have to admit my enthusiasm for it has waned a bit after watching part-2 and for the very reasons you've just cited here, clore.

 

Except, you've forgotten to also mention Mr. Cousins mentioning in his signature monotone Irish lilt(which yes, is now ALSO startin' to get on my freakin' nerves TOO,...I hate to tell ya this here Mr. Cousins, but MAYBE you should have considered gettin' somebody to narrate your baby who could actually NARRATE your film!...it's called "INFLECTION", dude!!!...but I digress) statement which went something to the effect of, "That rare breed: The Hollywood intellectual".

 

(...if this ONE statement of his doesn't betray his bias, then baby, I don't know what DOES!!!) LOL

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OK, I finally tuned in for the second installment.

 

What I learned was that there were several other actors and directors who were hugely influenced by Chaplin.

 

Oh, WAIT! I ALREADY knew that!

 

I also learned what many of you dislike about the narrator. He DOES sound like he's asking rather than telling anything, and with a voice that sounds like he's fresh off the bong.

 

And do any of these people stop and think that an actor or director did some scene a certain way possibly because they thought it would be ENTERTAINING, and NOT to forward any supposed deep and multi layered message?

 

Sepiatone

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That's why I tend to shy away from these type of programs. The content is so biased and you are only getting a one sided view by the person(s) who put it together. What/who they emphasize, omit etc. And no way to know (unless you have read up a lot on it) how accurate they are......

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LMREO! Well put.........

Does this guy teach film classes? (I'm willing to bet he does......)

 

Edited by: Hibi on Sep 10, 2013 12:14 PM

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*And do any of these people stop and think that an actor or director did some scene a certain way possibly because they thought it would be ENTERTAINING, and NOT to forward any supposed deep and multi layered message?*

 

But that wouldn't be Classical and it wouldn't be Art.

 

What I learned is that nothing's any good unless it is tediously detailed realism or self-conscious surrealism. Or extreme closeups that display freckles. Anything else is pointless fluff. Especially if anyone is wearing anything pretty.

 

I also learned that Charlie Chaplin was "kicked out" of the US.

 

I learned that in that silhouette scene in GWTW, that wasn't Scarlett and her father. It was Scarlett and her lover, whoever that might have been.

 

I learned that I may have imagined those films Buster Keaton made throughout the forties, fifties and sixties.

 

This series makes me think of the scene in All About Eve (which isn't Art or Classical because there are nice sets) where Bill Sampson rips into Eve for her snotty attitude towards "the Theatuh."

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I've had many a chuckle when reading bios about film people when they talk about a particular film or scene and how later film critics later point out this and that about a film or scene when there was no intention behind it when it was made........

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