342-348 Six Moral Tales

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Jean-Luc Garbo
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#176 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Thu Apr 03, 2008 11:45 pm

He was kidding about the QT? I thought that QT took credit for starting an Eric Rohmer circle in the San Fernando Valley back when he was working in that video store. (Or am I misremembering this and it was another film-maker?) Anyway, I second Whit Stillman, especially with The Last Days of Disco.

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Shrew
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#177 Post by Shrew » Fri Apr 04, 2008 1:57 am

Well the question wasn't who has been influenced by Rohmer, as Tarantino certainly falls under that category, but what movies have talk about ideas. It may be a joke, but I do think an argument can be made that Tarantino does have speeches about ideas, i.e. Bill's speech about superman near the end of Kill Bill, or even Jules' on biblical passages. The content may not be Pascal, but they're still ideas.

Of course, these are more monologues on a certain subject, as opposed to Rohmer's dialogue.

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jbeall
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#178 Post by jbeall » Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:09 am

Just finished the last moral tale and am now kicking myself for not picking up the Moral Tales when DDD had it cheap. These films were phenomenal (I especially liked My Night at Maud's, and Love in the Afternoon), esp. in how tight the dialog is. I suppose it's a little redundant to chime in with more praise for Rohmer, but I was so struck by these films that I had to at least briefly register my admiration. Impressive set!!

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#179 Post by nostalghic » Sat Aug 02, 2008 12:19 pm

Hello,
I would like to ask anyone who likes Eric Rohmer and has seen the Six Moral Tales set to give me a very general idea of what he's like. I've never seen any of his films because none are available to hire here in Australia and I am too young to have seen them in the cinema. Lately I've heard and read his name pop up as a standout of the new wave directors, but I've always been a bit confused as why, because everything I read is a far stretch from anything I associate with the movement.

I guess I'm also asking if he'd be someone up my alley - I've heard he's for Ozu/Bresson fans, although I'm not especially either of those.
- Bresson's philosophy on acting and his (seemingly from just Mouchette and Balthazaar) narrow view of the world as unshakeably cruel and tortuous. I felt like he didn't have anything practical to say, that all he was doing was trying to create a very miserable world for us to think of as our own.
- Ozu frustrated me because between the three films of his I saw said exactly the same thing with exactly the same characters played by the same utilitarian acting approach Bresson gave me. I loved the first film I watched, Early Summer, but became incredibly annoyed with Tokyo Story and An Autumn Afternoon when I found nothing more. Both of their visual styles I just adored endlessly and have always been disappointed that I haven't been captured by them like many others have.

My tastes aren't too particular- Ingmar Bergman and Andrei Tarkovsky would be two stand-out favourites. I like quieter, dense films that speak on and challenge ideas relevant to living within and rationalising our world. I like films that say things about films and art. I also greatly appreciate the individuality and evolution of filmmakers, the arc of people like Pedro Almodovar, Stanley Kubrick, Wes Anderson and Krzysztof Kieślowski as well as my two favourites impresses me. I've most recently enjoyed the films of Kenji Mizoguchi after I borrowed the British DVD set of his films from a friend. I despise films that have constant music playing, have little respect for pre-60s classic Hollywood, I don't like stories that work on sympathy for the misfortunes of incredibly stupid characters (like La strada and Kurosawa's The Idiot), melodramatic acting/writing is often an instant turn-off, and sentimentalism without some kind of legitimacy frustrates me.

I briefly read through this thread but found a lot of discussion about the films that I didn't want to read before watching them. So if I have missed answers already written to my questions I am sorry.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to tear apart my Bresson/Ozu stances because I would like an opportunity to have another look and enjoy their pictures. I'd be happy to have a discussion with someone who violently disagrees with anything else I've said too. I appreciate anyone who has a quick read anyway. :)

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#180 Post by MichaelB » Sat Aug 02, 2008 1:22 pm

nostalghic wrote:Bresson's philosophy on acting and his (seemingly from just Mouchette and Balthazaar) narrow view of the world as unshakeably cruel and tortuous. I felt like he didn't have anything practical to say, that all he was doing was trying to create a very miserable world for us to think of as our own.
That hardly applies to A Man Escaped, Pickpocket and Four Nights of a Dreamer - I'd certainly give one of those a try before writing him off altogether.

As for Rohmer, going from that list of requirements you might actually enjoy his films, and the Moral Tales are as good a place to start as any - better than most, in fact, as Nestor Almendros' cinematography set a visual standard he never quite matched in his later work.

My first, The Green Ray, left me fairly cold (though I should probably give it another look now that I'm much more sympathetic to Rohmer's films in general), but I found My Night With Maud utterly captivating, and since then I've never looked back.

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justeleblanc
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#181 Post by justeleblanc » Sat Aug 02, 2008 1:39 pm

I never got much of an Ozu or Bresson feel from Rohmer, though maybe an argument can be made for one in terms of visual pace. The stories themselves are basically romantic comedies about one man deciding between multiple women, but their focus on dialog as opposed to action, especially dialog with an intellectual or over-analytical bent, really keep these films from being anything other than art-house. Maybe the best way to describe the films would be to name films that appear to have been inspired by them, such as Linklater's Before Sunset, Stillman's Metropolitan, LaButte's The Shape of Things, or even Breillat's Anatomy of Hell.

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ellipsis7
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#182 Post by ellipsis7 » Sat Aug 02, 2008 2:03 pm

Rohmer creates desire - desire of the protaganist for something, often desire for multiple women or men , as well as a narrative desire in the viewer for a certain outcome and then he has the characters conflict with these desires with their verbal reasoning and rationalised emotions which somehow hold them back and thwart them from following their instinct... In fact they often become confused as to what they actually want... Overall producing moral complexity... Circumstances often overtake an individual's humble intentions, and the denouement is likewise uncontrived yet surprising...

MY NIGHT AT MAUD'S - sublime - earnest philosophocal man desires virtuous (even virginal) blonde as his wife, attracted by worldly brunette divorcee MAUD, a meeting of minds but resists more during a night of temptation, he saves himself to marry blonde only to realise she was the less than pure and perfect party who had an affair with MAUD's husband causing the breakup of her marriage... Noone is unhappy...

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jbeall
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#183 Post by jbeall » Sat Aug 02, 2008 2:32 pm

With Rohmer, it's best to simply start with The Bakery Girl of Monceau. It's tight, disciplined filmmaking, and it's in some ways a highly condensed version of the five films that follow it. And if you don't like it, you've only invested 23 minutes of your time.

In Bakery Girl, Barbet Schroeder's realization that his decision to stand-up the girl has a moral dimension is basically the key to all six films. It's the moment when he takes responsbility for his desire, a moment he's been putting off throughout. It's usually more or less obvious to the characters of the other films much earlier, except maybe the protagonist of La Collectioneuse, whose realization comes similarly late in the film.

Although I said it a few posts up, I think that My Night at Maud's and Love in the Afternoon are easily the two best of this set, and Bakery Girl of Monceau is so short that there's literally no time for the plot to drag. The other three have their charms, but in Maud and Love there's such a delicious buildup of tension until you find yourself literally trying to will the character into making the choice you want him to make.

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#184 Post by domino harvey » Sat Aug 02, 2008 2:45 pm

If you love the more talky aspects of Bergman's films, you'll slip pretty easily in Rohmer's work.

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#185 Post by Jack Phillips » Sat Aug 02, 2008 3:43 pm

nostalghic wrote:Ozu frustrated me because between the three films of his I saw said exactly the same thing with exactly the same characters played by the same utilitarian acting approach Bresson gave me. I loved the first film I watched, Early Summer, but became incredibly annoyed with Tokyo Story and An Autumn Afternoon when I found nothing more. Both of their visual styles I just adored endlessly and have always been disappointed that I haven't been captured by them like many others have.
To my way of thinking, one enjoys--or fails to enjoy--Ozu or Rohmer because of the characters in their films. I get out my DVDs of Early Summer or Late Spring to spend time with Noriko, her friends and relations, all of whom make for good company. And to the extent that I enjoy, say, Rohmer's The Green Ray, I'm able to do so because Anne, annoying as she can be, is an interesting person to be around. Yes, both directors have visual styles worthy of attention, yes, both have stories to tell and messages to put over. But with these two particular directors--and certainly not in the case of Bresson--everything is secondary to the revelation of character. And better acquaintance is always to be desired (I recommend going through those Ozu films again--the characters, all very different, are worth it).

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#186 Post by Narshty » Sat Aug 02, 2008 4:18 pm

I began with Claire's Knee and was absolutely hooked. The last time I'd seen a film that seemed to be all conversation yet ran a gamut of emotions and shadings like that was The Shop Around the Corner.

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Balthazar493
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#187 Post by Balthazar493 » Sat Aug 02, 2008 4:28 pm

nostalghic wrote:Ozu frustrated me because between the three films of his I saw said exactly the same thing with exactly the same characters played by the same utilitarian acting approach Bresson gave me. I loved the first film I watched, Early Summer, but became incredibly annoyed with Tokyo Story and An Autumn Afternoon when I found nothing more. Both of their visual styles I just adored endlessly and have always been disappointed that I haven't been captured by them like many others have
Well, you're right to note the similarity in themes and plots from one Ozu film to the next. But I don't understand what you mean when you say that after you've seen one there is nothing new discovered in the next, because it seems to me precisely the viewing of the films as a whole that truly reveals Ozu's greatness. His "variations on a theme" reveal something beautiful and new with each successive film, something beautiful and new within the everyday, quotidian world that is the subject of every one of his films. It is only by repeating the (seemingly) same story that Ozu is able to reveal the uniqueness that distinguishes one situation from the other. Ozu affirms the richness and diversity of life precisely in those situations where most people would see nothing new or "nothing more".

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Mr Sheldrake
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#188 Post by Mr Sheldrake » Sat Aug 02, 2008 6:53 pm

nostalghic wrote: I despise films that have constant music playing
Rohmer fits that requirement for sure.

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#189 Post by nostalghic » Sun Aug 03, 2008 7:22 pm

Thanks guys for the responses, this was the exact type of information I was hoping for.

MichaelB- I'm pretty sure a friend has Pickpocket on his computer so I'll drop over and grab it from him soon. As I said I wanted to like Bresson but got sick of all the misery, I mean that shot at the end of Baltazar with the donkey kneeling amongst the sheep is amazing. So I hope I enjoy. Thanks. :)

justeleblanc- I enjoy intellectual dialogue as long as its intelligence doesn't come at the expense of interesting details. Like jean-luc Godard's Vivre sa vie for example, it had some reasonably smart observations to make but did so with such vagueness that its little important truths had no kind of grounding within any of the film's characters. The conversation she has with the philosopher/writer in the cafe could have been cool if it didn't sound like two second year university kids showing us how little experience they have outside their high class readings. I enjoyed Before Sunset but didn't warm to Anatomy of Hell.

jbeall- I'll have a look out on the internet for The Bakery Girl of Monceau. I can't hire it (not on DVD here) and would have to buy the whole set otherwise.

domino harvey- I do very much. I have a bit of an equal affinity when it comes to Bergman for his wonderful writing as well as for his and Sven Nykvist's beautiful cinematography. Both are of such high quality that any film by the both, even a lesser effort like Face to Face, is a great film.

Jack Phillips- I very rarely view film in that way. I don't look to spend time with characters I more look to spend time with the director or writer. I'm too aware when watching films that I am watching a construction to let myself feel like the world of a character is more important/ more interesting than the sphere created by the director.

If the sole emphasis in Ozu's films is his characters then I'll never warm to him. The characters I've already seen have nothing interesting about them, no idiosyncrasies or individuality that strikes me. Especially after seeing three of his films where nothing new was introduced, characters' qualities were always built up of tangible pieces of other characters, and they were the same vague, universal character traits that I associate with very young, boring writers. I hate it when people say this, but he's someone I think you'll either click with or you won't. His themes and his ideals were too far away from my own so I didn't click. But you have, which is great. I can imagine people who care little for religion or philosophy will never warm to Tarkovsky. Likewise those who don't care about money wouldn't get the Coen Brothers. Which in my books is fine.

Balthazar493- If he aims to represent the everyday world, and explore its facets by exposing its intricacies by way of subtle differentiation, then I simply think he fails. Everyday life does not differ subtly from one to the other. Yes, issues of marriage, children and ageing are quite universal, but the way they manifest themselves in different families is incredibly different. If all the diversity he can muster was evident in the 3 films I saw (Early Summer, Tokyo Story, An Autumn Afternoon), I'd say he has no intention of representing everyday life, rather his own ideal of everyday life. I just think of the differences between a handful of my friends and family members, who all live in the same area, and compare them to the families represented in Ozu's films. The difference is huge, His world is tender and it's soft, but it's not real.

I associate Truffaut with a more adequate representation of the everyday. Or a film like Yi Yi, although I haven't seen any other Edward Yang movies.

Mr Sheldrake- I think the exception to that rule is Hayao Miyazaki and Joe Hisaishi whose music I quite like. Double Indemnity was the last film I watched that I could have at least thought about liking had the soundtrack been entirely removed.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#190 Post by obscura » Sat Nov 01, 2008 5:50 pm

I just got the box set. I just watched the first two films ("Monceau" and "Suzanne") and I'm under the impression that the audio is slightly out-of-sync. I feel I'm watching foreign-language films dubbed in French ! Is that how it's supposed to be ??!

Anyone ?
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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#191 Post by domino harvey » Sat Nov 01, 2008 6:01 pm

It's been a little while since I watched 'em but I imagine the early films were shot silent and looped later, like most early New Wave films

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#192 Post by ezmbmh » Sun Nov 02, 2008 1:02 pm

To echo some of the posts above, both Ozu and Rohmer are what we call in my neighborhood "character based." Meaning to me that there are no new stories, but there are always new characters experiencing the old ones (love, birth, death, loss, etc.). What I love best about these directors is their generosity with character, with their entrapments and inability to shake them, with their often annoying but true-to-life self-destructive actions, with small plot choices that have great ramifications. With ER it's the feeling that anybody looked at openly and closely enough has a story, with YO it's the shadings of character often caught in similar situations and the rare pleasure (oddly like Ford's Waynes) of watching the same actors grow older, shed some burdens, acquire new ones, often the same ones they resisted when younger.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#193 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Nov 02, 2008 6:51 pm

ezmbmh wrote:With ER it's the feeling that anybody looked at openly and closely enough has a story, with YO it's the shadings of character often caught in similar situations and the rare pleasure (oddly like Ford's Waynes) of watching the same actors grow older, shed some burdens, acquire new ones, often the same ones they resisted when younger.
While Rohmer doesn't re-use the same performers as often is Ozu -- he does allow some former stars to re-appear in his Tales of Four Seasons, which is rather nice.

(BTW -- Ozu was a fan of early and middle Ford films). ;~}

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#194 Post by knives » Fri Feb 13, 2009 8:45 pm

Does the packaging problem still exist?

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#195 Post by James » Sat May 23, 2009 6:07 pm

I don't know whether I should get this or the Varda box set.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#196 Post by psufootball07 » Sat May 23, 2009 6:20 pm

Get this, wait for the upcoming DD/DVD Planet sales. Or if there is a B1G1 in June pick up both. Depends on what YOU like, but the Six Moral Tales is loaded, so from that standpoint I would pick up the Moral Tales, but I do prefer some of Varda's films, in particular Cleo from 5 to 7.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#197 Post by James » Sat May 23, 2009 6:30 pm

psufootball07 wrote:Get this, wait for the upcoming DD/DVD Planet sales. Or if there is a B1G1 in June pick up both. Depends on what YOU like, but the Six Moral Tales is loaded, so from that standpoint I would pick up the Moral Tales, but I do prefer some of Varda's films, in particular Cleo from 5 to 7.
Yeah, I am waiting for the June sale, I already have $80 saved up. I definitely want to get 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her and was considering a box set. I didn't know about a B1G1 sale, but that would be amazing if there was something like that.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#198 Post by Murdoch » Sat May 23, 2009 6:32 pm

I wouldn't count on a BOGO sale this year, I think it was just a one-time thing.

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#199 Post by domino harvey » Sat May 23, 2009 6:40 pm

james wrote:I don't know whether I should get this or the Varda box set.
This box is Criterion's best release. Besides, if you really dig Varda, the same company that did the complete Jacques Demy is doing a box for Varda, so might as well wait

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Re: 342-348 Six Moral Tales

#200 Post by James » Sat May 23, 2009 6:44 pm

domino harvey wrote:
james wrote:I don't know whether I should get this or the Varda box set.
This box is Criterion's best release. Besides, if you really dig Varda, the same company that did the complete Jacques Demy is doing a box for Varda, so might as well wait
I don't actually really dig her (and as for Rohmer, I've only seen My Night at Maud's, but loved it), as I've only seen Cleo From 5 to 7 about three or four years ago and liked it, but could use to see it again (and I also want to see Le bonheur and Vagabond).

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