Film Club - One From The Heart

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Davey the Fat Boy
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Re: Film Club - One From The Heart

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 02 Oct 2008, 16:53

My point was that only a handfull of filmmakers have flown as high as Copolla during that period - whether they fell or not. You don't have a large sample size to go by. But there have been many, many directors who did their best work in a short burst and then never matched it again. Sydney Pollack comes immediately to mind, though again - his best was not in the league of Copolla's best. Michael Cimino was another. If anything, it was argued here recently that Truffaut never matched his early run. I'd say he might be the closest director you could find in terms of career arc.
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Matt Wilson
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Re: Film Club - One From The Heart

Postby Matt Wilson » 02 Oct 2008, 17:20

Colin Poofington-Davies wrote:My point was that only a handfull of filmmakers have flown as high as Copolla during that period - whether they fell or not. You don't have a large sample size to go by. But there have been many, many directors who did their best work in a short burst and then never matched it again. Sydney Pollack comes immediately to mind, though again - his best was not in the league of Copolla's best. Michael Cimino was another. If anything, it was argued here recently that Truffaut never matched his early run. I'd say he might be the closest director you could find in terms of career arc.


All interesting choices but none are exactly comparable to Coppola.

Pollack--You answered this one yourself. His best work wasn't on the same level as Coppola's.
Cimino--Only one great film to his name. I'm a bit perplexed why you threw him out there, frankly.
Truffaut--He's another director I like more than most. I like him just as much as Godard, actually. He didn't have an early run like the four films you mentioned above though, did he? 400 Blows was in '59, Jules & Jim in '62 and the next picture he did on that level wasn't until the '70s.

It's the consistency of four films in a row on that level that impresses me. It's like if Dylan did Bringing it All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde and the Basement Tapes and then made nothing but albums like Planet Waves or even Self Portrait for the rest of his career.
That's the only comparison I can come up with.

The Modernist

Re: Film Club - One From The Heart

Postby The Modernist » 02 Oct 2008, 17:27

Jeemo wrote:
I hope this is ok. Its a bit daunting being first in the reboot of the film club, so be gentle at least with my clumsy writing.


No that was great, I enjoyed reading your thoughts. Just to reiterate the opening post is really just to introduce the film and get some points of discussion going perhaps, it's certainly not necessary to write an in depth analysis so I don't want people to feel too intimidated by this.

Unfortunately I'm having difficulty getting hold of this at the moment as I'm not a member of any DVD clubs and so am relying on what HMV or the other chains are stocking. Therefore my contribution to this one is going to be rather limited. I did see it in the eighties and was a little non-plussed by it, now I think I'd be far more open to its anti-naturalism so it's a shame I can't rewatch it.
Incidentally what did people think of Frederick Forrest in this? I've always liked him as a character actor (of course Coppola used him in The Conversation and Apocalypse Now as well) but he does seem a very odd choice for the romantic lead. Do they pull off this rather idiosyncratic casting choice?

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Re: Film Club - One From The Heart

Postby Sneelock » 02 Oct 2008, 17:45

you know, I don't really think so. he's a sack of potatoes. I think maybe that's the point.

I've been thinking about what Matt said about FFC falling off the turnip truck with the teen movies and it's been fun because I don't really think I've thought about this before.

I wasn't crazy about 'outsiders' but I was glad that it seemed to do o.k. it's hard to describe but I felt like I had an interest in Coppola's success in those days. it's hard to summon words but I was a pretty severe movie geek and he still seemed like the pied piper to me, I suppose.

He gave wonderful interviews about how he planned to transform Hollywood and while I'd like to think my bullshit detector works pretty good, I must admit that I bought it. he justified throwing all those other people's money at his movies with a pitch that he was building something. living in Hollywood in those days maybe it was a little too easy to get high on what this guy was selling. It was a compelling vision - a new Hollywood studio structure with all the bells and whistles of the then existing studio structure. maybe I was had and maybe he really was the guy in 'the state of things' and believed his own pitch. maybe he was sincere. well, I don't guess it matters anymore.
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I really like one from the heart and rumble fish and cotton club even though I don't know if I'd really call them good films. there's an energy level there that really gets me. I wonder if he can still do that? for all 'bram stoker's draculas' style, it never really engages me. maybe it's a comedy? I wonder. 'the rainmaker' looked good and seemed very professional but it could have been directed by Barry Levinson or somebody.

I think I cut Coppola a lot of slack because his movies got me. real early on. 'you're a big boy now', 'the rain people' his style seems in service of what those movies are about. I watched 'jack' with the kids and it just made me want to hit myself in the head with something heavy. has he lost it? I don't know. maybe I did.

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Re: Film Club - One From The Heart

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 02 Oct 2008, 17:53

Wilson Schmilson wrote:
Colin Poofington-Davies wrote:My point was that only a handfull of filmmakers have flown as high as Copolla during that period - whether they fell or not. You don't have a large sample size to go by. But there have been many, many directors who did their best work in a short burst and then never matched it again. Sydney Pollack comes immediately to mind, though again - his best was not in the league of Copolla's best. Michael Cimino was another. If anything, it was argued here recently that Truffaut never matched his early run. I'd say he might be the closest director you could find in terms of career arc.


All interesting choices but none are exactly comparable to Coppola.

Pollack--You answered this one yourself. His best work wasn't on the same level as Coppola's.
Cimino--Only one great film to his name. I'm a bit perplexed why you threw him out there, frankly.
Truffaut--He's another director I like more than most. I like him just as much as Godard, actually. He didn't have an early run like the four films you mentioned above though, did he? 400 Blows was in '59, Jules & Jim in '62 and the next picture he did on that level wasn't until the '70s.

It's the consistency of four films in a row on that level that impresses me. It's like if Dylan did Bringing it All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde and the Basement Tapes and then made nothing but albums like Planet Waves or even Self Portrait for the rest of his career.
That's the only comparison I can come up with.


As I said Matt:

My point was that only a handfull of filmmakers have flown as high as Copolla during that period - whether they fell or not. You don't have a large sample size to go by.

You aren't going to find an exact analogy because only a few filmmakers have ever had a run like Copolla's - whether they disappointed after or not. Again...Truffaut strikes me as the closest analogy because his run of films from The 400 Blows through The Soft Skin was the clearly the work of an auteur. It could be argued that Fahrenheit 451 was Truffaut's One From the Heart and that his subsequent career was as hit and miss as the rest of Coppola's.
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Re: Film Club - One From The Heart

Postby Sneelock » 02 Oct 2008, 17:57

I think if Truffaut had a "one from the heart" that it was "the green room"
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Re: Film Club - One From The Heart

Postby Matt Wilson » 02 Oct 2008, 18:03

You didn't lose it, snee--Jack was terrible.
I like The Outsiders, Rumblefish and even Bram Stoker's Dracula. Hell, even The Rainmaker was entertaining, but I don't see genius in those films. They're merely interesting, "good" even. But other directors could have made them and certainly other directors were making better films at the time.

I can't say that about his '70s work. Martin Scorcese couldn't have made The Godfathers. He hasn't the vision, let's face it. Marty's gangster films are more firmly rooted in the scene he grew up in and the guys he knew. They're slightly more autobiographical in nature than Coppola's pictures. Francis knew nothing about the world of The Godfather before he read Puzo's book. He took that assignment because he thought that if it was succesful then the studio might let him make films which were more personal to him. There's not the sense that he spent a lifetime in preparation for The Godfather like there is for Scorcese when he did Mean Streets. Francis burned more brightly than Marty did, but then fell to earth. Scorcese has been much more consistent and as such has a better resume. Or does he? It would be a good topic of debate.

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Re: Film Club - One From The Heart

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 02 Oct 2008, 18:05

sneelock wrote:I think if Truffaut had a "one from the heart" that it was "the green room"


There's nothing in Copolla's filmography quite like "the green room". That's a really undervalued film.
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Re: Film Club - One From The Heart

Postby Sneelock » 02 Oct 2008, 18:10

I love it. I just think maybe it was one of FT's "fetish" films.
...........................
I saw "the godfather" films before I'd seen Visconti or Renoir or any of those heavy guys. I'm not saying FFC was unduly derivative just that he was a good film maker and had probably seen some good films. like a lot of people my age, "the godfather" was one of the first really good films I'd seen. I think that counts for a lot. Now that I've seen and enjoyed those heavy guys do I like the godfather any less? goodness no.

I guess I don't care if he got his art from his neighborhood or from the movies, I just think it's art. when you think somebody's made art then you feel comfortable calling them an artist - at least until they make "jack"Image

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Re: Film Club - One From The Heart

Postby the masked man » 03 Oct 2008, 20:05

Getting back on point, I saw this again last night. I'd previously seen it in the 80s, and didn't care for it much. It seemed flashy but empty. However, I enjoyed it far more second time round, watching the 2003 restoration on DVD (apparently some scenes were re-edited) with Coppola's commentary running.

Firstly, I thought the middle section was unashamedly wonderful. The way the bustle of Las Vegas life was captured on those soundstages - a riot of colour and passion. It just had an energy and sense of wonder that lifted the movie away from its rather mundane plot. And of course, there is the fact that no actress has ever looked quite as wonderful in a film as Natassja Kinski does here - from her opening appearance, she dominates any scene she appears in. Best of all is the sequence where she brings a neon sign to life (didn't Sambient use a still of this as an avatar once?). Coppola's commentary revealed that Kinski had no previous circus skills before shooting the movie, and learned to walk a tightrope and balance on a ball while onset. No doubles or wires were used.

That actually says a lot about the obsessive labours of love that Coppola's films were back then. In the commentary he talked excitedly about how he wanted to create a form of 'live cinema', turning a studio into a multi-layered theatre (whenever two scenes are combined in the same shot, it wasn't a montage - the second took place on a stage directly behind the first stage). During the delirious fantasy sequences, this works fantastically.

However, some of my initial reservations proved well-founded. Twenty years ago, I found the two main characters somewhat annoying, and today, they seem very underwritten. And, although Teri Garr gave her character a bit of life and charm, I still think that Frederic Forrest was the wrong choice. He really lacks presence throughout and struggles to register onscreen. Obviously, he stands no chance getting noticed whenever Kinski's onscreen, but whenever he's joined by Harry Dean Stanton the problems remain. Stanton doesn't do much, but he always looks so assured - his body language is right, and he's so fluent in his movements. Forrest is by comparison awkward and nervy - not really good qualities for a romantic lead. And, as I implied earlier, the plot is paper-thin. Guy and girl fall out, have wild one-night fling, then get back together. There is nothing more than that. And the ending doesn't look right - why does she go back to this dumpy loser, given that they'll surely be arguing again by the end of the week?

Sad to say, once Kinski departs the film, the magic dissipates. But while the magic's still there, this is a glorious folly, and I'm glad I had a chance to reassess it. This was a really good choice for the first film club.

One last point - the commentary revealed that Michael Powell was present on set, acting as an advisor. I certainly didn't know that...

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Re: Film Club - One From The Heart

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 06 Oct 2008, 02:20

Finally got the chance to watch this. Glad I did. I think it's a different film for the 42 year old long-time married version of me than it was for the 17 year old who saw it last.

It's about artifice, isn't it? It opens with that amazing credit sequence that feels like a cross between a Disney movie and Citizen Kane with the strong suggestion that this is going to be a kind of a fairy-tale. And maybe it is. Maybe the biggest fairy-tale of all is that we can ever learn the lesson of this film. Maybe in real life she wouldn't have come back. Or maybe he wouldn't have sung for her. Maybe the end is a tragedy and she'd have been happier going. Who knows?

We cling to so many illusions about love - layers and layers of them. I'm not sure that this is the deepest film in the world, or even that it intended as much as I got from t. But at some level it is a meditation on our need for artifice in our lives. What else is it that brings us to the movies in the first place?
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Re: Film Club - One From The Heart

Postby Ranking Ted » 10 Oct 2008, 00:23

Well, I watched it last night and, er, it was interesting. The joy to be had is in the look of the movie and, very definitely, in the middle section when the couple are on their big night out with their flings. The whole glitzy artifice really works in the show stopping Fremont Street number and - as has been pointed out -in the scene when Natassia Kinski morphs from a neon sign.

Aside from the directorial showboating, the other highlights are the performances of Kinski (rightly identified by MM as a Goddess here, stunning) and the funny, stupid performance of Harry Dean Stanton. The big problem is the plot and the characters - Hank and Frannie are boring and unsympathetic, who wants to hang around with them instead of Raul Julia and Natassia? Their perpetual whining was really grating. That said, glad I watched it, and a good choice for this - an unfamiliar film and not one where we'll all come away agreeing on its merits.

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Re: Film Club - One From The Heart

Postby The Modernist » 20 Mar 2009, 23:06

It's quite strange as I thought I was just a couple of months behind on this film, so I was a bit startled to see we'd actually been discussing this last October! Anyway I've finally got round to seeing it (I had seen it in the eighties but my memories were somewhat dim).

Well what an odd film! It is a fascinating film to choose in many ways as its ambitions seem so cloudy..we know it looks great, but what was the real aim here. I'm really not sure, though it seemed to me like a grand experiment. The American 70's auteurs of this period seemed fatefully drawn to the idea of redesigning genres ( Scorsese attempted a musical around the same time) to their own epic visions. One From The Heart seems to be the ultimate statement in this. So threadbare and, presumably deliberately, generically cliched is the screenplay that it seems to be Coppola's attempt to show how the most ordinary material can achieve a poetic profundity, the transformation of the mundane into the magical: cinema as alchemy.

And he almost pulls it off. It is of course visually stunning and is perhaps best viewed as a superior music promo. The film really does lift off about half way through when we are rescued from the somewhat dreary central relationship and they both meet their fantasy European/Latin lovers. These sections really do achieve something magical and actually the cross cutting rather disrupts things: I wanted to watch these scenes for longer. In particular the scene in the desert had something dreamily hypnotic about it ( or more honestly had Kinski in suspenders). Of course the film we really want to see is Raoul meeting Nastassja: two drifting foreigners in love with the gaudy dream of America and instead finding love with each other instead.
That's not the film that was made though and we're stuck with Frannie and Hank. I guess we're meant to get some message about blue collar lives having some intrinsic nobility , the rejection of fantasy for the reality, for good and bad, of being satisfied and even finding wonder with the idea of being ordinary and finding something beautiful and soulful in our partners for all their flaws. Actually this message is when the film is at its most humanistic and potentially touching, except Coppola isn't actually very interested in this at all.
The real problem here is the film translates ordinary as banal. As much as we can criticise the leads, they're given almost nothing to work with. Hank's character is particularly underwritten. As bored as I was with Forrest, I wondered who else could have made that part work. Maybe Gene Hackman could have bought the kind of tough but tender blue collar charm I think the character was meant to embody. But he would have struggled too, the part was too poorly written to begin with.
Garr fairs slightly better, mainly because Coppola seems physically attracted to her and she's given some kooky scenes, but you're still not very interested in her.
All of which means you don't care whether they get back together or not, much in the same way as you don't fully understand why they split up in the first place.
Still it's a movie which isn't very interested in narrative and in this it fits in very well with other early 80's experiments in style such as Cinema Du Look or Fassbinder's Querelle. Those movies tend to be more successful, maybe Europeans are better at that kind of thing. The essential morality of American film tends to work against it if its trying to be chic and flighty.

For all that it captures a fascinating moment of Coppola's career, and his technical innovations in this film have certainly been influential on many directors. They were watching even if the public, largely, weren't.
A really interesting choice all round - well done Jeemo, I'm sorry I didn't respond sooner to it really. I want to watch every film discussed so far if I can, I hope we all feel that way.

The Modernist

Re: Film Club - One From The Heart

Postby The Modernist » 20 Mar 2009, 23:39

I really enjoyed the comments from everyone else too, it did seem that my comments reflected earlier ones from Cambell and Andrew, but it was also interesting to see why the film resonated so much with Jeemo. His original post shows how the film's unabashed romanticism and visual splendour created such an impression for him .
I think with the whole idea of the film club, it's very interesting to return to threads and get that perspective. So although I'd kind of envisaged it as an equivalent of a book club but with the kind of shared experience you get from the synch listens from Yakety Yak, It's not quite worked out like that. I'd still like us to aim for that shared experience but ultimately I think it may also become something else: an opportunity to ruminate and reflect on particular films in our own time and then consider our experiences in the light of what other people have written. That is valuable too I think, which is why I really should create a separate archived section for the film club threads. I'll get on to it soon I promise!

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Re: Film Club - One From The Heart

Postby Conrad Knight Socks » 23 Mar 2009, 16:23

I sort of crashed reading the thread, but here's my tuppence worth on a few points:-

Apparently a school class were reading the Outsiders, and had a vote on who they would ask to direct a film of it - Coppola was the choice, so they sent him the book. He decided to make a film of it.

Tucker, noted above by someone as "undervalued", is an absolutely brilliant film.

I have this underdeveloped theory that the style of the Outsiders is heavily influenced by Gone With The Wind - can't quite remember why now (though the look of the film does echo it in places).
I kept thinking "swim as far as you can, swim as far as you can".

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Re: Film Club - One From The Heart

Postby The Modernist » 13 Aug 2010, 12:03

bump for moving