Forthcoming: Portrait of a Lady on Fire

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Nasir007
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Forthcoming: Portrait of a Lady on Fire

#1 Post by Nasir007 » Mon Sep 30, 2019 8:05 pm

DarkImbecile wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 2:48 pm
The benefit of this calamitous start, however, was that it made it easy to get into our next film of the day, Celine Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire. It’s going to come off as hyperbolic and hasty and probably unfair, but I’m not going to sugarcoat my immediate reaction, which is that this is the best film I’ve ever seen, and I don’t say that lightly at all. Flawless, jaw-dropping artistry from start to finish, visually and aurally breathtaking, and built around two crushingly note-perfect performances working from characters and dialogue written with as much resonance and meaning as I’ve experienced in any work of art. I almost don’t want to write about it, I had such an emotional and personal response to both the core story and characters and the sheer beauty of more compositions and shots than I can count. The film functions as a masterful articulation of (and itself serves an ideal example of) the fragile impermanence of the brief appearances of beauty in our lives, and I felt genuine gratitude and humility at having experienced it. I can’t recommend it highly enough, and I’m hopeful that I see Sciamma — who was unable to attend the North American premiere screening due to flight delays but should be here later this weekend —to thank her for her masterwork in person.
I am attending NYFF and I will post some thoughts here about what I've seen and liked so far since not every movie has a thread so far.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Sciamma) - Something holds me from calling it a masterpiece. Maybe because of the conventionality of it, but it is a most beautifully formed object - well-made and shapely. It is extraordinarily sophisticated, high-minded, literate and even literary. It is also alive and modern and not stuffy like many period pieces. It also has visual beauty and panache, good mis-en-scene and delicate performances from the actors. It is a feminist landmark of some kind, how major, remains to be seen. But it as much of a landmark as say Wonder Woman was and that definitely was a major one.

I initially thought that it was handed a lesser award at Cannes - it could have been given Diretor, Grand Prix etc. But I think Screenplay is a fitting prize. Sciamma is ofcourse a great writer and the script is where everything begins and probably its best part. This could easily be a classic novel from the 19th century. It is just perfectly calibrated that way.

I will have to think about what's holding me back from calling it a masterpiece but this overall is a worthy recipient of accolades. Very simple, very beautiful and a screenplay that should win an Oscar.

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mfunk9786
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#2 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Sep 30, 2019 11:16 pm

Nasir007 wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 8:05 pm
It is a feminist landmark of some kind, how major, remains to be seen. But it as much of a landmark as say Wonder Woman was and that definitely was a major one.
Is the poster design locked yet? Gotta get this pullquote in there!

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Fiery Angel
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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#3 Post by Fiery Angel » Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:52 pm

Nasir007 wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 8:05 pm
Very simple, very beautiful and a screenplay that should win an Oscar.
The script is too good to win an Oscar.

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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#4 Post by Nasir007 » Tue Oct 01, 2019 1:07 pm

Fiery Angel wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:52 pm
Nasir007 wrote:
Mon Sep 30, 2019 8:05 pm
Very simple, very beautiful and a screenplay that should win an Oscar.
The script is too good to win an Oscar.
I hope it can have a shot! Usually, a foreign language gets nominated. Most people think Parasite is a lock. But I hope this has a shot as well.

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Re: Festival Circuit 2019

#5 Post by hearthesilence » Tue Oct 01, 2019 4:20 pm

DarkImbecile wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 2:48 pm
The benefit of this calamitous start, however, was that it made it easy to get into our next film of the day, Celine Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire. It’s going to come off as hyperbolic and hasty and probably unfair, but I’m not going to sugarcoat my immediate reaction, which is that this is the best film I’ve ever seen, and I don’t say that lightly at all. Flawless, jaw-dropping artistry from start to finish, visually and aurally breathtaking, and built around two crushingly note-perfect performances working from characters and dialogue written with as much resonance and meaning as I’ve experienced in any work of art. I almost don’t want to write about it, I had such an emotional and personal response to both the core story and characters and the sheer beauty of more compositions and shots than I can count. The film functions as a masterful articulation of (and itself serves an ideal example of) the fragile impermanence of the brief appearances of beauty in our lives, and I felt genuine gratitude and humility at having experienced it. I can’t recommend it highly enough, and I’m hopeful that I see Sciamma — who was unable to attend the North American premiere screening due to flight delays but should be here later this weekend —to thank her for her masterwork in person.
I caught this yesterday at the NYFF. Unfortunately I had a late night before, and the caffeine wore off about 80 minutes in. I have to say, being drowsy made me hyper-aware of how many warm, dimly lit interior shots there were in this movie! (It really woke me up whenever they stepped outside.) So that may have dulled my experience a bit, but this was definitely one of the best films I've seen all year. Right off the bat, before it developed into a love story, I wondered if this was going to be an essay on what was often a woman's place in narrative cinema, traditionally and historically. Immediately the artist's gaze is fused with the audience's, and we have a model bringing to mind the movie stars that studios wanted to put up on screen (as well as how they wanted those women to be filmed and be seen). The way she's scrutinized by an artist made me very self-conscious about the way general audiences scrutinize movie stars, particularly women. I can't say this was the intention, but it feels like a natural by-product from a film that Sciamma said was a conscious attempt in bringing perspectives and stories to the cinema that she felt were missing.

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Re: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Céline Sciamma, 2019)

#6 Post by nitin » Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:58 pm

This was *just* short of being an all time great for me but it’s easily the second best movie of the year behind High Life for me.

It is not quite a masterful work but definitely the work of a new master IMHO.

And please do not bring this up in the same sentence as Wonder Woman!

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Re: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Céline Sciamma, 2019)

#7 Post by Aunt Peg » Wed Oct 02, 2019 12:35 am

I saw this months ago, not long after it Cannes debut and was very impressed with it. The one drawback with the cinema viewing was its such quiet film (there is not music on the soundtrack until the very end) that you can hear every sound in the cinema and worse when I saw the film Rocketman was playing in the adjoining cinema and one of the musical numbers was booming into Portrait's screening. My next viewing will be at home which is a lot more quiet that a noisy cinema (most of the time anyway).

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Re: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Céline Sciamma, 2019)

#8 Post by Nasir007 » Wed Oct 02, 2019 1:27 am

nitin wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:58 pm
This was *just* short of being an all time great for me but it’s easily the second best movie of the year behind High Life for me.

It is not quite a masterful work but definitely the work of a new master IMHO.

And please do not bring this up in the same sentence as Wonder Woman!
Wonder woman is a decent film. But more than that it is definitely a landmark film. Which was my point of comparison, not the quality per se.

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Re: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Céline Sciamma, 2019)

#9 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Oct 02, 2019 1:29 am

Good Burger is also a landmark film, never before had an All That sketch been adapted into a feature

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Re: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Céline Sciamma, 2019)

#10 Post by nitin » Wed Oct 02, 2019 5:22 am

Landmark film in what way apart from BO success for a superhero film directed by a female? I don’t accept Wonder Woman to be some sort of feminist landmark outside of BO success (and even then isn’t the BO success simply a point of it being accepted by male superhero film viewers and not really anything of substance to do with feminism).

Anyway, probably should not derail the thread for this film.

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Re: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Céline Sciamma, 2019)

#11 Post by Nasir007 » Wed Oct 02, 2019 9:00 am

One female directed film need not be propped up by putting down another. We need more films directed by women anyways.

WW shows how a woman films a powerful woman. It brings the female gaze to a genre that was previously directed by males primarily. It tells essentially a war story from a woman's point of view. And it has scenes that women find quite stirring. It is also open-minded and mature about a woman's sexuality.

Most of these things you could say about the Sciamma film too. The female gaze subliminally makes you see things in a different way. Because unfortunately it is still rare in cinema. That's all. I don't much care for WW but I appreciate its importance. I do not look down upon it because its genre. But it is a recent film that showed us women from a fresh perspective. This film does that too.

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Re: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Céline Sciamma, 2019)

#12 Post by nitin » Wed Oct 02, 2019 11:16 pm

Fair enough, I think you and I primarily differ in our opinion on the quality of filmmaking and execution of themes present in Wonder Woman. I don’t disagree with the rest of what you say.

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Re: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Céline Sciamma, 2019)

#13 Post by Black Hat » Thu Oct 24, 2019 2:56 am

Am I terrible person if I thought this was a complete bore? I nodded off almost immediately the first time and was very in and out the second time. I get why people like it but it operates with way too much self awareness in art house conventions. I wouldn't go as far as to say it's in the category of Le Grand Fromage, but it's pretty close.

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Re: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Céline Sciamma, 2019)

#14 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu Oct 24, 2019 10:32 am

Black Hat wrote:
Thu Oct 24, 2019 2:56 am
Am I terrible person if I thought this was a complete bore?
Image

At least you got Beanpole right!

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Re: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Céline Sciamma, 2019)

#15 Post by Fiery Angel » Thu Oct 24, 2019 10:35 am

Black Hat wrote:
Thu Oct 24, 2019 2:56 am
Am I terrible person if I thought this was a complete bore?
yes

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Re: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu [Portrait of a Lady on Fire] (Céline Sciamma, 2019)

#16 Post by Black Hat » Thu Oct 24, 2019 2:02 pm

Yeah I should give it another go, but I saw it the second time with two people you'd think would enjoy it and they weren't enamored with it. Everyone else tho was pretty blown away.

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Re: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu [Portrait of a Lady on Fire] (Céline Sciamma, 2019)

#17 Post by Nasir007 » Thu Oct 24, 2019 2:57 pm

If you watch it once closely with attention, you wouldn't need to watch it again. Dunno if you will get much more out of it. There isn't more to it than what you see on screen.

But it implies and insinuates a lot - which is the aspect of it which I found literary and fascinating. You see about 7 days in the lives of these women, but you do get a sense that you know them better than that.

It is after all, of course, a bit academic, but beautifully made nonetheless. I would kinda compare it to Carol in a way. Even for that film, I think it is a film made to be studied - by film students or historians or what have you. This film is like that too. Beautifully made operating within conventions and doesn't break any mold. But nicely done. I should also add that I did not weep at the ending as many have said they did. But I could appreciate the emotion it was meant to evoke without explicitly feeling it.

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Re: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu [Portrait of a Lady on Fire] (Céline Sciamma, 2019)

#18 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Oct 27, 2019 2:18 am

Going to pretend I don't see Nasir007's posts on this film ("There isn't more to it than what you see on the screen," I mean, wow) and just move on to pointing out that while I would hold back on some of the hyperbole, DarkImbecile is correct about this film. It is magnificent, my emotions only barely held back by an incredibly annoying packed house, with someone behind me who would punctuate every subtitle they read with an audible "hm." Anyway, I digress. The key of the film for me is in the final two scenes - the way they are approached is just devastating in the banality and believability of the encounters and the weight that they carry beneath multiple surfaces both seen and unseen. There is so much that must be left hidden away in this film in order for it to work as well as it does - it's a Rorschach test for a viewer's own memories and experiences that also somehow works as a very personal story. Everything I was told that Call Me By Your Name was going to be. A marvel.

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Re: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu [Portrait of a Lady on Fire] (Céline Sciamma, 2019)

#19 Post by nitin » Sun Oct 27, 2019 2:58 am

They key scene for me when the movie really dug its claws in was the titular scene. The chanting on the soundtrack combined with the visual serenity of everything that happens was almost mythical, which then tied in nicely to everything that followed.

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Re: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu [Portrait of a Lady on Fire] (Céline Sciamma, 2019)

#20 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Oct 27, 2019 9:42 am

It gets louder than I really realized the sound system in the room I was in is capable of. Stunning.

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Re: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu [Portrait of a Lady on Fire] (Céline Sciamma, 2019)

#21 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Nov 04, 2019 2:08 am

The chorus of praise heaped onto this film earns every syllable. DarkImbecile, mfunk, and others have already stressed the effectiveness of Sciamma’s meditation on impermanence and power of connection, but I’ll add that the two central performances seal the authenticity of these human truths in ways that made me forget I was watching a tale of fiction. The script is perfect and self-reflexive in how Sciamma engages her characters in discussions to try to channel unexplainable feelings such as love or music into the limits of language (or art, whether a film or a painting) only to show how futile these efforts are at expressing what must be accessed through intangible means. Ultimately the film isn’t interested in the validity of these arguments, only that they need to occur, if not verbally than in thought, to come to the realization that emotion is life.

The importance of physicality and beauty, as well as their inherent passing, is cemented; but more significantly Sciamma makes us remember that the feelings every person has from their own most cherished experiences are not fleeting, and remain strong in the greatest gift of memory, far greater than a portrait. The final shot may be the saddest and most gratifying moment of the year, and Sciamma doesn’t seem to see them as different, but as a blend of emotions that can only come from the elusively defined love. This film is a reminder of why life is worth living, and how we will never know how to explain the ‘why,’ while accepting that we don’t have to.

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Re: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu [Portrait of a Lady on Fire] (Céline Sciamma, 2019)

#22 Post by nitin » Mon Nov 04, 2019 2:45 am

I had never seen Neomie Merlant in anything before this and was utterly transfixed on every little thing she did, it was like a Moreauesque performance (and coincidentally having just seen Moreau bewitch her way through Malle’s The Lovers a few days ago, I don’t think I am reaching too far).

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Re: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu [Portrait of a Lady on Fire] (Céline Sciamma, 2019)

#23 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Nov 21, 2019 4:43 pm

Now being released in NY/LA on December 6th for one week only, but not getting a wide release until [appropriately] Valentine's Day. NEON seems like they're sort of messing this up off the heels of their greatest victory yet, but I hope I'm wrong. You guys know how much time I spend preoccupied with what NEON is up to.

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Re: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu [Portrait of a Lady on Fire] (Céline Sciamma, 2019)

#24 Post by domino harvey » Thu Nov 21, 2019 4:46 pm

They already sold it to Hulu for prob more than it cost them to license, so be glad it’s getting a theatrical rollout at all

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Re: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu [Portrait of a Lady on Fire] (Céline Sciamma, 2019)

#25 Post by Fiery Angel » Fri Dec 06, 2019 3:05 pm

Coming to Criterion next year, according to NEON.

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