Posted by Solomon on 9/5/2020, 7:05 pm, in reply to "Gig Patta interviews Giuseppe Capotondi about THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY"
I did not read the interview, nor have I read any reviews at all. I can give you my opinion, having just watched it.
It's a neo-noir. It's a failure, not an abject failure, but still a failure. It's hard for me to understand in this year of our Lord 2020 after so many such stories having been written and filmed that a movie would be made that takes such pathetic story-telling turns that lose all credibility and lose as well all impact or even message. IMDb has it at 5.8. It's actually more nearly 5 or a bit lower. A b-movie with such a rating because of various failings that b-movies today often have, would be a more convincing watch than this turkey of a noir-suspense story. It has going for it setting, reasonable pacing, reasonable characterizations, not bad arty music, just fair capacity to move off an overall boring nature. Mick Jagger makes a fascinating watch because of how he looks, his charisma and just seeing him act. You feel as if you're meeting the man behind the outrageous rock and roll act.
My negative feeling is the story mostly and that it falls flat and has places where it comes out of the blue. Plot holes ruin it. SPOILER ALERT. The critic could have simply brought the girl to her apartment, and that would have short-circuited a murder. The followup to the murder was ridiculous (the lake). How dumb was the critic? And why travel there? Was there no other spot available? The girl herself was so dumb that she didn't know enough to play it cool and appease him for a bit, until she got to safety. Instead she just keeps on pecking at him. The critic didn't have to paint a picture right away. If he did, he might have at least locked the door to his room. Too many plot implausibilities with no real payoff other than to mechanize the story into neo-noir form.
The ending is unsatisfactory, leaving loose ends and leaving us guessing. The appropriate irony doesn't have the impact it should. The tension that the last third should have is really not there. It's a deflated balloon. So if it's not a failure, and I think it is, then it's a misfire at a minimum.
By the way, there is no need for freeze frame to see and understand what's on the back of the frame. Donald Sutherland says it clearly so that we can put two and two together.
The director doesn't show us the murder weapon clearly enough. Why? There's no obvious reason. It's not essential that we not see it clearly.
What is the big fuss about this picture? It feels overblown for what it does.
I think the movie lacks a sense of charm or magnetism. It just sort of sits there as it moves on. The two leads do not bring us screen magic, so they are part of the problem. Donald in his old age has tons of magic, but his lines are just too cute to really register as sharp. Mick tries and does well, considering he's not an actor, but he also appears to be trying.
I'll add this, that the writing is better than the execution. The writing paints clearly the characters, and this is a mostly character-driven drama. No one goes through an arc, however. The critic is a pretty nasty piece of work, start to finish. The young woman is naive, start to her untimely end. The collector is manipulative and a cheat, start to finish. Sutherland is at a stage where his philosophy is fixed, but it has some interest, his metaphor of masks.
Posted by Don Malcolm on 9/13/2020, 12:25 pm, in reply to "Re: Gig Patta interviews Giuseppe Capotondi about THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY"
As was noted on several occasions previously, this film has received a very particular type of mixed reaction from (a certain portion of) its audience--which makes the film into an intruiging Rorschach test for critics and viewers alike, as it continually addresses the shifting ground within literal vs. metaphorical approaches to art (and, more specific to our concerns here: noir concepts and notions of storytelling).
Addressing the literalist critiques of the plot: Remember that the critic is being blackmailed by the collector. Note the irony of the painter not painting anything, and burning his (purported) earlier work, creating the only viable "plan B" for the critic via the staging of yet another fire--which leads to the next irony: that the facts we know about what actually happened are told in a way that omits the truth (specifically, the TV news coverage of the artist's death).
Note that the critic makes a split-second decision that he cannot tell the collector that he's created a fake artwork. He's already being blackmailed for a false authentication, so we can presume that he wants to keep this parallel act of fraud to himself. But "fate or some other force" intervenes, and suddenly the girl (who knows the entire story concerning the artist and has validated his form of "artistic deception") is "back in the picture"--and once she knows about the fake painting, she is in a position to reveal that fact and ruin everything.
The film creates a moral choice at a key moment when it turns out that she survives the first murder attempt. She misjudges the depth of his desperation to carry out his hair-brained scheme (and yes, hair-brained schemes are central to this story, retained from the 1971 novel that is riffing off classic noir--such schemes are clearly much rarer in neo-noir, because irony has morphed over the last half-century into its "cynical cousin" meta-irony).
She pays the price, but before doing so she has staked out a moral line in the sand and her character arc shows a level of growth that is unusual in this type of film--where she takes a stand because it is the right thing to do, even if it puts her in (more) danger. Her disgust at what he is planning to do to the artist (for whom she has developed an intense regard) prompts this spontaneous act of defiance. It's called being willing to die for what one believes in--in our year of the Lord 2020, that's called a plot hole (by critics of various stripes...) or an implausibility (by about half the audience).
The story of the fly painted in the portraits of Nazi concentration camp commanders is more of a literary conceit than a visual one, though it has its payoff at the end when the critic receives a message "from the dead" in the envelope addressed to him by the artist, whose life and work he is distorting and fabricating in order to have his "name on a large banner." He achieves his goal, but there are enough loose ends left that he knows he's going to live under a cloud for the rest of his natural days--and the artist has not only damned him, but has also found a way to undercut the key result of the hair-brained scheme, as revealed in the film's poignant closing shot.
Why does he not drop her off at her apartment? Remember, we've never seen her apartment--she was a "pickup" who proved to have some mysterious, appealing attributes, some form of substance and "class" (to use a rather loaded term...) which has been validated by the collector and (more tellingly) by the artist. And recall that the critic, for all his talent at "oratorical gesture," is not thinking clearly on many levels--don't forget all those pills he's been popping (including a "booster dose" as he creates the fake artwork). Those pills can add focus, but they can also make one sloppy.
All he really knows is that he has to get away from the villa after the fire. What follows is improvisation. How is he to know that he'll have to try to placate someone who's seemingly risen from the dead? A situation like this is much more likely to be messy than 100% logical. Metaphor is an aesthetic device, not necessarily a logical one. Literalists don't like to be reminded of that...
Why does the critic return to the scene of his first crime? That's an ironic indulgence that lampoons the stupid things that criminals do after they've committed a crime--particularly first-time criminals. But it's fitting in its own way, since the girl has raised the concern that the artist might have been lost forever at the bottom of the lake if his boat were to capsize. (And we find out from the collector that the artist's eventual death was by drowning, which ties back to the critic's first murder attempt.)
The remoteness of the location certainly makes it semi-plausible, and the specific place, of course, has had its shore befouled by some waste products that produce a colony of flies (which are brought to our attention for a second time, after having seen them when the girl and the artist had stopped there during their boat ride). This also conjures up a personal aegis in the critics' selection of the location: a caustic, misogynistic form of payback for the girl having been the fly in his ointment...
This is where the literal and the metaphorical clearly collide and then bifurcate; and, given where the world is currently at WRT matters of aesthetics and politics and whatnot, it seems that we will be living in (and fighting over) that divide for some considerable amount of time to come--where literalists will continue to promote/impose a harsh reality based on increasingly arbitrary notions of order and control, while those more attuned to metaphor will continue to wonder why the literalists are so willing to compromise themselves and others to preserve such a delusive, stacked-deck "reality," and face increasing concern that they'll be put in a position analogous to what the girl faces when confronted with the banality of evil and those who enable it. After all, standing on principle can get you killed...
BTW, the freeze-frame at the point indicated shows that the backside of the canvas behind the one that the critic wraps up to use as the forgery bearing the title of the film has been given a title that reads either RETURN OF THE FLY or REVENGE OF THE FLY. Of course, if the critic had picked that one to be the phantom artwork, we'd have a whole different film entirely!
Posted by Solomon on 9/14/2020, 6:02 am, in reply to "Re: Gig Patta interviews Giuseppe Capotondi about THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY"
Admirable observations. A career as movie critic awaits you.
Well thank you, O ghostly one. But then again, perhaps not...!