Miloš Forman (1932-2018)

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The Narrator Returns
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Miloš Forman (1932-2018)

#1 Post by The Narrator Returns » Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:48 am


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hearthesilence
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Re: Passages

#2 Post by hearthesilence » Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:19 am

The Narrator Returns wrote:Milos Forman
I recently spoke with someone who worked with him - he sounded like a marvelous, gregarious character, one who apparently loved cigars. Loves of a Blonde will always be my favorite of his films. R.I.P.

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Re: Passages

#3 Post by The Elegant Dandy Fop » Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:27 am

And director of the masterpiece Taking Off. I remember hearing rumors of Criterion having the rights to it, but it hasn’t had a US release. Along with Tokyo Drifter, it’s one of the films I have seen on 35mm every chance I’ve gotten.

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Re: Passages

#4 Post by bearcuborg » Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:59 am

hearthesilence wrote:Loves of a Blonde will always be my favorite of his films. R.I.P.
I would have to echo that as well, Fireman’s Ball is not far behind. I always really dug Black Peter too.

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Re: Passages

#5 Post by dda1996a » Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:29 am

Not to be that guy, but One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus are also brilliant. Also on the DGA podcast there is a long talk with Forman regarding his career, Czech film school and early career and his escape to the US. It's a very interesting listen

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Re: Passages

#6 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:33 am

I always assumed Amadeus wasn't a fashionable film to still revere - much like many of those huge Oscar winners of the 80s - but it really is superb.

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Re: Passages

#7 Post by dda1996a » Sat Apr 14, 2018 6:07 am

Just had to recheck, and while I think Rain Man and Platoon are decent enough, it is striking to see what an awful decade of winner the 80s was. Amadeus is really the standout. And I still think it's superb.
I still need to catch up with the rest of his 80s and 90s output, but I should also throw a word for Hair, which I still like even if it's far from perfect. What a versatile director he was

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Re: Miloš Forman (1932-2018)

#8 Post by Dr Amicus » Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:22 am

And don't forget his autobiography, Turnaround: A Memoir, which is a highly entertaining
read and actually quite revealing.

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Re: Miloš Forman (1932-2018)

#9 Post by hearthesilence » Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:07 pm

His Americans films aren't bad at all, but compared to his Czech films, they seem to have much less personality. He still did fine work on them, particularly with the actors, but even the better ones can seem a bit ordinary and the flaws inherent in the scripts were bigger liabilities. (I think this would include Amadeus and even moreso with later biopics like the lazily conceived Man on the Moon). The excellent work he wrote and directed himself with Ivan Passer as his co-writer holds up much better to me.

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Re: Miloš Forman (1932-2018)

#10 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:15 pm

Hair is really a personal favourite of mine. Always really enjoy revisiting it.

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Re: Passages

#11 Post by Professor Wagstaff » Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:58 pm

The Elegant Dandy Fop wrote:And director of the masterpiece Taking Off. I remember hearing rumors of Criterion having the rights to it, but it hasn’t had a US release.
Screenwriter Larry Karaszewski told me on Twitter last year that Taking Off hasn't been given a US release because they can't track down everyone to clear the music rights for all the original work performed by the different hippie characters during the first part of the film. It's a shame. Taking Off is one of the unsung treasures of the 1970s.

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Re: Miloš Forman (1932-2018)

#12 Post by ianthemovie » Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:41 pm

Echoing the love for Loves of a Blonde--one of my favorite films of the Czech New Wave--and agreeing that Amadeus holds up as a splendidly entertaining film, much more than a piece of Oscar-bait. It's a fiendish black comedy driven by a truly extraordinary performance by F. Murray Abraham who right won Best Actor that year. Not as good as Forman's early films perhaps but still very much deserving of its status as a classic.

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Re: Passages

#13 Post by Aunt Peg » Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:52 am

Professor Wagstaff wrote:
The Elegant Dandy Fop wrote:And director of the masterpiece Taking Off. I remember hearing rumors of Criterion having the rights to it, but it hasn’t had a US release.
Screenwriter Larry Karaszewski told me on Twitter last year that Taking Off hasn't been given a US release because they can't track down everyone to clear the music rights for all the original work performed by the different hippie characters during the first part of the film. It's a shame. Taking Off is one of the unsung treasures of the 1970s.
Just curious, but how was it able to be released in the UK?

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Re: Miloš Forman (1932-2018)

#14 Post by RobertAltman » Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:19 pm

The UK release of Taking Off seems to be OOP, but I see that there's also a French and a German release. Are these English-friendly? And has anyone seen either the French or Spanish BD of Valmont?

Forman's imdb filmography has two entries post-Goya's Ghosts: Semafor: Greatest Hits 2 (2007) and A Walk Worthwhile (2009). It's a bit unclear to me what these things are. The latter looks like it might be a filmed play, and the title of the former makes me wonder if it's a collection of music videos. Does anyone here have any more info?

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Re: Miloš Forman (1932-2018)

#15 Post by whaleallright » Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:43 am

Taking Off is fantastic, and I admit that it's probably the last Forman film I love. Its failure caused him to retrench—he never again worked in the semi-improvisational fashion as that and his Czech films. Though I would never begrudge Forman his deserved success, I think the other American films, despite varying widely in quality, all lack the exploratory qualities of those early pictures. Amadeus is pretty involving—it's a good script, and the few minutes of Forman's staging of Don Giovanni are stunning—but still kind of decorous and self-regarding. (Hair is nobody's idea of a masterpiece, and I mostly hate the music, but it probably is the most inventive of his post-Taking Off films.)

I would second the recommendation of Turnaround. It's very good, and (as you might expect) funny, especially on the Czech years. There's also an out-of-print (but easily obtainable) "souvenir" book from Taking Off that has a great essay by Forman that recounts how the film came together.

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Re: Miloš Forman (1932-2018)

#16 Post by AidanKing » Wed Apr 18, 2018 11:25 am

MichaelB has written a nice obituary for Sight and Sound.

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Re: Passages

#17 Post by aox » Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:46 am

thirtyframesasecond wrote:I always assumed Amadeus wasn't a fashionable film to still revere - much like many of those huge Oscar winners of the 80s - but it really is superb.
While I don't mind the extended cut, I really wish the theatrical cut would get a proper BD release, or a BD release with both cuts. But, it is a superb film.

Loves of a Blonde is my favorite.

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Re: Miloš Forman (1932-2018)

#18 Post by cdnchris » Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:06 pm

I love Amadeus: it's one I watch regularly and have always been a bit hurt it seems to have fallen out of favour. I also like the extended cut as I always felt it further pushed that Salieri's actual battle was with God. The part where Stanze shows up, accepting his proposition to help her husband, was taken by him as the most direct "fuck you, you hack" from God Himself.

Outside of that the film is also one of the most entertaining I've seen.

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Re: Miloš Forman (1932-2018)

#19 Post by aox » Thu Apr 19, 2018 1:41 pm

cdnchris wrote: The part where Stanze shows up, accepting his proposition to help her husband, was taken by him as the most direct "fuck you, you hack" from God Himself.
Never thought about it that way. It's been years, but I always disliked that added scene because it felt forced to me from her character's perspective. I really need to revisit this.

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Re: Miloš Forman (1932-2018)

#20 Post by cdnchris » Thu Apr 19, 2018 2:12 pm

Just before she shows Salieri is praying that God will fill him with at least one great piece of music, saying if he does he will give Mozart the tutoring position. He then asks God to throw him "one sign who you favour" and immediately he receives a knock at the door that Stanze has shown up. She has shown up to give herself to him so that, in return, Salieri will give Mozart the job. So he sees it as God saying he would rather not give him that gift and favours Mozart. It's also twice as insulting to him because he did promise God he would remain celibate if He allowed him to be a composer, and now it appears either God doesn't care or is just fucking with him by having Stanze show up. That's why he dismisses her in the most humiliating way and seems angry.

I think some people think the nudity was added just to add it but I always thought it made the scene more effective because of the celibacy angle because that would have probably been a huge temptation for Salieri. I think the added portion also does a good job of showing Stanze's humiliation from her side and it also makes more sense at the end when she sees Salieri I her house and is absolutely horrified that he is there.

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Re: Miloš Forman (1932-2018)

#21 Post by jegharfangetmigenmyg » Sun Apr 29, 2018 2:59 pm

Happy to see all the Taking Off-hype here. I finally got to see it, and I have to agree that it's a forgotten gem, and yes close to a masterpiece. There is just a free flow to the storytelling that I found unique, and it was engaging throughout. It is somewhat similar to his Czech output, but I found Black Peter and Loves of a Blonde to be too derivative of the French new wave, especially Truffaut (whom I am not a fan of). Firemen's Ball just did not work for me at all; not funny and allegorical it is way too heavy-handed. Clearly, it is an important film, historically, but artistically, I wouldn't say.

Also, viewing a handful of his early his films in a row, I noticed that the party scene (sometimes large, sometimes smaller) is somewhat of a Forman signature. There are lengthy party scenes in both Black Peter and Loves, and of course most of Firemen's, and the famous one in Taking Off. Adding to this there is also a key party scene in One Flew, and if I remember correctly, it continues through the rest of his output.

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Re: Miloš Forman (1932-2018)

#22 Post by MongooseCmr » Sun Apr 29, 2018 3:39 pm

A major one in Amadeus as well

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Re: Miloš Forman (1932-2018)

#23 Post by MichaelB » Sun Apr 29, 2018 5:31 pm

jegharfangetmigenmyg wrote:Firemen's Ball just did not work for me at all; not funny and allegorical it is way too heavy-handed. Clearly, it is an important film, historically, but artistically, I wouldn't say.
Very much a matter of opinion: I think it's hilarious - and Forman strenuously denied that he had any allegorical intent (it was based on an actual firemen's ball that he and his co-writers inadvertently witnessed).

Maybe try watching it again without trying to divine an allegorical purpose?

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