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Episode 110 - Z (w/ Richard Lawson)


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Poll: Should "Z" enter The Canon? (25 member(s) have cast votes)

Should "Z" enter The Canon?

  1. Yes (25 votes [100.00%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 100.00%

  2. No (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

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#1 Dalton Maltz

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 11:10 PM

This week, Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson joins Amy to discuss the Academy Award-winning Algerian-French film “Z.” They discuss the film’s strong stance on Greek politics, the concept of film as activism, and the vilification of pacifism. Plus, we hear why “Z” reminds Amy and Richard of all the lost great works of the world and why the movie is essential viewing for young Americans.

#2 FictionIsntReal

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 12:29 PM

I think the video Richard Lawson's referring to is not of a politician, but Australian journalist Andrew Bolt.

The pederasty wasn't "subtext". When he's looking up at the teen on the balcony, the driver says to him "Horny again?", and he gives a smiling nod "Yeah!" in reply. I wouldn't have been sure what was going on during that scene if it hadn't been for that dialogue, but later scenes cement it. I also found the pinball scene odd before he even gets handsy, because he clicks his heels in the air and jovial music plays as he runs off. I was thinking not simply of him being a villain stereotype, but also a Greek stereotype.

I'd heard of Z long before I'd heard of any podcasts, and it seems to have played a role in the career of a later president of Greece, and despite being so specific to that place also apparently had a Hindi remake, so it seems canonical to me.

I'm fine with the Canon mostly consisting of English-language films, since that's largely who's putting it together. But an English-speaking cinephile's canon would still have to include Ingmar Bergman & The Bicycle Thief.

#3 HoldenMartinson

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 02:05 PM

This is a solid yes from me. You can see the DNA of this picture in so many things, and the fact that this presages the paranoid thriller that would dominate the 70s--especially given that this is pre-Watergate--is radical in its own way. Also, I think we'd be okay without Three Days of the Condor. Z is that good.

#4 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 02:32 PM

I'd also never seen this movie before (having studied Oscar history, I knew of it, since it got a bunch of nominations/wins), but this viewing did not disappoint at all. Highly engrossing and effective, and the large cast is well-chosen; you can easily tell people apart from each other by their type and bearing. The editing at times feels like something you would have seen in the post-MTV era, pretty impressive to see it used effectively in something from 1969.

I don't know that I accept the argument from the hosts that admitting this means that all other political thrillers must therefore be excluded, but I do say that Z is strong enough to stand as one of the prime examples of this kind of film. Extra points for being about a country not often well-represented in cinema and for having a legit real-world impact.

Definite yes.

#5 Marsellus_H

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 03:41 PM

Man... this might have been the most surprising personal discovery since I started listening to the canon. It's simply a damn smart film, all the things are in place in the script and in the way it's shot. I loved it. And as of cultural relevance... somebody pleace make a list with all the analogies to be found in certain contemporary administrations in Turkey, Belarus, Russia, and most recently the U.S. Easy yes vote from me.

Also, as of that pedophile/gay character: I really think that depiction is a bit stuck in the 60s. I'm usually fine with bad guys being gay, just as I'm fine with good guys being gay. And the character itself didn't came across to me as particularly portraiyng homosexuality in a bad light. I mean that guy is a cynic and a scumbag, pretty much regardless of who he fucks at night. I think, on the other hand, the truly repugnant stuff was the reaction of the state officials who seem to be pretty fine with the rape of boys, as long as the rapist supports the government. But I really wished for some kind of a counter-balance on the pacifist side of the story. How would they react if one of their important supporters did something similar? If you make sexual crimes a subject of your big, epic metaphorical film, you should go through with it, or leave it out all-together. This way it came accross like, "yea, we like peace and justice, but that doesn't make us weak and gay." And that's stupid.

#6 nokori3byo

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 05:34 PM

This is my first time commenting on this board and I'm sorry to say I must withhold my vote.

I feel that Z is eminently worthy of inclusion, but not at the expense of an equally worthy (and not very similar) film. Yes, it's your podcast and you can do what you like, but excluding TDOTC simply to add weight to the Z decision and without at least according it a vs. episode isn't broadly consistent with what I've been hearing on The Canon.

To my mind, TDOTC is one of an entirely different collection of films which includes the likes of The Parallax View, The Conversation, and Klute in which dramatic scenarios, somewhat removed from real world events, embody the paranoia of their era. Z, by contrast, has more in common with All the President's Men with its focus on investigation and legal proceedings within a more clearly defined historical context. They differ in the degree of directness with which they depict actual events, but otherwise belong to the axis of historical drama and biography.

Yes to Z, but not at the expense of giving Condor a fair trial.

On the topic of the gay, fascist thug which seems to be such a hot button here, the first thing that went through my mind was Ernst Rohm and the disgraced SA element in the Nazi Party. Their mass murder in The Night of the Long Knives was partly precipitated by disapproval of endemic inter-generational gay relationships within the SA. On the other hand, Hitler apparently knew of Rohm's homosexuality, but is said to have remarked "the SA are a band of warriors and not a moral institution." So, it could be a comment by Gravas on the hypocrisy of fascist institutions privately tolerating behavior which they would officially condemn.

#7 Johnny Pomatto

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 06:49 PM

I had been aware of this film for years but had never seen it. It always sounded like homework. But I was determined to give it a chance. Last night I couldn't have been in less of a mood to see the film. Anything political these days exhausts and depresses me. It took me a little while to get in the rhythm of the film. During the opening scene's discussion of mildew, I honestly wondered if the film was supposed to seem absurd and satyrical. That opening seemed rather reminiscent of Buñuel, (there really should be more Buñuel films in The Canon), but soon after that I started to acclimate to the tone of the film more. Once I did, it truly sucked me in. I'm not someone who is automatically able to imprint our current political climate on every past tale of social upheaval, factual or otherwise, but this film did seem far too relevant to today's general mood. The film did inspire me to do a bit more research about the events that inspired it, as they were almost completely unfamiliar with me. I questioned whether or not it mattered that this film is so specific to a time and place to be essential for The Canon. And I was rather surprised by Amy's direct comparison to 3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR, which I didn't think of at all while watching this. To me, Condor is far more of an escapist thriller than this, which felt far too real. But as long as the inclusion of Z doesn't displace the chances of other European political films like THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISE, I say it should absolutely be voted into The Canon, if for no other reason that we need some Greek representation in there. At least until we do a versus episode between THE LOBSTER and DOGTOOTH.

#8 robert-cop

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 08:10 AM

Yes to Z. No to Amy making this a versus episode at the last second.

#9 NYNoirFan

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 11:54 AM

Great film. Interesting discussion from two knowledgeable film viewers with a fresh perspective, as someone who has seen the film multiple times and written about it through several different prisms. Big yes!

Would however not at all agree with the all or nothing twist on the end of the episode concerning political thrillers. I think there is a diverse amount of films of this ilk which bring enough unique cinematic and historical street cred to justify their place in The Canon(although admittedly that is a hard thing to quantify).

"Seven Days in May"(my preferable Frankenheimer over "The Manchurian Candidate), "The Day of the Jackal," "Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion," and "Three Days of the Condor"(although does it outshine any of Hitchcock's man on the runs?) are just a few of the films that could be painted with this broad brush.

Also, random thought, but I would be interested in an examination of 1943's "Keeper of the Flame," in the context of today's political climate. Although the veneer of nobility in that film clearly was not necessary in today's climate...

First time posting in a while, but very glad that the show is back!

Also, 50% Criterion sale at B & N for Costa-Gavras' "The Confession" and "State of Siege" if anyone's appetite was whetted by this selection!

Edited by NYNoirFan, 12 July 2017 - 12:01 PM.


#10 jmhimara

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 11:30 AM

Sadly this film is hardly shown in Greece anymore, even though its message is more relevant then ever (with the rise of the extreme right in the parliament).

Definitely a yes.

View Postrobert-cop, on 12 July 2017 - 08:10 AM, said:

No to Amy making this a versus episode at the last second.


That was a really stupid argument. Of course you're not including everything in The Canon. You don't need leave out EVERY political thriller that has been made to achieve that. For every "Z" or "Three days of the condor" there's hundreds of just terrible movies that won't make it. You don't need to have just one movie of every genre.

#11 jmhimara

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 01:34 PM

And I don't know how to delete a post.

#12 joel_rosenbaum

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 08:16 AM

Unanimous, guys! No one fuck this up!

#13 GeneShallot

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 07:44 PM

Z's been on my to-watch list forever, so this was a great excuse to finally check it out. And boy howdy. Great film. Great enough to where I'd vote it in just on that alone. Even if we're talking Cold War-era political thrillers, I found it more arresting and more of a gut-punch than Three Days of the Condor, so easy 'yes' vote for me.

After the ending crawl, I was thinking "I really liked it, but some parts seemed a little far-fetched". Then I googled it and learned that was pretty much how it went down. Mind blown. Made me think how many other injustices and abuses of power have gone down throughout history, but sadly didn't have people with the power to bring it to light or to document it (like the case here), and have been lost & forgotten. Reminded me of The Act of Killing/The Look of Silence documentaries, about a genocide in Indonesia not well known outside of the country. Depressing & potentially shattering-your-faith-in-humanity, but well worth watching.

On a different note, so should we be pronouncing Z as "Zeta"? Is this like a Lost City of Z situation? (gah, I'm off to watch videos of kittens or something)

#14 phred2321

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 06:26 PM

is this the first unanimous vote?

#15 Muthsarah

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 09:16 PM

View Postphred2321, on 16 July 2017 - 06:26 PM, said:

is this the first unanimous vote?


I suspect Amy's gonna go with another weeks-old one-of-two-results recordings, but all the same, I'm ever optimistic she'll throw in an in improv something. I'd love to hear her response to this here particular vote.

Jinx.

I cast my vote (no points to Gryffindor for how I voted) after seeing the film for the first time. I had nothing to add to others' comments. Just enjoyed the hell out of it. 1969 was such wonderful year for movies and for pop culture, I wish I had been alive then to have some sort of personal context. Never NEVER woulda seen "Z" without this show.