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1 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I don't know what to say, but 1. Don't believe the hype, perhaps - very hard to watch, 2. What's this film about?, 24 Feb 2012
This review is from: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
This is a meandering review - the weirdest I've ever written - about what must be the weirdest film I've ever seen. If you feel you don't want to get lost in these thoughts brought on by the film, then you're better off not botethering with this long review.

Even the relative 'good bits' of this film make it seem to me after I've watched the whole film as if I were being conned for sticking with the film. When I should turned the pile of rot off.

Ha, but the producers, or writers, thought of that, throwing in the odd surprise and change of tone and pace just to get people who loathe this film to the end. In one respect, I'm glad. As I was thinking during the film, I really want to review this pile of direness, to warn, to make some attempt to set the record straight, I suppose. But I am sure I would be hounded by people telling me I can't review something I haven't watched fully. (As I have been over severely bad films that become a bandwagon of apparent frenzied love and respect somehow. Like with The Beatles in the 1960s, something to do for repressed people, anything to alight on, but mostly about the fan's extreme self love or self loss, or both, than anything else.)

The film's so bad I can't even really talk or write much about it, the film's below all of that in a sense (this is not my usual attitude to criticism or communication.)

Two things I was thinking about this film as it moved towards the end which I want to mention: 1. I began to think, through my hating it, the film may actually have worth (in keeping with so many modern films in this torturously pessimistic, beaten down age in film culture) as a piece of comment that is high, high, high sarcasm upon cultures and attitudes over Eastern 'wisdom', practices, lifestyles, Zen and Buddhism. Basically the film could be sending up so much of it in a most pointed, aggressive manner - that's it is empty, stupid, soul denying arrogance, stupid and blinkered in the utter extreme.

OK, the more I think of it, the more I think that's what this film is, and as such, perhaps it's a very good film - one of the most mocking pieces of art I've come across. (And so is reminiscent of composer Dmitri Shostakovich with his nerve shattering, pain inducing notes, designed to trick the Soviet rulers into thinking they were of genuine nationalistic fervour, but were deeply sarcastic, portraying torture). But I don't know what to do with a star rating for this film. I don't know. I don't know.

Anyway, the second thing I thought is, not to get carried away into thinking this film is wise and / or a normal Eastern / Buddhist film of much worth, about life. It's really not - it just can't be, on the simplest level.

Don't think that it is a simply, transparent film in the vein of those old folk stories of the East, just because of the beautiful lake and mountain scenery and the excellent, unsentimental soundtrack. That it is serious or worth anything at all unless it is a deeply sarcastic piece. But, then, I'm just thinking, isn't that exactly, exactly what the film's saying itself? What it was made to do, what it was made for? I am thinking the film intentionally shows strongly, through the facade that it is a typical, simple Buddhist fable, that it just couldn't be one of those. I'm beginning to think this could be a very important film indeed.

And a very good one, but it's dismally hard to watch in the first instance, if not prepared. Which is not to say, in the light of this new appreciation, that it is bad I suppose - just extremely hard. If it was saying what I'm now suggesting it is saying, for those who value intelligence, real intelligence and not just quick fixes in any ways, a film such as this, from the drawing board is bound to be extremely hard to watch.

Hmmm. Perhaps I should recommend people to see it then. Is it that this film is not one or the other, but both. Like the awful, unwatchably produced 'Shutter Island'. But that happens to be one of the wisest, deepest, most telling films in concept I've ever seen. But it's still, mostly, dire film making in the extreme, and so badly made (intentionally?) that it's often painful for a film fan to watch.

Anyhow, I think, realising what this film is, it isn't both truly awful and profound in and from that. It's awfulness is not as a bad film, but a film that centres around deep, deep, deep awfulness, that is so hard to go through. I think. Yes, I'm thinking now this one could be one of the greats - but it was so sore to watch I don't know if that's really possible. About a sstar rating, I don't know, I don't know. One star was my first notion.

I'll have to watch it a number of times, and kind of update this as a report. But that will take some time. The film has thrown me, and I didn't like watching it one bit (except the soundtrack is a real find - minimal, harmonic Eastern beauty meets Morricone sountracks).

These 2 films in this style are very far from an inexhaustible list. I suppose it's the zeitgeist in film, actually, but no-one is really commenting. Anyone seen Submarine? It's the king of this zeitgeist, but revels in being only trash (and, honestly, the very worst), supposedly to echo the times.

You will see that this review comes from finding the film 1. If at the simplest face value - quite abominable, 2. A difficult film to watch, and no straightforward, genuinely upfront experience anyway, 3. Actually, in the end, far too off target to really be a simple, face value film, 4. Considering all of that, considering "Spring, Summer..." must be a higher piece of art, a very good film indeed.

And you'll see that I've trouble giving this a star rating in the context, and the review starts with saying only my base reactions before a deeper appreciation.

But, am I truly the only one to see this, to think this? And I have to say, my reaction to the film was such that I couldn't possibly agree with the hoardes of reviewers in Amazon and other sites, professional and amateur, who think this is a simple masterpiece of standard Buddhist wisdom. I conclude the whole point of the film is a kind of dialectic antithesis AGAINST much of how Buddhist culture is represented in modern life, at least in the popular sense. As it is a dialectic antithesis, it is a positive argument that need not annialate what it is sending up, but appreciates what is true of it, and moves towards creating a synthetic truth argument.

As I seem to be the only person so far to have published such thoughts, to contrast with the legions of other opinions (which I can't understand at all), I'm not taking away my thoughts at the beginning of this review which show how bad I found this film at first. At least to make an impression in a wilderness of, to me, incomprehensible eulogies of the simple, plain, normal truth of the film, I leave my original thoughts where they are.

However, again, I think this could be a pretty great film, and perhaps worth 5 stars. And in any case, it will take me further watchings (if I can bear them, it won't be very soon) before I can determine.

CONCLUSION:

I DON'T KNOW.

3 out of 5 stars, just because you have to give some rating, and that seems the most meaningless to me when I don't know what to rate. It could easily have been 7 out of 2 stars, or - truthfully and accurately (actually accurate) - 0 out of 10 stars, or - just as truthfully and accurately - 10 out of 10 stars, 100% (or nearly).

Sorry if that doesn't make much sense to you. I don't know how else to say it. What an enigma.

What I don't understand is how people take this film as sweet, simple and a kind of traditional classic tale or character depiction, that's plainly, simply, unmistakably and perhaps typically "successful". It's not. I don't understand at all.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 14 Jun 2013 22:30:13 BDT
What a load of rambling, incoherent, illiterate rubbish. Your review I mean. The film's wonderful.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Jun 2013 04:21:03 BDT
Last edited by the author on 15 Jun 2013 04:26:18 BDT
Aha, it's you once more. I'm not surprised now, as I'm just actually scrolling through old reviews I'd written to see which you've decided to write the same things below - as if someone forced you to read even one of them.

However, this time, in this review, Mr. Asgard (real name?), I don't think I can say you are untrue.

It's a very rambling review. It can seem incoherent, because the film perplexed me so much. It's not illiterate, not quite anyway, but it's not very literately produced, I'm afraid. The review is just a reaction, an extreme one because I was so confused. And, this time anyway, I actually understand concerns about the review.

Not that I suppose you've even read it or the others of mine you've processed with your alleged criticisms. For the other reviews - how can you be so surprised about a long review. How can you be so troubled and "give up"? A quick scroll shows the length and a few sentences show what to expect.

About the film, it's only a worthy film if it's an extreme piece against clichéd aspects of Zen type cultures or practices, and probably against the new world which laps at anything mysterious or unknowably wise seeming which pokes its head out. If the film is about that, then it is a worthy film. But it seems to me, most people see only exactly the opposite of that in this film - if this film is a "send up", they ARE the new world groupies even lapping up the extreme, extreme sarcasm of this film.

Hmmm.

On the other hand, if it's a face value film, it's one of the worst piles of rubbish I've ever seen, the opposite of "wonderful".

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Jun 2013 16:18:56 BDT
My god, he's started again. Get my gun.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Sep 2013 04:35:04 BDT
Excuse me?
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