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Screening Log 2005 - What did you watch this week?
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Danny Baldwin
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Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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Location: San Diego, CA

PostPosted: 08.01.2005 4:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

7/14 - 7/31

I, for some reason, have been forgetting to post here each week.

In preferential order:

Hustle & Flow (Brewer, 2005)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Burton, 2005)

Ice Princess (Fywell, 2005)

March of the Penguins (Jacquet, 2005)

A Very Long Engagement (Jeunet, 2004)

Wedding Crashers (Dobkin, 2005)

XXX: State of the Union (Tamhori, 2005)

The Island (Bay, 2005)

Prozac Nation (Skjoldbj?rg, 2001)

Man of the House (Herek, 2005)

Nothing all that great here, but I will leave a few comments.

Hustle & Flow, despite occassionally going for some Singleton-esque exploitive cheese (the scene in which DJay throws the kid out of the house in his stroller comes to mind), is a very good movie, full of great performances (DJ Qualls is pitch-perfect and very funny in his role) and surprisingly exuberant musical sequences.

I totally got Michael Jackson from the Depp performance in Carlie, but, if anything, this added to my ability to enjoy it; I thought he was hysterical. "Everything in this factory is 'eat-ible' even I'm 'eat-ible', but that would be called cannabalism, which is frowned upon by certain societies."

Ice Princess is the goofiest movie ever, but it's far more likable than any other 'tween movie this side of Hilary Duff.

A Very Long Engagement looks good and sounds good, but isn't particularly involving or interesting. I much prefer Amelie.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 08.03.2005 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ... an improvement upon the 1971 version.


Yeah, every time I watch Willy Wonka I always say to myself, "You know, this is a pretty good movie, but it's just not overlong, unfocused, and ill-paced enough." I'm glad Burton fixed it.

I agree that those who insist on seeing Wacko Jacko peeking out from under Depp's top hat are projecting their own ideas onto the character. Wonka is contemptuous where Jackson would be desperately ingratiating. And let's not forget -- putting aside personal ideas about how he chooses to demonstrate it -- Michael Jackson actually likes children.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 08.04.2005 1:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
Yeah, every time I watch Willy Wonka I always say to myself, "You know, this is a pretty good movie, but it's just not overlong, unfocused, and ill-paced enough." I'm glad Burton fixed it.


Pauline Kael said this about the original: "A fantasy with music for children that never finds an appropriate style; it's stilted and frenetic, like Prussians at play." I have no idea what that last part means, but I've never liked Willy Wonka, either. I don't even think I'd call it a good movie, let alone a pretty good movie.

In all seriousness, I feel Burton's version is better focused and better paced than the original--for me, pacing problems only exist during the dreadful musical numbers, which stop the magic dead in its tracks. Burton might again prove that he lacks command over his narratives, but for the first time since Edward Scissorhands his sheer visual and fantastical invention outweighs his story lapses, to the point where "story" no longer matters. To use a hyperbolic analogy not involving Prussians... complaining about a lack of "focus" in Burton's Factory is a lot like complaining about the logic lapses in Un Chien Andalou. It hardly seems relevant.

I suppose the difference between "magical" and "flat" is largely a matter of taste; whimsy is in the eye of the beholder. (I also don't mean to elevate Burton's version too high; as much as I enjoyed and admired it, I'd still just call it a pretty good movie.)

Eric
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 08.04.2005 2:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would include the original among my favorites of all-time, but maybe that's just because of the fact that I grew up watching it.

To me, the new one is "flat" on certain levels, but prevails due to its uniqueness and bubbly charictures.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 08.04.2005 2:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny Baldwin wrote:
I would include the original among my favorites of all-time, but maybe that's just because of the fact that I grew up watching it.


I grew up with the original, too, but even as a kid it left me cold--I never sensed the transporting magic that so many of my friends did (and do). In fact, the new one touched youthful nerves in me that the old one never did, even when I was young.

To be fair, though, I haven't seen the 1971 version for quite a few years. Perhaps I should give it a 24th chance.

Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 08.04.2005 4:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
complaining about a lack of "focus" in Burton's Factory is a lot like complaining about the logic lapses in Un Chien Andalou. It hardly seems relevant.


Well, if a narrative is a sort of discourse between artist and audience, then it seems that the former ought not mumble.

Anyway, I never did and still don't really see Willy Wonka as whimsical per se; I see it as a candy-coated piece of macabre. "There's no earthly way of knowing / which direction we are going ..." Still gives me the willies. Watch it as a horror movie, you might like it better. Very Happy
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 08.04.2005 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
Well, if a narrative is a sort of discourse between artist and audience, then it seems that the former ought not mumble.



In general I agree, but I'm open to different kinds of conversations, too. There are other wavelengths by which an artist and his audience can communicate. In Factory, Burton's narrative may mumble a little, but nearly everything else speaks eloquently--including his sense of the macabre.

Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 08.05.2005 12:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Count Chocula:

horror::

Tim Burton:

macabre
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 08.05.2005 1:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

:lol:

Funny because it's true.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 08.05.2005 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
Well, if a narrative is a sort of discourse between artist and audience, then it seems that the former ought not mumble.


I'm reminded of something David Thomson wrote a few months ago when discussing Otto Preminger: "What sort of film criticism or commentary is this, you may be asking, with rather more the sense of a dream's dissolve than of analytical exactness. Very well, but don't knock dream as an approach to a medium so close to reverie."

As viewers, we can choose which response mode best suits a particular viewing experience, and for me the conventional story-and-character mode just didn't really apply when watching Charlie and the Chocoloate Factory. You're right, of course, that Burton's brand of the macabre is pretty harmless, but I like your earlier phrase of "candy-coated macabre," which I think applies to Burton to some degree.

Eric
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Michael Scrutchin
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PostPosted: 08.12.2005 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's been while...

Aug. 1 to Aug. 7, 2005:



  • A Man Escaped (Bresson, 1956) A-

  • Feeding the Masses (Griffin, 2004) C

  • The Thing (Carpenter, 1982) B+

  • The Tingler (Castle, 1959) B+

  • Broken Flowers (Jarmusch, 2005) B+

  • The Upside of Anger (Binder, 2005) C-

  • Lancelot of the Lake (Bresson, 1974) D



I just started getting into Bresson. While I liked Diary of a Country Priest and A Man Escaped, I hated Lancelot of the Lake. The bloodletting that opens and closes the film crosses the line into unintentional camp -- heads and limbs are lopped off, causing great, spurting geysers of bright red paint as the dummy bodies topple over. Most of the film, though, is a terminal bore, so tedious that it seems twice as long as its 80-minute running time. The actors are emotionally vacant and lacking chemistry, so much so that the drama barely registers, and we're left to concentrate on things like the incessantly clanking body armor and Bresson's decision to focus solely on the ground, feet, and hooves during the jousting sequence. Dear God, make it stop. An effective deflating of the Arthurian legend, sure, as there's no trace of adventure, magic, or romance, but what's the fucking point? I don't get it. Bresson's minimalism worked beautifully in Diary of a Country Priest and A Man Escaped, but Lancelot didn't work for me -- even the cinematography is flat and ugly.

Carpenter's The Thing and Castle's The Tingler are a lot of fun. Broken Flowers is good, but it hasn't resonated with me. Now, at least, Bill Murray's seriocomic middle-age ennui trilogy is complete (Murray's great at it, but it's gotta stop).
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 08.13.2005 1:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just got back from The Skeleton Key, which I thought was pretty entertaining, but I'm curious to see how many were baffled by the ending, as many reviewers seem to be. I suppose since I've read a whole lot of horror stories, I guessed what would transpire the first time Kate Hudson meets Gena Rowlands, and certain throw away lines during the course of the movie pretty much confirmed my suspicions. Just curious to see what everyone else thought, and if anybody else guessed before the finale.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 08.13.2005 1:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael B. Scrutchin wrote:


Carpenter's The Thing and Castle's The Tingler are a lot of fun.


Is this the first time you've seen The Thing, Michael? As for The Tingler, I'm not a huge fan of William Castle's stuff, but this flick is so kooky, and the idea behind the titular creature is so novel, bizarre, weirdly logical, that I always get a kick out of it. The first time I saw it I was around eight or nine, and I came in during the scene when the wife is scared to death by the bathtub full of blood. For the longest time, I was certain I'd seen that moment in color, yet I knew it was a black-and-white film, so I thought my own mind had been playing tricks on me.
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Michael Scrutchin
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PostPosted: 08.13.2005 3:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
Is this the first time you've seen The Thing, Michael?


I saw bits and pieces of it as a kid, but this was my first full viewing. And I still need to catch up on other '80s Carpenter stuff like The Fog, Prince of Darkness, and They Live. I only recently saw Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13, a pretty killer refashioning of Rio Bravo and Night of the Living Dead; it's much more intense, scary, and atmospheric than the remake (which I saw last night; not bad). I'm ashamed that I didn't start digging into Carpenter's filmography earlier, especially since Halloween is one of my all-time favorites.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 08.13.2005 4:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael B. Scrutchin wrote:
And I still need to catch up on other '80s Carpenter stuff like The Fog, Prince of Darkness, and They Live.


I almost envy your experiencing these for the first time. The Fog and Prince of Darkness are good, They Live is a hoot, but my two favorites from the 80s, right below The Thing, which is my favorite Carpenter, are Escape from New York and Big Trouble in Little China. Do yourself a favor, though, and just pretend that there's no such movie as Memoirs of an Invisible Man. Worst. Carpenter. Ever. Makes Escape from LA look like Escape from New York.
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