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Screening Log 2005 - What did you watch this week?
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 01.25.2005 3:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

1/18 - 1/26

Are We There Yet? (Levant, 2004)

It's as bad as you thought it looked, but no more. One measly movie goes without saying I revisited Hotel Rwanda, House of Flying Daggers, Napoleon Dynamite, Spring Summer Fall Winter...and Spring, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Positioning on my 2004 list has flipped around a little bit. Million Dollar Baby will finalize it.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 01.30.2005 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1/24 ? 1/30/05

Lady Windermere?s Fan (Lubitsch, USA 1925)

House of Frankenstein (Kenton, USA 1944)

John and Mia (Dyekjaer, Denmark 2002)

Million Dollar Baby (Eastwood, USA 2004)

Escape From Alcatraz (Siegel, USA 1979)

The Lubitsch picture is one of the most dramatically taut silent pictures I?ve seen, developing its theme of self-sacrifice with genuine sophistication.

I finished off the weekend with an Eastwood double feature. Alcatraz is a systematic prison movie that deserves comparison to Bresson?s A Man Escaped and Becker?s Le Trou, the two best ?breakout? movies I?ve ever seen. As for Million Dollar Baby? well, the reason I go to the movies is for movies like Million Dollar Baby. I?ll be rooting for it on Oscar night.

Unforgiven, Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby. Any one of those would forever distinguish the career of any film director. Eastwood is clearly one of the best things going in Hollywood right now, one of the only artists interested in making movies for grownups.

Eric
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 01.31.2005 6:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
Unforgiven, Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby. Any one of those would forever distinguish the career of any film director. Eastwood is clearly one of the best things going in Hollywood right now, one of the only artists interested in making movies for grownups.


Indeed; I loved the film, also. And, as much as I love Michael Medved, I think he has committed a crime in divulging the ending of Million Dollar Baby, as a result of his own personal religious and political beliefs (which, to me, aren't at all offended by the conclusion of the movie). Unfortunately, I was listening to the radio show when it happened, and I can only imagine how much more affecting the movie would've been for me. The fact that it touched me as much as it did, even when I was aware of what would happen, is a true testament to its power. It's an extreme tragedy that Medved, an otherwise insighftful commentator, would even think to stoop to such a level of unprofessionalism. I hear Rush did, too, but I can't testify to that. I'm glad I waited to compose my year's best list, because this one definitely deserves a place on it.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 01.31.2005 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1/24/05-1/30/05

Electra (Bowman, 2005) - Eh. Jennifer Gardner in tights. But otherwise, eh.

Kill, Baby...Kill! (M. Bava, 1966) - Neat vengeful spirit flick with a genuinely creepy little ghost girl (whose image Fellini borrowed for ?Toby Dammit? in Spirits of the Dead). Atmosphere aplenty, and the crumbling architecture and barren streets lend a sense of the surreal. My favorite shot is of three men bearing a casket over the crest of hill.

Pieces (Simon, 1982) - I?m guessing the only direction Paul L. Smith got for his role as the World?s Most Obvious Red Herring was, ?Crazy-eyes! More crazy-eyes!? Lots of unintentional humor and intentional padding.

Punk Rock Holocaust (Sakmann, 2005) - Pieces was not the worst movie I watched this week.

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (Buechler, 1988) - Still better than Part 3, even with the most annoying heroine in the series; possibly the most annoying heroine in the annals of the slasher genre.

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (Berling, Singofsky, 2004) - I haven?t been a big fan of Metallica since the Black Album, but this doc was consistently engaging, especially if you know the band?s history. Although the Napster debacle is touched upon, I would have liked to have known more about Lars?s feelings on the subject: Does he still feel the same about it after the fact? Does he understand why fans backlashed? Would he have taken the same stand, or taken it as aggressively, knowing the results?

Hide and Seek (Polson, 2005) - Good thriller derailed by utterly routine cat-and-mouse conclusion. Still, I think it's worth seeing, maybe as a rental or on one of the movie channels, even if it ends in disappointment.

Dogtown and Z-Boys (Peralta, 2001) - Fascinating doc about the advent of the modern skateboarding phenomenon, and the people who--as the film argues--essentially created its style single-handedly. I was about the same age that the subjects were in the late 70?s, and it took me back to hear the music and see the fashions. Sometimes not in a good way.
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matt header
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PostPosted: 01.31.2005 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Elsewhere, I posted a list of my favorite films of 2004. I'll have to revise that by adding Million Dollar Baby and, with maybe a little more enthusiasm, The Aviator, which is one of the least typical movie biographies I've ever seen and, I would go so far as to say, one of Scorsese's best.

As long as one of those two movies wins on Oscar night, my faith in the Academy voters won't be completely destroyed.
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Jim Harper
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PostPosted: 01.31.2005 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

24/01/05

Evil Dead Trap (dir. Toshiharu Ikeda, 1988)

25/01/05

Kokkuri (dir. Takahisa Zeze, 1997)*

Session 9 (dir. Brad Anderson, 2001)

26/01/05

Azumi (dir. Ryuhei Kitamura, 2003)*

Crazy Lips (dir. Hirohisa Sasako, 2000)*

The Exorcist III (dir. William Peter Blatty, 1990)

27/01/05

Pi (dir. Darren Aronofsky, 1998)*

28/01/05

Naked Blood (dir. Hisayasu Sato, 1995)*

Hellboy (dir. Guillermo Del Toro, 2004)*

Long Dream (dir. Higuchinsky, 2000)

29/01/05

Uzumaki (dir. Higuchinsky, 2000)

31/01/05

Full Metal Jacket (dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1987)

The only new film I've watched this week that I didn't get something out of was Crazy Lips, which is absolute bollocks.

Kokkuri is an excellent serious horror film, in a similar vein to Memento Mori. Not as great, but still highly recommended. Hellboy and Azumi are both great popcorn movies; very little substance but lots of fun nonetheless.

Naked Blood is interesting, but short on ideas.

I still hate Kubrick.
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mfritschel
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PostPosted: 02.01.2005 2:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Million Dollar Baby (Eastwood, 2005) - Best movie of the year

The Village (Shyamalan, 2004) - for all of its faults I actually liked it.

The Bourne Supremacy (Greengrass, 2004) - I really like Greengrass added directorial style, but from apart from that there really wasn't much to the movie to entertain me.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 02.01.2005 3:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mfritschel wrote:
Million Dollar Baby (Eastwood, 2005) - Best movie of the year


I can't remember so many of us ever feeling so strongly about the same film. Is Million better than Before Sunset? Well, Linklater's picture has been coursing through my veins for six months, but perhaps in another six months I'll feel even better about Million. I'm always skeptical when movies earn overkill buzz, but in this case it's not just hype--it's the real thing.

Eric
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Monkeypox
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PostPosted: 02.01.2005 4:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Million Dollar Baby -

Hillary Swank playing a redneck boy again, so she can go back to being the Next Karate Kid or journeying to the center of the earth. Hey, I gotta pay the bills, too. Okay, I'll admit it, she's alright in this.

But she's got huge teeth. Wonder if Frankie's got to special order her mouthguards. Clint's playing the guy that Clint's been playing since he got old, but I like it anyway. Another indictment on Hollywood's youth fascination. I'm supposed to believe something coming out of the mouth of a blank-faced, blank-eyed, empty-headed Tara Reid? Morgan Freeman and Clint have the scars, kid.

What was it that Danny DeVito said in The Big Kahuna? Something about regrets...

And ten minutes later, I was tired of them both. There's nothing new in them, and if this is how they continue their careers, I'd rather they be put out to pasture. Somewhere in there's a metaphor. If I get Morgan Freeman to narrate it, people will believe me.

And then there's the "story", which might've worked for me, if I didn't know anything about boxing or rednecks. Writers got lazy and I got bored.

And then, the "WTF?!" moment of the film, at which point I was no longer able to suspend my disbelief and groaned... audibly. I wanted to leave, but I don't believe in that.

Everything after that, a clumsy manipulation. I flicked on the lights and saw the strings. I felt cheated and lied to. A friend asked me, and I spat out "overrated." I rarely feel this angry leaving a film. Less cliches in Rocky IV. Remember when you found out Dolph Lundgren was the Ubermensch, speaks 37 languages including Esperanto, and discovered cold fusion? It was like that... disappointment.
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 02.01.2005 5:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

1/25 - 1/31

Assault on Precinct 13 (Richet, 2005) - I had to attend the screening at a theatre aways away and, there, the high-school kids had to attend classes, on Thursday. I was a bit creeped out at the many truency officers around (even though my school had the day off for teacher prep.), especially considering I was seeing an R rated movie without an adult, so I think that might've affected my ability to enjoy the film. I disliked it quite a bit. To me, violence has to be either "cool," which is rare, or grusome, and director Richet tries to make it both, here. He fails to a considerable degree; I still can't get into aimless shooting that is devoid of strategy. At least Ethan Hawke and Lawrence Fishburne are decent leads.

Million Dollar Baby (Eastwood, 2004) - Discussed.

Silver City (Sayles, 2004) - Sayles has got a great plot on his hands this time, but his blatant Bush-bashing constantly took me out of the movie. The conclusion is kind of a cop-out, too, but I was pretty involved for the entire duration.

Twilight Samurai (Yamada, 2004) - Thematically and stylistically stunning, and totally the opposite of what I was expecting. I can't say I dug it enough to call it one of 2004's best, but I liked it a lot.

The Story of the Weeping Camel (Davaa, Falorni; 2004) - Could've made for an interesting short, but the many fascinating elements drown in the insufferable length of a fairly short 87 minutes. The camel-delivery scene is amazing, but the rest was too melodramatic for even my tastes. I think the plotting involving humans was for me a bit like The Way Home was for Beltmann.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 02.01.2005 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Monkeypox wrote:
Million Dollar Baby -

It was like that... disappointment.


I think your comments are deeply dismissive, and fail to regard the way tone and characterization not only justify the "cliches" but transcend them. What's interesting about Million has virtually nothing to do with plot or sports. What do they say about the trees obscuring the forest?

Eric
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matt header
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PostPosted: 02.01.2005 6:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
What's interesting about Million has virtually nothing to do with plot or sports. What do they say about the trees obscuring the forest?



Exactly. Unforgiven and Mystic River both stem from genre exercises - Western and murder mystery, respectively - but wind up being about regret, remorse, societal decay, and the loss of innocence. Million Dollar Baby's cliches lure us into a sense of expectation that's totally shattered and subverted.

Quote:
Sayles has got a great plot on his hands this time, but his blatant Bush-bashing constantly took me out of the movie. The conclusion is kind of a cop-out, too, but I was pretty involved for the entire duration.



I rather liked Silver City (I thought it was perhaps the most underrated film of 2004). I was worried that the film would be a simplistic rant against Bush as well, but Chris Cooper's caricature of him plays a relatively small role within the context of the film, and is a rather harmless satire in any case. The film, I think, is more about corporate cover-up and government apathy than about one single person.
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Michael Scrutchin
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PostPosted: 02.01.2005 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The last three weeks (Jan. 8-31):



  • The Dead Will Walk (Martin, 2004) B

  • Secret Things (Brisseau, 2002) B-

  • Collateral (Mann, 2004) B+

  • Time of the Wolf (Haneke, 2004) A-

  • The Twilight Samurai (Yamada, 2002) A-

  • Spider-Man 2 (Raimi, 2004) A-

  • Maria Full of Grace (Marston, 2004) A-

  • Young Adam (Mackenzie, 2003) C

  • Double Indemnity (Wilder, 1944) A-

  • Hero (Zhang, 2002) B+

  • King Kong (Cooper/Schoedsack, 1933) B+

  • The United States of Leland (Hoge, 2003) C-

  • The Door in the Floor (Williams, 2004) B-

  • The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Anderson, 2004) B+

  • I'm Not Scared (Salvatores, 2003) B+

  • Jersey Girl (Smith, 2004) B

  • The Terminal (Spielberg, 2004) B-

  • Springtime in a Small Town (Tian, 2002) B+



Now I only have a few more 2004 releases to see before I start whipping together my 2004 best-of piece. I'll see Sideways, Million Dollar Baby, Ray, and Mean Creek this week. I tried to see Eastwood's flick today, but the theater was having technical difficulties (the print had gotten wet, I'm told). I'd like to catch Hotel Rwanda, Bad Education, and House of Flying Daggers before finishing my 10-best, but I doubt I'll have time.

And I think The Life Aquatic might be my favorite Wes Anderson movie. I liked his others, but I always felt like I was missing out on part of the joke. With The Life Aquatic, I think I'm finally on his wavelength; maybe it's time to revisit Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums.
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Monkeypox
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PostPosted: 02.01.2005 11:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I liked Mystic River AND Unforgiven is one of my favorite films of all time, but if a key plot point, one which changes the story and the relationship among characters comes off as sadly absurd as it did in Million Dollar Baby, then it's not a very good film to me. If it relies on expressing character by means of caricature more ridiculous than I see on The Simpsons, then it's not a very good film to me. I don't give free passes based on someone's previous work.

I did not find the cartoonish characters or the absurdity present in either Mystic River or Unforgiven (okay, English Bob and Beauchamp were a little cartoony, but not grotesquely so).

If you feel the strings of manipulation, then the film won't work.

The turn in the story was not legitimately presented. I was expecting much more from this based on its lavish praise and Clint's previous films, and when I saw such glaring errors, it was fairly easy for me to look past the gloss and see the relatively poor story underneath.

All it means is that I felt the films flaws overcame its merits, which is how I feel about most films.
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matt header
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PostPosted: 02.03.2005 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seance on a Wet Afternoon (Forbes, 1964) A

A Tale of Two Sisters
(Kim, 2005) C+

Coach Carter
(Carter, 2005) D+

In Good Company
(Weitz, 2005) C-

Return of the Secaucus Seven
(Sayles, 1980) B-

The Woodsman
(Kassell, 2005) C-

Million Dollar Baby
(Eastwood, 2004) B+

The Aviator
(Scorsese, 2004) A

Primer
(Carruth, 2005) B-

The Assassination of Richard Nixon
(Mueller, 2005) B

I'm rather unimpressed with 2005 releases so far. A Tale of Two Sisters is intermittently spooky, but at least twenty minutes too long, relentlessly mean-spirited (not in a good chilling horror movie way, but in a bad no-pathos-or-humanism sort of way), and struggles to include a twist ending that feels pointless. Coach Carter's two minutes (approximately) of intriguing social/racial commentary is wasted because the film simplifies life in the ghetto into the last five seconds of the big high school basketball game; In Good Company should be a pleasant satire of corporate greed, but it's too stupid and follows cliche so relentlessly that it's practically impossible to take seriously.

Million Dollar Baby and The Aviator were both great, although I especially loved Aviator, which must be one of the least typical biographies I've ever seen. I would go so far as to say it's one of Scorsese's best, and shows what is by far DiCaprio's best performance to date. The Woodsman plays it too safe and therefore comes off as a staged reenaction of a very real problem. Primer, meanwhile, seems smart, but its final act is so indecipherable that we can only assume so. (Or I just didn't get it, maybe.) In any case, its low budget leads to hazy cinematography and muddled soundwork that actually enhances the movie's surrealistic sense of dread; it's definitely entertaining.

Finally, I was wowed by Seance on a Wet Afternoon, which is just a great little thriller with an oustanding performance by Kim Stanley. Suburban England has never seemed so sinister.
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